Marchers in World War II Australian uniforms, wearing the colour patch of the 2/8th Battalion. ANZAC Day Parade in Brisbane, Queensland, 25 April 2007. This colour patch was based on that of the 8th Battalion, 1st AIF, with grey trim to distinguish it as the colour patch of a unit of the 2nd AIF.
Unit Colour Patches (or simply known as Colour Patches) identify the wearer as belonging to a military formation or unit.
It is believed that the Australian system of colour patches is based upon the small patches of colours or tartan worn on the puggarees of the pith helmets of members of a number of British Army units during the Second Boer War, the South African War of 1899–1902. While some modern Australian colour patches are recent creations, many date back to World War I.
Banner representing the 60th Battalion of the 1st AIF. ANZAC Day Parade in Melbourne, Victoria, 25 April 2019. The banner design is based on the design of the 60th Battalion's unit colour patch. When raised in Egypt in February 1916 the 60th became the "sister battalion" of the 8th Battalion of the 1st AIF. This relationship was represented ceremonially by the 60th adopting the unit colour patch of the 8th, albeit rotated 90 degrees to stand upended on the sleeve. In practical terms the relationship was that a large number of veteran soldiers from the 8th with experience fighting in the battles of Gallipoli, including Officers and Non–Commissioned Officers, were transferred to the 60th to inject their expertise and knowledge into the new unit.
The first approval for the use of distinctive unit colours for Australian army units came from Major General William Throsby Bridges for the 1st Division to fly flags to denote unit areas and lines in Egypt. C.E.W. Bean made the first reference to unit colour patches to be worn on the uniform, when he described Major General Bridges issuing 1st Australian Divisional Order No. 562 dated 8 March 1915, ordering that patches be worn, describing how they would look and ordering that they were to be worn on the uniform sleeve 1 inch (25 mm) below the shoulder. As this was an extension of the order for the posting of the colour flags to denote headquarters and unit lines, these flags were used as the basic design for 1st Division uniform colour patches.
In total over 300 individual patches were eventually authorized during World War 1.
Modern unit colour patches are approximately 40 millimetres (1.6 in) x 40 millimetres (1.6 in) in size and use a large variety of colours and shapes to distinguish the units they represent. Unit colour patches are currently worn on the slouch hat in the Australian Army. Wherever possible the features of modern colour patches reflect relationships between current units and their antecedents from previous wars. For example, modern and historical artillery patches are red and blue, and modern army aviation patches preserve the light blue background with red and blue bands of their World War 1 antecedents, while modern and historical engineer patches are predominantly purple. Some modern units reflect that they are direct descendants of World War 1 and 2 units. For example, the 8th/7th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment of rural Victoria uses the white over red horizontal rectangular patch of the original 8th Battalion. The shapes, colours and embellishments of unit colour patches therefore not only identify individuals as members of units, but they can also reflect the story of the unit.
The First Australian Imperial Force was involved in three major campaigns in distant lands, and a smaller campaign closer to home. The First AIF's first major battles were in the Gallipoli Campaign, followed by simultaneous involvement on the Western Front in France and Belgium and in the Middle East, particularly in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. Meanwhile, Australian forces occupied German political possessions in New Guinea and on other islands of the Southern Pacific. All of these campaigns were distinct in character and made new demands upon the Australian military. The many challenges, losses and successes of the Australian military and its personnel helped forge the character of the new nation of Australia, which had only become the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901. In the Gallipoli Campaign all Australian fighting units were formed up together on the Gallipoli Peninsula, with supply, medical and other services stretching back as far as Egypt and England. Subsequently, the First AIF was effectively split. For a new nation fighting a war so far from home this created many logistical and organisational challenges. There were many innovations in the organisation of the Australian military during this time. The alliance with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the creation of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and other ANZAC units were also important throughout most of World War 1.
The intent of the new unit colour patch system was initially to help with organisation and identification of individuals and units in the field. However, it became more than that, creating bonds between soldiers that contributed to the 'esprit de corps' and 'mateship' among the Australians.
The first orders for unit colours were for flags 9 inches (22.86 cm) square, divided horizontally with the battalion colour over the brigade colour. Green, red and light blue were allocated as the colours for the 1st Brigade, 2nd Brigade and 3rd Brigade respectively, while the colours for the battalions in each brigade in the order of battle were originally black, yellow, brown and white, the battalion colour to be shown over the brigade colour. The 4th Brigade, raised separately, was allocate blue as the brigade colour.
