|Instructions relating to
the circumstances under which the colour patch was worn, and its correct
method of wear, are contained in the following general authorities:
First Australian Division Standing Orders 1915 (Provisional) and 1917;
Standing Orders for Clothing Part 111, 1922 and 1925; Standing Orders
for Dress, 1931 and 1935; Standing Orders AIF, 1940; GRO 491/1942; GRO
761/1943; GRO 60/1945; MBI 14/1946; MBI 29/1946,
Instructions relating to specific aspects of wear, scales of issue, etc,
are indicated in the text pertaining to each appendix.
One further appendix relates to the various types of Signal units in
existence following the reorganization of that Corps in April 1942 and
mid 1943, and their allocation to various formations for the purpose of
issue of colour patches.
(1) When worn on the sleeve to be one
inch below the shoulder seam; if a miniature patch was worn in addition,
it was to be 1/2 inch below the shoulder seam, with the top of the unit
colour patch to be 1/2 inch below the base of the miniature. Colour
patches were to be worn by all ranks on both arms (see exception below,
and BCOF), and were to present exactly the same appearance on both arms
when viewed from the front. For this purpose therefore, patches which
were affected by either shape, eg. 11th Aust. Division, or where the
dividing line between the colours departed from the horizontal, eg. RAA
1st Aust. Division, were supplied in opposing
All colour patches depicted in the
colour plates accompanying this book are left arm variants unless
otherwise stated. Two exceptions to this ruling have been noted: the
patch of the 3rd (Army) Brigade, AFA, 1918-1919, was worn with the red
dot at 3 o'clock, regardless of the arm worn on, (AIFO
1059/1918.) while the patch of the
1st Aust. Parachute Battalion was worn on the left arm only, whether in
full size or miniature.
(2) When worn on the hat band or puggaree the colour patch was placed
centrally on either the left or right hand side as authorised, with the
base of the patch in coincidence with the bottom of the hat band or
(3) When worn on the beret, a left arm patch was to be attached to the
left hand side of the beret with the base of the patch in coincidence
with the top of the leather band, and the front of the patch in line
with the front of the left ear.
The colour patch had a vital function in battlefield identification,
Lt-Gen. Monash writing that it was a most important aid to actual battle
operations and that organization both before and during battle, and
reorganization after battle were greatly facilitated by its use. (See
footnote 3) It was worn during
operations during the Great War, and in the Middle East during the
Second World War for this purpose. The Army Colour Patch Register notes
however that colour patches do not appear to have been worn in action
after the Middle East campaigns, while the 1986 Army Dress Committee
submission on the reintroduction of unit colour patches is more
emphatic, stating that they were not subsequently worn in operational
areas due to the emphasis on security and personal camouflage.
Although there is some evidence to
support the current Army attitude that this was official, the actual
truth of the matter seems to lie in between, and probably depended as
much on individual choice as upon the directives of formation or unit
commanders. A Routine Order Part One dated 29.11.1944 of the 2/3rd Aust.
Field Regiment, involved in the Aitape-Wewak campaign during 1944-1945,
states for instance that colour patches were not to be worn by personnel
moving east of Yakamul, 25 miles to the east of Aitape. It is evident
however from photographs in this unit's recently published history that
this order was disobeyed by a considerable number of its personnel.
Personal camouflage was obviously not
a consideration, as the same RO allows the wearing of puggarees without
patches. The Thunder of the Guns, p.573.
On the other hand, a member of the 2/3rd Aust. Commando Squadron records
in this unit's history that after their initial landing at Balikpapan in
1945 they were told to remove steel helmets and wear slouch hats with
puggarees and unit colour patches.
Nothing is Forever, R. Garland, p.339.
Photographic evidence in both official
and unit histories does show widespread use of colour patches in forward
areas by all arms during actual operations in SWPA, and they were most
certainly worn in base areas. The use of unit colour patches in forward
areas during the Borneo operations was in fact extensive enough to
assume the existence of an official direction supporting the matter.
