Vehicles / Camouflage and Markings (Australia)

Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

Vehicles / Camouflage and Markings (Australia)

The following page will attempt to detail both the military vehicles used and the camouflage and markings employed by Australia in the Northern Territory during World War 2. Much of the information is graciously supplied by the Australian Army and the Australian War Memorial and I thank them for allowing me to use their material.

Markings

The following extract from the 12 Division HQ War diary shows the different markings as stipulated by the command using a CMP “Blitz” truck as an example. The most important signs displayed on the vehicle were the divisional sign and the unit sign. The divisional sign of 12 Div was a white water buffalo on a black background with a white boomerang underneath and identified vehicles to the division. A unit sign was also displayed on the vehicle and identified the unit the vehicle belonged to. The unit signs would have a coloured background that designated the type of unit, artillery, infantry, cavalry etc.  For example, 2/4 Pioneer Battalion vehicles at 41.5 mile displayed a 71 on a green background, with green being the colour of infantry units (12 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-0024). American units serving as part of NT force were also supposed to display the unit sign, although the author has yet to find photographic evidence of this.

Clip_1212 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-0125

Camouflage

Clip_1112 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-009B

Ford or Dodge Convertibles (1 ton)

Clip_1314 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

0_2657998

This Dodge convertible demonstrates the correct camouflage pattern and bears the unit sign 505 in the correct location. The 505 indicates that this vehicle belongs to the public works unit of 12 Div, NT Force. (12 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-0125). (Picture) Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

ClipAlthough strictly not a convertible, this 1941 Plymouth ‘pickup’ illustrates a vehicle similar in class. Due to the lack of unit signs it is not known which unit the vehicle belongs to, however it is thought that the men are part of a survey unit due to their equipment which consist of large notebooks in their top pockets, 1943.

Authors collection, 2013

3 Ton Truck

Clip_1214 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

Staff Cars

Clip_1414 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

Ford or Chevrolet Station Wagons

Clip_1514 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

3 Ton Lorries

Clip_1714 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

Trailers

Clip_1814 (Adelaide River) Line of Communication Sub Area unit war diaries, 1939-45, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/8/46.

Bren Gun Carriers

Clip_1912 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-009B

0_2699030

Bren Gun Carriers somewhere in the Northern Territory. Note the difference in camouflage as specified in the documents dating this photo to 1941 or early 1942.

Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

 IMG_5376My Fathers Bren Carrier “5004” out in the NT bush, 2014. It was manufactured by SA Railways, Islington Workshops. (Authors Collection)

IMG_5375“Waiting for the engine to cool down”. The hot climate of the NT, and the poorly design cooling system, caused the Ford V8 Flathead to constantly overheat leading to lengthy overhauls (Authors Collection).

An insight is offered on the suitability of Bren Carriers in the NT in the following document (below) issued by the 23rd Infantry Brigade in 1942.

23 013a(2nd AIF war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 8/3/23-013).

Motorcycles

Most of the motorcycles employed in the NT were primarily of British manufacture and served in most major theaters of combat during World War 2. The BSA M20 was the most prolific type which served in the NT during the war. There are many hundreds of photographs of this motorcycle in both publications and in various archives that attest to this fact. It would appear that motorcycles where primarily used by dispatch riders, liaison troops and by provost companies.

Main types identified in the NT are as follows…

Royal Enfield Model WD/CO

Norton 16H

BSA M20

Ariel Model W/NG

Other types know to have been operated in the NT…

Ariel 557

ClipA soldier on a rather muddied BSA M20 in 1943. Note the cracked headlight and the commonwealth number plate on the front mud guard denoted by the red “C”. The soldier is outfitted with a pattern 37 belt and pouch minus the support straps. He has a cover over his helmet indicating he is correctly following orders issued by the 23rd Infantry Brigade in 1942.

Authors collection, 2013

IMG_3657Jeep, 29 Mile. (Authors Collection)