1st Divisional Unit Flags in Egypt, 1914
Flag of 1st Brigade Headquarters 1914
Flag of 2nd Brigade Headquarters 1914
Flag of 3rd Brigade Headquarters 1914
Battalion first in order of battle (Black)
Flag of 1st Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 5th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 9th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Battalion second in order of battle (Yellow)
Flag of 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 6th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 10th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Battalion third in order of battle (Chocolate brown)
Flag of 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 7th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Battalion fourth in order of battle (White)
Flag of 4th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 8th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 12th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
The Army Museum of Tasmania, Anglesea Barracks, Hobart has reproduced a photograph of the 12th Battalion flag from Mena. The flag is held at the Imperial War Museum. Glyde (1999)  does not describe writing on the battalion flags (only on the Artillery, Engineers and Medical flags), but writing designating the unit may have been displayed on some or all of the other flags.
Flag of 1st Brigade Divisional Artillery
Flag of 1st Brigade Divisional Engineers
Flag of Divisional Light Horse Regiment
Flag of Divisional Signals Company
Flag of 1st Field Ambulance
Flag of Divisional Train
Brigade Unit Flags in Egypt
Light Horse Brigade
Flag of 4th Brigade Headquarters 1914
Flag of Headquarters Light Horse Brigade 1914
Flag of 13th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 1st Light Horse Regiment 1914
Flag of 14th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 2nd Light Horse Regiment 1914
Flag of 15th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 3rd Light Horse Regiment 1914
Flag of 16th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914
Flag of 1st Signal Troop, Australian Engineers 1914
13th Australian Infantry Battalion flag March 1915, colour changed because black and dark blue were difficult to distinguish.
Flag of No. 5 Company, Australian Army Service Corps 1914
Flag of 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps 1914
His Majesty King George V congratulating Lieutenant General Sir John Monash KCB VD, General Officer Commanding, Australian Corps, after his investiture on 12 August 1918 as a KCB. The ribbon for the KCB can be seen around General Monash's neck and the unit colour patch for Headquarters Australian Corps can be seen on his upper left sleeve. On 1 June 1918, the promotion of Monash to Lieutenant General and commander of the Australian Corps had been confirmed. On 4 July 1918 Monash had successfully commanded the Australian Corps, with American troops under his command who were fighting in this war for the first time, at the Battle of Hamel.
Units of Headquarters AIF
Australian Corps Cavalry Regiment (13th Light Horse)
XXII Corps Cavalry Regiment
5th Divisional Mounted Troops 1916, and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment 1916-1917
1 ANZAC Corps Cyclist Battalion from July 1916-1918, Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion from 1918-1919
1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station 1918–1919
2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station 1918–1919
3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station 1918–1919
Australian Army Dental Corps
Australian Army Nurses in England, France, Egypt, Salonika and India
Australian Army Nursing Service, India
Australian Army Nursing Service, Salonika
1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital 1918–1919
2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, 1918 – 1919
3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital 1918–1919
Sea Transport Sections Australian Army Medical Corps
Sea Transport Sections Australian Army Medical Corps 1918–1919
No. 1 Sea Transport Staff Australian Army Medical Corps
No. 2 Sea Transport Staff Australian Army Medical Corps
Base Depot of Medical Stores
Australia had two hospital ships during the First World War. HMAHS 'Karoola', No. 1 Australian Hospital Ship (6,705 tonnes), was requisitioned on 9 May 1915 and embarked for Egypt on 25 June 1915 carrying troops and general cargo. The ship later sailed to England and was converted to a 463-bed hospital ship. HMAHS 'Kanowna', No. 2 Australian Hospital Ship (5,481 tonnes), was first requisitioned as a transport on 8 August 1914, taking one contingent of troops to New Guinea. It was requisitioned again on 1 June 1915 and proceeded to England, where it was converted into a 452-bed hospital ship. For the next three years these two ships transported sick and wounded between England and Australia, making a total of 23 voyages to Australia between them. Commonwealth control of these ships ended in mid-1919. Many Australian doctors, nurses, masseuses, orderly and ambulance staff were also stationed on English hospital ships.
Australian Sanitary Section
1st Australian Sanitary Section, 1st Division
2nd Australian Sanitary Section, 2nd Division
3rd Australian Sanitary Section, 3rd Division
4th Australian Sanitary Section, 4th Division
5th Australian Sanitary Section, 5th Division
6th Australian Sanitary Section, Tell El Kebir Australian Imperial Force Training Base at the Suez Canal in Egypt, later moved to England with the Australian Imperial Force Training Centre
7th Australian Sanitary Section, ANZAC Mounted Division
8th Australian Sanitary Section, Australian Mounted Division
Divisional Order 81 decreed a rectangular patch on the upper sleeve of the uniform1.25 inches (32 mm) by 2.75 inches (70 mm). Engineers were ordered to change the colour of their uniform patch from khaki to purple so that it was more visible when worn against the khaki sleeve of the uniform. Artillery were ordered to adopt diagonally divided red over blue patches. As further divisions created colour patches for their uniforms, the shape of the patch indicated the division.
