What is a Challenge Coin?

Challenge Coins go hand in hand with the British and American armed forces. Their rich history includes compelling stories that are difficult to verify and even a drinking game, and in the present day they’ve become important tokens in the Royal Air ForceRoyal Navy, Marines, and the emergency services. If you’re new to Challenge Coins, this is where they come from and what they represent.

A brief history of Challenge Coins

The coins were reportedly first awarded to British pilots during World War I to acknowledge their service. They had a secondary purpose too – proving the soldiers’ identity and allegiance.

One famous story tells the tale of a British soldier captured in Germany. When he escaped into France, he used his Challenge Coin to prove to the French he was an ally, escaping capture and execution. Pilots reportedly started to carry their Challenge Coins around their necks or in their pockets to prove their national identity if captured during an operation.

What do Challenge Coins represent?

Challenge Coins can mark a specific date or anniversary, an event, a soldier or officer’s position in a particular unit, or a notable achievement.

In the Royal Navy it’s common for Challenge Coins to feature a vessel and coins for the Royal Air Force will often feature aircrafts. Latin mottos and crests are also popular, making coins instantly recognisable and unique to the unit it represents. Coins for the emergency services are also becoming increasingly popular, marking their public service, commitment to the job, and specialist training or skills.

display approximately 30 Challenge Coins, which is ideal for anyone who has a vast collection or has collected many different coins throughout their career.

Challenge Coins today

Coins continue to be popular with the armed forces and beyond. Challenge Coins UK founder Tom Newey, a former soldier himself, received his first coin from an American soldier while on exercise with the Apache at NAF El Centro in southern California. After showing a member of the US Navy’s Blue Angels around the Apache, Tom was given his first Challenge Coin, swapping some patches and a t-shirt in return.

Thinking it was a great idea to swap with other forces, Tom ordered an Apache version of a coin and sold 300 to his fellow soldiers within a couple of weeks. He also gave two coins to the children of the Base Commander, who then gave him an NAF El Centro coin in return.

Former forces, by the forces

Challenge Coins UK is veteran-owned. Every Challenge Coin we produce is unique to your specification. We don’t use templates and our first-hand experience of the armed forces means we understand what Challenge Coins mean to service people.

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