Description: Battledress Flash – ROYAL AUSTRALIAN SURVEY CORPS

Condition: Very Good

Comments: Worn by the Royal Australian Survey Corps up to 1960 on battledress uniform.

Now quite a scarce flash to a small and now disbanded corps.

The Royal Australian Survey Corps (RASvy) was a Corps of the Australian Army that was formed on 1 July 1915 and disbanded on 1 July 1996.

The outbreak of World War 1did not, at first, seriously affect the work of the members of the section as an embargo was placed on their enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

On 3 July 1915, ten weeks after the landings at Gallipoli, Military Order 396 of 1915 promulgated that His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to approve of:

‘A Corps to be called the Australian Survey Corps being raised as a unit of the Permanent Military Forces. All officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men now serving in the Survey Section of the Royal Australian Engineers being transferred to the Australian Survey Corps with their present ranks and seniority.’

The Australian Survey Corps was placed fourth in the Order of Precedence of Corps after the Royal Australian Engineers. Before the end of July the strength of the Corps was three officers and sixteen other ranks. When the embargo on Survey Corps members enlistment in the AIF was removed in 1917, three officers and twelve other ranks enlisted leaving only five members in Australia. Mapping operations in Australia virtually came to a standstill when the AIF members departed for the Middle East and the Western Front where some of them joined the Australian Corps Topographical Section in support of the Anzac Corps and others served with British Army Royal Engineer Survey Companies. Two members were awarded Distinguished Conduct Medals for mapping under enemy fire.

In July 1939 ‘Instructions for War – Survey’ were issued. This outlined the military survey organisation to undertake an emergency mapping programme and the nucleus for expansion to war establishment. The emergency mapping programme was for strategic mapping at scale 4 miles to 1 inch covering a coastal strip 200 miles (300 km) inland from Townsville to Port Augusta and 100 miles (200 km) inland from Albany to Geraldton and key strategic areas in Tasmania and around Darwin. Map production was from existing State information and conducted jointly between State and Commonwealth agencies and Survey Corps units. The programme expanded to include more of Australia, New Guinea, New Britain and New Ireland and although many maps were of a preliminary standard only, they provided general coverage critical at the time. Initially the Survey Corps proceeded with programmed tasks and survey units were established as RAE militia units. In late 1940 expansion of the Survey Corps was approved to include militia units. Four militia Field Survey Companies were established in the military districts and absorbed the Corps Sections in those districts. In early 1941, 2/1 Corps Field Survey Company RAE, sailed with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, to provide survey and mapping to the Australian Corps in the Middle East theatre. Over the next four years fifteen Corps units with various roles provided survey and mapping support to military operations in the South West Pacific Area theatre of the war including Northern Territory, Papua, New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, Dutch New Guinea, Borneo and the States of Australia in particular northern Australia. Women of the Australian Women’s Army Service served in Survey units and formation headquarter sections in Australia and in New Guinea. The value of survey support within combat forces was well acknowledged, with Survey Sections assigned to both 7th Division and 9th Division for the large scale amphibious landings in Borneo. The Corps produced more than 1400 new maps of the theatres of war, printing more than 3 million copies of the maps. The highly valued efforts of the Corps did not go unnoticed by senior commanders. Lieutenant-General E.F. Herring, General Officer Commanding New Guinea Force and Lieutenant-General J. Northcott, Chief of the General Staff wrote letters of appreciation of the work of the Corps to the Director of Survey, Advanced Land Headquarters. General D. Macarthur, Commander-in-Chief, South West Pacific Area wrote a letter of high commendation of Corps work to General Blamey, Commander, Allied land Forces, South West Pacific Area. At Morotai in Borneo, the Mobile Lithographic Section was given the privilege of preparing the Instrument of Surrender signed by Lieutenant-General Teshima, Commander, Second Japanese Army and countersigned by General T. Blamey, Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces. The unit then printed thousands of copies of the surrender document for souvenirs. At the end of the war more than half of the Corps strength of 1700 were on active service outside Australia.

The achievement of the Corps during the war was its greatest contribution to the nation than any other during its existence. This was duly recognised in 1948 when King George VI granted the title ‘Royal’ to the Australian Survey Corps.

After World War 2 the Corps reverted to its peace time role of contributing to the defence and development of Australia retaining a capability in the Permanent Force Interim Army in 1946, and the Australian Regular Army from 1947 with a Corps strength of about 430 all ranks. In the early post-war years the Corps continued with the 1 mile to 1 inch mapping programme and contributed to nation building projects for water conservation and settlement in the Burdekin River basin in Queensland, investigative surveys for the Snowy River Diversion Scheme in New South Wales and Victoria, surveys for water flows between the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers near Urana, New South Wales, production of maps for the 1947 Australian Census and survey and mapping projects for the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia and Western Australia and the atomic test range at Maralinga in South Australia. Corps units were established in each of the States, except Tasmania, and a survey school was established in Victoria. These units supported the regional military commands and contributed, in a prominent and leadership way, to Defence priority areas in the Government approved national survey and topographic mapping programmes. In 1968 the Corps completed its commitment to a large part of the national topographic map series at scale 1:250,000 and then embarked on its part of the national programme of scale 1:100,000 topographic maps. It completed its commitment of 862 maps in 1982. The Corps’ geodetic surveys provided the framework for the mapping programmes and were integrated with other Government surveys to create the national geodetic datum and mapping grid. Whilst the Corps had produced maps at scale 1:50,000 and larger of areas of high Defence priority since its formation, it was not until 1983 that Defence endorsed a program for more than 2600 scale 1:50,000 maps in Defence priority areas in Northern Australia and the main land communication routes. As well as supporting Army requirements for survey and mapping, the Corps produced air navigation charts for the Royal Australian Air Force of Australia and a large area of its region and printed hydrographic charts for the Royal Australian Navy.