6th Division had vertical oval patches. The 6th Division was raised in response to a request from the British Government to the Australian Government in February 1917, but was disbanded in September of the same year to provide reinforcements to other divisions. Therefore, the 6th Division did not see active service as a formation.
Australian Mounted Division battle units had triangular patches or horizontal rectangular patches, with the colours bisected diagonally, while some of their support units had vertical rectangular patches.
Headquarters 1st Australian Division 1916-1917
1st Australian Division Army Ordnance Corps 1916-1917
Divisional Colour Patches
1st Division Headquarters 1917–1919
2nd Division Headquarters 1916–1919
3rd Division Headquarters 1916–1919
4th Division Headquarters 1916–1919
5th Division Headquarters 1916–1919
1st Australian Divisional Engineers
2nd Australian Divisional Engineers
3rd Australian Divisional Engineers
4th Australian Divisional Engineers
5th Australian Divisional Engineers
1st Australian Divisional Signal Company (Australian Engineers Signal Service) 1915–1919
2nd Australian Divisional Signal Company (Australian Engineers Signal Service) 1915–1919
3rd Australian Divisional Signal Company (Australian Engineers Signal Service) 1916–1919
4th Australian Divisional Signal Company (Australian Engineers Signal Service) 1916–1919
5th Australian Divisional Signal Company (Australian Engineers Signal Service) 1916–1919
1st Australian Divisional Cyclist Company 1916
2nd Australian Divisional Cyclist Company 1916
4th Australian Divisional Cyclist Company 1916
5th Australian Divisional Cyclist Company 1916
1st Machine Gun Battalion, with Vickers machine guns depicted in brass φ
2nd Machine Gun Battalion
3rd Machine Gun Battalion
4th Machine Gun Battalion
5th Machine Gun Battalion
1st Australian Division Machine Gun Company
2nd Australian Division Machine Gun Company
3rd Australian Division Machine Gun Company
4th Australian Division Machine Gun Company
5th Australian Division Machine Gun Company
2nd Machine Gun Battalion, with crossed Vickers machine guns depicted as a brass badge, also depicting brass ANZAC 'A' badge
4th Australian Division Machine Gun Company, with crossed Vickers machine guns depicted in yellow cloth
Representations of crossed Vickers machine guns were worn beneath the colour patches of machine gun companies and battalions. They could be depicted either as a brass badge, or as a cloth badge with the Vickers machine guns shown yellow.
Each Infantry Brigade within each Division was assigned a colour and the Brigade HQ colour patches were the Divisional shape in the Brigade colour. Each Battalion in each Brigade was then assigned a colour, and the patch was split horizontally with the Battalion colour across the top of the field and the Brigade colour across the bottom of the field.
On 16 March 1915 the second battalion of each infantry brigade was ordered to change their battalion colour from yellow to purple. One consequence was that it became practical for the 8th Brigade to use yellow as the brigade colour. The 14th Battalion and later the 46th Battalion retained yellow.
Light Horse, Artillery, Engineer and Medical units were also allocated colour patches. Light Trench Mortar Batteries were manned by infantrymen, and so showed the colour patches of the infantry brigades over the blue "bursting bomb", whereas medium and heavy trench mortar batteries were manned by artillery gunners and so showed the red and blue patch of their artillery brigade over the "bursting bomb". Light Horse patches were divided diagonally.
Machine Gun Company (Brigade colour over crossed Vickers machine guns)
4th Division, 4th Brigade, 4th Machine Gun Company
4th Division, 12th Brigade, 12th Machine Gun Company
4th Division, 13th Brigade, 13th Machine Gun Company
16th Battalion colour patch on the upper left sleeve of 3399 Corporal Thomas Leslie AxfordVCMM, who was born in South Australia and enlisted in Western Australia on 19 July 1915. On 4 May 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal, either for actions during the enemy's Spring Offensive, or during the allied counterattacks such as the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, to which the 4th Brigade was heavily committed. Axford received the Victoria Cross for actions on 4 July 1918 against an emplacement of several machine guns at Vaire Wood during the Battle of Hamel and for closely approaching enemy trenches in preparations prior to that battle. He was wounded twice but survived the First World War.
