First World War
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
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
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.