The well documented and referenced history of the design, approval and implementation of the REME cap badge is complex and fascinating. This page provides the basic information and anyone interested in further details is most welcome read the articles for which links have been provided at the end of the page. We are indebted to Major D J Wright and Colonel M Sibbons for their research and articles.

The First REME Badge

Design for the first REME Badge. E:11.1043.

The design and approval of the cap badge was undertaken as part of the development and formation of REME. The design selected included part of the coat of arms of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, namely a pair of calipers, surrounded by a laurel wreath bearing the letters REME emblazoned on four separate shields and surmounted by the Royal Crown.

Although the badge gained Royal approval it is evident that King George VI did not think much of it.

The pattern was sealed on 22 June 1942.

Details of the new badge were published in Army Council Instruction (ACI) 1605 dated 1 August 1942, only two months before the date scheduled the formation of the Corps, without the badge pattern:

b) The following are the approved patterns of badges, buttons, etc., for the REME:
Cap badge, collar badge, button: A laurel wreath surmounted by a crown; on the wreath, four shields bearing the letters 'REME'; within the wreath, a pair of calipers.
The delay in the provision of the authorized pattern led to some fascinating designs but even once the official one was shipped out, there was some degree of variation within REME. Due to the prioritisation of use of metal for manufacture of tanks and aircraft, cap badges were produced instead in plastic, a commonly cited example being bakelite, but some unit anecdotes suggest they disliked the plastic versions greatly and so did their best to replace them with metal as soon as they could.

First Pattern REME badges in plastic and metal. From the Museum's Collection.

The Second Design

As noted earlier, King George VI did not think much of the caliper design and soon after the end of the war commanded that a new badge be designed. The DME (Director of Mechanical Engineering) asked all commands at home and overseas to propose suitable designs and over 200 were examined. The REME Dress Committee met under General Sir Walter Venning, the then Colonel Commandant and decided that the motif for the badge should be based on heraldic principles. Mr Stephen Gooden, CBE, RA (Royal Academy) was commissioned to produce suitable designs. The design he submitted was accepted and described as:

"Upon a lightning flash, a horse forcene gorged with a coronet of four fleur-de-lys, a chain reflexed over its back and standing on a globe. Above, a crown upon a scroll bearing the letters REME. Lightning flash, scroll and crown to be gilt; horse and globe to be silver."

This was approved by the King and the pattern was sealed on 14 August 1947.

Silver and gold coloured metal badge with horse, globe, crown and lightning.

REME Cap Badge, 'King’s Crown' (officially the Imperial State Crown). E:98.0073.04.

Shortly after the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 the crown of the REME badge, in common with other Regiments and Corps, was changed to the St Edward’s crown (more often known as the 'Queen’s Crown'). 

Silver and gold coloured metal badge with horse, globe, crown and lightning.

REME Cap Badge, 'Queen's Crown'.

The Meaning of the Badge

The horse forcene (rearing) and chain are symbolic of power and control and the lightning flash of electrical engineering. The horse forcene also forms part of the crest of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (also designed by Stephen Gooden in 1946) and together with the lightning flash, is intended to mark the close relationship which exists between the electrical and mechanical engineers in the Army and civil life. The globe is indicative of the impact of engineering on the world generally.

The badge was produced in silver and gilt for officers and in gilding and white metal for other ranks.

The Present Cap Badge

With the coronation of King Charles III in 2023, the REME badge returns once more to the Imperial State Crown (aka the 'King’s Crown'), just as it was in 1947.

Silver and gold coloured metal badge with horse, globe, crown and lightning.

REME Cap Badge, 'King’s Crown' (officially the Imperial State Crown). This one is available to purchase from the REME Shop.

However, after such a long reign, there are thousands of physical items still adorning the 'Queen's Crown', from giant unit welcome signs to long running trophiesUnits are under no obligation to change them out immediately and instead likely to do so only when the items need upgrading or replacing anyway.

In regard to uniform specifically, only those personnel involved with royalty (such as those who attended the coronation or those on public duties), will be expected to change their cap badge (and other items). All others will to continue to wear their current items with the 'Queen’s Crown'. Any mass change awaits further authorisation and is likely to be gradual. 

As such, you will probably see both cap badges in use in various forms for some years to come!

Useful links

The New REME Badge, REME Magazine, July 1947 (PDF, 0.1 MB)

The History of the REME Cap Badge, REME Journal, April 1982 (PDF, 4.2 MB)

The History of the REME Cap Badge, From the Archives (PDF, 1.6 MB)