Rare Badges & Clubs 1.

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Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps


The formation of an Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps was approved by the Government in Commonwealth Gazette No. 22 of 9th May 1908 and Military Order 119 of 1908. Cars were provided at no cost by the owners and all members were given the provisional rank of Lieutenant in the Australian Army, and given an allowance of 12/6d per day while on duty (chauffeurs received 5/- per day). Between 1908 and 1915 units of the AVAC were formed in all state Military Districts except Western Australia. Members were usually drawn from the state automobile clubs which, in most cases, assisted the military in recruiting members, although the AVAC was a unit of the army and not an offshoot of the automobile clubs. The AVAC was disbanded in 1915 after the army decided to supply mechanical transport of its own in 1914. The design of the corp's insignia was the result of a request to all districts for submission of designs and a joint entry by NSW and Victoria was eventually approved on 25th January 1909. The Quarter Master General specified that the wheel and crown of the badge be silver gilt with gold, the balance silver (plate) with enamel in highlights. The central wheel of the badge was derived from the emblem of the Automobile Club of Australia, many of whose members comprised the New South Wales division of the AVAC. The motto Sicut Aquilae Pennis means Upon Wings of Eagles. This is a rare example of an AVAC car badge and was acquired from an extensive collection of militaria. One other example was sold at auction in 2007. Many reproductions of this badge have been made but lack the enamelling and crispness of casting in the originals. 

AVAC cap & collar badges.

AVAC activities in Sydney 1909 (courtesy RACA).

Returned Soldiers' Transport Corps

Unlike the AVAC, the Returned Soldiers' Transport Corps was not an army unit but an offshoot of the Automobile Club of Queensland. Volunteers from the club had been assisting the military with the transport of returning wounded soldiers to the Military Hospital at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane from 1915 in conjunction with the Taxi Drivers' Association. In 1917 the ACQ formed a separate committee to oversee this activity and titled it the Returned Soldiers' Transport Corps and a special badge was issued to members involved in this activity. The years 1918 and 1919 saw great numbers of returning troops transported by the RSTC and the TDA, but by 1920 this had markedly decreased and the corps was finally disbanded in 1921. Four RSTC badges are known to have survived, two of which are in the RACQ archives and two in private hands. More information on the RSTC is to be found in my book Car Badges of the RACQ.

  Members of the RSTC on an outing in 1920. Note the badges on two of the cars.

Gympie Automobile Club

During the 1920s a number of automobile clubs were formed serving local areas of Queensland in such centres as Townsville, Maroochy, Buderim, Toowoomba and Gympie. In 1922 the RACQ Council decided to extend the club's activities into country areas by the formation of branches and by 1930 almost 40 such branches were operating. These charged members a fee and remitted part of this to RACQ headquarters in Brisbane in return for services provided by the parent club. Gradually through the 1920s several of the local automobile clubs decided to join the RACQ branch system, including the Gympie Automobile Club, whose members voted to become an RACQ branch at a meeting on 6th November 1924. The badge shown here is the only known surviving example of this club's badge, although some reproductions were made several years ago using metal from a Victa motor mower, in an attempt to replicate the alloy used in the originals! 

Commonwealth Motorists Association Ltd.

Mystery surrounds the origin and history of this elusive club. This fob badge is the only known relic of the organisation and all my enquiries and research have failed to uncover any records of the club's formation, its purpose or location. It was no doubt Australian as the badge was made by Angus & Coote of Sydney and is numbered 54, indicating it was not simply a prototype. Angus and Coote made badges for many organisations around Australia, not just for the Sydney market, so the manufacturer gives little indication of where the club originated. The author has conducted research at the National Library of Australia, Mitchell Library and NSW State Archives in Sydney, and the Latrobe Library in Melbourne, scouring through early telephone and business directories and any other available records which may have shed light on the club. A photo and description of the badge was published in The Automobile magazine in the UK, seeking information from worldwide motoring enthusiasts, to no avail. The design of the badge depicts an early veteran car without headlights and with stylised wings and wreath - both motifs used in other early motoring badges, and the workmanship and design is consistent with other badges produced in the early 20th century. The veteran radiator depicted on the badge is surmounted on each side by a waratah flower, the floral emblem of New South Wales. This may indicate the association was based in that State. Anyone able to provide any information on the Commonwealth Motorists Association or this CMA badge will have my eternal thanks!

Queensland Motorists Association Limited.

By the mid 1920s the RACQ was the pre-eminent motoring organisation in Queensland, however its membership of about 3000 still only represented a small percentage of the State's motorists. Conditions were therefore ripe for the formation of rival organisations and in late 1926 the Queensland Motorists Association Limited was formed in Brisbane. This organisation offered free roadside service to members within a 50 mile radius of Brisbane through affiliated motor garages and its own patrols. These patrols operated regularly on main roads around the city and assisted members whose vehicles were in trouble. The association issued car badges on loan to members for the once-only sum of 9 shillings, which was in addition to the annual membership fee of 1/1/-. The badges were made from cast brass and their appearance was inferior to the well-crafted and enamelled badges of the RACQ. The example shown here is numbered 205 and is mounted on a contemporary "dog bone" radiator cap. Reproductions of the QMA badge have been made.

The QMA appears to have been under-capitalised or poorly managed as, by mid 1927, it was in financial difficulties, finally being wound up in October 1927 and leaving the RACQ as once again the major motoring organisation in Queensland.

Text and photographs on this page are copyright.