Australian Military Insignia

This page addresses the three army emblems found on Australian graves; the Air Force Badge, Navy Badge and Land Army Badge. This symbol on a grave is used to mark all people who served with the respective military group.

RAAF Badge

The current Royal Australian Air Force Badge has been in place since 1939. It features an Imperial Crown with a wedge-tail eagle.

The motto Per Ardua Ad Astra is translated to mean “Through adversity to the stars”. It is the same motto used by the Royal Air Force and was adapted from the adventure novel People of the Mist by Henry Rider Haggard in 1894:

“To his right were two stately gates of iron fantastically wrought, supported by stone pillars on whose summit stood griffins of black marble embracing coats of arms and banners inscribed with the device “Per Ardua ad Astra”.

RAN Badge

The badge was officially adopted in 1948, and later amended in 1957 and 2002 with only minimal changes. The main change to the badge was the crown featured on top which was altered from a Queens Crown to the Tudor Crown. Little is known about who designed the original badge and it was first adopted through copying the symbol on a door of the Navy building in Hobart. It is speculated that the four dots may have been accidentally duplicated from original screw holes that would have fastened the badge to the door.

Land Army Badge

The standard army badge was introduced in 1902 for newly-Federated Australia’s participation in the Second Boer War. It was introduced by the Commanding Officer of the Australian Military Forces who felt the insignia was symbolic of the co-operation of Naval and Military forces of the Commonwealth. The symbol represented on headstones is not the same symbol that appears on military uniforms. The headstone symbol contains the words “Australian Imperial Forces”, whereas the standard badge simply says “Australian Army”. It is closely associated with the “digger” spirit of Australian military forces and is a strong symbol of national pride.

Australian Army badge

Australian Army badge

Air Force Insignia

Air Force Insignia 

Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy



2 responses to “Australian Military Insignia

  1. That’s great information, Cheyne. I’m looking forward to your heritage walk at Woronora on 13th April. I’ll be able to find all these symbols and nod knowingly as you talk!

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