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Category: Colour patches

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Attached Personnel

The policy relating to the colour patch to be worn by personnel of an arm or service attached to a formation headquarters, or to a unit of another arm or service, is outlined below, the primary reference being GRO 60/1945.

(a) Personnel only attached for duty were to wear the colour patch of the unit, arm, or service to which they belonged, and not that of the unit or formation headquarters to which they were attached. This affected for example members of a unit undertaking courses of instruction at a school or training unit, or soldiers undergoing sentence at a detention barracks. These personnel continued to be carried on the 'X' List of the unit to which they belonged, and were returned to it at the end of the training course or period of sentence.

(b) Individual members of a service attached by War Establishment to a unit, other than a formation headquarters, were to wear the colour patch allotted to their particular service. For instance the cooks, pay clerk and postal orderly of an infantry battalion were members of the AACC, AAPC and AA Postal Svce respectively and were required to wear the colour patch allotted to their respective service, not that of the infantry battalion. This ruling was not always understood, and was often disregarded, not least because these personnel had often enlisted as members of the original unit, before being required to transfer to another service simply because of the trade in which they were employed. This policy did not affect members of the women's services, who wore the patch of the unit to which they were attached regardless of their service identity or trade.

(c) Individual members of a formation headquarters were required to wear the colour patch of that formation headquarters, excepting that officers posted to a service appointment, as distinct from a staff appointment, within the WE of that headquarters, were required to wear the colour patch of the service concerned. Thus the Chief Signals Officer of a Corps wore the Corps headquarters colour patch, while the Assistant Director of Ordnance Services wore the AAOC (Field Units) colour patch.

Staff appointments comprised 'G', 'A' and 'Q' Branches, including artillery, engineers and signals, while service appointments included medical, provost, ordnance, etc. HQ AIF(ME) Memo No. 2256, dated 10.4.1941, directed however that AAOC personnel on the establishment of HQ AlF(ME) were, unless otherwise specially instructed, to wear the patch of HQ AlF. 

Standing Orders for Dress, 1935, stipulated that an officer seconded for duty at a formation, etc, headquarters, was to wear the colour patch of that headquarters, but was to continue to wear the uniform and regimental badges of the unit from which he was seconded.

(d) All personnel, whether members of a service or not, posted within the WE of LHQ or
an echelon thereof were required to wear the LHQ colour patch.

Note: Paragraphs (c) and (d) did not apply to units or sub-units which were attached by WE to a formation headquarters or LHQ. For example a Light Aid Detachment AAOC attached to an infantry brigade headquarters, although it formed an integral part of the '13' Echelon of that headquarters, continued to wear the divisional AAOC colour patch. A similar situation existed for infantry brigade or regimental signal sections.

(e) AAMC personnel attached to units, other than medical units, for duty as regimental medical officers, medical orderlies and sanitation personnel. The policy for these personnel was that they wore the AAMC colour patch allotted to their formation, and not that of the unit to which they were attached. This practice commenced during the Great War in order that these personnel could be readily recognised as having protected status as medical personnel. 

The reasoning behind this decision was not always accepted by formation commanders of that period, Monash of the 3rd Aust. Division in particular, and the DMS AEF, Major-General Sir N.R. Howse, VC, was constantly obliged to bring the policy to their attention. It should be noted that regimental stretcher-bearers were members of their respective infantry battalions and were not entitled to protected status. The policy followed in this regard during 1921 to 1939 does not appear in any official publication relating to dress, although there is no reason to assume that it differed from that above.

Some deviation from the principles laid down above for medical personnel occurred for senior officers. For example the officers appointed to the positions of Consulting Physician and Consulting Surgeon to the AIF in the Middle East wore the colour patch of Administrative Headquarters, AIF, and it is evident from subject registration booklets for Headquarters AEF (Middle East) correspondence that some confusion existed as to whether the ADMS of a division should wear the patch of the divisional AAMC or the formation headquarters. 

It appears likely that the AAMC patch was that worn. Unfortunately the substantial HQ AIF(ME) records relating to AAMC colour patches during the period 1941 to 1942 were either lost at sea during transit to Australia, or were part of those destroyed in 1955.

The material on this section of the site is drawn from "Distinguishing Colour Patches of the Australian Military Forces 1915-1951" by Keith Glyde. ISBN 0-6460-36640-8  


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