Types of identification scarf (marker panel)
I am looking for photos of these scarves in your collections. The one in these pictures is my own. It has a brown hem and bright yellow silk panel. There are no markings, other than a handwritten ‘4b’. As I did with the gas detection brassards, I thought it would be interesting to get photos from as many collectors as possible in order to learn about different variations. I know of 2 basic versions: both have a yellow silk panel. One has a brown hessian hem, the other has a white hem.
It was issued to paratroopers at a limited scale and intended for aerial forces to recognize friendly ground forces. With paratroopers often far ahead of regular allied forces, or even behind enemy lines, this was a very useful, even life-saving piece of equipment. In period photographs they are most seen worn around the neck as scarves.
The scarves were British made, but markings aren’t always present or legible. So I would like to make an inventory. Bill Rentz’ Gernonimo! U.S. Airborne Uniforms, Insignia & Equipment in World War II shows an identical panel which is marked ‘COURTAULDS LTD. 1942’ in a square with a broad arrow, and another one, also with a brown hem, marked ‘COURTAULDS LIMITED 1943, also with a broad arrow but no square.
Even though these are early dates, I have only found photos of the scarves being worn by US paratroopers for Operation Market Garden in Holland and Operation Varsity in Germany. It would be interesting to be able to determine more accurately which units wore these scarves and when and where, and whether they were issued the scarves with the brown or the white hem.
Replicas of these scarves do exist and can also be interesting to add to the overview. A replica I oncee had was well made, but the fabric wasn’t silk. The material of the panel was too coarse and a kind of modern-day signal yellow.
I am looking forward to receiving your photos, including any markings that may still be legible.
Hello. I have one of these panels. It was given to me by an uncle who explained that the narrower end was tied around the neck and the two corners held out to make a triangle to indicate direction. This was necessary when paratroops had fallen in the wrong place and needed to signal direction to others.
Hello Mark, thank you for sharing this information. I had no idea about this. Just how would this have worked? Would this signal be seen by other paratroops from the air? Or on the ground?