Gorget patches (collar tabs, collar patches) are an insignia, paired patches of cloth or metal on the collar (gorget) of the uniform, that is used in the military and civil service in some countries. Collar tabs sign the military rank (group of ranks), the rank of civil service, the military unit, the office (department) or the branch of the armed forces and the arm of service.
Gorget Patches were originally pieces of armour. With the disuse of armour they were lost. The Gorget Patches were reintroduced as insignia during the South African War (1889-1902). It has been used for these reason ever since.
In Bangladesh army officers of the rank of Colonel and above wear ‘Gorget Patches’. They are red in color.
With the restoration of historical nomenclature to the Canadian Army, reinstated insignia will include traditional gorget patches for colonels and general officers.
In the French Army collar patches were used since 1877 and signed a military unit.
In German Empire, generals, some officers, guardsmen and seamen wore collar patches, but these were not part of the service-wide uniform. In the Weimar Republic such patches (or Litzen) were introduced throughout the army in 1921, where they indicated the rank and the arm of service, but were not used in the navy. Some Nazi-era civil services (e.g., police and railways) wore uniforms with collar tabs, similar to the armed forces' tabs. New tabs were also introduced for the political leaders of the NSDAP, for the new Nazi organisations (as Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel). The GDR used similar collar tabs to those of the Wehrmacht for its army and air force. Collar tabs were also worn by some personnel of the navy. The armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany also maintained the use of collar tabs in the army and the air force, where they indicate to which branch (or Truppengattung) an individual soldier belongs. Members of the German Navy do not wear collar tabs.
In the Indian Air Force gorget patches sign military rank.
Since the late nineteenth century the Italian Army has made extensive use of coloured collar patches to distinguish branches of service and individual regiments.
In the Russian Empire collar patches sign rank according to the Table of ranks. In the USSR in 1924-1943 served as the primary insignia of military ranks. When the shoulder straps were restored in 1943, collar tabs remained as an insignia of the branch and the arm of service. Since 1932 they were also used as an insignia in some civil services. The state of affairs is the same in the modern Russian Federation.
In the Sri Lanka Air Force gorget patches sign military rank.
In the Swiss army collar patches denote the rank and the arm of service.
In the United Kingdom gorget patches are worn by British Army general officers or senior officers according to branch or arm of service; their counterpart police ranks wear similar gorget patches of silver-on-black. Officer cadets in the Merchant Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force also wear patches. The patches were introduced by British Army officers in India in 1887 and there was then a proliferation of them. Different colours were introduced to indicate the branch of service and by 1940 there was: bright blue (engineers), dark blue (ordnance), pale blue (education), scarlet (general staff duties), cherry (medical), maroon (veterinary), purple (chaplain), green (dental) and yellow (accountant). Army staff officers at ranks lower than Colonel wore gorget patches until 1921 when they were restricted to full colonels and above.1
- Gorget Patches at Mike Comerford Ordnance Insignia of the British Army. Retrieved 21 June 2013