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Friday, 29 March 1946

Mr Harrison n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

1.   Has his attention been drawn to a statement attributed to him in the Sydney press of the 15th March, that ex-servicemen will not be allowed to wear war medals with their uniforms on Anzac Day?

2.   Is it a fact that the statement as reported has caused resentment amongex-servicemen?

3.   Is it a fact that the customary wearing of war medals in peace years on the national day of remembrance has beena tribute, in part, to the memory of fallen comrades?

4.   If he has been correctly reported, will he inform the House of the reason for the decision?

Mr Forde - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   A statement was authorized to the effect that, on Anzac Day, ex-servicemen taking part ill processions throughout Australia would be permitted to wear approved Australian Military Forces pattern uniforms and dress in their possession and campaign ribbons issued to them, but that medals and webbing equipment must not be worn with the uniform. It is presumed that this is the statement referred to. 2.Not to my knowledge. 3.Yes.

4.   As in the United Kingdom, it is contrary to the custom of the Australian services to permit decorationsand medals to be worn on uniform during war-time. Following a similar order issued by the War Office, an Australian order was issued shortly after the commencement of hostilities stating that the wearing of decorations andmedals wouldcease for the duration of the war, but that medal ribbons may he worn. Although active operations have ceased, the order mentioned is still in force, and will probably remain so until the cessation of time of war has been declared. In this connexion, it is pointed out that the campaign stars or medals themselves are not yet available in respect of the recent war, but the ribbons have been issued. Consequently, many ex-servicemen who received medals in respect of service during the 1914-15 war and earned additionalawards during the recent war, as well as men who served in the recent war only, have so far received ribbons only denoting such service. It is considered in the best interests of the services that, when uniform is worn, there should he uniformity in the wearing of decorations and campaignmedals and that the best way to achieve this and to comply with existing war-time orders is to authorize ribbons only tobe worn and not the actual stars and medals. If ex-servicemen wear uniform, thesame rules should apply to them asto serving members. It is customary, however, on Anzac Day, for former servicemen to wear medals while wearing civilian clothes.

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