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Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of Basic Elements, Army Groups and Armies

United States Army

Second World War

Basic Elements

The entire army was divided into three basic elements: Army Ground Forces (basic combat units), Army Service Forces (logistical and support troops) and Army Air Forces (flying elements and their support troops). Those units not subordinate to some other headquarters, having an approved shoulder sleeve insignia, would wear the patch of these parent elements. It is very common to see patches of Army Service Forces and Army Air Forces on period uniforms. That of Army Ground Forces and its subordinate General Headquarters Reserves are less commonly seen as most Army Ground Forces units were part of a subordinate element that had its own approved patch.

A Private First Class wearing an Army Service Forces Patch
His branch insignia is Coast Artillery (used also by Antiaircraft Artillery).
Army Service Forces

Army Ground Forces GHQ Reserves Army Service Forces Army Air Forces
Army Ground Forces 1922 (1) General HQ Reserves 1941 (2) Army Service Forces 1941 Army Air Forces 1942

Army Groups

First Army Group Sixth Army Group 12 Army Group 15 Army Group
First 1944 (3) Sixth 1944 12th 1944 15th 1945
E.T.O. Southern France E.T.O. E.T.O. Italy


First Army Second Army Third Army Fourth Army Fifth Army
First 1918 Second 1918 Third 1918 Fourth 1927 Fifth 1943
E.T.O. U.S. (training) E.T.O. U.S. (training) Italy
Sixth Army Seventh Army Eight Army Ninth Army
Sixth 1945 Seventh 1943 Eight 1944 Ninth 1944
Pacific E.T.O.) Pacific E.T.O.
Tenth Army 14th Army 15th Army 1st Allied Airborne 1st Allied Airborne
Tenth 1944 14th 1944 15th 1944 1stAllied Airborne 1945 (4) 1stAllied Airborne 1945 (5)
Pacific Not Active E.T.O. E.T.O. E.T.O.


  1. Date approved as General Headquarters
  2. Units assigned directly to General Headquarters
  3. The First Army Group was redesignated 12th Army Group
  4. Courtesy Jay Graybeal (original theater made)
  5. Variation English-made ("Airborne" rather than "Allied Airborne")

E.T.O. is the European Theater of Operations.
The year given is the official date of approval of the insignia.

Discussion of Variations of Army Air Forces Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
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