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Category: Colour patches

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Permanent Military Forces 1921-1943

Index of items on THIS page. Click the links

Australian Staff Corps Royal Australian Engineers Australian Veterinary Corps
Corps of Staff Cadets Australian Survey Corps Australian Ordnance Corps
Australian Instructional Corps Australian Army Service Corps Australian Provost Corps
Royal Australian Artillery Australian Medical Corps General notes


Australian Staff Corps

Created on 1. 10. 1920. (See note 78) to comprise officers, other than Quartermasters, appointed to substantive commissioned rank in the Permanent Military Forces for duty with the Administrative and Instructional Staffs, Royal Australian Artillery Regiment, Royal Australian Engineers and the Australian Army Service Corps (Permanent). Officers of the Aust. Staff Corps were directed to wear the colour patch of the unit or formation headquarters of the Permanent or Citizen Forces to which they were allotted for duty. Auth. MO 495/1921, 5.11.1921.

Note 78 Statutory Rule 198, approved 21st October 1920, gazetted on 25th October 1920.  Amendment to the Australian Military Regulations 1916 promulgated in MO 482/1920.

Corps of Staff Cadets

The current Army Standing Orders for Dress, Volume 2, Chapter 36, Appendix 3 to Annex B, advises that the scarlet and dark blue triangular patch worn behind the Royal Military College headdress badge is the colour patch of the Australian Heavy Trench Mortar Battery. This patch was worn behind the RMC badge on the right hand side of the helmet puggaree prior to the Second World War by staff cadets, and was used in lieu of a colour patch as part of the vehicle unit markings applied to the doors of motor vehicles allotted to RMC during this period (see Appendix VI on page 223). As however there is no evidence that it was approved for wear by either staff or students of the RMC as a colour patch for unit identification, it has not been depicted as such in this book. Members of the Corps of Staff Cadets did not wear a colour patch on the uniform until after graduation and posting to a unit.

Australian Instructional Corps

Formed in April 1921 (MO 344/1921, 14.4.1921.) and comprised all Quartermasters, most Warrant Officers and an NCO cadre of the Permanent Forces. Members of this Corps were allotted to units of the Permanent and Citizen Forces for administrative and instructional duties, and to units of the Permanent Forces for regimental duties. Personnel of the AIC were directed to wear the colour patch of the unit of the Permanent or Citizen Forces to which they were allotted for duty. Auth. MO 495/1921, 5.11.1921.


Royal Australian Artillery Regiment

The separate branches comprising the Royal Australian Field Artillery and the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery were reunited in July 1927 as the Royal Australian Artillery Regiment. In 1949 this regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Australian Artillery (Militia) to form the Royal Australian Artillery.

