KNIL – “Indië schildjes”, badges 1945-1950

Before WW2 there unit badges did not exist in the Netherlands East Indies Army. In the period from the liberation in 1945 until the KNIL was dissolved in 1950 many badges for units (mainly batallions) and other distinctive badges came into use.

First these were mainly embroidered but soon they were made of metal with enamel or regular paint. The metal versions were better resistant to the tropical conditions but the paint chipped quite easily. There were several local producers of badges but the most prolific maker was Cordesius en Zonen (and Sons) in Batavia.

The Cordesius versius are made of plain brass based metal and a bit thicker than most of the other makers. Other makers often used thinner and more shiny plated metal. Especially later badges are often of this very thin material.

The regular Dutch (expeditionary) Forces in the Indies used the same type of badges for their units. A very colourful collection of badges came into existence during these years. Many were the result of a contest within the unit where a soldier of the unit made the designs.

Above the badges of the 1st and 9th batallion of the KNIL Infantry. Both badges feature the typical Postal Horn which was the standard shoulder badge of the Infantry in the pre war period.

Badge of the 2nd infantry batallion in metal and a period cloth variation of the same badge.

Below KNIL Batallion 5 (V) – Andjing NICA. The name originally was negative, against these soldiers that were mostly pre war KNIL soldiers who, immediately after their release as POW’s of the Japanese, returned into active service in 1945. NICA is the acronym for Netherlands Indies Civil Administation, the first people that returned to the Indies after the liberation. Andjing is the Malayan word for dog. So these freshly released POW’s were called the dogs of the NICA. The 5th batallion made this their battle name which is represented in the dog’s depiction in the badge.The head of the dog was also made in pairs for wear on both arms where the dog had to look to the front on both arms!

Next to the V is the badge of the 11th (XI) Infantry Batallion. Batallions X/XI/XII all have a similar badge with a red elephant (gadjah merah) with the Batallion number beneath.

Badge in two variations of the Cavalry units of the KNIL.

These KNIL batallion badges are all rare today and are even being reproduced, both in metal and cloth. Originals in good condition are getting difficult to find. Some units are more difficult than others and there are many collectors who try to get all units complete. I am trying to complete the KNIL Infantry Batallions in addition to the KNIL Special Forces units.

The first badge above is of the General Staff of the Army in the Dutch East Indies and the second is of the cabinet of the Army Commander of the Dutch East Indies.

And the last for now is the badge of the KNIL Vessel Service who were responsible for all water transport over the thousands of islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

And here some more badges of regular Army Units in the Dutch East Indies / Indonesia from my collection. I am always interested in buying or trading KNIL badges I do not yet have in my collection.

And some more badges. Also note the miniature version of the Y brigade. The were worn on the front of the cap but were unofficial (and private purchase).

And some more…

And most badges today come without a story or a background but if that is there it is so much better! On the small picture the capbadge and the shoulder badge are worn by the person who was part of the 2nd KNIL cavalry unit.

Here the link to the reference page for all known badges (text in Dutch):

Do note there are copies of almost all badges made in Indonesia but so far the quality does not come close to the originals!