TRADITIONS AND ACCOUTREMENTS
Traditions are beliefs, long established customs or methods of operation handed down from one generation of a unit to another. Traditions adopted by battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment and indeed, the Regiment itself, are those things that add to the spirit and pride reflected in a battalion by its officers and soldiers. They are the sometimes unobtrusive, but always identifiable things that allow the battalions in their own way, to adopt a sense of individuality, self-pride and self recognition, all of which add to the history of the unit. Without traditions, battalions are just infantry units. With its traditions, sometimes evolving over decades, the battalion becomes ‘The Battalion’, ‘Our Battalion’ and ‘My Battalion’. Officers and soldiers always feel an Esprit de Corps or loyalty and devotion to a battalion because it is they who contribute to and develop the traditions of their battalion and who play a role, oft times by brave deeds and sometimes by unconventional behaviour, in the writing of the history of their battalion. The same may be said of a company and a platoon.
Accoutrements are those items of a soldier’s equipment other than clothes and weapons. Some accoutrements such as hat badges and lanyards are issued items. Some accoutrements are gained by necessity, convenience or just for decoration but they all add to the history and tradition of a unit.
The battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment all have their own identifying accoutrements that discretely separate them from each of the other battalions. Although all battalions of the Regiment wear the same hat badge, they wear differently coloured lanyards. Two of the battalions wear differently coloured puggarees on their slouch hats. All battalions wear different colour patches on their puggarees. Some battalions wear the Rifle Green coloured beret in lieu of the Slouch Hat in General Duty Dress while others may wear coloured berets to indicate their parachute or special forces role. These differences add to the spirit of a battalion and in some cases trace the history of a battalion and 4RAR is no different.
Battalion raised : 01 February 1964
Battalion colour : Infantry Scarlet
Lanyard : Infantry Scarlet, worn on left shoulder
Regimental motto : "DUTY FIRST"
Battalion nickname : The Fighting Fourth
Battalion mascot : None
Hat badge : Royal Australian Regiment
Colour patch : Rifle Green rectangle with Infantry Scarlet centre
Beret colour : Commando Green
Parachute badge : Black commando wings on Commando Green background
Battalion Quick March : 'Inverbrackie'
Company tunes :
A Company…...............................…'Hey Look Me Over'
B Company….................................. 'Killworth Hills'
C Company................................….. 'World of our Own'
D Company…...............................…'These Boots Are Made for Walkin'.
Operations Support Company…..... 'St Louis Blues'
Operations Logistic Company ….....'Puff the Magic Dragon'
Current location : Holsworthy, Sydney, NSW
Allied Regiment : The Irish Guards
The battalion was re-rolled on 1 February 1997 as the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando), 4RAR (Cdo), and, on 19 July 2009, was renamed 2nd Commando Regiment.
The 4RAR (Commando) Battalion Prayer
Almighty God, Lord of Armies, you are the God who is victorious over all that is evil. You are the source of courage, endurance, perseverance, hope and love. Those of us who serve you in the role of Commando request of you that we will be courageous when called upon to face danger, that we will endure when called to suffer, that we will persevere when the way is long and lonely, that we will continue to seek the light when all around is dark. May we seek to serve for the good of others, and we ask that we will remain committed to whatever is true, noble, right and worthy.
Give us compassion for those whom we are called upon to protect, and respect for those we face in battle. Let us place our Duty First in your service.
We ask this through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Parachute Badge (Wings) of 4RAR (Cdo) worn on the right upper arm, the 4RAR (Cdo) Insignia and the 4RAR Colour Patch previously worn on the slouch hat. The battalion now wears the Commando Green commando beret.
The Brown Puggaree. Whilst the battalion was overseas in Malaysia in 1965, preparing for operational service in Borneo against Indonesian confrontation, the logistics system was unable to supply the normal khaki puggaree worn on the ‘Slouch Hat’ or Hat, Khaki, Fur Felt. The battalion was aware that some years earlier the same fate had befallen 1 RAR and that 1 RAR had written off a quantity of the British issued brown woollen shirts and had the local Indian tailor make puggarees from the shirts which were then issued to the troops in lieu of the normally issued puggarees. Not to be outdone 4RAR did the same thing with the British issued brown woollen shirt and so 4RAR wears a brown puggaree when the slouch hat is worn. In its Commando role, 4RAR does not wear the slouch hat but instead wears the Commando Green beret.
The Battalion’s Colour. The coloured lanyard of all Infantry battalions is worn on the left shoulder. This was not always so because in the late fifties and early sixties, 1RAR wore a blue lanyard on the left, 2RAR wore a green lanyard on the right and 3RAR wore a green lanyard on the left. Whilst 2RAR was serving in Malaya in 1961 to 1963 it was granted the right to wear a black lanyard on the left.
When 4RAR was raised in 1964, it was initially given the nondescript colour of bronze for its battalion colour and lanyard. This was unacceptable to the CO, Lt Col David Thomson MC, and he requested that the unit colour and lanyard colour be changed to Infantry Scarlet.
This was approved but not before the bronzed coloured Battalion flag was issued and raised on the first battalion parade at Woodside on the 1st February 1964. That flag was changed to Infantry Scarlet but to maintain the history of the flag, the Battalion crest on the scarlet flag is superimposed against a bronze circle. The original flag is still flown on the Battalion’s birthday.
4RAR is the only unit of the Army to have two official flags.
