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Category: Badges

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Cloth Shoulder Badges of Australia; Overview

The first shoulder badges issued to Australians were colonial marksman badges. (Above left). The men who served in South Africa wore metal titles indicating Australian Commonwealth Horse (above centre). Between the Boer War and WW1 shooting badges became common again. (above right)

In 1903 -1912 there were several shapes of embroidered shoulder flashes 

The first recorded curved "AUSTRALIA" titles were hand cut brass made  in 1902 for Lieutenant (later General) C B B White of 1st Commonwealth Horse In WW1 and WW2 the troops wore the famous oxidised, curved AUSTRALIA titles. More details about metal shoulder titles on Shoulder Titles of various Australian Units
During WW2 various units wore shoulder titles that slipped onto the shoulder strap. This was mainly for base troops and units in Australia. Front line units were not issued this sort of item. AWAS stands for Australian Women's Army Service.

In 1948 shoulder flashes were screen printed (with a border).

Australians in the  British Commonwealth Occupation Force (Japan), 1945 onwards, wore a sew on shoulder flash on winter uniform (above left) and a slip on title on the shoulder strap of the summer uniform (above right). Corporal J H Welch, 66 Battalion donated these to the AWM.
The Werriwa Regiment (winter uniform)

Shoulder flash for the 67th Australian Infantry Battalion (later 3RAR) (winter uniform)

Prior to 1949 some units wore embroidered curved sew on shoulder flashes as per the Werriwa Regt (winter) and 67th Bn. Some wore screen printed shoulder titles on a slip onto the shoulder strap version as shown by Werriwa Regt (summer) and North Shore Regt. Some wore screen printed sew on types as per City of Newcastle Regt and 7 Field Regiment. They were all semi-official. Soon the Army decided to have a standard design.

In 1949 embroidered shoulder flashes were introduced (with a border). They were worn on winter and summer uniforms. A full list of eligible Units and many examples on Shoulder Flash 1.

In 1962 shoulder flashes were altered. the border was dropped and they were worn only on the winter uniform, battle-dress. A full list of eligible Units with many examples on Shoulder Flash 2
At one time Bullion badges were issued for wear on berets. This is one of them. 


Royal NSW Lancers.

From the 1960s to the 1980s various units wore slip-on shoulder titles. Left is Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) of 1960, right is New Guinea Forces 1980.

No enlargement
After 1950 the Australian Army started to wear formation signs as shoulder patches to replace the old colour patch system. Here we see the formation patches of (l to r) Army HQ (1950); 1st Commonwealth Division (Korea): Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). More details on following pages.

Not all badges were official. Some were semi official as this Tasmania Military Tattoo badge was.

Some badges were worn by civilians who were authorised to do military related jobs. This is the badge of an Accredited War Correspondent.

At various times and in various postings Aussies have worn a range of shoulder patches; some were representations of the Rising sun badge, some were unit specific (28 Anzuk Brigade) and some were posting specific (Australian Defence Liaison Group). More details on following pages.
Since Vietnam there has been a growing trend to wearing the Australian Flag as a shoulder patch (above left) to UN shoulder flashes (above centre) and unofficial unit patches on work and sports dress (above right). More details on following pages.
Some images are from Australian Army Badges: Cloth insignia of the Army in Australia 1860-1993 by J K Cossum ISBN 0 949530 14 X

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces