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In 1941/42, a group of airborne officers lead by General "Boy" Browning assembled to create British Airborne Forces. Gen. Browning was acutely aware that the then fledgeling airborne forces needed a powerful, unifying symbol.

 

After rejecting a design of lightning flashes’ as too "Germanic" the myth of Bellerophon astride Pegasus was remembered and the symbol of airborne forces was born as the now well-known flash. The design was created by Major Edward Seago and was to be worn on the arm of all airborne soldiers.

 

The colours of this new “flash” would be Claret and Cambridge Blue, as these were reportedly Gen Browning’s and his wife, Daphne Du Maurier's racing colours. Some of the earliest flashes were embroidered with the leg visible but Gen. Browning intervened as the printed version, which had been ordered for all ranks, did not show the leg and Browning wanted no difference between officers and other ranks. Both versions, however, were used during the war. 

 

General Browning appreciated the importance of creating an ethos, identity and "corporate identity" of his new force and along with the maroon beret (sporting originally the Army Air Corps Eagle and later unit specific badges), the 2 symbols would gain numerous battle honours throughout the war and into the post-war period.

 

 

 

 

On formation, and as volunteers, soldiers within The Parachute Regiment kept their original cap badges or wore the Army Air Corps Eagle. General FAM "Boy" Browning was keen that the Paras had their own identity and designed a cap badge for them that was a direct copy of the ‘parachute wings’ issued to qualified parachutists.

 

However, according to correspondence from "Boy" held in the Airborne Assault archives, the design was altered on the orders of C-in-C Home Forces - "very much against our will" - as "heraldically it was not good at all".

 

The resultant redesigned badge was considered too "German" by the Paras, but they were overruled and the badge forced on them. Unfortunately, there are no details in the archive as to who C-in-C Home Forces got to redesign the badge at the time.

 

However, the badge was issued to units in the UK and moulds were sent out to troops in theatre to melt down the metal and mould their new badge. Once worn in combat, the badge became popular and synonymous with the Paras and is still worn today.