  • 380. Royal Australian Field Artillery, 1921 - 1927; and 
    • Royal Australian Artillery (Field), 1927 - 1942: Auth. MO 495/1921. It was also worn by personnel allotted as storemen to the Royal Military College, and as gun and M.T. storemen to field and medium brigades and 1st Artillery Survey Company of the Citizen Forces in 2nd MD. The RAFA had originally comprised three batteries but was reduced to one in mid 1922.
      • 1st Battery RAFA, 1921-1927; 
      • 1st Field Battery RAA, 1927-1930; 
      • 1st Field Cadre RAA, 1930-1939; 
      • 'A' Field Battery RAA, 1939-1942.
    • 'A' Field Battery was absorbed into the establishment of the School of Artillery soon after the outbreak of the Second World War as its depot battery, being reformed in August 1943 as 2nd Aust. Mountain Battery. It was reorganized in November 1945 for the Australian component of BCOF, Japan, by absorbing the 6th Aust. Independent Field Battery, and in April 1946 was redesignated as 'A' Field Battery, Royal Australian Artillery Regiment. It is still in existance.
  • 381. Unidentified:
  • 382. Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, 1921 - 1927; and 
    • Royal Australian Artillery (Heavy), 1927 - 1942: Auth. MO 495/192 1. In addition to heavy batteries, AA cadres, and heavy brigade headquarters, this patch was also worn by personnel of the RAA Regiment allotted to the following: as gun and M.T. storemen to field and medium brigades, anti-aircraft batteries and 2nd Artillery Survey Company of the Citizen Forces; as Drivers, M.T., with Base MT Sections AASC(P), 1930-1932; the Tank Section, Small Arms School, 1930-1932; Artillery Schools of Instruction; (Renamed the School of Artillery in April 1933.) and as artillery clerks and storemen to RMC and the Command and Staff College. From 1941 it continued to be worn by RAA(P) personnel serving with heavy artillery units of the fixed defences but was gradually superseded by No. 616. See also No. 618.
    • In 1921 the heavy branch comprised two coast artillery brigade headquarters
      and ten heavy batteries, with the addition of an anti-aircraft cadre in 1929. By the
      outbreak of the Second World War it had expanded to comprise three heavy brigade
      headquarters, thirteen heavy batteries, five anti-aircraft cadres, and one anti-aircraft
      battery headquarters. These units were gradually absorbed into the expanded fixed
      defences from early 1941, losing their numerical identities. The Coast Branch was
      reestablished in 1946 but by the end of 1953 its units had been disbanded, the members
      being posted as cadres for coast batteries of the CMF or to the Coast Artillery Caretaker
      and Maintenance Staff. The Coast Branch was abolished in October 1962. The Anti-
      Aircraft Branch was reestablished in 1949 with the formation of 'B' (Anti-Aircraft)
      Battery, which is currently still in existence as 111th Air Defence Battery (Light).
    • Darwin Mobile Force, 1938 - 1940: Raised on 14.11.1938, comprising a headquarters wing with artillery, mortar, reconnaissance, and machine gun groups, and an infantry company, a total establishment of eleven officers and two hundred and nineteen other ranks as at 1.2.1939. As the Defence Act strictly limited, in peacetime, the formation of units of the Permanent Forces to administrative and fortress troops, personnel recruited for the DMF were enlisted in the Heavy Branch, Royal Australian Artillery Regiment. Officers were appointed from the Australian Staff Corps.
    • No colour patch was specifically approved for the DMF and it is understood
      that they were issued No. 382 on formation in 2nd Military District, although as
      woollen articles of kit were withdrawn from personnel prior to them proceeding to
      Darwin, or any other tropical station, it seems highly unlikely that they were worn in
      7th Military District. A former member of the Darwin Infantry Battalion recalls in R. J.
      Rayner, 71e Army and the Defence of Darwin Fortress, p.60, that on formation the
      Darwin Infantry Battalion temporarily inherited the D.M.F colours, suggesting that a
      patch was definitely allotted to the original unit. On 23.8.1940 the DMF was
      disbanded, forming the 18th Field Battery RAA, and a nucleus of the Darwin Infantry
      Battalion, substantial reinforcements for the latter unit being drawn from militia
      personnel in Northern and Eastern Commands.
    • Australian Coronation Contingent, 1937: Commenced formation in December 1936,
      embarking from Melbourne on 16.2.1937 to represent Australia at the Coronation
      Ceremonies in Great Britain. It comprised 25 all ranks each from the RAN and RAAF,
      and 101 all ranks of the AMF, drawn from the PMF, CMF, and former AIF personnel.
      In addition there was a detachment of seven members of the AANS who embarked on 
      various dates from the 10.3.1937. 
    • All personnel, other than the AANS and those selected from the PMF, were enlisted in the Royal Australian Artillery Regiment for a period of six months. The AMF detachment commenced disembarking in Australia from 22.6.1937, the AANS from 1.8.1937, and the contingent was disbanded.
    • Although they were in most cases part of the RAA Regiment, it has not been possible at this stage to confirm that the members of this contingent wore any colour patches, either in full size or miniature. Colour patches were not worn in full dress by the PMF and it is likely that this was the dress worn while the contingent was overseas.

