Insignia & Memorabilia
Insignia of the Philippine Scouts
By Robert Capistrano
In the winter and spring of 1941-1942, perhaps the only bright spot countering the bleak news of axis victories was the dogged defense of the Bataan Peninsula by the hard pressed Filipino and American troops of the United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE). The most celebrated troops of the campaign were the Philippine Scouts, collectively representing only 10% of the defending army. From the rearguard defense of the retreat into Bataan, to the Abucay Line and the Battle of the Points, the Scouts provided the ultimate backstop preventing USAFFE from the quick capitulation experienced in Malaya and Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies. To a great degree, it could also be said that the actions of the Philippine Scouts at Bataan, Corregidor and Mindanao preserved the honor, and the reputation, of the Regular Army of the United States. This article surveys the insignia worn by the soldiers of this remarkable force.
The Early History of the Philippine Scouts
The Philippine Scouts were a component of the Regular Army which had its roots in the urge for empire which captivated the leading powers of Europe — and the United States — in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Formed in October 1901 towards the end of America's campaign to conquer the Philippines, the first companies of Scouts were raised in various provinces of the country to augment the regular and volunteer regiments which were the vanguard of "Manifest Destiny." With the formal close of the Philippine-American War, more and more responsibility for preserving American authority was shifted, first, to the Scouts, and later, in the wake of pacification, to the new Philippine Constabulary.
PSHS Shoulder Patches
explained by Bob Capistrano
The Philippine Department patch was adopted on July 8, 1922 and features a white sea-lion brandishing a sword, on a blue field. The sea lion was taken from the arms of Aragon, Spain and suggests the 300 years of Spanish rule, the military function of the unit, and the maritime location of the Philippine Islands. The department itself was established in 1913 as the headquarters for all US Army forces in the Philippines and China (the 15th Infantry was based at Tientsin from 1913 to 1938), and the patch was worn by all army units not assigned to the Philippine Division, such as the coast artillery and the 26th Cavalry (PS), or the air corps.
The Philippine Division was created in 1922 based on two US infantry regiments (15th and 31st) and two Philippine Scout regiments (45th and 57th) patch was also adopted on July 8, 1922 and features a gold carabao (symbolizing the Philippines) on a red shield. Gold and red were the Spanish colors.
Shoulder patches as such were first adopted in 1918 by the troops assigned to the divisions of the American Expeditionary Force in France, and after WWI, were adopted for wear by troops assigned to army HQs (1st - 4th), department (Philippine, Panama Canal, Hawaiian), and divisions (1-9, 1 Cav, Philippine, Panama Canal and Hawaiian). In the 1930s a few other RA units also received patches, including the GHQ Air Force, 7th Cavalry Brigade (Mech), and Hawaiian Separate Coast Artillery Brigade. The patch flood gates opened wide during WW2 with 8 million men and women in army uniforms, in contrast to the prewar army which fluctuated around 160,000, only a third of which wore patches. This is why the pre-WW2 patches are relatively scarce, if not downright rare.
Philippine Scout Campaign Hat
The US Army had 5 types of bolos which were issued. The first was a bolo bayonet for the M-1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifles. Supposedly only fifty were made. There was the M-1909 Bolo with a 14" blade and an M1910 bolo with a 10-1/4" blade. There was a Model 1915 Bolo Bayonet (enclosed in an image of 2 Moro scouts with the M1915 Bayonet). During the Second World War, bolos made by the US Spring and Bumper Company of Los Angeles, CA were sent into the Philippines for use by the guerillas.
Pete Sarmiento, a philatelist and the son of a Philippine Scout, designed the pictorial cancellation, which was approved by the USPS. The Washington, DC cancellation was chosen because it is the location of Congress, which approved the formation of the Philippine Scouts. The date of issue was the 100th Anniversary of the Philippine Scouts' organization. Two thirds of the nearly 12,000 Philippine Scouts at the outbreak of the war were in the Philippine Division. Significant numbers also were in the 26th Cavalry (PS), 43rd Infantry (PS), 86th and 88th Field Artillery (PS), 91st and 92nd Coastal Artillery (PS), as well as various Service Detachments.
26th Cavalry (PS) Trooper Model
Last modified: 11-May-2007