Australians in World War 1

This guide focuses on Australians serving in World War 1. It also includes some information relevant to Great Britain, other Commonwealth nations and other combatant nations. There is a section on nurses and women's war occupations.

Colour patches in the Australian forces

Colour patches were worn on Australian uniforms to  indicate the division, battalion and brigade of the solider.  The patches of the Australian forces, 1914-1918, are shown on the Australian War Memorial website along with an outline of the formation of each battalion.

The shape of the patch indicated the Division: The First Division had a rectangular patch, the Second Division had a diamond-shaped patch, the Third Division had a horizontal oval patch, the Fourth Division had a circle, the Fifth Division had a vertical oblong patch and the Sixth Division had a vertical oval patch.

The upper colour showed the battalion and the lower colour the brigade.  Infantry battalions had one of four upper colours: black (for the first battalion in the brigade), purple (for the second battalion in the brigade), brown (third battalion in the brigade) and white (fourth battalion in the brigade).

Victorian brigades usually had a red lower colour, New South Wales usually had green and the other states usually had a light blue lower colour.

Other units such as the Flying Corps, the Light Horse brigades, the Artillery, the Engineers, Transport & Supply and the Medical Corps had their own colours and designs. 

Infantry colour patches

This image of some of the colour patches is from the Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918 by C.E.W. Bean, volume 3, published 1929. All the colour patches are in this volume, and you can also find them in the online edition of the Official history, volume 3, on the Australian War Memorial website.

Victorian 6th Battalion colour patch

Colour patch of the Victorian 6th Battalion of the First Division: purple upper colour, red lower colour.