Battalion colour patches shown on the statue entitled "Cobbers" by sculptor Peter Corlett at the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne. The art work correctly shows battalion colour patches in obverse on the left sleeve and in reverse on the right. As the black or the white were the battalion colours of the colour patch (while red was the colour for the 15th Brigade), the black and white faced the front of the uniform on both sleeves. Since the colour patch system originated from a system of flags and cloth colour patches to identify units and their members in camp, the patch on the left sleeve was displayed in the definitive orientation, as if it were flying from a staff showing the obverse side of a flag. The statue commemorates the Attack at Fromelles carried out by the 5th Division (8th, 14th and 15th Brigades) on the night of 19/20 July 1916, with Elliott commanding the 15th Brigade during the attack. The attack at Fromelles was ill-conceived and, despite Australian officers including Elliott objecting, went ahead with the highest loss of life in one night in modern Australian history. The statue depicts Sergeant Simon Fraser of the 57th Battalion carrying to safety an unknown wounded member of the 60th Battalion after the battle. Simon Fraser was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant but was killed in action at Second Battle of Bullecourt on 11 May 1917.
Australian and New Zealand Field Squadron Engineers, and 2nd Field Squadron Engineers
Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division Signal Service, and 2nd Mounted Division Signal Service
Australian Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron, Mesopotamia, 1917–1918
Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division Train, and Australian Mounted Division Train
Australian and New Zealand Mounted Divisional Artillery 1916–1918 Ψ
Ψ Artillery support for the ANZAC mounted units was provided by British horse artillery, such as the Leicestershire and Somersetshire Batteries, Royal Horse Artillery
§ 14th and 15th Regiments created using cameleer troops upon disbandment of the Imperial Camel Corps, July 1918. The third regiment of the 5th Light Horse Brigade was a French Colonial regiment, the "1er Régiment Mixte de Cavalerie du Levant"
φ 2nd Battalion of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade was a composite British yeomanry battalion
Colour patch worn with brass unit badge
Upper sleeve and epaulets of a soldier of the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment displaying brass (or oxidised copper) '6th Light Horse' (6 LH) shoulder badge, brass 'Australia' shoulder badge, the obverse (left side) 6th Light Horse colour patch, metal horseshoe denoting the role of 'farrier' and sergeant's chevrons. Although orders required that unit colour patches should replace other indications of belonging to a unit, such as shoulder badges, sometimes both were still worn until late in the war.
3rd Australian Infantry Battalion patch with ANZAC "A" badge, as worn by Captain Albert McDermid who was wounded in the leg at Gallipoli in August 1915 and was transferred to No. 19 British General Hospital at Alexandria. In June 1916 McDermid rejoined the 3rd Battalion in France and went on to serve in the RAAF during World War 2.
Pair of 58th Australian Infantry Battalion patches with ANZAC "A" badge, as worn by Sergeant George Schofield Glover who landed with the 6th Australian Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli in August 1915. The patch on the left (for the right sleeve) is the reverse, while the patch on the right (for the left sleeve) is the obverse. By the time the wearing of the "A" badge had been authorised Glover with all his experience and knowledge had been transferred to the 58th Battalion, the "daughter" battalion of the 6th Battalion. He wore the "A" badge over the 58th's patch even though the 58th did not serve at Gallipoli, because the entitlement was bestowed upon individuals, not units. Glover was wounded at the Battle of Fromelles in France, on 19th July 1916 and recovered. However, he received multiple shrapnel wounds on 11 May 1917 at Second Battle of Bullecourt and Died of Wounds on 14 May 1917.
3rd Australian General Hospital patch, 1918 version, with ANZAC "A" badge, as worn by Sister Muriel Burbury. From Jericho in Tasmania, when Burbury enlisted on 18 May 1915 she was already a qualified nurse with experience in medical wards, surgical wards and operating theatres, including time as Sister in Charge. She embarked almost immediately for the war, on 20 May 1915. She served with 3rd Australian General Hospital on Lemnos Island from 9 August 1915 until 11 January 1916. She then served at Alexandria from January to August 1916, then later at Abbeville, France and in England. As was very common among the nurses, because of their exposure to sick soldiers in crowded hospitals, Burbury was hospitalised several times herself for sickness, including thirty two days in July–August 1917 for influenza. Sister Burbury embarked for Australia on around 9 August 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 16 January 1920.
The ANZAC A badge was an insignia authorised by Lieutenant General Birdwood in November 1917 to be worn over the unit colour patch by individuals who served in 1915 as part of ANZAC Corps, 1st AIF, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Later orders from Birdwood also authorised the badge for those people who served during the Gallipoli Campaign on the islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos, on the communication lines in Egypt, and on the transport ships and hospital ships standing off the peninsula. The authorised badge was brass but sometimes an embroidered version was worn.
Units of the Army of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the First World War displayed unit colour patches worn in the centre of the back of the uniform jacket, immediately below the collar. The authority for the design and wearing of unit colour patches was from General Godley's orders dated 15 October 1917 No. 416.
