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 page of the Australian War Memorial Website gives further information on changes to WW2 Army numbers:




Commemorative Church Service – Townsville

On 18th August 2019, The 31st Battalion, Kennedy Regiment, The Royal Queensland Regiment, held their Annual Church Service at St James Anglican Cathedral Townsville as detailed on the front page of the Church service program (See Below). The service was conducted by both the Bishop, The Right Reverend Dr Keith Joseph, Major RAAMC (Rtd) and the Dean Very Reverend Rod McDonald, both of whom were Army Chaplains .

This year the Service focused on the actions of the 31st/51st Battalion in WWII in the Battle of Porton Plantation on Bougainville, Papua NewGuinea. The Reflections Address was given by Major Kaho Lai OC Army School of Transport- Maritime Wing, Ross Island Townsville. Major Lai gave a brief account of his career and an overview of the WWII Porton Landing operation stressing the links between the 31st/51st Battalion AIF and Water Transport. The Maritime Squadron turned out in strength with around 30 Squadron members attending. A big thankyou to the squadron for its support. The CV for Major Lai is on the back page of the program (See Below).

During the Church Service the first reading was delivered by Mr Garry Edwards, President of the Mackay Branch of 42nd Battalion Association, the second reading was by Mr Felix Reitano, President of the Ingham Branch of 31st Battalion Association. The 31st/42nd Battalion pre-positioned their Colours in the Cathedral prior to the service and provided a cross for the laying of wreaths. The support of the Battalion was excellent, as usual, and the Association thanks the Battalion.

4 Brisbane Branch Members:- Ray Fogg, George Stanger,  Mick James, & Tony Wadeson, travelled up to Townsville to attend the Commemoration Church Service & the Reunion Lunch afterwards.

The Church Service was well attended with the CO – LTCOL Damien Green, – RSM  WO1 John Stafford & Exec. Officer Major Ian Reid, plus other members of 31/42RQR in attendance. A large number of soldiers from the Army School of Transport- Maritime Wing, including the RSM also attended the Service. Representatives from the various Branches of the 31st Bn Assoc. as well as, 42 Bn Assoc. Mackay & 51 Bn Assoc. – Tablelands, provided a good attendance.

After the Service all those present had the pleasure of mixing with over morning tea before heading off to the reunion lunch.

The Reunion lunch held after the Church Service was at the Townsville Yacht Club as the Townsville RSL Club is still recovering from the extensive damage caused by the flood early this year. Photo from the lunch shows the Association President, Col Greg Stokie (Retd) welcoming all with the 31st/42nd Battalion CO and his wife in front of the lectern and the Battalion 2IC and RSM to the right.

You can read more about the Battle of Porton Plantation & 31st/51st Bn here –




Front page of Order of Service

Rear page of Order of Service containing CV of Major Kaho Lai

31st Battalion Colours

31st Battalion Association members L to R Felix Reitano (Ingham), Tony Wadeson (Brisbane), Merrick Lalor (Cairns), Mick James (Brisbane). Maj Merrick Lalor is the OC of the Kennedy Coy.

President of 31st Battalion Association Col Greg Stokie welcoming members and guests to the Reunion

Luncheon at the Townsville Yacht Club


CO 31st/42nd Battalion LtCol Damien Green at the Reunion Lunch


Members and Guests at the Reunion lunch at the Townsville Yacht Club


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. 

Battle of Fromelles Commemoration – France

This year the 31st Bn Association was represented in two Commemorative Services to Honour of the fallen in “The Battle of Fromelles” .  (1) At the Actual Commemorative Service held at Pheasant Wood Cemetery Fromelles France. This Service was organised by Dept. of Veteran Affairs & the Australian Embassy in France, in conjunction with the Fromelles Authorities. We were represented at this service by our local Honorary Member Pierre Seillier, & Brisbane Branch Member Bruce Lees & Wife Dianne. Pierre laid a Wreath on our Behalf.

The Headstones of two previously missing 31st Bn members recently identified by DNA were unveiled. Bruce & Dianne were present in support of the Dunn Family whose Grandfather Pte. Leslie Clark Dunn,  Headstone was unveiled by Grandson Mr Roley Dunn. Pierre had previously presented his Famous tributes of all the 7 Diggers recently Identified to the Family Representatives attending the Ceremony. The Australian Ambassador sought out Pierre after the Ceremony to Congratulate & thank him for his dedicated work for the remembrance of the Australian WW1 Diggers & help given to family members over many years.

(2) For the first time our Association was able to organise a local Commemoration Service on the 19th July at the Graveside of a 31st Bn Digger who participated in the Battle of Fromelles & later was awarded a medal for Bravery – Lt Arthur Adams DCM,  buried at the IPSWICH General Cemetery. Details of the Ceremony and the address by the CO of 31/42 RQR, LTCOL Damien Green were  reported in a post on this website in July. We had excellent press coverage with Photos in the Moreton Border News on 26th July. Photos can be viewed on our Website. (See Commemoration of 103rd Anniversary – Battle of Fromelles).

We include here an email received from Pierre describing the events of the day at Fromelles:

Yesterday for the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, I was very early at Fromelles before the ceremony, to meet Australian friends, at the Museum of Fromelles in the afternoon. The staff of the Australian Embassy came with the families of the 7 soldiers identified this year, to visit the exhibition and then the battlefield. One of the members of the embassy introduced me to the families and I was able to give them the posters / tributes I had done for them including 31st Bn men. It was a very moving moment, two ladies had tears in their eyes, and me too. The ceremony was great, full of people,  I laid a wreath on behalf of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association. Graves of the new identified soldiers were dedicated with families and kids of Fromelles. After the ceremony we had a drink in the Fromelles Cobbers School, and I had the surprise to see his exellency Mr Brendan Berne Australian Ambassador in France, who came to thank and congratulate me for my work for Australian Remembrance.  He was surprised by the fact that a frenchman have a strong devotion for Australia and Australians. I was very moved…It was a great ceremony. You can see the full album on our Facebook page.
Lest We Forget
Kind Regards
Pierre Seillier.

Pierre has spent many years as a Voluntary Fromelles Battlefield & Cemetery Guide, he also Voluntary helps out at the Local Museum. Pierre is loved by countless Australian relatives of the fallen. Pierre has also produced thousands of Tributes to the Fallen at no charge, to relatives of the Fallen. Pierre wears his Beret with the 31st Bn badge with pride, & we are Honoured he is placing the Wreath on our behalf at the Commemoration Ceremony on the Day & at the  place of the Battle.

Attached Photos of Honorary Member Pierre Seillier at Fromelles, & talking to the Australian Ambassador after the Ceremony, he appears to be showing him the 31st Bn Badge on his Beret.