AAC Cadet Instructors Handbook Customs and Traditions February 2006
Introduction Many of the Australian Armys customs have been handed down from the British Army but
this is to be expected. Most of lifes customs are traditionally passed down through the family connection and the Australian Army is no different, for it was conceived from the British Army and is therefore family.
Nevertheless these customs have served the Australian Army well over the years and have
proven their worth; they are now as much a part of our Army as they are of the British Army. In many ways customs are the valuable foundation of a unit or a corps; they are the esprit-de-corps, and they cannot be counted in terms of dollars; they are far more important than that. In the words of a famous general of the 1990s ....customs and traditions install a sense of belonging in the lives of young soldiers.1 A custom is a practice, a mode of behaviour or, it could be said, a particular way of acting in a given set of circumstances; a tradition is the passing down over time of a custom.
This book is presented in nine chapters. The first deals with the rank system within the Australian
Army touching on some special appointments such as the regimental sergeant-major (RSM) and the adjutant. The second chapter describes some of the many items and embellishments of dress within the Army, whilst the third chapter examines the background to the Armys ceremonial traditions. Chapter 4 explains many of the Armys customs and other odds and sods that are part and parcel of the Australian Armys everyday life.
Chapter 5 covers the origins of barrack and unit names. Here I have dealt with some names in
more detail than others and there are a couple of reasons for this. Where there is a name that is well known, or where it is easy to track down other publications dealing with a particular name, I have just touched upon the origin, however, if the subject is rather obscure I have provided some basic background information. The various battles and areas of operations are stories in themselves and are far too complicated to be briefly described here. The idea is to give the reader a background to the name, not a history of it.
Chapter 6 describes the current corps and regimental badges of the Australian Army (including a
very brief corps/regimental background history to each corps/regiment). Again the aim is not to go into the full and sometimes complicated history of the corps or regiment but simply some explanation to their origins. The seventh chapter shows the badges of corps and regiments which have over the years been removed from the Order of Battle. It also lists the many infantry regiments which have been either disbanded or amalgamated into various state infantry regiments.
Chapter 8 deals with the unit and formation emblems of the Army. These are not headdress
badges but they appear on unit signs and documentation. The final chapter covers the trade and military skill badges worn on the Australian Army uniform.
In putting together this information I would like to thank the following for allowing me to
publish extracts from various articles and publications: Colonel R.J. Margetts (the Director of Infantry): the Infantry Centres Military Traditions and
Customs; Kaye & Ward: Major Lawrence Gordons Military Origins; Gale and Polden: Major T.J. Edwards Regimental Badges; Colonel R.W. Howell, (the Directorate of Military Studies): John Mordikes An Army for a Nation; Brigadier P.J.F. Painter (the Royal Artillery Institution): Major D. Rollos Gun Salutes; the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Canada (1997): E.C. Russells Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Armed Forces; and Colonel J. Bastiaan: The Australian Unknown Soldier (After the Battle);
I would also like to thank the following for their advice and assistance: The Australian War Memorial (especially Mr Gary Oakely); the School of Armour; Lieutenant
Colonel Adams of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps; Mr Gary Moss for his drawing skills; Major M.H. McCombe of the Queen Alexandras Royal Army Nursing Corps; Sir Conrad Swan and his staff at the College of Arms; Mrs S.K. Hopkins of the National Army Museum, Chelsea; Mr R.G. Button of Wilkinson Sword in London; Mr David Fletcher of The Tank Museum, Bovington; the Army Historical Branch of the British Ministry of Defence; Warrant Officer Class One (RSM) Jack Selmes and his warrant officers and NCOs from the Corps of Staff Cadets, Royal Military College, Duntroon; Lieutenant Colonel A.A. Sillcock; Warrant Officer Class One (BSM) Steve Hladio; Sergeant Phill Vavasour, Corporal Darren Hilder and especially Sergeant Jason Silsbury for the majority of the photographs; the many corps and unit regimental sergeant-majors, adjutants, and independent sub-unit sergeant-majors for supplying me with information; and Warrant Officers Class One (RSMs) John Wilson, Steve Griffiths, Anthony Reid and Clem Russell, Lieutenant Colonels Mike Phelps and G