Comprised Regimental and Works Branches, and until 1932, the Survey Section RAE. The Works Branch became the General Duties Section in 1930, and the Engineer Services Branch in 1936. In 1936 the Regimental Branch was reorganized into seven fortress companies, which included personnel attached as storemen to fortress companies and field engineer units of the RAE(M), and to units of Aust. Corps of Signals. Two further fortress companies were approved in February 1940. The RAE carried the sole responsibility for fortress signals communications until the formation of militia fortress signals units in 1939. Anti-aircraft searchlight sections were provided for in the establishments of the 2nd and 7th Fortress Companies RAE at Sydney and Darwin respectively, and approval for an AA company, raised eventually as I st AASL Cadre, was also given in February 1940.

  • 383. Royal Australian Engineers, 1921 - 1943: Auth. MO 495/1921. This patch continued to be worn long after the units and personnel of the Corps had been absorbed into the fixed defences and RAE (Works). Examples will be noted with grey backgrounds.

Australian Survey Corps (Permanent)

Formed in 1932 by redesignation of the Survey Section RAE, and was absorbed by the Australian Survey Corps in June 1943. This Corps had previously been in existence as part of the Permanent Forces, having been formed from the Survey Section RAE in 1915, reverting back to this title in 1920. In 1940 the Corps comprised four survey sections, one geodetic section, and a cartographic section.

  • 384. Australian Survey Corps (Permanent), 1935 - 1943: Auth. SO Dress 1935.

Australian Army Service Corps (Permanent)

Comprised the Supply and Transport Section, and the Remount Section. The various remount depots were absorbed by remount squadrons in 1942, while motor transport companies and depots, and supply sections, formed the nucleus of line of communication area AASC units. It will be noted that no provision was apparently made between 1935 and 1940 for personnel of remount sections to wear a colour patch. It seems likely however that these personnel retained No. 385.

  • 385. Aust. Army Service Corps (Permanent), 1921 - 1935; A.A.S.C.(P)(Supply), 1935 -1940; A.A.S.C.(P) (Remounts), 1940 - 1942: Auth. MO 495/1921, SO Dress 1935, and AHQ (DOS) Memo No. 11754, 28.2.1940.
  • 386. Aust. Army Service Corps (P) (Supply and Transport), 1928 - 1935: Auth. AAO
    333/1928, 28.7.1928.
    This order stated that members of District Supply and Transport
    units would wear the colour patch authorised for AASC Details by SO Dress Part III,
    1925. Cancelled by AAO 49/1935, 28.2.1935. The only such units in existence in the
    AMF at the time were the Supply and Transport Sections AASC(P) located in the 2nd
    and 3rd District Bases and there is no evidence that this colour patch was actually worn
    by them.
  • 387. Aust. Army Service Corps (P) (Motor Transport), 1934 - 1940;  and 
    • A.A.S.C.(P)(Supply and Transport), 1940 - 1942: Auth. AAO 180/1934, 31.8.1934, and AHQ (DOS) Memo No. 11754, 28.2.1940. This patch was also worn by the Tank
      Cadres AASC(P) (designated Mechanization Depots in 1940) which formed part of the
      MT Companies in the 2nd and 3rd District Bases. It was worn by members of some
      auxiliary horse transport companies during 1942. (
      AQMG minute to Director Supplies and Transport, 10.7.1942. AA(Vic): MP 508/1, item 36/7021/260.) and was also worn by Eastern Command Vehicle Reception Depot until its disbandment in late 1942.
      • Examples appear with grey backgrounds, while one example with a 2nd Aust. Corps green background in addition to the grey background is also understood to exist. An order for 200 pairs of this patch for 6th Military District was placed in January 1941, suggesting that it was also issued to personnel serving on full time duty with 6th MD MT Depot and 9th Vehicle Collection Centre.

Australian Army Medical Corps (Permanent)

Comprised small details allotted to District Bases, AHQ, RMC, Darwin Defences, and Darwin Mobile Force. In 1939 the total establishment of the Corps was one officer, the Director-General of Medical Services, thirteen warrant officers of the AIC, and thirty three other ranks of the AAMC. No units as such existed in the Corps.

  • 388. Aust. Army Medical Corps (Permanent), 1921 - 1942: Auth. MO 495/192 1.

