Click to escape. Subject to Crown Copyright
Category: Badges

Click to go up one level

The Rising Sun. Australia's most famous badge.

Open sub-category

Sub-category index

This is version 3, the best known of the Rising Sun badges, the General Service badge of the AIF and the 2nd AIF. The badge that saw victory in two World Wars.

Since its inception the basic form of the 1904 version has remained  unchanged although modifications have been made to the wording on the scroll and to the style of crown. 

In 1949, when Corps and Regimental Badges were reintroduced into service, the wording on the scroll of the "Rising Sun" Badge was changed to read "Australian Military Forces".

HM Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne on the death of King George V1 and the Crown on the badge was subsequently changed from a Kings (Tudor) Crown to a Queen's (St. Edward's) Crown on the 1956 version.

Twenty years later, the badge was again modified to incorporate the Federation Star and Torse Wreath from the original 1902 version of the badge and the scroll wording changed to "Australia" In the 75th anniversary year of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli there arose a desire to return to the traditional accoutrements worn by Australian soldiers during the World Wars and which clearly identify the Australian Army. The recent change coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Army which was commemorated on 1st March 1991.

1901 to 2001. The Army turned 100 in 2001.

1902 to 2002. The Rising Sun turned 100 in 2002.

The start of a legend.

AIF Badge as displayed on 3 Div. Memorial, Sailly le Sec, France


The famous Rising Sun Badge, selected as the Army's General Service badge in 1902 but now the badge of the army, originated in South Australia. 

The original concept, a collection of Martini-Henry bayonets and sword bayonets of the NSW Alexander Henry sword & socket style, (similar to photos above ) radiating from a crown, was designed as a trophy. 

  The initial drawing was done by Major J M Gordon, of the South Australian Permanent Artillery in 1893.The working drawing for the trophy was called 'Australia - Rising Sun'. It was used as the General Service badge of the Army in 1914-18 as displayed above left  with the words Australian Commonwealth Military Forces. More details.

Belgium. October 1920.

Photograph of a bronze Rising Sun Badge made to be mounted at Australian Divisional memorials in France and Belgium. 

(Donor J.T. Hobbs)

As seen above , the AIF had it's own badge with the wording Australian Imperial Force or Australian Imperial Forces. The AIF Badge was used on stationery, headstones, memorials and things like greeting cards and Christmas cards. That badge was never issued to troops in any way.

WW1 Big brass rising sun badge plaque, Australian Imperial Force, size is 5" x 5" and 4mm thick. Nice original one probably made as a door plaque.
  • This Queensland Scottish Regiment badge (circa 1885) shows that the basic idea of a rising sun was not new in 1902.
  • So does this late 1890s Victorian Cadet force badge >>>


Peace and plenty trading token australian 1858

to see the obverse of this token.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

This badge, used 1896 to 1903 may well have been an influence as well. Note the Rising Sun above the crown.

These 1858 & 1859 trading tokens (unofficial coin) from Melbourne Victoria clearly shows a 'Rising Sun" atop the unofficial coat of arms. see below
Australia, J. McFarlane, equivalent to 1 penny (1 cent). McFarlane had a grocery store on the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale streets in 1850-51. He had these penny tokens made in England, probably in 1850. The reverse of the token has the legend Peace and Plenty, and shows a female figure representing the colony of Victoria, with a lion representing the Imperial power bringing peace, and a sheep representing the plenty brought by agriculture. Tokens were often produced by private firms as advertisements, and used as legal tender due to the shortage of small change in Australia in the middle of the nineteenth century. By 1862 all tokens were removed from circulation in the colony. This type of unofficial coinage was also issued in NSW, Tasmania and possibly elsewhere.

Click to enlarge

This badge shows that in 1901 the idea of a "Rising Sun" was identified with Australasia in general and Australia in particular by many in the Empire. 

Note that the rays are very very similar to the rays used on the later version of the Australian General Service badge.

Image by Frank Green from his private collection.  

to enlarge

  • 4th County of London Imperial Yeomanry (King's Colonials) formed  in 1901 as a yeomanry regiment with HQ at Charing Cross, London, from overseas volunteers resident in England, with "colonial" squadrons:     
    • A Squadron (British Asian)
    • B Squadron (British American) [i.e. Canadian]
    • C Squadron (Australasian) see badge above
    • D Squadron (British African) [i.e. South African]

The current Rising Sun badge is the 7th version. This is the first.  

