The ‘M’ in WW2 Army Service Numbers

An Interesting historic piece, regarding the Numbers allocated to Militia Volunteers  & AIF Volunteers – WW2.  Our Friend Ray Davidson of 49th Bn Assoc. has supplied this info. & its an interesting read. – Refer the link below – Our thanks to Ray Davidson.

You would be aware that the  31/51 Bn was a Militia Unit & like many Militia units were sent to New Guinea to fight.  However, the 31/51 Bn was sent to Merauke in Dutch New Guinea.  Merauke was a desolate marshy little Port surrounded by swamp (the second largest in the world) but it had a vital Airfield & a Radar station. Its main threat were the Japanese based in strength in Timor. Their intention was to develop the Kaukenau Area – north West of Merauke. The Japanese also had complete control of the sea in the area.  The Airport  became an important base to develop & defend. Thus elements of the 11th Bde – (31/51 Bn plus a Company of 26Bn, plus Engineers to develop the Airfield) were the only Militia units serving on foreign soil & first Militia into action outside Australian soil. Forward Bases were established in swamp areas 250 miles from Merauke & clashes with the Japanese occurred in these areas. Merauke was frequently Bombed by the Japanese.

On the 24th July 1944 it was announced that 31/51 Bn had been declared as an AIF Battalion & was then to be known as 31/51 Bn AIF. The Army Regimental Numbers of the men were altered to have the “X” added. – ( Noel Pilcher’s to QX61038)  (Extracts from Bob Burla’s “Crossed Boomerangs”)

The following article in the Army Newspaper gives further information on changes to WW2 Army numbers:

https://www.army.gov.au/our-history/history-in-focus/the-offending-m-ww2-army-service-numbers

 

QX61038 Noel Pilcher 31/51 Bn – RIP

The following email was received from 31st Battalion Association (Brisbane Branch) Secretary, Tony Wadeson:

Members, its with a sad heart, I have to report the Passing of our Honorary Life Member, – Noel Pilcher – 31/51 Bn AIF – WW2 Veteran. Noel passed away this afternoon in his home town of Bowen – North Queensland. Noel was a month short of his 99th Birthday.  For over 40 years Noel has travelled the 2280 Km round trip from Bowen down to Brisbane to march in the Brisbane Anzac Day Parade, (wheelchair past 3 years). He indicated to everyone, he had every intention of coming down to participate again next year.

Our deepest Sympathy goes to his family.

Noel’s Son in Law, – Russell Mayhew, has advised me of the Funeral Details:- If any member can attend The Funeral, it will be will be held next Wed – 14th August at 11.00 AM at the Catholic Church – Bowen.

Please find the attached Tribute on WW2 Vet. – Noel Pilcher – 31/51 Bn AIF. who passed away in Bowen on 8th Aug.  The tribute was designed & produced by our Honorary Member from Fromelles – Pierre Seillier for Noel Pilcher’s Family.  The 31st Bn Association appreciates this wonderful gesture, Pierre, &  we thank you most sincerely.