Australian Army Veterinary Corps (Permanent)

Personnel of this Corps were allotted only to AHQ, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th District Bases. In 1924 the establishment of the Corps was one officer and three other ranks of the AAVC(P) and two warrant officers of the AIC. By the outbreak of World War Two this had only increased to the extent of two additional officers.

  • 389. Aust. Army Veterinary Corps (Permanent): Auth. MO 495/1921. It is unlikely that this patch was ever supplied or issued.
  • 390. Aust. Army Veterinary Corps (Permanent), 1922 - 1943: Auth. SO Clothing Part III, 1922.

Australian Army Ordnance Corps (Permanent)

The AAOC(P) was established on 1.7.1928 as a Mechanical Engineering Branch and an Inspection Branch. Ile Army Ordnance Services were actually controlled by the Aust. Army Ordnance Department, staffed by the civilian Public Service, which resisted any attempt at direction by the military, and proved totally inadequate for the purpose during wartime. The original Mechanical Engineering Branch of the AAOC(P) was organized into District Ordnance Workshops in 1938, amalgamated with Ordnance Workshop Companies of the AAOC(M) on mobilization, and became part of the Corps of Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers on 1.12.1942. A Regular Army component of the RAAOC was created in 1949, the Aust. Army Ordnance Department being disestablished.

  • 391. Aust. Army Ordnance Corps (Permanent), 1928 - 1942: Auth. MO 495/1921.

Provost Staff

Initially raised in 1912 as the Universal Training Provost Staff, becoming simply known as the Provost Staff in 1930. In 1939 the establishment of this Staff was only five provost sergeants-major and seven provost sergeants. No formed units existed and the personnel were absorbed by the Aust. Army Provost Corps when it was raised after the outbreak of the Second World War. No colour patches were approved for issue or wear by provost staff, personnel being distinguished by a blue, later black, armband bearing the letters 'MP' in red.

General notes:

In June 1941 the Master-General of the Ordnance recommended that personnel of the Permanent Forces wear the colour patch of the Arm to which they were posted for duty, and that the wearing of distinctive Permanent Forces colour patches should cease for the duration of the war. (Minute, MGO to AG, 17.6.1941. AA(Vic): MP 508/1, item 36nO2/62.) There is no doubt that some members retained their patches until well into the war, in many cases after enlistment in the AIF, and enquiries relating to the use of No. 382 in particular were still being received at LHQ in mid 1944.

As will be noted in Appendix 1, personnel of the PMF did not wear colour patches in full dress, nor on khaki drill after the early 1920's. As some form of identification was required, particularly in khaki drill, it was decided to reintroduce brass shoulder titles to Corps of the PMF, although a title had been in use by officers of the Staff Corps as early as 1921. The first approval for the use of titles by other ranks of the various Corps was given on 26th May 1933, the same authority indicating that orders had been placed for supply.
(AA: CRS P618, item 415/1 and 415/2. Entries in relation to the subject are dated 18.4.1933, 26.5.1933, 2.6.1933 and 19.9.1934.) 

It is known however that they were in use by the AASC as early as 1930, and in the RAA by 1932, although a sealed pattern of title for the RAA was not notified until l8th April 1933. 'Me majority were in fact identical to those worn between 1903 and 1921, of which ordnance stocks probably still remained. 

Shoulder titles which were approved, manufactured by Stokes and Son, and H. Arendsen, both of Melbourne, were:

STAFF CORPS  Australian Staff Corps (1921)
RAA Royal Australian Artillery (1932)
RAE  Royal Australian Engineers (1932)
SURVEY CORPS  Australian Survey Corps (Permanent) (1934)
AASC  Australian Army Service Corps (Permanent) (1930)
AAMC  Australian Army Medical Corps (Permanent) (1933)
AAVC  Australian Army Veterinary Corps (Permanent) (1933)
AAOC  Australian Army Ordnance Corps (Permanent) (1934)
PROVOST STAFF  Provost Staff (1933)

example >>>

These were produced in an oxidised finish from January 1940, however approval for members of the PMF to wear metal titles was withdrawn by Sec. Military Board Memo No. 28410 of 19.3.1942.

  • 392-399. Reserved.

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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