New Zealand Expeditionary Force Artillery Colour Patches
Field Artillery Division
1st Brigade New Zealand Field Artillery
2nd Brigade New Zealand Field Artillery
3rd Brigade New Zealand Field Artillery
New Zealand Field Artillery Divisional Ammunition Column
Auckland New Zealand Field Artillery
Wellington New Zealand Field Artillery
Canterbury New Zealand Field Artillery
Otago New Zealand Field Artillery
1st Light Trench Mortar Battery
2nd Light Trench Mortar Battery
3rd Light Trench Mortar Battery
4th Light Trench Mortar Battery
New Zealand Expeditionary Force Infantry Colour Patches
1st New Zealand Infantry Brigade (1916)
2nd New Zealand Infantry Brigade (1916)
New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (1916)
3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade (1917)
1st in order of battle
1st Battalion Auckland Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion Auckland Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade
3rd Battalion Auckland Infantry Regiment
2nd in order of battle
1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade
3rd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment
3rd in order of battle
1st Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment
3rd Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade
3rd Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment
4th in order of battle
1st Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment
4th Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade
3rd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment
Headquarters New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
No. 1 Company New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
No. 2 Company New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
No. 3 Company New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
No. 4 Company New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
No. 5 Company New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion
Headquarters New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade (1916)
Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment, New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade
New Zealand Machine Gun Squadron
New Zealand Army Service Corps in Egypt
No. 1 New Zealand (Divisional) Employment Company
No. 2 New Zealand (Area) Employment Company
New Zealand Expeditionary Force Cyclist Corps Colour Patch and Puggaree
New Zealand Cyclist Corps unit colour patch
New Zealand Cyclist Corps puggaree (hat band). The New Zealand Cyclist Corps trained as mounted infantry and wore the same puggaree as the mounted rifles.
The Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment was a stand-alone regiment, not part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. It was never issued a unit colour patch.
In the official history of the Otago Regiment written in 1921 appears the following:
"SERGT. RICHARD TRAVIS.
In the years still distant, and in the nearer times, when men who have fought side by side in the Great War foregather and, in reminiscent mood, go back in memory to those days of storm and stress, of great peril and blood-stirring adventure, the name of one man of the Otago Regiment will always be spoken of with pride and admiration, touched with something akin to reverence for the gallant spirit, around which centre stories of personal daring and adventure mediaeval rather than modern in the flavour of romance which they exhale. This was Sergt. Richard Travis, V.C., D.C.M., M.M., Croix de Guerre, a man of striking and outstanding personality even among the bravest of the brave men by whom he was surrounded."
Travis, a member of the 2nd Battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment, was killed by a shell near Rossignol Wood in July 1918, one day after the exploits that later earned him the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross.
At the end of World War 1 most Australian army units were disbanded. However, in May 1921 a reorganisation of Australia's part-time military forces led to the creation of the Citizen Military Force (CMF, or Militia). The units of the CMF were created upon the geographical locations of the World War 1 units, which enabled the perpetuation of the battle honours, numerical designations and colour patches of the 1st AIF. Many of these units were in continuous existence until the end of World War 2, a small number were disbanded, while others went through various temporary or permanent amalgamations with other units with similar roles located in nearby towns and suburbs or sharing history with each other. Yet others can be traced in lineage to units still in existence.
Military Order 206/21 in 1921 authorised the use of Unit Colour Patches for the Citizen Military Forces. As this new organisation was based on the AIF, this order granted authority to the Citizen Military Forces to wear Regimental Colour Patches similar to those worn by corresponding units of the AIF. It also allowed for ex-members of the AIF serving in Citizen Military Forces to wear a miniature colour patch of the last AIF unit in which they served, worn above their current CMF colour patch.
The 12th Battalion, initially raised in 1914 from Tasmania, was also disbanded after World War 1 but re-raised in 1921. In 1936 it was amalgamated with the 50th Battalion becoming the 12th/50th Battalion and retaining the unit colour patch of the 12th Battalion. The 12th/50th served during World War 2 in a garrison role in the Northern Territory. In May 1945 before the end of the war the 12th/50th amalgamated with the 40th Battalion which was raised in 1914 from Tasmania and South Australia and was based at the time of amalgamation in Hobart, Tasmania. The 12th/40th Battalion still exists as the Royal Tasmania Regiment and retains the lineage and the unit colour patch of the original 12th Battalion of World War 1.
With the raising of the all volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force for overseas service during the early stages of World War 2, the concept of the unit colour patch was continued. A grey background of the same shape as the divisional patch denoted a unit as being of the Second AIF. Superimposed over the grey background were the colour patches of the units with the same number designations as those of the 1st AIF to which they were geographically related. For example, at the beginning of World War 2 the all volunteer 2/12th and 2/40th Battalions were raised. They were distinct from the 12th/40th Battalion of the Militia, but the 2/12th displayed the unit colour patch of the original 12th over the grey background in the shape of the 6th Division patch while the 2/40th Battalion displayed the unit colour patch of the original 40th over the grey background and shape of the 8th Division. The 2/12th and 2/40th were disbanded after World War 2.
