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North West Mobile Force

"Ever Vigilant"


Click to enlarge NT. c. June 1943. Men of the 2/1st North Australia Observers Unit (NAOU) watching Private Clem Muldoon cutting open a bullock carcase with an axe. In this group are Major White, MC, MM, Croix de Guerre; Commanding Officer, Captain Bill Travers (back row, second from right) who won a Military Medal in Tarakan; Corporal Inky Ferguson, MM, an aboriginal serviceman; Captain Romney Cole MC (back row right) and his brother Lieutenant Neville Cole (bottom row right), ? Muldoon, brother of Clem (front row, third from right). (Donor T. Carty)

NORFORCE slouch hat & badges

The role of The North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) is to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance in the Northern Territory and the Kimberly region of Northern Western Australia. 

This area of operations covers nearly one quarter of Australia's land mass - 1.8 million square kilometres. Together with the other Regional Force Surveillance Units, NORFORCE provides the Australian Defence Force with an effective surveillance network of Northern Australia.


austmap_NORFORCE.gif (5498 bytes)

History of Norforce and it's origins

NORFORCE traces its history back to the formation of the 2/1 North Australia Observer Unit (2/1 NAOU) on 11 May 1942. 

This unit was formed in response to the threat to Australia's north posed by Japan during World War Two. 

The men of the 2/1 NAOU deployed in small groups throughout the rugged north of Australia. 

They observed and reported on enemy movements on land, sea and in the air.

These men, who worked often for months on end in some of the nation's harshest and most isolated areas, were known colloquially as the 'Nackeroos'.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Stanner was the Commanding Officer of the Nackeroos.

<< Raven radios provide HF communications in Arnhem Land

 He had this to say about the unit in 1942:

"I wanted a highly mobile unit with good radio links, light weapons, and made up of men with a bush background and adventurous spirit who could live outdoors for months at a time, operating in small groups on their own initiative. In part we were guided by the Light Horse style and equipment, though much chopped about to fit a novel role. LT-COL STANNER CO NACKEROOS, 1942-45

At its peak strength the Nackeroos consisted of nearly 550 men and employed 59 Aboriginal workers as guides and labourers. Nackeroo operations were scaled back as the Japanese threat towards Australia reduced towards the end of World War Two. Patrols were reduced in July 1943, and the unit was disbanded in March 1945.

On the 1st of July 1981, the first Regional Force Surveillance Unit (RFSU), the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE), was officially raised from the Darwin based 7th Independent Rifle Company.

To assist in establishing NORFORCE's identity, it was necessary to create an embellishment that would enable members to be readily identified as belonging to the unit. 

As NORFORCE was similar in many ways to the Nackeroos, the orange and green Double Diamond colour patch of the 2/1 NAOU was adopted.

<<< This Norforce soldier carries the AusSteyr as his personal weapon and holds a small inflatable boat.

photo below Three Norforce soldiers man an observation point in Arnhem Land

Norforce.1st type hat badge. Cast metal. 2 clutch back fittings. Painted double diamond.
Norforce. 2nd type hat badge. Cast metal. 2 clutch back fittings. The double diamond is not painted.
Norforce. 3rd type hat badge. Stamped (or struck) manufacture.

photos from Army Magazine, June 1994.    above text by Australian Army


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