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American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c.2002

Qualification Badges

United States Navy

Second World War

Submarine Qualification Badges and Distinguishing Marks

Officer's Sub Badge

Officer's Badge

EM Sub Mark Blue

Enlisted Man's Distinguishing Mark
Blue Jumper

EM Sub Mark White

Enlisted Man's Distinguishing Mark
White Jumper (1)

Sub Captain
An unidentifid Captain wearing both a Submarine Qualification
Badge above his ribbons and a Submarine Combat Badge below.
(Courtesy Jay Graybeal)
The original suggestion that submariners should have a special insignia was made on June 13, 1923 by Captain Ernest J. King, Commander, Submarine Division Three. King would later become a Fleet Admiral and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. Although King's particular design was not adopted, the Bureau of Navigation pursued the idea and developed a design consisting of a bow view of a submarine on the surface with bow rudders rigged for diving and flanked by a pair of dolphins. The insignia is known by the nickname of "dolphins." This design was the work of Ensign (later Captain) William Crawford Eddy, who was cooperating with the well-known firm of Bailey, Banks and Biddle. On 20 March 1924 the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation recommended adoption of the design to the Secretary of the Navy. The official announcement came with Bureau of Navigation Circular Letter 79-24 of September 23, 1924. The submarine insignia was to be worn at all times by officers and men qualified as submariners. Beginning in 1941, officers and men who were eligible to wear the submarine insignia could do so after they had been assigned to other duties in the naval service. Officers wore a gold insignia over the left breast pocket. Enlisted men originally wore the insignia as a distinguishing mark, embroidered in silk, white silk for blue clothing and blue silk for white clothing. This was sewn on the outside of the right sleeve between the wrist and elbow. This practice continued until 1947 when the cloth distinguishing mark was moved from the arm to the left breast. On August 17, 1950 a silver metallic badge was introduced for enlisted men and replaced the embroidered insignia on the left breast.

Sub Medical Badge
Submarine Medical Badge (2)
Combat Patrol Combat Patrol 2
Submarine Combat Badge (3) Submarine Combat Badge (4)

Other submarine related badges included the Submarine Medical Insignia, which featured the Navy medical device, flanked by dolphins and the Submarine Combat Badge, which featured a silver submarine on the surface with small gold stars in a scroll. This badge was awarded to both officers and men for completing a patrol during which an enemy vessel was sunk or some other important mission was accomplished. Small gold stars were placed on the bottom for additional awards.


  1. Courtesy Jay Graybeal
  2. Courtesy John Stacey
  3. Courtesy John Stacey
  4. Courtesy John Stacey

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