Field Marshal Gives Museum World's Greatst Collection of Indian Army Badges

28th November 2013

A generous donation makes the National Army Museum the holder of the world’s greatest collection of Indian Army insignia – covering Buttons, Cap badges, Collar badges, Shoulder titles, Pouch badges, Pouch belt plates, Waistbelt clasps.

Detail, Indian Army Badge

The gift of the Indian Army Collection by Field Marshal Sir John Chapple covers over 9,000 items relating to the Indian Army. Spanning over a century from the nineteenth-century until Partition in 1947, the collection took Sir John 70 years to collect. The significance of this unique collection is that it encompasses every regiment and unit from the Honourable East India Company and includes Cavalry, Infantry, Services and Corps, Staff, the Auxiliary Force India units, as well as a selection of the Indian State Forces who served in both World Wars.

The collection will complement the Museum’s already extensive Indian Army Collection, providing valuable continuity and insight for researchers and historians, as well as descendant units of the Armies of India and Pakistan. It will enable them to explore the development of regimental identities, and military designs.

David Bownes, Assistant Director (Collections) at the National Army Museum, said: ‘The National Army Museum is indebted to Field Marshall Chapple for this generous donation. The collection provides incredible insights into the regiments and the people who served in them. This comprehensive collection of Indian Army insignia is an invaluable resource for the Museum’s curators and visitors to study, refer to and enjoy.’

As a long time supporter, the Field Marshall was keen to give his collection to the National Army Museum. The National Army Museum was the natural place for Chapple’s esteemed collection, being founded in 1958 to house the collections of the Indian Army Museum (established in 1949) and the artefacts of the disbanded Irish regiments. This important collection will be housed in the Indian Army Memorial Room at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the home of the original Indian Army Museum.

Field Marshal Sir John Chapple began his Army career with National Service in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, after National Service he went to Trinity College, Cambridge. On graduating he then rejoined the Army and served in the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Goorkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) whose regimental memorial window is also in the Indian Army Memorial Room in Sandhurst. He served in Malaya, Hong Kong, and Borneo, being made Colonel of the Regiment in 1986.

From 1989 to 1992 Sir John then served as Chief of the General Staff. He was promotion to Field Marshal in 1992 and was Governor of Gibraltar from 1993 to 1995. The Field Marshall served on the Council of the NAM from 1981 to 2003; he is currently Honorary Vice Patron of the National Army Museum.