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1st Australian Parachute Battalion 1944 (Tunic of a Lieutenant)

Images courtesy of the CH Collection

This officer wears the "maroon & blue" para eagle badge on his left upper sleeve. He also wears the colour patch of his former unit (as was the custom), the double purple diamonds of 2/6th Australian Independent Company.
Below the colour patch this officer wears the new (at that time) Australian parachute qualification badge.
Ron Woods, the Secretary of the Association tells me that headwear was in two distinct categories. On formal parades and formal occasions they wore the dark cherry (maroon) beret made famous by the British Parachute Regiment. On it they wore the large (hat badge size) General Service badge, the Rising Sun. On all other occasions they wore the hats khaki fur felt (slouch hat) as work dress. There is reason to believe that the group that went to Singapore at the end of the war, wore the slouch hat as an item of dress uniform with the  blue eagle on maroon backing "colour patch" on the puggaree (on the right hand side) as was the norm in WW2.

Australian Para helmet

This type of helmet was used by both Despatch Riders & Paratroopers. Combat Helmets of the World by Marzetti confirms they were used by Australian Paratroopers during WW2  (1st Australian Para Battalion 1942 - 45). Shell is made of a lightweight material similar to that of the US M1 helmet liner. Label reads "DUPERITE 1943 Made in Australia This helmet is suitable for headsizes 7&1/8 to 7&1/2 Model No. 2200/3".

 

Helmet images courtesy of H H "Sarge" Booker II of California USA

Below left. Clip fastener inside the helmet. Below right. Camo net for attachment to helmet.
The First Australian Parachute Battalion (Army) had its beginning late in 1942, and was part, in its infancy, of the (RAAF) Royal Australian Paratroop Training Unit at Tocumal NSW, under the command of Wing Commander P Glasscock (RAAF). The Army Personnel were known as Group 244 R.A.A.F. Army (Z).

The formation of the First Australian Parachute Battalion began at Tocumal NSW and continued at Richmond NSW and then at Schyville NSW, where the unit reached Battalion strength. It then moved to Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, where it trained until the end of the war.

The majority of its members were seasoned soldiers, who had already served in other theatres of the war, and a considerable number had been decorated; there were no less than ten Military Crosses (MC) in the unit. Several members refused advancement in rank in their own units to become Paratroopers.

The unit never went into action but was represented by 195 Officers and other ranks at the surrender of Singapore in September 1945. While there, they were under the direct command of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who often visited the Australians in their billets for a chat.

All of the members of the Australian Parachute Battalion were volunteers and had to pass rigorous medical checks before acceptance. They had to qualify for the winged Insignia, and the "Red Beret" with a total of seven jumps during their training.

The Commanding Officer of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion was Lt. Col. Sir John Overall, KT, CBE, MC & Bar.

*Contact: Secretary - 25 Clyo Way Kalaroo 6025 - Ph 9307 7079

 

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