Original badge for Australian Commonwealth Horse, 1902

Smaller and non-identical ACH collar badge

  • Version 1. Left. This is believed to be the first ever "Rising Sun" hat badge of the Australian Army. It was issued to mounted troops in the Boer War. It bore only the word AUSTRALIA arched above a King's Crown. 
  • It was made from oxidised copper.
  • There are many reproductions on the market and not all are identified as such.
  • Genuine badges are pressed (not cast) so the back looks like the  image lower left.

  • Because it resembled the trade-mark of a popular brand of jam (Hoadleys) the troops that wore it were referred to, disparagingly, as Hoadley's Horse.
  • Set of badges for 3rd Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse.
    • 1 hat badge
    • 2 collar badges
    • 2 Unit numerals
    • 2 shoulder titles (AC for Australian Commonwealth)


Australian Commonwealth Horse (2nd pattern) oxidised brass hat badge with Rising Sun pattern rays, curved 'AUSTRALIA' over a Tudor crown, and underneath a scroll with 'COMMONWEALTH HORSE'. 

The words on the badge have been highlighted by rubbing back the oxidization to show the brighter brass. Badge is mounted on dark green cloth, edged with white stem stitch embroidery, cut in the pattern of a five petaled Tudor rose. 

Badges with this cloth backing were worn by members of the Australian Commonwealth Horse selected to attend the coronation of Edward VII in London in 1902.

Subject to Crown Copyright. Subject to Crown Copyright.
2nd version 1902 copper 3rd version 1904 copper 
Subject to Crown Copyright. Subject to Crown Copyright.
4th version 1949 brass 5th version 1956 brass
Subject to Crown Copyright. Subject to Crown Copyright.
6th version 1969 gilt 7th version 1991 gilt
  • Version 3 was worn in BOTH World Wars

Click to enlarge

During WW1 the Rising Sun was used in a stylised format on formation (TAC) signs for the Corps and for the Divisions.

It is interesting to note that 1 & 2 Anzac Corps and 1st Division were the only units to get the 13 point Rising Sun. All other units got the 9 point Rising Sun on TAC signs. Cadet unit badges had 7 points.

Click to enlarge
 1st Anzac Corps 2nd Anzac Corps 
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge
1st Division AIF 2nd Division AIF 3rd Division AIF 4th Division AIF 5th Division AIF
WW1 Collar, non voided, unusual pin back style, probably private purchase in Britain.
Gilt & silver finished private purchase version from WW1, made in UK probably for a senior Officer.

Note the scarlet cloth backing.

Donor: Hugh Williams

1903 Rising Sun Style, Staff & Instructional Corps Officer's Collar Badge 1903 Rising Sun Style, Staff & Instructional Corps Officer's Collar Badge, enameled. 

1930 - 42 : Australian Instructional Corps. Hat badge & a pair of Collar Badges.

Pairing of the RSB and an shoulder title, converted into a badge or brooch and silver plated. This is how some of the AIF nurses wore their badges.

1956 QE II version

General Service (Rising Sun) badge as worn as a collar dog, WW2

Australian Combat Division ?. Unit not known to myself or AWM.

Light Horse RSB with slider bar (not a pin) to slip onto front of puggaree.

This is the normal method of fixing the General Service badge (Rising Sun) to the "Hat, khaki fur felt". Twin lugs and a pin.



  • The "Rising Sun" was used on some uniform buttons. This one is a good example but is undated at this stage except that it has to be pre 1953 as it has the Tudor (King's) Crown.
  • On some versions the 7 major blades (or rays) were shorter than normal.

Sterling silver General Service (Rising Sun) hat badge, 1904 pattern. Badge shows a scroll with 'AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH MILITARY FORCES', surmounted by a Tudor crown, with a semi-circle of 'rays' above it.

Thought to have been worn by staff and light horse officers, but this is unconfirmed.

AWM REL25098

  • The Rising Sun minus the scroll was used on many badges to show association with the AIF, as shown here on a Voluntary Helper's badge of the Anzac Buffet.

The third and best known version

The 7th and current version.

Open sub-category

Statistics : Over 35 million page visitors since  11 Nov 2002  



 Search   Help     Guestbook   Get Updates   Last Post    The Ode      FAQ     Digger Forum

Click for news

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