The Regiment

Formation of The Royal Australian Regiment

The basis of the post-war regular army accepted in 1947 was the infantry brigade then located in Japan.  When the decision was taken to withdraw two of the battalions in 1948, attention turned to the status and designation of the Australian Regular Army (ARA) battalions.  Brigadier Hopkins was concerned that despite the unit prestige and regimental spirit developed since October 1945, it would be undesirable to have the ARA units the highest numbered, without battle honours or colours, and with precedence after militia units.  He recommended the adoption of designation of Citizens Military Forces (CMF) units that had not been raised when the CMF was reformed.  It was therefore proposed that the 65th Battalion be designated the 1st Infantry Battalion, City of Sydney’s Own Regiment; the 66th Battalion, the 1st Infantry Battalion, Royal Melbourne Regiment; and the 67th Battalion, the 1st Infantry Battalion, The Oxley Regiment.

An alternative proposal was submitted by the infantry cell within the Directorate of Staff Duties (the predecessor of the Directorate of Infantry).  It was suggested that the 65th Battalion become the 1st Battalion, King George VI’s Australian Rifle Regiment; the 66th Battalion the 1st Battalion, Queen Elizabeth’s Australian Footguards; and the 67th Battalion the 1st Battalion, Princess Margaret’s Australian Infantry Regiment.
Ultimately it was decided to adopt a regimental system, along the lines of the British Army, and the existing units were to be numbered sequentially as a part of one regiment.  The three battalions in Japan were designated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Australian Regiment (AR) with application made for a royal title.
 This designation was approved by the Minister and took effect on 23 November 1948.  The prefix ‘Royal’ was granted by His Majesty King George VI, and was announced on 10 March 1949.  The Royal Australian Regiment thus came into being as Australia’s first regular regiment of the infantry.  Regimental colours were subsequently presented to the battalions and in accordance with the new status the Regiment did not adopt any existing battle honours.  The Regiment now had the task of establishing its own traditions and was very soon to win its own honours.

Badge Design

The design of the regimental badge was selected from a number of suggestions considered by the Director of Infantry, Brigadier I.R. Campbell in early 1949.  The design was drawn up by Sergeant E.J. O’Sullivan of 1 RAR Intelligence Section and had originally been intended for 1 RAR only.  

The design featured the kangaroo and wattle wreath as distinctly Australian symbols; the boomerang, which had been used in the tactical signs of the 2nd AIF from which the original units of 34 Brigade were raised; the crossed rifles signifying the personal weapon of the infantryman; and the crown because of the royal title of the Regiment.  

The simply but highly appropriate motto ‘Duty First’ was suggested by Major K.B. Thomas MC of 1 RAR.  This motto was adopted and included on the badge.  Although the badge was reproduced on Christmas cards in 1949, it was not until early 1954 that the hat badge was issued to replace the rising sun badge.

Battle Honours

Listed below are the Battle Honours won by the Units of the Royal Australian Regiment
since its inception on 23 November 1948.

1950 – 1953

The Samichon

1965 – 1972

Long Tan
Bien Hoa
Hat Dich
Binh Ba