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American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c.2004

Theater-Made Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

Second World War

Some collectors criticize the term "theater-made" since the United States was also considered to be a theater of operations but it is generally understood to indicate a patch made outside of the continental United States, often in limited numbers. Logically, one would expect locally manufactured patches might exist for units serving within that particular theater and not for those serving on the other side of the world.

Theater-made: European

The U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations was the end of a long supply line and insignia did not have a high priority. As a result certain insignia were locally produced for units in theater. In many cases these were ones approved later in the war for which an existing stockpile had not been created in the United States and worn on uniforms prior to and during deployment overseas. Most of the ETO insignia were English made since the continent was largely occupied by enemy forces. The next most common county of origin is Italy, which had an allied presence in the south since 1943. Surprisingly France is poorly represented even though allied forces were present on its soil for nearly a year at the end of the war.


SHAEF 8th Air Force 9th Air Force Euro Civil
SHAEF 8th Air Force 9th Air Force European Civil Affairs
Amphib Forces Com Z HQ USA ETO HQ USA ETO
Engineer Amphibian Units HQ ETO Communication Zone HQ ETO U.S. Army
Right Arm (Former Unit)
HQ ETO U.S. Army
Left Army (Current Unit)
USSTAF AB Troop Carrier
U.S. Strategic Air Force Europe Airborne Troop Carrier

The English made 8th has shorter wings than the typical U.S. machine embroidered variety.


red ball
Red Ball Express


3rd Division 88th Division 5th Army 4th Ranger
3rd Division
Screen Printed on Satin
88th Division
(Courtesy Chris Slaff)
Bullion 5th Army 4th Ranger Battalion
No "th" after number

Theater-made: Asia-Pacific

The situation in asia was similar to Europe except that in most counties (Australia the exception) manufacturing relied more on hand labor than machinery. The resulting insignia are among the most interesting of the theater made examples.


5th Air Force Far East Para Bat.
5th Air Force Far East Air Force 1st Marine Amphibious Corps
Parachute Battalions
(Courtesy: Scott Smith)


Cape Gloucester
(Courtesy: Scott Smith)

The 1st Marine Amphibious Corps Parachute Battalions shoulder sleeve insignia has an unusual machine woven (BEVO-like) construction.


10th Air Force  embroidered
10th Air Force China India Burma Theater

More: Variations in Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
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