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The Red Shield has evolved into an internationally recognised symbol of The Salvation Army’s caring work in the community. In fact, research reveals that The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal has almost total recognition among the Australian public, achieving 92% aided awareness.*
Read the story of the Red Shield and how it evolved from a simple badge worn by Salvationists to a symbol of The Salvation Army’s legendary war-time service, the name of its high-profile annual fundraising appeal, and one of this nation’s most recognised logos.
- The shield in the early days
- The shield as symbol of service
- Red Shield Defence Services
- Colours of the shield
- Red Shield Appeal
Metal shields were worn as badges and brooches by Salvation Army members from the Army’s earliest days in London during the 1880s. In fact, the first Orders and Regulations for Field Officers, 1886, encouraged every soldier to wear uniform, “even if it be but the wearing of a shield”, so that they could be identified as Salvationists.
The badges/ brooches worn by Salvation Army church members were white metal (or silver for the more affluent) and around 40 mm in size with the words “Salvation Army” pierced on to them. For officers the badge was a similar shield, but with letters and borders in crimson red enamel. It was the same in pattern internationally, with only the language of wording being different.
The shield originally came into broader use as a sign associated with The Salvation Army’s caring work during World War One (WWI).
It is documented that Colonel Walter Peacock of The Salvation Army introduced the Red Shield as a sign outside a welfare hut for Canadian servicemen in France during the War. British, Australian and American members of The Salvation Army soon followed in the use of the shield. Indeed, after the war, Colonel Peacock even organised an appeal to help repatriated soldiers under the banner of the Red Shield - a precursor to the Red Shield Appeal!
A picture of a hut with a shield sign appeared in The Salvation Army War Cry on 25 December, 1915 (p.1), and an article on 'Homes and Huts for Soldiers and Sailors' appeared on 1 July, 1917 (p.1). It read: “The Salvation Army shield has become one of the best known and most prominent signs in the military training camps in this country [Britain] and in the various overseas dominions, as well as among the troops in France.”
The naming of The Salvation Army's Red Shield Defence Services followed on from the prominence of the Red Shield during war-time service.
At the end of WWI, a Deed Poll signed by the world leader of The Salvation Army at the time, General Bramwell Booth on 27 January 1919, declared that The Salvation Army's Naval and Military Homes would in future be known as ‘The Salvation Army Red Shield Homes, or Clubs'. However, in The Salvation Army’s British Territory, the name did not actually change until after April 1947 when the Naval, Military and Air Force League was renamed the Red Shield Services League, and the Naval and Military Homes became known as 'Red Shield Services League Hostels'.
After the end of World War Two, The Salvation Army War Emergencies Department was renamed the British Red Shield Services Department in September 1945. Today, in Australia, this is known as Red Shield Defence Services.
The colours used on the shield have evolved from the early white or metal badges with pierced lettering worn by soldiers, and red enamel lettering and borders worn by officers, into the red background with white lettering and border used today.
The Salvation Army’s All the World magazine of July 1917 provides a description of the shield signage used in war time, “It is a large shield on enamelled sheet iron with a blood red background”. This may be where the red background began to appear; however, all the pictorial evidence indicates that at that time the sign still had red lettering on a white shield, with a red surround.
It is not clear when the design changed to white lettering on a red background. We have illustrations of several different shields in use towards the end of WWI, or immediately after the War, but they are difficult to date precisely.
Today, the Red Shield logo as used on signage, printed materials and fundraising appeals has white lettering and border on red background. The shield usually has gold lettering and border when used as part of a Salvationist’s uniform on the cap or collar badges.
Because the Red Shield emblem came to represent The Salvation Army’s reputation for being at the frontline of need, the Red Shield was incorporated into the name of The Salvation Army’s annual fundraising drive in Australia, the Red Shield Appeal.
Read a detailed history of The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and how it evolved. Download Word document.
* June 2001 Newspoll study for The Salvation Army