The Bearded Sergeant. During the Battalion’s time in South Australia two significant events occurred. On 11 April 1965, the Governor General, The Right Honourable Viscount De L’isle VC, KG, GCMG, GCVO, PC presented the Queen’s and Regimental Colours to the Battalion and during the inspection of the Battalion, Viscount De L’Isle was introduced to the Assault Pioneer Sergeant. The Governor General queried the Commanding Officer, Lt Col David Thomson MC, as to why the Assault Pioneer Sergeant was not wearing a beard. When the CO replied “It is not the custom in our Army, Sir” the Governor General then said, “It is an old tradition in my Regiment, the Grenadiers, and to mark the presentation of your first Colours and as your Commander-in-Chief, I believe it would be appropriate for the Pioneer Sergeant of 4 RAR to wear a beard from now on. I trust you will see to this, Colonel.”
Subsequently, the 4 RAR Assault Pioneer Platoon sergeant became the only soldier in the Australian Army authorised to wear a full beard (no chinstrap was worn when wearing the slouch hat). It was rather disconcerting to the original Pioneer Platoon Sergeant that he was unable to grow a beard! On ceremonial occasions, the Pioneer Platoon Sergeant wore a white leather apron and carried an axe over his shoulder instead of a rifle. This tradition continued within 4RAR but with the evolution of the make up of an Infantry battalion, the Assault Pioneer Platoon was removed from the battalions of the Regiment and 4RAR did not have an Assault Pioneer Platoon Sergeant to carry on the tradition. After 4RAR was delinked from 2/4RAR in XXXX the role of the bearded sergeant was later transferred to the Regimental Police Sergeant of the Battalion.
When 4RAR became 4RAR (Cdo) in 1997 a Regimental Police Section was removed from the establishment and the tradition of the bearded Assault Pioneer Sergeant came to an end. The tradition remained within the Battalion on its reraising but not having an assault pioneer platoon in the Battalion, it was the task of the Regimental Police Sergeant to grow a beard and to continue the traditions of the wearing of the apron and the carrying of the axe. Unfortunately circumstances sometimes dictate that some traditions must fall by the wayside and because of its operational requirements, 4RAR (Cdo) has reluctantly dispensed with the tradition but not the history, of the bearded sergeant.
The bearded sergeant however, will still remain as a part of the history and the folklore of the Battalion forever.
SSgt Frank N. Stein. Staff Sergeant Frank N. Stein is an effigy of original members, Sergeant Noel (horror) Huish and Staff Sergeant Frank (Cranky Franky) Galvin of the 4 RAR Sergeants’ Mess. Customs associated with SSgt Frank N. Stein include attending all Sergeants’ Mess activities and some Battalion activities, appropriately dressed.
A newly promoted Sergeant is appointed as his sponsor and at all formal dinners the sponsor sergeant eats and drinks on SSgt Frank N. Stein's behalf.
SSgt Frank N. Stein is now a qualified parachutist and commando having passed all the qualifying tests as undertaken by his nominated sponsor.
SSgt Frank N. Stein wears the medals of all 4RAR campaigns.
The Kibby VC Club. In 1964, the RSM, WO1 Paddy Brennan MBE suggested to the Commanding Officer, Lt Col David Thomson MC, that use be made of the old unused Kibby VC Club which used to be the old National Service battalion Regular Army staff club as a Corporals’ Club for the Battalion’s corporals and lance corporals. The idea being that their own club would bring the corporals together and groom them for future membership of the Sergeant’s Mess in that the corporals would run the club themselves, along the lines of a Sergeants’ Mess.
This worked for a while until some corporals decided that as they slept in the same accommodation and worked so closely with their soldiers that they should revert to drinking with them in the nearby Derrick VC Club, the private soldiers club. This came to a sudden end and the wayward corporals quickly returned to using the Kibby VC Club after the RSM strongly advised them that to drink in the Derrick VC Club they had to be private soldiers and that he could and would arrange their change of circumstance quite quickly. The concept of the Corporals’ Club was highly successful but due to operational expedience, the concept was abandoned on the Battalion’s arrival in Malaysia in 1965.
The SPU Club. The SPU Club or to give it its official name, the Sports Personnel United Club, originated when 4RAR was in Malaysia from 1965 to 1967. Then as now, separate messes and clubs were maintained for officers - the Officers Mess; for sergeants, staff sergeants and warrant officers - the Sergeants’ Mess; for corporals and below - the Soldiers’ Club.
As part of its operational training programme, 4RAR participated in many sports at platoon, company and battalion level and regularly played against other Commonwealth units. Because of the rank separated messes and the inherent dress regulations of each mess, after the games there was no common place at which the players could gather to share a quiet beer with each other. A few of the diehards put their heads together and came up with the idea of building their own bar in the rain forest adjoining the Battalion lines where all ranks could gather after a game, still dressed in sports gear. It was to be called the Sports Personnel United Club or SPU Club.
Some basic rules were applied; all ranks could attend, minimum dress was shorts and thongs, fighting was to result in disbarment, the rank system was to still apply although watered down slightly among the less senior ranks and members cleaned up after themselves.
It became such a success that the CO soon regulated the hours of the opening of the club so that the messes could make a profit!
When the Battalion was de-linked from 2RAR in 1965, the new Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ray Smith and the RSM, WO1 Snowy Kahler immediately re-instituted the SPU Club.
Having no room at Holsworthy to locate a club similar to the original SPU Club, the members of the Battalion elected to call the Soldiers Club, the ‘SPU Club’. It did not take long before there was some objection to the name, especially from the wives of the Battalion, but a ‘referendum’ of the junior NCOs’ and soldiers resulted in the name remaining; their main reasoning: “tradition”. The SPU Club is now the assembly point for all ranks after a Battalion event. Numbered, metal Commando winged key rings are issued to all members.
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Assault Pioneer Platoon Sergeant 4 RAR/NZ '68/69 tour to Vietnam.
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