polarbear, on 29 April 2012 - 01:02 PM, said:
Blimey, I was just about to ask the same question! Could you tell me when they where worn i.e. from what date if known?
Not so straightforward this. Some say (never a good way to start a search for facts) that the New Army divisions adopted and contrived these battle patches prior to embarkation on the basis that they would be a quick and easy way of being identified in the fury of battle and also to provide some semblence of propriety on divisional materiel. Presumably they also provided some sense of esprit de corps. Divisional generals quite often got involved and chose punning designs e.g. General Bulfin, 60th Division, chose a 'Bee' as a representation of B for Bulfin and also as some kind of homage to Napoleon Bonaparte (bizarre. I know). Obviously the 'Red and White' of the 31st referred to the York and Lancaster roses. The crossed roses were their second device the original being what I can only describe as a 'triangle within parallel lines'. I'm afraid I have no idea what this represents. It does seem that Divisional signage was allowed to develop in a rapid timescale unlike most other military emblems.
Based on the above it seems likely that the 31st adopted their 'Battle Patches' close to 7th December 1915, just prior to embarkation for Egypt. Purely conjecture this, but may be of some help. I have no idea if a search through diaries might help but I somehow doubt "Monday, adopted new divisional signs" is the sort of entry we can hope to be revealed.
Finally a fact others might be able to assist with. In the excellently illustrated 'British Battle Insignia by Mike Chappell (pub Osprey isbn 978-0-85045-727-8) Chappell states,
"The insecure practice of painting the unit designation in plain language on the sides of vehicles and on signboards surprisingly remained in force until 1916 when orders were issued to the effect that divisions would select a device, mark or sign to be painted on all transport as a security measure"
This date or order I do not know but would be very interested to find out.