Congo Mercenary 10 Commando patch

Congo Mercenary 10 Commando (Commando Kansimba) patch type 2

Congo Mercenary 10 Commando (Commando Kansimba) patch type 2 (Julian Tennant collection)

This is a recent addition to my collection. It is an original shoulder patch used by the mercenaries of 10 Commando who were under the command of Colonel Jean Schramme in the 1960’s. This version is known as the 2nd pattern of the patch and is distinguished from the earlier type by only having the outline of Lake Tanganyika in blue, whilst the first version had the entire lake in blue silk. Both of the original patches were made using the precise, machine embroidered, silk-bevo style of construction as seen in this example.  Collectors should note that there are numerous fakes of this badge, many of which originate from the same fakers who make all the ARVN and US Vietnam war patches that can be found on ebay and at the War Surplus market at Dan Sinh. If you are interested in the mercenary insignia used in the Congo during the 1960’s, I would recommend that you try to find a copy of the late Gerard Lagaune’s excellent privately published reference, Histoire et insignes des parachutistes et des commandos de Pays des Grand Lacs.

Histoire et insignes des parachutistes et des commandos de Pays

Histoire et insignes des parachutistes et des commandos de Pays des Grand Lacs by the late Gerard Lagaune. The text is in French and it is privately published so it may be difficult to find now that he has passed away, but it is an excellent reference detailing the parachutist and commando insignia from thHe countries surrounding the ‘great lake’ Tanganyika in Africa. Included are full colour photographs of the various mercenary unit insignia worn in the Congo during the 1960’s.

10 Commando formed part of the 5th Mechanised Brigade, which was raised on the 1st of November 1964. The brigade was controlled by approximately 60 Belgian officers and had around 350 mercenaries of various nationalities under its command.  Number 10 Commando was led by Belgian mercenary, Jean Schramme. “Black Jack” Schramme was a teenager when he went to the Congo to run the family plantation, located to the north-east of Stanleyville and it should be noted that despite often being seen wearing the beret of the 2nd Belgian Commando Battalion (and contrary to some of the information he presented in his biography), there is no evidence that he had ever qualified as a commando or served in the Belgian Commando Battalion prior to his mercenary activities.

In the troubles that followed independence in 1961, Schramme fled to Uganda and then moved to Katanga where he took part in the fighting, forming a group recruited from local tribes near the Kansimba region which he referred to as the “Leopard Group”.  After that period of fighting ended in 1963 he moved across the border into Angola before returning in 1964 with his now named 10 Commando which operated out of Fizi-Baraka to the East of the province of Maniema and not too far from a plantation that he had once controlled.

Jean Schramme's somewhat embellished biography, "Le Bataillon Le

Jean Schramme’s biography, “Le Bataillon Leopard”. On the cover he is shown wearing the beret of the Belgian 2nd Commando Battalion and 10 Commando patch on his shoulder. The first pattern machine made silk-bevo patch with the full blue Lake Tanganyika is also shown, albeit in B&W.

In 1967, 10 Commando was part of the revolt against the government of Colonel Mobuto Sese Seko who had become president two years previously. In early August, Schramme’s 10 Commando captured the border town of Bukavu, holding it for 7 weeks despite repeated attempts by the government ANC forces to recapture the town. On October 29, 1967 the ANC forces finally recaptured Bukavu and the soldiers of 10 Commando fled towards Rwanda crossing the border on the 13th of November 1967, where they were disarmed, ending the existence of this colourful mercenary unit.


Australian ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch


Close up of an Australian helmet featuring the Taji ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch at the dawn service held at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. 25 April 2016. Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF)

On 25 April 2016, Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed to Iraq with Task Group Taji commemorated the Task Group’s first Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. This year’s Anzac day marks the 100th anniversary since the first Anzac Day service in 1916. To commemorate the day a special one-off patch was produced by a Sydney based company for the troops serving with Task Group Taji.


Australian Army soldier Private Andrew Lawrence from Task Group Taji commemorates Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. The ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch can be seen on the helmet and the issue Task Group Taji patch is visible on his right shoulder. Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF) 

Task Group Taji ANZAC Day 2016 patch

ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch produced for  the first ANZAC Day commemoration service at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq.

Personnel from Australia and New Zealand based at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq are part of the broader international Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission training members of the Iraqi security forces. The training includes weapon handling, building clearances and obstacle breaching techniques; as well as training in the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for squad through to company-level operations to use in their fight against Daesh.

Task Group Taji 2016 patch

General issue, Australian manufactured, Task Group Taji patch worn by Australian & New Zealand personnel serving with the Task Group as part of the mission designated Operation OKRA by the Australian Defence Force.

Task Group Taji’s BPC contribution is part of Australia’s broader Defence contribution to Iraq, codenamed Operation OKRA, which includes a Special Operations Task Group and an Air Task Group.


Australian Army soldier Private Andrew Lawrence from Task Group Taji commemorates Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. 25 April 2016.  Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF)

Myanmar/Burmese KNLA Insurgent Army patch

KNLA-patch LR

Myanmar / Burma: Printed shoulder patch of the Karen National Liberation Army.

One of my collecting interests are the insignia worn by various insurgent groups and guerilla armies. Burma/Myanmar is a country of particular interest to me, so I was quite excited to obtain this printed Karen National Liberation Army patch recently. This printed patch appears to be one of several different variations that are used by the KNLA.


General Baw Kyaw Heh, Vice Chief-of-Staff of the Karen National Liberation Army wearing a variation of the KNLA shoulder patch.

The Karen National Liberation Army (Burmese: ကရင်အမျိုးသား လွတ်မြောက်ရေး တပ်မတော်; abbreviated KNLA) is the military branch of the Karen National Union (KNU), which had been fighting the Burmese/Myanmar Government for the self-determination of the Karen people since 1949 until signing a ceasefire agreement with the government in January 2012.


An officer of the KNLA in dress uniform displaying another variation of the KNLA shoulder patch.

The KNLA was reported to have had a strength of roughly 6,000 soldiers in 2012 and according to the Karen National Union website,
‘The KNLA has seven brigades and three headquarters battalions. Brigades are comprised of up to five battalions, each of which has four companies, each of which in turn has three platoons. The KNLA also has 3 main branches, General Staff Office, Adjutant General Office, and Quartermaster Office.

The mission of the KNLA from its foundation through to the present day is solely as a self-defense force for the Karen people and the organisation, since without such a defense force the Karen would likely be eradicated. The KNLA has no aspirations other than to safeguard and guarantee the safety of the Karen people and to support the organisation in their stand for political dialogue.

Karen self-defense requirements include countering Burma Army aggression; to ban narcotics; to provide village security; and to provide security for humanitarian relief missions.’   (


KNLA soldier wearing an embroidered variation of the shoulder patch.



REFERENCE BOOK: NEW ZEALAND ARMY DISTINGUISHING PATCHES 1911-1991. Volumes One and Two by Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord

New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches 1911-1991

Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord
Published by: Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, Wellington, 1995.
Softback. 176 + 148 pages respectively.

These two invaluable reference books were published in 1995 and are long out of print, but if you can find copies, definitely add them to your reference library. The two volumes present descriptions and photographs of the uniform and insignia of various branches of the Army including Nurses and Women’s Auxiliary service, UN peacekeepers, Pacific Island forces, Home Guard, School cadets etc.

Part One concentrates on the development of the New Zealand Army and shows the various formations and their distinguishing patches. Included are chapters on the military forces of Fiji and Tonga during the Second World War and also wartime auxiliary organisations such as the New Zealand Red Cross.

Part Two shows the badges and insignia that were worn by the New Zealand Army at the time of writing (1991) including the different Orders of Dress, unit distinctions and insignia of the New Zealand Cadet Corps.