Sweetheart Brooches of the Royal Bucks Hussars

Sweetheart badges and brooches depicting regimental insignia originated in the late 1880s but became extremely popular during the First World War, soldiers gifting them to mothers, wives or girlfriends usually before leaving on active service or returning to the front as love tokens or keepsakes. Some were made in gold or silver by top jewellers but most were mass produced in factories in London or Birmingham and typically included brass, enamel or mother of pearl. Many were sold at army camps. Some were worn publicly as indications that a loved one was serving, by way of demonstrating solidarity with those absent, as reminders, or even as a talisman whilst others were primarily private keepsakes. They took on a poignant aspect if separation became bereavement when loved ones were killed. Often such tragedies resulted in the brooches being put or hidden away, thereby separated over time from personal histories and regarded as largely peripheral and ephemeral items.

These two examples in brass and enamel are from a recently acquired collection of photographs, documents, and artefacts that belonged to Leonard Wardall of Slough, who enlisted in the 2/1st Royal Bucks Hussars in 1914 and was then transferred to the 1/1st in Egypt in 1915. A former pupil of Slough National School and a member of the Boy Scouts, he participated in the charge at El Mughar in November 1917 and was on the SS Leasowe Castle when it was torpedoed whilst carrying the regiment back to France in May 1918. He was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving with the 101st (Bucks and Berks) Battalion, Machine Gun Corps on the Western Front. In 1941 he was commissioned into the 9th (Slough Borough) Battalion, Bucks Home Guard. 

The Trust holds an additional enamel example of the Royal Bucks Hussars and a gold example of the Bucks Battalion.


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