Jacket, Service Dress:
As (1), no miniature colour patches being worn during this period. In
mid 1919 when it became necessary to allot a second colour patch to
units still operating in Belgium and France, comprising members drawn
from disbanding units of the AIF, the new colour patch was worn I inch
below the full size patch of the member's original unit. (SO
AASC (MT) Memo No. 303, 7.6.1919. AWM 25, item 89/16.)
Greatcoat: Worn as (1).
The only recorded authority for wear on any form of head-dress is 4th
Aust. Infantry Brigade Order No. 134, dated 31.3.1915, which directed
that the unit colour patch was to be worn on the left hand side of the
helmet puggaree, hat band or cap band. Although this order was cancelled
on 9.4.1915 without being put into effect, there is evidence that other
units, particularly those serving with British formations, did wear
their patches in this manner on helmets and felt hats. These noted to
date have included the Camel Battalions, 1st Aust. Wireless Signal
Squadron, and elements of 1st Aust. Divisional Artillery. The CO of 1st
Aust. General Hospital, when referring to the first colour patch
approved for his unit, stated that it was originally approved for wear
on the summer helmet. (Memo dated 26.6.1916, AWM
25, item 89/16.)
No official direction relating to the painting of unit patches on steel
helmets has been located although the practice certainly existed. The
history of the Victorian Scottish Regiment records that by mid September
1917 the 5th Battalion had recently painted their colour patches on
their helmets, (Esprit De Corps, Speed, p-90.) and
examples of similar use by the 4th Divisional Artillery have also been
Nursing Service, 1915-1919
Norfolk Coat, Grey:
As (1) by all ranks of the AANS.
Hat, Grey, Felt: No instructions have yet been located, however
personnel attached to 2nd Aust. CCS have been noted wearing the colour
patch on the left hand side of the chocolate hat band.
Note: Colour patches were not worn on the indoor uniform by members of
Jacket, S.D., Officers: As
(1) by all officers and Warrant Officers Class I of the PMF.
Frocks, Serge, Officers:
As (1) from March 1935 when worn as service dress.
Jacket, P.F., Cloth, Khaki:
As (1) by all other ranks of the Permanent Forces.
Jacket, Drill, Khaki, P.F.:
As (1) by all ranks of the Permanent Forces. These were required to be
attached by clips so they could be readily removed for washing of the
garment. Following complaints that the breaking of clips would
eventually lead to colour patches on cotton garments presenting a
slovenly appearance, the Military Board advised on 17.7.1923 that there
was no objection to the discontinuance of this practice. (Mil.
Board Memo No. 1836 1, of 17.7.1923, and Memo No's 28988 to 28992,
7.11.1923. AA(Vic): MP 742/1, item 87/1/37.)
Although approval for the wear on cotton garments was not actually
cancelled at that stage, there is no evidence that it continued, even in
areas where khaki drill was the only clothing item worn. It would
certainly have ceased by 1933 with the introduction of brass shoulder
titles for the PMF.
Greatcoat, M.S. or D.S.:
As in (1) by all ranks up to and including Staff Sergeant, with the
exception of non-commissioned officers of the Aust. Survey Corps (P).
Note: Colour patches were not worn on the full dress jacket or on
protective clothing. Woollen clothing, service dress and greatcoats were
withdrawn from personnel prior to them proceeding to a tropical station,
thus colour patches were not worn by personnel at Darwin, Thursday
Island, and Port Moresby.
Jacket, Service Dress:
As (1) by all officers and men of the CMF from 1921 to 1930, and 1940 to
Jacket, Service Dress, Officers:
As (1) from 1930 to 1940 by officers of Light Horse (including Armoured
Car Regiments), Infantry (excluding Scottish Regiments), and the Army
Legal Department, and between 1930 and 1934 by officers of all other
Jacket, S.D., Officers, Scottish
Pattern: As (1) from 1930 by
officers of Scottish Regiments.
Frocks, Serge, Officers:
As (1) from August 1934, when worn as service dress, by all officers of
the RAA(M), RAE(M), Corps of Signals, Tank Corps, AASC(M), AAMC(M),
AAOC(M) and AAVC(M).