Colour patches of World War II were generally smaller than those of World War I, with the World War II square patch 38 millimetres (1.5 in) long on the sides, with an additional 5-millimetre (0.20 in) grey border if the colour patch had been used by the 1st AIF. New shapes were used, for example many five-sided and six-sided shapes including the tank-shaped patches of some armoured units, the T-shaped patches instituted for units of the 9th Division in 1943 representing their key role in the 1942 Siege of Tobruk, the double-diamond of the commandos and independent companies, and the 11th Division arrowheads. Some representations of Australian birds and mammals began to appear. Over 800 separate patches were authorised during World War 2.
New shapes for unit colour patches and their designs during WW2Edit
2/8th Australian Armoured Regiment 1943-1944
Provost Platoon, 4th Australian Armoured Brigade 1943-1945
Australian Army Ordnance Corps, 4th Australian Armoured Brigade 1943-1946
Ordnance Field Park, Australian Army Ordnance Corps, 4th Australian Armoured Brigade
Support Group, Headquarters 1st Aust Armoured Division 1942
Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1st Australian Armoured Division 1943-1944, and Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1st Australian Armoured Brigade Group 1944-1945
Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 9th Australian Division 1943-1946
Salvage Unit, 9th Australian Division 1942-1945
Field Cash Office, 9th Australian Division 1942-1945
Australian Army Ordnance Corps, 9th Australian Division
Below are colour patches of the 17th Battalion, originally of the 2nd Division in the 1st AIF. One of these patches shows the ANZAC "A" Badge, which was usually brass, worn by those members of the battalion who served at Gallipoli in 1915. The first colour patch of the 2/17th Battalion displayed the diamond–shaped (or lozenge–shaped) colour patch of the 17th Battalion. As the 2/17th was a unit initially raised within the 7th Division of the 2nd AIF, this patch was superimposed over the grey diamond shaped patch of the 7th Division. Once in the Middle East the 2/17th was transferred to the command of the 9th Division and as a result participated in the Siege of Tobruk. In 1942 authority was given for the T-shaped colour patch to replace the original colour patches for 9th Division units that participated in the siege. The T-shaped colour patch below was the 2/17th's Siege of Tobruk patch, also with the grey background of the 2nd AIF. Between 1940 and 1944 the 17th and the 2/17th co-existed as separate battalions.
17th Battalion unit colour patch 1914-1919 and 1921-1944
17th Battalion 1st AIF 1914-1919, with ANZAC "A" Badge
2/17th Battalion 1940-1942
2/17th Battalion 1942-1946, in Siege of Tobruk T-shape
Of the thirty two Militia infantry battalions that served during World War 2, twenty nine became 2nd AIF units when 65% of their number enlisted as individuals in the AIF. Many of these units saw action in Borneo and in the South West Pacific, including Timor, New Guinea, New Britain and Bougainville. The 57th/60th for example served in New Guinea and Bougainville. When these units joined the AIF they did not change their colour patch (in most cases, except for the 37th/52nd and the 61st). In other words, most did not adopt the grey background used by newly raised 2nd AIF units such as the 2/12th, 2/17th and 2/40th, but retained the patch they used when they had been Militia units (which they had inherited directly from World War 1 units). If they preserved the colour patch from the First AIF, this also meant that the colour patches of units that had transferred to the AIF from the Militia usually did not reflect the shape of the patch for the division to which they had been assigned as part of the Second AIF.
Headquarters units – Provost (Military Police)Edit
First Australian Army Provost Company 1943-1945
Second Australian Army Provost Company 1942-1945
1st Australian Corps Provost Company 1940-1945
2nd Australian Corps Provost Company 1942-1945
3rd Australian Corps Provost Company 1942-1945
3rd and 10th Provost Companies, Victorian Line of Communication Area, 1943-1945.
1st, 2/3rd, and 7th Provost Companies, Queensland Line of Communication Area, 1943-1945.
5th Australian Line of Communication Provost Company, Western Australia, 1943-1945.
South Australian Line of Communication Provost Company, 1943-1945
2/2nd and 10th Provost Companies, New Guinea Line of Communication Area, 1943-1945. 1st Australian Provost Company, 1947-1949.
Provost Units, Northern Territory Line of Communication Area, 1943-1945. Northern Territory Line of Communication Provost Company and 11th Australian Line of Communication Sub-Area Independent Provost Platoon.
6th Australian Line of Communication Provost Company, 1943-1945.
2nd, 8th, and 9th Provost Companies, NSW Line of Communication Area, 1943-1945.
HQ 1st Cavalry Division 1921-1942, Headquarters 1st Australian Motor Division 1942
HQ 2nd Cavalry Division 1921-1942, Headquarters 2nd Australian Motor Division 1942
A military journey - Major General Sir J.E.S. StevensEdit
Major General Jack Edwin Stawell Stevens, KBE, CB, DSO, ED served in the First World War, the inter-war years, the Second World War and in the post-war period. In all, Stevens served with seven signals units, two infantry units and five headquarters formations.
Stevens enlisted on 2 July 1915 in the Australian Imperial Force in the Signal Corp and sailed for Egypt in November with the rank of corporal. He was promoted in March 1916 to sergeant with the 4th Divisional Signal Company, deploying to France in June, serving in the battles of Pozières and the Ypres salient. Transferred to the 5th Divisional Signal Company in February 1917, he was promoted to lieutenant in April, seeing action in the Battle of Polygon Wood. He was transferred to the Australian Corps Signal Company in March 1918. He was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force in Melbourne on 28 October 1919.
Rejoining the Militia in 1921, Stevens was promoted to captain in 1922 taking command of the 2nd Cavalry Divisional Signals, and to major in 1924. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in command of the 4th Divisional Signals (1926–29), the 3rd Divisional Signals (1929–35) and the 57th/60th Australian Infantry Battalion (1935–39).
Stevens was seconded to the Second Australian Imperial Force on 13 October 1939 and placed in command of the 6th Divisional Signals. He was chosen in April 1940 by Major General John Lavarack to command the 21st Brigade, and was promoted to temporary brigadier. He left for the Middle East in October. During the Syrian campaign against Vichy French forces in Syria and Lebanon he directed the battle of the Litani River on 12 June 1941 and the successful coastal advance towards Sidon. After recovering from wounds he led the brigade's actions during the battle of Damour between 5 and 9 July 1941.
Stevens returned to Australia in March 1942. He was promoted to temporary major general and given command of the Militia's 4th Division in April before being appointed commander of Northern Territory Force in August. He was given the additional command responsibilities of the 12th Division and the Northern Territory Line of Communication Area in December.
Promoted to major general and appointed the commanding officer of the 6th Division in April 1943, Stevens deployed to New Guinea in late 1944 for action in the Aitape–Wewak campaign. He was relinquished of command in August 1945, but was appointed general officer commanding the 2nd Australian Division between 1947 and 1950.
4th Australian Divisional Signal Company 1916-1919
5th Australian Divisional Signal Company 1916-1919
Australian Corps Signal Company
Headquarters 2nd Australian Division Signals 1921-1942
Headquarters 4th Australian Division Signals 1921-1942
Headquarters 3rd Australian Division Signals 1921-1942
57th/60th Australian Infantry Battalion 1930-1946
Headquarters 6th Australian Division Signals 1939-1940
Headquarters 21st Australian Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 4th Australian Division
Headquarters Northern Territory Force 1942-1946
Headquarters Northern Territory Line of Communication Area 1942-1946
Headquarters 6th Australian Infantry Division
Headquarters 2nd Australian Division
Matron SX1491 Major Melna Isobel Brown, 2/2nd Australian General Hospital, VX17 Brigadier Jack Stevens, commanding 21st Australian Infantry Brigade and VX20310 Major General John Lavarack, General Officer Commanding 7th Australian Division, in South Australia 1940 prior to departure for the Middle East and participation in the Syria–Lebanon Campaign.
VX17 Major General Jack Stevens General Officer Commanding 6th Australian Division and NX8 Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead General Officer Commanding 2nd Australia Corps, in Queensland 1943 during a long period of preparation in Australia, prior to deployment of the 6th Division in November 1944 to the Aitape–Wewak campaign, New Guinea.
2nd Australian Special Hospital 1940, 2/2nd Australian General Hospital 1940–1946
Headquarters 21st Australian Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 7th Australian Infantry Division
Headquarters 6th Australian Infantry Division
Headquarters 2nd Australian Corps 1942–1945
Major Brown later served with No. 105 (Adelaide) Military Hospital
Colour patch of Headquarters 6th Australian Infantry Division on a seven-fold puggaree from an Australian slouch hat, as worn by Major General J.E.S. Stephens. Note the variant rectangular white inset
6th Aust Division TAC (tactical) formation sign, or vehicle sign
Banner of the 6th Aust Division, ANZAC Day March, 25 April 2019, Melbourne, Australia
The Australian armoured brigades were allocated a colour patch of a particular shape, which was also usually allocated to the regiments or battalions within each brigade (unless they had inherited a different one). The colours of each regiment (or battalion) usually included the brigade colour and a regimental colour that followed an order of battle pattern as for the infantry.
