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: