The Colour Patch

The original AIF colour patch was issued to the 2/24th Battalion when it was formed as part of the 7th Division in 1940. Its format was the same as for the First AIF - except that it had a grey background added to the original 24th Battalion's red and white diamond. The grey background for the 2/24th also distinguished it from the same red and white diamond colour patch of the 24th Battalion (Kooyong Regiment) which was a Militia unit 1943. In February 1941 the 2/24th became part of the 9th Division just before it went to North Africa for the Tobruk and Alamein campaigns. On their return to Palestine after Alamein new colour patches, in the distincive T-shape, were issued to the whole division on 17th December [1942] in time for a divisional parade at the Gaza airport on 22nd December. The Colour Patch was shaped as a T but with the vertical stroke truncated. The colours for the 2/24th's T were purple and light blue with a grey surround that again denoted it as 2nd AIF.

There was much speculation as to the origin of the T shape and some years later Moreshead was asked to comment. He wrote:[1]

'The T stood for Tobruk. The 9th Division was hurriedly formed and wore a collection of colour patches oblongs, squares, circles, ovals. After coming out of Tobruk, I decided we should have one form, but, knowing how attached the men were to their old colour patches, the change had to be unanimously accepted. If not, then there would be no change'.
'Finally, but not altogether readily, it was accepted. Nothing, as far as I was concerned, had been indicated that the T stood for Tobruk, nor, when informing the Commander-in-Chief in Australia, the late Field Marshal Blamey, of the change, did I make reference to Tobruk. I did explain that a common colour patch was necessary and I had decided (as all other simple forms from squares to circles had long since been bespoken) on the combination of two oblongs, the larger one on top'.
[2]


[1] Maugham, Barton, Tobruk and El Alamein, Australian War Memorial, 1966 p.750
[2] Stand To, March 1952 quoted in Maugham, Barton, Tobruk and El Alamein, Australian War Memorial, 1966 (pp.750-1)