Good Conduct Badges

RAF Good Conduct Badges were in fact chevrons which were worn on the left lower sleeve with point of the chevron uppermost. A maximum of three could be earned; the first after 3 years’ service after age 18, the second after 8 years’ service, and the third after 13 years’ service.

The point of the first badge (i.e. inverted chevron) was to be 7½” above the cuff, with the second badge 8” from the bottom of the sleeve. Strangely, no distance is given for any 3rd badge awarded but it can be deduced that this would have the tip 8½” above the bottom of the sleeve. When an airman was promoted to Sergeant, any good conduct badges had to be removed. Whether this was to prevent a proliferation of chevrons on the left sleeve or because the fact of a SNCO holding this rank automatically indicated good conduct anyway, is unknown but can probably be inferred. Information found online also seems to suggest that promotion to Corporal also meant the removal of good conduct badges – probably for the same reason(s).

When this practice ceased is unknown but there were no such Good Conduct Badges being worn in September 1959 and it was probably replaced by the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal which was awarded after 18 years service from age 17½ (reduced to 15 years Service in 1977). The LS&GCM was instituted in 1919 by King George V, and so it appears that the 3 classes of Good Conduct Badge may have been stages towards the award of the LS&GCM, which was, and still is, a medal.

As the badge of rank for a Junior Technician in the 1950s and 1960s was a single inverted chevron worn on the upper arm of both sleeves, one or more Good Conduct Badges on the lower left sleeve would have looked quite odd. This badge of rank of Junior Technicians has now been discontinued in favour of a cloth badge showing a four-bladed propeller along the style of Leading Aircraftman (LAC) which is a two-bladed propeller and Senior Aircraftman (SAC, a three=bladed propeller. This happened after I had left the RAF, but I surmise that Junior Technicians who lost this distinctive badge of rank in favour of a more mundane badge would have been less than pleased! I know that I was quite proud of my inverted Junior Technicians’ chevron, especially as it took 20 months of hard work to achieve.

I also seem to remember that a Drum Major of any RAF band used to wear an inverted 4-chevron insignia on the lower sleeve. How that would have fitted in with the 3 possible Good Conduct Badges is unknown, but I suspect that the Drum Major’s insignia would have taken precedence.

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