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UNIFORM & KIT ISSUED TO THE AIF DURING WW2
This pictorial library is devoted to the recording of "Uniform and Kit" issued to an Australian Soldier of any corps, during the Second World War. Consider it a virtual "Q" Store in Australian militaria. It is not exhaustive and will be added to over time. Any reader who wishes to contribute photographs and text will be recognised and credited with such information. I also invite collectors of other nation's militaria to forward content (please see our other countries listed on the drop down menu) - so that a comprehensive list of "Axis" and "Allies" uniform/kit is detailed.
The Peaked Cap In Service
An image of Signalman NX29918 James Francis McGRATH of the 8th Division Signals, AIF - wearing the Peaked Cap that was issued to 'other ranks'. Those with an eye for detail, will note that the cap in this photograph is actually devoid of the eyelets (or vents) on the sides of the cap - which are evident in the previous coloured images. These caps which are devoid of the eyelets (such as that of Signalman McGrath), are more commonly seen in photographs of the First World War. Based on this principle, it could be that the cap worn by James is a WW1 surplus cap that was held in stock and issued during World War Two. Or it could simply be that the manufacturer was working off a Great War pattern.
Signalman McGRATH had landed in Singapore during February of 1941 and spent much of that year, training in Malaya. When the Japanese invaded on the 8th of December, 1941 - the Allied forces were pushed back down the Malayan Peninsula. The 8th Div. Sigs. were eventually ordered to 'dig in' at the Botanical Gardens, near Singapore city. Like most other 'non-combat' units within the AIF, the Sigs had taken up Bren Guns and Lee-Enfield Rifles and were preparing to fight as infantry. Lt. General H. Gordon BENNETT (G.O.C - AIF in Malaya) inspected the men of the 8th Div. Sigs prior to the capitulation. On page 194 of his account 'WHY SINGAPORE FELL' - he recorded "I then completed my tour by inspecting the posts held by the signallers in the Botanical Gardens. The men are cheerful and confident though perturbed at the idea of surrender. They still feel they are superior to the enemy and cannot understand the position". However, Gordon BENNETT had earlier written:- (whilst visiting the H.Q. of the 2/20th Infantry Battalion) Officers and men were very upset at the state of affairs. One officer broke down completely, saying "We can't surrender to the Japanese". One group of men wanted me to use the AIF to launch an attack. This is, of course, impracticable. Our trained fighting troops are a mere handful, by far the greatest proportion of my forces being non-combatants, untrained in infantry attack. Around 10.30am that morning, a Japanese mortar bombardment hit the area of the Botanical Gardens and a projectile struck a tree, the resulting shrapnel striking Signalman McGRATH in the lower back and bringing down a branch. He never regained consciousness and died as a result of his injuries. His mother never got over his death.
The War Medals of Signalman James McGRATH were finally re-united as a 'set' in 2009 after being seperated for 58 years. Read this Success Story by CLICKING HERE
World War Two Australian Beret (woollen)
This particular item is a bit of a mystery. Whilst it is clearly a beret, exactly which branch of the AIF (or supporting industries) that were actually issued with this item; cannot be determined. It is made from a green woollen material with a khaki cotton liner and piping. It is adjusted to fit the head of the wearer by simply tying the loose ends of the piping which hang from the beret. However, as numerous examples show - it appears to be made very cheaply. On some items, the crown of the beret is made up of four individual panels of cloth - simply sewn together (which gives the impression that it was made from scraps and off-cuts. I have formed the opinion that it may have been used by mechanics or other Works Company personnel as a "throw away" item; once it has become soiled or unruly in appearance. It may also have been issued to munitions workers or similar - as a type of "hair net". However both of these ideas are merely speculation. The Medals Gone Missing Administrators would be keen to hear from any person who can clearly identify the usage of this piece of headwear.
World War Two Australian Beret (wollen) - manufacturer date
The manufacturer's tag which is sewn inside the World War Two Australian Beret. As can be seen from the image, the item of headwear was manufactured in a factory, located within New South Wales (noted by the letter "N" before the digit '295') It was made during 1943 and is a small size (size 2). A government acceptance stamp (broad arrow) is evident in the top left hand corner of the image.
World War Two Australian Beret (woollen) second example
A second example of the same pattern - World War Two Australian Beret. This particular item of headwear was manufactured in the same factory as the previous example; however the manufacture date of this article was 1945. I have seen an example which is dated "1941" which indicates that there was longevity in the production of this style of beret. Some slight variations can be seen, with regards to the manufacturer tags and stampings of this particular item - when compared to the previous example. This beret has a "Name & Regimental Number" tag sewn into the beret (similar tag to those found in the Australian Woollen Service Dress Tunics). It also bears the Department of Defence "D - broad arrow - D" stamping on the khaki liner.