As (1) by all other ranks of the Militia from 1930.
Greatcoats, M.S. or D.S:
No issue was made for greatcoats, however they are known to have been
worn unofficially on this item of dress by individual personnel of the
Note: Colour patches were not to be worn by Area Officers during the
period 1921 until 1926, although this ruling did not affect miniature
colour patches where individuals were entitled to these.
& personnel called up for Full Time Duty, 1940-1942;
Other ' than tropical areas -MBI 0. 17/1940,
Jacket, Service Dress:
As (1). Tropical areas
As (2), worn on the left hand side of the hat in areas where shirts and
shorts were worn. AAO 62/1941, 30.4.1941, Arndt to
SO Dress 1935 (Serial No. 19). The first authority located for wear on
the left of the hat band or helmet puggaree was AHQ(DOS) Memo 85517,
Note: Colour patches were not to be worn on the Jacket, Drill, Khaki,
P.F., or the Jacket, Drill, Khaki, S.D., Officers, which were issued to
Militia personnel on full time duty in tropical stations.
: Worn superimposed on the left hand side of the cap band until 1926 by
Captains and Lieutenants of Cadets, and Cadet Lieutenants and 2nd
Hat, Khaki, Felt : Worn
on the left hand side of the hat, above the band, by Captains and
Lieutenants of Cadets, and Senior Cadet other ranks. Ceased being worn
in this manner in 1926.
Hat, Khaki, Cotton:
Worn on the left side above the band by Senior Cadets in their first
year of training. On 1.7.1923 athletic kit, including the cotton hat,
ceased to be issued, personnel being supplied with military uniform in
their first year of training.
Jacket, S.D.: As
(1) from 1926 by all ranks of Senior Cadet detachments affiliated with
units of the Citizen Forces. In June 1924 a 'Q' conference held at AHQ
proposed that senior cadets be issued two colour patches for wear as per
the CMF on the jacket. MBI Q.94/1924, 18.10.1924,
regarding a conference held on 2.6.1924 for informal discussion on
matters affecting 'Q' Branch, including clothing. This
proposal was rejected at that stage, then subsequently approved by AAO
696/1926, 11.12.1926. Amendment to SO Clothing Pt
111, 1925 (Serial No. 19).
Imperial Force, 1939-1942;
As (1). Miniature colour patches were not worn at this point.
Note: colour patches were not to be worn on the Jacket, Khaki Drill,
Order (ME) No. 296/1941, 11.4.1941.
As (1). AIF
Order (ME) No. 210/1941, 21.2.1941, although original authority was
apparently AIFO No. 38, dated 19.6.1940, promulgated by authority of HQ
1st Aust. Corps. (Ref. Army Colour Patch Register, Para. 615). This
order appears to have actually been published in Australia, and there is
photographic evidence that such use commenced here before the end of
June 1940. Surprisingly reference to greatcoats does not appear in
Standing Orders, AlF, 1940, notified in AAO's on 3 1st December 1940.)
Blouse, Battle Dress, British
Pattern: No particular authority
has been located in regard to the issue of this pattern of clothing
before 1942, however the 2/3rd Aust. Independent Company, and possibly
other similar units, was issued with British 1938 type battledress
blouse and trousers in late 1941. Colour patches were worn on both
sleeves as per (1).
Hat, Khaki, Felt:
As (2), on the right hand side of the hat band or puggaree.
AIF Order (ME) No. 20, 20.7.1940.
AIF Order (ME) No. 739/1941 directed that Puggarees, Khaki, Cotton,
would be issued to members of the AIF in lieu of Bands, Hat, Khaki.
