Battle Honours


The practice of carrying Colours of Uniform design to identify each regiment and provide a rally point in the confusion of battle commenced in 1639. The Colours were carried in Battle in the centre of the front rank between the centre companies where they could be easily seen and recognised. This had a highly moral raising effect on the spirits of the troops. It also meant that the once battle parties were joined the Colour Party became an obvious target and the centre would see the most bitter fighting.

Since 1751, regiments have been allowed two Colours only; the King or Queen’s Colour and the Regimental Colour. Although no longer carried into battle, Colours remain the symbol of the Regiment, for on them are born the battle honours granted in recognition of gallant deeds performed by its members.

The Regimental Colours of the 39th Battalion rested for many years in Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in Ballarat, later to be placed in the Crypt of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, where they now remain in perpetuity. They bear the Battle Honours of the battalion in both World Wars.



Messines 1917 Ypres 1917 Polygon Wood
Broodseinde Poelcappelle Passchendaele,
Somme 1918 Ancre 1918 Amiens
Albert 1918 Mont St Quentin Hindenburg Line
St Quentin Cana France and Flanders 1916-18


Kokoda Trail Kokoda                              Deniki Isurava
Eora Creek/Templeton’s Crossing Buna / Gona Gona
Sanananda Road Amboga River South West Pacific Area 1942-1945


Formed in haste from disparate Victorian militia (home defence) elements in October-November 1941, initially officered (except for platoon commanders) by World War I veterans, its ranks largely composed of 18-19 year old boys armed with World War I weapons and designated for a passive garrison role in Australian administered Papua, the 39th Battalion was, in the full sense of the term, a ‘scratch’ unit. Just three weeks after the devastating aero-naval attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbour, the battalion, together with other equally ‘scratch’ elements of the 30th Brigade, embarked on the Aquitania for Port Moresby, where it was to fulfil a much more significant and historic role than was ever contemplated at the time of its formation.

This website, together with its associated links, and recommended reading materials, attempts to tell something of the real story about those men who have been described variously as ‘Those Ragged Bloody Heroes” or perhaps as “Those Chockos”! Whatever they may be called the fact remains that Australia owes them a great deal of gratitude.

(Above) A 39th Battalion contingent with banners at an ANZAC Day parade.

Associations of returned servicemen have also designed banners which are used as rallying points for ceremonies of significance such as ANZAC Day and other memorial services. These too are symbolic of the unit’s spirit, and its service.

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All mail to: 39 Battalion Association
                      PO Box 552, Gisborne VIC 3437

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