KNIL “Indië schildjes” – Badges from the 1945-1950 period of the Netherlands East Indies Army

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 regular Dutch (expeditionary) Forces in the Indies used the same type of badges for their units.

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 (unworn, nos) cloth variation of the same badge.

KNIL Batallion 5 (V) – Andjing NICA. The name originally was negative, even a swear word 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. The 5th batallion took it up as their battle name which is represented in the dog’s depiction in the badge.

Metal badge and the cloth version being worn on the picture right. The soldier is wearing the Batallion badge on the right arm and the Brigade (also V) on the left arm.

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!

Badges of the 11th (XI) Infantry Batallion and the generic badge for all KNIL Cavalry units. Batallions X/XI/XII all have a similar badge with a red elephant (gadjah merah) with the Batallion number beneath.

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.

A great overview of all badges of that period (text in Dutch) can be found here!