AUSTRALIAN TACTICAL SIGNS
Australian Vehicle Markings Part 2. (Infantry Divisions)
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The 1st.Australian Infantry Division image is of an Aboriginal man with a spear, and if you recall, I mentioned that a British book on this subject was the worst, describing it as an "Athlete with a Javelin", to an Australian it's quite obvious what it's meant to be. Curiously it was painted white on a black ground. A brief history - This division was formed in December of 1941, raised in New South Wales, used mainly as a training division and didn't see service outside the Commonwealth of Australia..
The 2nd. Australian Infantry Division has a Penguin in black and white with a black Boomerang, unlike the other Divisional signs, there was no ground used, and was placed over the usual background of the vehicle to which it was affixed. A brief history - The Division was raised in 1942, saw service in New South Wales and Western Australia. ( I haven't completed research into this Division)
The 3rd. Australian Infantry Division used a familiar animal, that of the Koala ( not Koala Bear) and Boomerang, both in white on a black ground. Photographs from the Australian War Memorial archives show that at least in New Guinea, this symbol was at times reversed and the Koala faced the opposite direction. A brief history - This division was raised in 1942, saw active service along the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea against the Japanese. Battle honours were won at Salamaua, Buna, the Huron Gulf and Markham Valley, later going to Bougainville in the Solomons.
The 4th.Australian Infantry Division, an Echidna ( Spiny Ant Eater) and Boomerang, both in white on a black ground. A brief history - Initially designated York Force ( After Cape York, that area of Queensland nearest New Guinea separated only by the Torres Straight) raised in 1943, this force commanded that area until September 1944, disbanded in October 1944 after the threat of a Japanese invasion subsided.
The 5th Australian Infantry Division - see Part 1 of this section.
The 6th Australian Infantry Division, used the famous image of the Kangaroo and Boomerang, The Kangaroo was taken from the Australian penny of 1939, on later pennies, like that used from the mid 1950's up to 1966, ( Australia changed to decimal currency on Feb. 14th.1966) the hump of the Kangaroo's back isn't so pronounced. In several photographs Military Police jeeps had a border of what appears to be Yellow or Red surrounding the sign. In Part 3 of Vehicle markings the Official location of these Tac. signs shows the sign should be applied to the left side windshield sheeting of jeeps, however, the M.P. photos show it applied to the right. A brief history -The 6th. Div. was the first 2nd. A.I.F. ( the 1st.A.I.F. was in WW1) division formed, raised on 12th.October 1939, two weeks after war was declared against Germany. Transported to the Middle East, to fight the Italians and Germans in Bardia, Tobruk, Derna, Giarubub and Benghazi. After suffering great losses, and their first defeat after moving to Greece and Crete, the Division was moved back to Egypt. Reequipped and re-manned the Division saw action against the Vichy French in Syria. Due to the threat of the Japanese to Australia, the 6th were returned to Australia in 1942, by orders of the Australian Prime Minister, much to the chagrin of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill who wanted the 6th. to remain in the Middle East. It was immediately sent to New Guinea and fought the Japanese around Buna, Salamaua, Danmap River and Wewak. The 6th. Division is arguably the most famous of the Australian Divisions.
The 7th Australian Infantry Division used the Kookaburra and Boomerang, first designed in 1940 it was always meant to be in two colours, White and Brown, but due to a single colour being easier to apply in the field it was not used, although directives were issued that the white was to be touched up with brown after applying the stencil. For ease of recognition the plain all white "Kooka" was applied to vehicles, trailers and other equipment. A brief History - Served in the Middle East with the 6th. Division, took part in the defence of Tobruk with the 9th Division ( The Famous Rats of Tobruk), Fought alongside of the 6th against the Vichy French in Syria, before returning to fight in New Guinea against the Japanese. Battle honors were won in and around Finschafen, Lae, Markham and Ramu Valley's and Madang and Hansa Bay areas.
The 8th. Australian Infantry Division, a white Emu on a white Boomerang with black ground. There seems to be several different versions of the Emu, one with both legs down, and another with one raised foot. Very little information is available due to the short WW2 fighting history of this ill fated Division.. A brief history - The 8thDivision, after setting off from Sydney, N.S.W. along with the 6th. and 7th. Divisions, were diverted to Malaya and the defence of Singapore, under the command of the British, fought the Japanese in a rear guard action back along the Malay Peninsular to the island of Singapore. After the British surrendered the remaining forces, the last four years of the War were spent as P.O.W's. This included Changi Prison and the infamous Burma railway, due to the brutality of the Japanese few members of the 8th. returned home to Australia. ( It should be noted that Gen.Bennett and approx. 1000 others, mainly cooks, mobile bath units etc. managed to escape prior to the surrender ) Special mention should be made of the men of the 2/19th and the 2/29th for the rearguard action and the defence of Singapore Island. After the 50 year ban on information was lifted it was discovered that this campaign was lost by the Governments of both Britain and Australia before the first troops landed and fired a single shot due to ineptitude, poor planning and choice of Commanding Officers,( both British and Australian) and believing in their own propaganda about the myth of "Fortress Singapore".
The 9th Australian Infantry Division, a white Platypus and Boomerang on a black ground. The Platypus was taken from the 1937 9d (Nine Penny) Stamp. A brief history- Formed in 1940, was sent to the Middle East, allocated garrison duties while the 6th and 7th Divisions were sent to Greece, saw action in the battle for El Alamein alongside the British 8th. Army. More famously known as the Rat's of Tobruk, returned to Australia, then on to New Guinea after being reequipped, and fought against the Japanese in and around Finschafen, Lae, the Ramu and Markham Valleys and Madang alongside the 7th Division. Was later moved to Borneo and saw more action against the Japanese until the end of the War. The photo on the left is of a 9th. Division jeep on the beach near Port Moresby, New Guinea.
The 10th. Australian Infantry Division. It's sign was a Snake over a Boomerang in white on a black ground. I haven't been able to find any reference to the actual artwork used. A brief history - Was formed in 1942, it existed for only five months ( April - August) before being disbanded to save manpower.
The 11th Australian Infantry Division used a White Palm tree against a black ground. A brief History - This Division was formed in December, 1942 at Milne Bay, New Guinea, made up mainly from Milne Force. Operations include Finisterre Ranges and in New Britain.