1st Armoured Car Regiment 1934-1939, 3rd Aust Army Tank Battalion 1942
1st Aust Armoured Brigade Red
2nd Aust Armoured Brigade Yellow
3rd Aust Army Tank Brigade Colours aligned with vehicle markings
φ This 25th Brigade patch (and the associated battalion patches) were issued in England without initial approval from Australia. The 25th Brigade patch was identical to the patch for the 24th Brigade until the 24th adopted the Tobruk design.
1st Australian Corps Guard Battalion 1940–1941, Australian Headquarters Guard Battalion 1941–1942, 2/1st Australian Headquarters Guard Battalion 1942–1943, 2/1st Australian Guard Regiment 1943–1948
2/2nd Australian Headquarters Guard Battalion 1943, 2/2nd Australian Guard Battalion 1943–1945
VX12843 (later 337678) Lieutenant Reg SaundersMBE (left of picture), member of the 2/7th Battalion, the first officer of Aboriginal descent in the Australian Army, with SX7964 Lieutenant Tom Derrick VC DCM, member of the 2/48th Battalion. In 1944 they both completed officer training as members of the same training squad, and were awarded commissions on the day of this photograph being taken. Unit colour patches are displayed on the upper sleeves and on Saunders' puggaree.
Derrick was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He served with the 9th Division initially in North Africa, fighting in the Siege of Tobruk and the First and Second Battles of El Alamein. He earned the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Sattelberg in New Guinea. After being commissioned he continued to serve with the 2/48th Battalion and embarked for Tarakan Island in Borneo, where he was Killed in Action on 24 May 1945.
2/48th Battalion, Siege of Tobruk design
Royal Australian Infantry battledress flash worn sewn to the upper sleeve, as worn at the time of Australia's involvement in the Korean War and the Battle of Kapyong
Initially formed as Independent Companies (some remained so while others were placed under the command of regiments), the Commando Squadrons had a higher proportion of officers and included more members on strength than infantry rifle companies.
2/2nd Commando Squadron, Sparrow Force, Timor. The 2/2nd continued to harass the Japanese after the fall of Sparrow Force and the occupation of Timor by the Japanese. They were reinforced by the 2/4th Commando Squadron and recruited local and Portuguese fighters with logistical support from Major General J.E.S. Stevens of Northern Territory Force, but were eventually evacuated from Timor after about 1 year of guerrilla fighting.
Radio transmitter and receiver, make AWA, model Teleradio 3BZ, used by spotters of the New Guinea Air Warning Wireless Company. Museum collection displaying the unit colour patch.
Corporal R.G. Webb, member of New Guinea Air Warning Wireless Company, August 1945, displaying the NGAWW Company unit colour patch above that of probably an Australian Corps of Signals colour patch shown in right-sleeve reverse with 2nd AIF grey trim. NGAWW had been disbanded earlier in 1945 and its members had been posted to other signals units.
Australian Corps of Signals 1944–1948, Royal Australian Corps of Signals 1948–1951, shown in left-sleeve obverse with 2nd AIF grey trim.
RAE AIF (Middle East) Detachment Docks Operating Company 1942
Royal Australian Engineers Headquarters Allied Land Forces South-West Pacific Area
Royal Australian Engineers Victoria Line of Communication Area
Royal Australian Engineers Base and Line of Communication Units 1941-1943
Royal Australian Engineers Line of Communication Units
Royal Australian Engineers New Guinea Force
Royal Australian Engineers 1st Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 2nd Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 3rd Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 4th Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 5th Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 6th Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 7th Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 8th Australian Infantry Division
Royal Australian Engineers 9th Australian Infantry Division 1940-1942
Royal Australian Engineers 9th Australian Infantry Division 1942-1946
Royal Australian Engineers 11th Australian Infantry Division 1943-1945
Royal Australian Engineers 1st Aust Armoured Division
Royal Australian Engineers 2nd Aust Motor Division
Royal Australian Engineers 3rd Aust Armoured Division
Royal Australian Engineers 4th Aust Armoured Brigade
15th Australian Field Company
Royal Australian Engineers Chemical Warfare Units 1943-1945
Royal Australian Engineers 2nd AIF Troops Water Transport Units 1942-1945
Water Transport Units (Engineers) 1942-1945
Royal Australian Engineers Landing Ship Detachments 1943-1945
Royal Australian Engineers Docks Group
Royal Australian Engineers Anti Aircraft Companies
Forestry Companies 1940-1941, Aust Forestry Group 1941-1943, Royal Australian Engineers (Forestry) 1943-1946
Aust Railway Construction and Maintenance Group 1940-1943, Railway Construction Companies (Mechanical Equipment) 1943-1945
AE (Submarine Mining) Fortress Companies 1921-1922, Aust Engineers Fortress Companies 1921-1936, Royal Australian Engineers Fortress Companies (Militia) 1936-1941, Anti Aircraft and Fortress Companies 1943-1945