The Emu Plume
Although one usually associates the Armoured Corps with their famous black berets, slouch hats, when worn by members of this corps, are adorned with emu plumes, a tradition that originated with the Queensland Mounted Infantry during the great shearers’ strike in Queensland in 1891. During this time, the Queensland Mounted Infantry were called out as soldiers to ‘aid the Civil Power.’
Where time permitted, the soldiers would participate in a sporting activity where they would ride their horses alongside the emus, pluck their breast feathers, and then place the feathers on their hat. The Gympie Squadron was the first to wear the feathers, a fashion soon followed by the Regiment.
The Queensland government permitted the Regiment to adopt the plume as part of its uniform in recognition of its service. In 1915 the then Minister for Defence, Sir G. F. Pearce, granted all units of the Australian Light Horse permission to wear the plume, which they referred to as ‘kangaroo feathers’.
Emu tufts of approved design and dimensions are now worn by all members of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps as an item of dress. All Royal Australian Armoured Corps personnel were given authority to wear emu plumes in the slouch hat, brim up or down in 1996, which was extended to all personnel serving in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Regiment in 2000.