Members of the 2/2nd Aust. Anti-Aircraft Battery serving in Darwin
between July and December 1940 are noted to have been wearing their
colour patch on the left hand side of the hat band, and on the left hand
side of the puggaree of officers privately purchased Wolseley pattern
helmets, from as early as November 1940. No authority for this has been
located prior to the end of December 1940
Colour patches were not approved for wear on shirts, the primary reason
being that no satisfactory method of washing that retained the integrity
of the colours had been devised. There are cases known of unofficial
use, the 2/3rd Aust. Machine Gun Battalion, late 1940, being the best
Steel helmets: There
is photographic evidence that colour patches were painted on steel
helmets, however this is believed to have been on an individual basis,
and no official reference has been located. The history of the 2/13th
Aust. Infantry Battalion records that by the end of October 1941, prior
to the unit leaving Tobruk, the battalion colour patch was sewn onto the
hessian covering of the steel helmet. Benghazi to
Borneo: p. 125.
Jacket, Cloth, VAD:
As (1). Progressively replaced by the Jacket, Khaki, Women's, from
Jacket, Cloth, Grey, AANS:
Jacket, Khaki, Women's:
Blouse, Working, M.T.:
As (1), although no authority has been located to date. AWAS personnel
allotted to the RAA(AA) in Tasmania L of C Area are noted to have worn
patches on this form of dress during 1943-1944.
Hat, Khaki, Fur, Women's:
Worn on the bow on the right hand side of the hat ribbon.
Hat, Khaki, Fur, Men's:
As (2) from 1945 only, on the right hand side of the puggaree when this
head-dress was issued for wear in hot or tropical areas. Auth: Amendment
to GRO 60/1945 published in GRO's dated 6.4.1945, the original GRO
having specifically prohibited the wearing of patches on this type of
dress by female personnel of the AMF.
Note: Colour patches were not worn on the Hat, Grey, AANS, or the Hat,
Fur, Navy Blue, VAD.
Worn as (1) on Greatcoats, Blue, VAD; Grey, AANS; and Khaki, Women's. No
colour patches were to be worn at all in summer dress by members of the
23/1944, 31.3.1944, Amendment to SO Dress, 1935 (Serial No. 30).
Forces (other than Women's Services), 1942-1949;
Jacket, S.D.: As (1).
Greatcoat, M.S. or D.S.:
Hat, Khaki, Fur, Men's:
As (2), on the right hand side of the hat band or puggaree. GO
34/1942, 31.7.1942, Amdt to SO Dress, 1935 (Serial No's 25 and 26).
On 27.11.1942, GRO 613/1942 advised that stocks of puggarees would no
longer be held for issue in lieu of hat bands, and that puggarees which
became unserviceable would be replaced by Bands, Hat, Khaki. In April
1944 a decision was made to supply repatriated Australian
prisoners-of-war in the United Kingdom with puggarees, although it was
stated that hat bands were still on issue in Australia.
Beret, Wool, Khaki or Black:
As (3). GO
24/1943, 28.2.1943, Amdt to SO Dress 1935 (Serial No. 27). Use had
initially commenced in the 1st Aust. Armoured Division in June 1942,
under authority of the divisional commander, Major General H.C.H.
Robertson. Ref. HQ 1st Aust. Amid Div. Memo No. 4790 of 2.7.1942. First
official authority was LHQ (AG) Memo No. 106422 of 14.9.1942. AA(Vic):
MP 508/1, item 36/756/124. Black
berets were retained initially only by personnel of 2nd AIF Divisional
Cavalry Regiments. These were extended to all units of the Australian
Armoured Corps in March 1945. Australian
Armour, Hopkins, p. 157.
Beret, Drill, W.D., Green or
Khaki: Colour patches were not
approved for wear on this item however instances have been noted of
units wearing their patch on the green drill beret on Bougainville
Note: There is no evidence that the unit colour patch was officially
worn on the Beret, Wool, Dull Cherry, issued to the 1st Aust. Parachute
Battalion, however such a beret, complete with colour patch, was
recently (1998) put up for sale.
Blouse, Battle Dress, British
Pattern: Authorised for issue to
personnel of armoured fort-nations in lieu of Jackets, S.D. vide GRO
475/1942, although no general issue occurred and authority for, such was
withdrawn by GRO 717/1942. Stocks already issued were withdrawn from use
on 30.11.1943. Battle dress was later approved for issue to personnel of
parachute units as working dress only by GRO 422/1944. There appears to
be no evidence of a photographic or official nature to suggest that
colour patches were worn on battle dress by personnel of armoured
formations who were in possession of it.
Although no official reference has yet been encountered it was common
practice for unit sports teams to wear their unit colour patch
superimposed on the front of the singlet.
Component, B.C.O.F., 1946-1951;
HQ BCOF Memo AQ 133 dated
l4th Feb. 1946. AA(Vic.) MP 742/1, item 36/l/326.
Worn on the left arm only, by all personnel not on the establishment of
HQ BCOF or HQ British Commonwealth Base. The miniature colour patch, if
worn, was to be placed 1/2 inch below the embroidered title 'AUSTRALIA',
the full size colour patch to be 1/2 inch below the title I AUSTRALIA'
or -the miniature patch as applicable. Miniature colour patches could be
worn on the left arm by personnel of HQ BCOF or HQ BCOF Base. Badges,
woven, 'British Commonwealth Forces' were to be worn on the right arm by
all personnel. The badge, woven, 'HQ British Commonwealth Base BCOF' was
to be worn on the left arm by all personnel of this headquarters in lieu
of a unit colour patch. Cases have been noted of a unit colour patch
being worn on the left arm below this badge. The embroidered title LXVII
of the 67th Aust. Infantry Battalion was worn at the sleeve heads of the
jacket in lieu of the embroidered title 'AUSTRALIA'.
Note: Two other badges were also worn
on the left arm in lieu of colour patches by Australian personnel
attached to the American Military Government teams in the BCOF area;
the first of these being the patch of the U.S. 8th Army, worn from
1947, and which was subsequently replaced by a circular patch of red
with a dark blue or black border, bearing the stylised letters 'AMG'
in the centre.
(As You Were 1948, p. 15 1, and
correspondence with Major Kel Weir, formerly of BCOF Signals. Despite
a search of a number of reference sources, including the American
Military Patch Guide by J. L. Pete Morgan and Ted A. Thurman (MOA
Press, Fountain Inn, South Carolina, 1997), it has not yet been
possible to locate any additional information or examples relating to
the patch of the American Military Government in Japan. A total of
eleven teams were deployed in the BCOF area of responsibility, to each
of which from June 1947 were attached three Australian personnel.)
Officers: As for Jacket, S.D. above.
Jacket, Officers, K.D.:
As for Jacket, S.D. above.
As for Jacket, S.D. above.
Shirt, Military, Khaki:
Titles, AUSTRALIA, woven, summer, no colour patches. The title LXYII was
also worn at the sleeve head of the shirt by the 67th Aust. Infantry
Greatcoat, D.S.: As
for Jacket, S.D. above.
Hat, Khaki, Fur, Men's:
Worn as (2) on the right hand side of the puggaree by all personnel not
on the establishment of HQ BCOF or HQ BritCom Base BCOF. Personnel on
the establishments of these headquarters were directed to wear the
badge, woven, 'British Commonwealth Forces' or 'HQ British Commonwealth
Base BCOF' as appropriate, on the puggaree. A former member of the Force
has advised however that there is no particular evidence that these
badges were worn on the puggaree; in 1947 personnel serving with HQ BCOF
on Iwo Jima continued to wear their own unit or Corps patch on the hat,
while some units attached to HQ BritCom Base during the 1947-1952 period
wore their Corps patch on the puggaree, notwithstanding that they also
wore the HQ BritCom Base patch on the left sleeve.
Note: No reference is made to the use of colour patches on berets, wool,
black, by personnel of BCOF (Australian Component), although an armoured
car squadron formed part of this force.
March Contingent (AMF Component), 1946;
Miniature colour patches only were worn by the personnel of this
contingent, 1/2 inch below the title, embroidered, 'AUSTRALIA', with the
badge, woven, 'Australian Victory Contingent' 1/2 inch below the base of
the miniature patch.
As for the Jacket, S.D.
Note: Colour patches or woven badges were not worn on puggarees by the
members of this contingent.