1 RAR Association Incorporated

Our 'Skippy' Badge

Upon the establishment of the Australian Regiment a regimental badge and motto were required. Despite the badge being created for the Regiment, much of its inspiration came from the vision of soldiers and officers of the 1st Battalion. Suggestions for a regimental badge were tendered to the then Director of Infantry, Brigadier I.R. Campbell, in early 1949. The favoured design was drawn up by Sergeant E.J. O’Sullivan of Intelligence Section 1 RAR and was originally intended solely for 1 RAR. The design featured a kangaroo, which gave the badge its affectionate moniker, the ‘Skippy Badge’. It also featured a wattle wreath creating a distinctly Australian character, coupled with the boomerang, which had been used in the tactical symbology of the 2nd AIF from which the original units of the 34th Brigade (which comprised if the 65th Bn (1 RAR), 66th Bn (2 RAR) and 67th Bn (3 RAR)). were raised. The crossed rifles were chosen to signify the personal weapon of the infantryman. Finally, the badge was surmounted with a crown because of the Royal title bestowed upon the Regiment.

Three Badges were then made by pioneer platoon, 3 RAR. They were presented to the original battalions of the Regiment in 1952. This original, ‘Skippy Badge’ which is surmounting 1 RAR’s gates shows its longevity by featuring the King’s crown rather then the Queen’s as the current regimental badge now displays.

Aside from graphic adornments, the badge is emblazoned with the simple yet highly appropriate motto, ‘Duty First’. The motto was suggested by Major K.B. Thomas MC, who was also serving within 1 RAR. The badge did not begin to be issued in place of the rising sun badge until 1954, however it was appearing on regimental Christmas cards as early as 1949 (Horner).

In early 1949, the Director of Infantry, Brigadier I.R. Campbell DSO wrote to the battalions of the Regiment asking for suggested designs for a Regimental Badge. Several designs were submitted and the one eventually accepted was that submitted by 1RAR, then serving at Ingleburn, NSW. In the early stages of the preparation of a design, it was intended to be the badge for the 1st Battalion only, but subsequently it was decided that one badge would be worn by all battalions of the Regiment. On the 10 Mar 49 it was announced that “His Majesty King George VI had been graciously pleased to give his approval to the prefix “Royal” being appended to the title of the Australian Regiment”. In the final form of the badge was the combination of many suggestions put forward by several persons. Those involved in 1RAR ‘s design were LTCOL J.K.A. Kelly DSO Commanding Officer of 1RAR, MAJ T.E. Archer, MAJ K.B. Thomas MC, and SGT E.J. O’Sullivan, the Intelligence Sergeant. The Intelligence Section of the Battalion prepared sketches and assisted in the design. In deciding upon the various heraldic devices for inclusion in the motif of the badge, an early intention was to incorporate the identification signs of the AIF Divisions, which contributed personnel to the 34th Australian Infantry Brigade for the occupation forces in Japan. This proved impracticable because the Sixth Division had a kangaroo, the Seventh Division a kookaburra, and the Ninth Division a platypus, all surmounting a boomerang. At this stage it was decided that it should be a regimental and not a battalion badge so it was decided to adopt an animal typically Australian, but differing somewhat from those of the Divisional Signs. A kangaroo was selected, and the heraldic posture of the beast was to be standing (the Sixth Division kangaroo was leaping) to prevent a direct connection with a divisional tactical sign.

The devices in the badge have the following meaning: the kangaroo, uniquely native fauna and universally accepted as an Australian symbol. The original sketch showed the kangaroo with its forepaws relaxed, but in the badge its forepaws are outstretched. This occurred because the diecasters could not achieve proper definition with the paws hanging.  The boomerang, a weapon closely associated with our Aboriginal peoples and also related to the tactical signs of the 2nd AIF from which the 34th Australian Infantry Brigade was formed. The wattle wreath, a symbolic Australian flora in bloom, and variation of the laurel wreath which is part of many British and Australian Badges.  The Crossed Rifles, this was to signify the personal weapon of the Infantryman. The rifle was the .303 inch, Short Magazine, Lee Enfield, Number 1, Mark 3. The Royal Crown, it is a representation of the Saint Edward’s or King Edward the Confessor’s Crown and has been used in the Regimental Badge since new issues became available following the accession of Her Majesty the Queen. Previously a representation of The Imperial Crown was used. A motto for the Regiment was called for and it had to be original, short, and in English. “Duty First” seemed appropriate and was selected because, “The unhesitating and unquestioning performance of his duty is the fundamental requirement of a soldier”. The Regimental Badge was reproduced on Christmas Cards in 1949, but was not issued as a hat badge until early 1954 when the new badges were issued to 2 RAR in Korea, replacing the Rising Sun. In June 1950, 3 RAR then serving in Japan, had four large badges cast out of spent brass shell cases by members of the Assault Pioneer Platoon. One of these badges was sent to each of the three battalions and the fourth to 1 Infantry Brigade Headquarters. The 1st Battalion's Badge is situated in front of the Guard Room