WW2 Japanese Army: Machine Gun Unit Merit Badge

Today I have a 1930s Cavalry badge on display.

The design shows crossed machine guns, a gold Army star above, cherry blossoms tucked into the side areas, and a gold kanji that reads ‘Merit (Kou 功). Those with good eyes may notice that the kanji in the picture and the kanji I typed in the previous sentence do not match. You are right–in one sense. Actually, they are both the same kanji, but the one on the badge is written in a classical style. This style is notoriously difficult to read (for me at least), but when a single kanji appears, the task is less daunting. Anyway, also in the design is a rim of circles. This may indicate a round of ammo, though that is speculation.

The reverse:

An upside-down horseshoe frames the inscription, which reads ‘Manchurian Incident Participation Commemorative, Cavalry 1st Brigade, Machine Gun Company.’ This, too, is written in a difficult script. Here is the modern way of writing it: 満州事変参加記念 騎一旅  機関銃中隊. Since this incident happened in 1931, this badge dates after that, probably within the following five years. This badge was most likely commissioned by the unit commander and awarded to soldiers attached to this unit.

It measures 3 cm diameter.

By the way, an upside-down horseshoe in Western symbolism means bad luck. However, that meaning does not carry over into the East. It is merely a horseshoe, no matter in what direction it hangs.


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