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Can Anyone Help??? - 103 Squadriglia


New Member
After spending many hours attempting to research this Distintivo, I am not very much further forward than I was at the beginning (other than gaining a little knowledge on the way). Some things belonging to my late Uncle Jimmy, came to me a number of years ago. Having moved house recently, I ended up going through some of the items again. This badge is a real mystery to me. It is by Stefano Johnson (Roma / Milano). I am familiar with the work of S. Johnson, who were prolific for a number of years, producing a broad range of enamel goods, medallions, medals, badges etc. The ting that strikes me regarding many of these Italian badges, is that they are, in their composition items which "tell a story". I know that Jimmy served in the RAF during WW2. I know he served in Italy and a number of Middle Eastern Countries. The only thing that is clear to me regarding this badge is the reference to 103 Squadriglia. There appear to be 3 crowns on the white circular area (heavenly body?), It appears by the 2 clawed feet that I see, and the spearheaded "tail" that the "pinkish" shape may be a dragon or reptile of sorts? The 3 small boats on the coastline is a mystery. Clearly it represents possibly a Libyan coastline? Although I know that 103 squadriglia served in Eritrea at one point. The Blue shape is possibly the representation of a geographical area, with the small brass relief within, representing an air base perhaps? Perhaps the key is in the other part of the inscription (for which I can find no meaning) "SVMA A POST". Tried a number of variants of this wording, but no joy. Unless this was an air transport function at one point, and the Post, was literally the mail run. A number of similar squadriglia badges of this type can be seen on various sites online, but this one is a real mystery in deciphering, I have not seen another, despite hours of searching. Hoping that someone out there may have some knowledge of this! Thanks.


New Member
Hello Rossco,
only some comments:
1) "Suma a post": it should be "we are OK" ("siamo a posto", in Italian) in some dialect of Northern Italy but, often, in an ironic sense: depending upon the context, it could mean exactly the contrary i.e. "we're in trouble"
2) For sure, a 103^ Squadriglia Ricognizione Strategica, equipped with IMAM Ro37, depending on Comando 3^ Brigata Aerea on the Erithrean front, was involved in the Italian- Ethiopian war 1935-1936: it's main task was (even if a recce unit) the air defense of the Erithrea, with 6 Ro37 based at Gura and 3 other at Asmara: it is disappeared in the OOB of the Regia Aeronautica in East Africa on June, 10th, 1940.
On the other hand, there was also a 103^ Squadriglia Aviazione Sahariana (Sahara Aviation) equipped with Ca309 Ghibli, SIAI S81 and some S79, operating both in the deep desertic areas and on the coast, with tasks as transport of materials and Personnel, recce, convoy escort, ground attack (against LRDG and FreeFrench forces from Central Africa). On August, 1st, 1942 the 103^ was part of the 1. Gruppo APC (Aviazione Presidio Coloniale) and was based in Misurata (Mediterranean shores). AFAIK it was disbanded in the first months of 1943, after the loss of the whole Libya. The bagde seems refer to this second unit, in my opinion.

Hope this helps

Source: AA.VV. "Regia Aeronautica: i fronti africani", Albertelli ed., Parma, 1979


New Member
Many Thanks Fabrizio,

Your time, and the quality of the information is much appreciated. It certainly educates me somewhat, regarding the 103^ Squadriglia. It looks like I had picked up on some fragments of information, when attempting to research this. As for "Suma A Post", your explanation makes sense. I have been "round the houses" on that one many times. The only "Suma" I could find was a Japanese warship, which was clearly wrong, and I now know that a "Syma" is a type of bird. I even found an Arabic race horse by the name of "Al Suma", so I started wandering about the Middle East reference.
I had convinced myself that the "A Post" was a reference to "on post" or, in other words, "on station", but I am probably rambling, and what you say is immensely more credible than anything I could come up with. My belief is that this badge possibly bears reference to a specific, perhaps outstanding event, which, at the time, was considered worthy of a momento. The specifics may well be lost in the annals of time. Maybe whoever commissioned the design, overly complicated it. Anyway, It interested me greatly, and sometimes, things should not be forgotten.

In any event Fabrizio, your information is gratefully received, and I am indebted for the attention you have given on this.

Kind Regards,


New Member
Hello Ross,
thanks for your kind words.
The use of mottos in dialect was not so uncommon in Regia Aeronautica; for example:
  1. "varda che te sbrego" (from dialect of the region around Venice, "beware, I'm slashing you") in the badge of 162^ Squadriglia Caccia
  2. "Ocio che te copo" (same area, "Beware, I'm killing you") in the badge of 18. Gruppo Caccia
  3. "Gigi tre osei" (same area "Gigi three birds", where Gigi is a nickname for Luigi and the "three birds" recalled the glider's pilot licence of a pilot of that unit, KIFA in Western Desert during the war) in the badge of 150. Gruppo Caccia



New Member
Very interesting thanks Fabrizio. It is clear, that these men had some aptitude for adopting meaningful mottos. And I guess, the trend for doing so, would have become more common, as the various units adopted a new motto in that fashion. This is not the first Johnson badge which I have researched, that came to me, from Jimmy. The other one took me a while, but I got there in the end. It was a bit more formal in its wording, which translated from the Albanian, to "From Albania, to the Victorious Roman Soldiers", and every single tiny, detail on that badge had a clear, and logical meaning. Maybe this one is a little less formal in its composition, given that it was probably a very limited issue item, for a group of men who knew exactly what it represented.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his experiences, Jimmy was something of an italophile, and visited Italy regularly, through the 1960's - 1990's. A pity I never knew about this badge before it came to me, I could have tried asking him about it.

Your attention is very kind Fabrizio, and if I establish any more information, I feel sure it will be due to your direction, and of course, I will be sure to let you know.