2/17th Infantry Battalion
New South Wales.
These are the felt colour patches worn by the members of the 20th Brigade of the 9th Australian Division. The felt colour patch is worn on the upper outer sleeve of the tunic on both the left and right arms. They differ from other patches that were worn by other members of the AIF in the Second World War in that they are shaped like the letter 'T' whereas members of the 6th, 7th (except the 18th Brigade) and 8th Divisions wore a patch in the shape of a diamond separated into a top half colour and a bottom half colour.
The significance of the colour patches as worn by the 9th Division and members of the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division is that the shape has been varied from the AIF standard diamond to that of the letter 'T' in tribute to the Battalion's involvement in the defence of Tobruk. It was a badge that the Rat's wore with pride. When on leave everyone knew they were the one's who stopped Rommel in his tracks for so long.
The grey outline signifies the 9th Australian Division, the green border belongs to the 20th Brigade and the 'T' shape is in the individual battalion colours, the 2/13th was black, the 2/15th was purple and the 2/17th was white.
The changing of the colour patch's shapes, in recognition of the men involved in the Siege of Tobruk, has only ever been done this once in the entire history of the AIF.
This is one of the best indications of the significance of the action that the 9th Division was involved in at Tobruk was not lost on the Army. The Army changed nothing in recognition of deeds performed during World War One. This to me is one of the highest honours that the Army ever placed on the 9th Division.
colour patch images General Collection Australian War Memorial.