The use of divisional insignia goes back to WWI as a way of securely distinguishing military divisions in the field. By the outbreak of WWII, they became a core part of a unit’s identity and history. Some refer to the unit’s origins by invoking local legends or landmarks, while others refer to nicknames and attributes.
From Brazil's Smoking Snakes to the Bengal tiger of India's 26th Division, this collection looks at some of the conflict’s more distinctive emblems and the stories behind them.
- 189 VOTES
American 101st Airborne Division
The "Screaming Eagles" were a vital part of the D-Day operations, dropping into northern France ahead of the amphibious landings in the early hours of June 6, 1944.
The exploits of E Company, in the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Regiment, were the subject of the book and miniseries Band of Brothers. The 101st also took part in Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne assault in history, and the Battle of the Bulge.
- 257 VOTES
American 66th Infantry
The panther was chosen as the division's symbol because of its qualities of "ability to kill, to be aggressive, alert, stealthy, cunning, agile, and strong."
The 66th was deployed to France in late 1944 to mop up remaining pockets of German resistance. Most of its losses came from the sinking of a troop transport by a German submarine.
- 372 VOTES
The Flying Tigers
The Tigers were a volunteer force of American pilots who flew for the Chinese in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The pilots were ill-disciplined but fearless airmen who succeeded despite the lack of modern equipment and supplies available.
The group was later inducted into the US Army Air Forces after the US entered WWII.
- 477 VOTES
Polish 22nd Artillery Support Company
The unit's unique emblem comes from a Syrian brown bear cub the company adopted while stationed in Iran. Named Wojtek, the bear was more than just an unusual mascot; he learned to carry crates of artillery shells while the unit was on duty in Italy.
After an exemplary military career, which included a promotion to corporal, Wojtek took a well-earned retirement at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland.
- 562 VOTES
15th Scottish Infantry
The 15th formed just days before the outbreak of WWII as a reserve unit for home defense. Its shoulder insignia is based on the lion rampant of the Scottish Royal Banner.
The 15th would see action in Normandy and also took part in the invasion of Germany in 1945.
- 678 VOTES
Polish 1st Armored Division
The division's emblem is a reference to the historic elite cavalry force, the Polish Winged Hussars.
The Polish 1st Armored Division, formed in Scotland in 1942 by Polish exiles, took part in D-Day and the liberation of the Low Countries.