Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

I recently came across an interesting story in Captain Harry C. Butcher’s book about his experiences as an aide to General Eisenhower from 1942 to 1945 (My Three Years with Eisenhower). On page 592 and continuing on 593 (diary entry for June 23, 1944), Butcher relates the story behind the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force patch. Butcher states that it was told to him by the two members of the Historical Office of the Secretary of the General Staff: Captain Douglas F. Price (a British officer nicknamed “1066”) and Captain Duncan Emrich (an American officer nicknamed “Buzz” due to his extreme distaste for the German “Buzz bombs”). Here’s what Butcher described:

“They told me the story of the SHAEF patch that I had heard only inaccurately before. General Morgan, anticipating the arrival of a Supreme Commander, had directed in the autumn of 1943 that a badge be designed, and the committee which was appointed in turn directed the Royal College of Heralds to produce a sign symbolic of the task ahead. Price said that the design had ‘some sort of waves, presumably indicating an amphibious operation,’ and was generally not acceptable, although the ‘Flaming Sword’ was accepted as a base for further development. The final design was produced by Colonel Lack with the artistic help of Corporal D.Q. Goodall, and ATS girl. Price called my attention particularly to the fact that the ‘Flaming Sword’ was modeled on that of the 2nd U.S. Division Memorial (1917-18) in Washington. Ike approved the badge when he assumed command, and in March it came into general use as the headquarters shoulder patch and vehicle mark. The flaming sword of freedom cuts the black of the Nazi night over Europe and points the way to the final rainbow of peace and liberty. The rainbow is made up of the colors of the Allied nations.”