King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading


First World War

Black Buttons

There is substantial evidence that some soldiers who had lost relatives during the war started wearing a black button on their tunic, or sometimes a button wrapped in black crepe.  There are a number of photographs in the museum's collection which confirm this.  However, no documentary evidence has been found as to if this was an official practice, or at least officially accepted, or if it remained un-official and a blind eye was turned.  However, it is hard to believe that such a wide spread occurrence (across the entire army) did not have some official sanction or at least some national publicity, may be in one of the popular daily newspapers of the time.

The following item has been brought to our attention:

Mourning wearing of, by Non-Commissioned Officers and men.
The practice by Non-Commissioned Officers and men of covering the second button of the service dress jacket with black material as a symbol of mourning is irregular and will cease forthwith. (War Office Letter No. 54/ Gen No./3025 (QMG 7) dated 19th July 1918) (Eastern Command Order 1593, 3 August 1918).

found in 'British Uniforms and Equipment of the Great War 1914 - 18 Vol. 1 Clothing and Necessaries' by John Bodsworth (MLRS; 2010).


Private Ernest Brockbank, number 3569, later 201050, 1st/4th Battalion, and later 7th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. Enlisted 6th July 1915. Overseas with the 1st/4th King’s On 16th January 1916. Killed in action 7th October 1917.  Postcard by Cooper Brothers, Photographic, Central Pier, Blackpool and stamped ‘17 Apr 1917’
Accession Number: KO2849/01

Unidentified soldier from a larger group, of a territorial battalion of the, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, date not known.
Accession Number: KO1398/03 (part)

Unidentified soldier from a larger group, Number 4 Platoon, 11th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, circa 1915.
Accession Number: KO2590/045 (part) & KO1363/01 (part)

Group of soldiers of the 12th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, the soldier on the right is wearing a black button on his tunic.
Accession Number: KO2618/01

Sergeant Henry Lee, seated, number 3105, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, with black mourning button.
Accession Number: KO0171/07

Men of the 10th Training Reserve Battalion at Sutton Veny, near Warminster, with one soldier wearing a King's Own cap badge and one the King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Note the black 'mourning' button and the number '10'.
Accession Number KO2873/29

Group of soldiers, possibly 2nd/5th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, circa 1915 or 1916, with the soldier on the right wearing a black button.
Accession Number: KO2985/20

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2012 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum