Explanation of terms used in
Military Forces (AMF):
generic term covering the Permanent Military Forces, the Citizen
Military Forces and the Australian Imperial Force.
Military Forces (PMF or Permanent Forces):
- Restricted in peacetime to
administrative and instructional staffs, which included the
- Staff Corps,
- Instructional Corps,
- Army Service Corps,
- Veterinary and Ordnance
- Artillery and Fortress
Restricted to service within
Australia and its Territories. It was redesignated the
Australian Regular Army in 1947 and restrictions were lifted
Military Forces (CMF or Citizen Forces):
- Comprised of the
- voluntary Militia,
- Volunteer Defence
- Military Reserve Forces
(including Rifle Clubs) and
- Universal Service
Personnel (personnel compulsorily enlisted under Parts
IV or XII of the Defence Act).
Restricted to service within
Australia and its Mandated Territories. Reformed in 1948 as the
Citizen Military Forces, was redesignated the Australian Army
Reserve in 1975 and is currently the General Reserve.
Imperial Force (AIF or 2nd AIF):
from personnel volunteering to serve outside
the limits of the Commonwealth of Australia during wartime.
The Defence Act 1903-1941
defines the AIF as part of the Permanent Military Forces. The
force was enlisted for the duration of the war and for any
further period proclaimed as necessary by the Governor-General.
allotted in 1939 to all units raised as part of the 2nd AIF for
which a corresponding numbered unit of the CMF already existed,
i.e. 2/1st Aust. Infantry Battalion, 2/4th Aust. Army Field
It was not originally used by
2nd AIF units such as general hospitals, anti-tank and
anti-aircraft regiments, etc, for which corresponding types of
CMF units did not then exist. It was not used by formation
headquarters, headquarters units, sub-units, or units which did
not have a numerical designation. (GRO
G.54/1942, 29.5.1942.) In May 1942, following
the return of the majority of the units of 1st Aust. Corps to
Australia, LHQ directed that all 2nd AIF units were to use the
prefix 2/ as part of their designation.
This was not as a result of
any confusion in numbering between CMF and AIF units, where this
occurred the former had long since been redesignated by
renumbering from '100' onwards, but was presumably to allow all
2nd AIF units to be designated alike. This direction was
modified in October 1942 to restrict the use of the prefix to
units raised as part of the 2nd AIF prior to March 1st, 1942, or
which had been formed from the reorganization or disbandment of
a 2nd AIF unit raised prior to this date. (
The practice has been followed in this book of referring to all
units with the prefix 2/ where they later became known as such.
abbreviation 'Aust.' was brought into the designations of all
Australian units vide GRO G.54/1942. It has been used throughout
this book in the designations of all units existing during
either the First or Second World Wars regardless of when they
were formed or if they served overseas or not.
been used in the context of this book to describe any order,
memo, instruction, or amendment to any of these, originating
within AHQ, LHQ, HQ AIF or a formation headquarters, which
provides an approval for a colour patch, or directs that such
approval may be anticipated.
in the context of this book to describe any official reference,
not being an authority, to a colour patch, or any reference in a
unit or corps history, or any information provided by a unit or
corps association or museum.
References include extracts
from correspondence registration booklets, MGO Branch Line
Drawings, colour charts in the Official War Histories, the
Australian War Memorial colour patch file card register, and
Distinguishing Colour Patches A.M.F-A.I.F Units.
it has not been possible to provide an authority or reference to
a colour patch, the location of an example held in a public or
official collection, generally that of the Australian War
Memorial, is given. Unacknowledged colour patches are held in my
term used throughout this book for simplicity although a number
of other official terms have existed. During the Great War these
included: Distinctive Colour Patches, Colour Badges,
Distinguishing Badges, Shoulder Patches, Regimental Colour
Patches, Regimental Colour Badges, and Distinguishing Regimental
The official term used in
orders from late 1916 to 1920, and again during the Second World
War, was Distinguishing Colour Patches. Ordnance terms were
Badges, Ann, Distinguishing, changed by MO 507/1920 to Badges,
Regimental Colour. This had become Badges, Patches, Regimental
Colour, by the end of World War Two.
Order of precedence of Corps is shown as per Staff and
Regimental Lists of the AIF, 1918, and the Army List and AMR 68
(2) Measurements, terms, unit or Corps designations, etc, are
contemporary to the period and no attempt has been made to
include conversion tables or explanations.
(3) Diagrams in the colour plates are depicted on a scale of 2/3
full size, except for miniatures and certain woven badges which
are depicted full size.
(4) Colours have been selected to match as closely as possible
the shades of actual examples, however the need to ensure
adequate colour separation for photographing the plates for the
printing process, and the inconsistency between the approved
colours and actual samples, means that those used do not
necessarily match the Pantone Colour Matching System codes
quoted in the Army Colour Patch Register, Annex C and D to
Section 5 of Part 1, some of which proved to be too dark.
Those codes had been allotted
to samples of colour patch material provided to the Director,
AWM, by the Director of General Stores and Clothing in 1946, and
which are now held by the Curator of Military Heraldry, AWM.
(5) Units of arms such as artillery, AASC, etc, forming part of
a formation, are listed individually under their respective
formation during 1914 to 1919, however it has proved impossible
to individually list those units of the 1939 to 1949 period due
to the constantly changing operational groupings, and therefore
only types of units are generally indicated where a generic
colour patch was worn during this period.
- Throughout the colour
plates, colour patches are shown with grey
backgrounds/borders only under the following circumstances;
- (a) Where units were
originally raised as part of the Second AIF prior to
1.3.1942, under the provisions of GRO 482/1942 and GRO
- (b) Where an accepted
authority or reference shows a colour patch with a grey
- (c) Where no authority
or reference can be located, and the only examples
sighted have a grey background.
- Information relating to the
circumstances of the grey background/border can be found in Appendix
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