The service, or combat support, corps enable the arms corps to operate effectively in the field.

Transport, supply and maintenance

Originally the Australian Army had two main service corps: the Ordnance Corps and the Service Corps. Ordnance was generally responsible for machinery and ammunition. It organised the supply and storage of ammunition and the repair and maintenance of machinery, vehicles and weapons. The Army Service Corps was responsible for the transport and provision of supplies and rations other than machinery or ammunition; this included the delivery of mail to the troops. This corps also provided additional transport resources for moving troops.

In the latter years of the Second World War and in the years after, these two large corps were split into several smaller corps with the following responsibilities:

Ordnance: The provision of all supplies to Army units and the management of personnel;

Transport: The transport of supplies, mail and personnel by land, and sea and air;

Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: The maintenance, recovery and repair of machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment and weapons; and

Catering: The provision of meals and the management of mess facilities.

In more recent times, the trend in the Army has been to call the foregoing "logistics" units and to integrate them into support groups, a concept in many ways similar to the original Service Corps.

EKN/66/0069/VN Ordnance Corps loading a truck at Vung Tau, South Vietnam, 1966. EKN/66/0069/VN

Military Police

One other corps, essential to the smooth functioning of the supply system but not part of the transport, supply and maintenance group is the Military Police. The Military Police are responsible for traffic control along supply routes to ensure the most effective use is made of these roads and tracks. They are also charged with the enforcement of discipline, including the investigation of crimes against military regulations, the operation of military prisons, and the processing and detention of prisoners of war. Military Police during both world wars were known as Provosts, earning them the nickname, "provos". Military Police are also known as "redcaps", a nickname derived from the red-topped peaked caps, today red berets, worn by members of the corps.

Medical services

The other major grouping within the service corps is the medical services consisting of four corps:

  • Medical
  • Nursing
  • Dental
  • Psychology

The Medical Corps is the major medical service, responsible for the training of medical staff attached to all other army units as well as the provision of medical, psychiatric, physiotherapy and sanitary services to the army. The other three corps are small and specialist in nature. There was one further corps which belonged with the medical services, the Australian Army Veterinary Corps, which was disbanded in 1946.

EZ0066 Members of Australian Army Medical Corps dressing the wounds of Australian soldiers at an advanced dressing station in France. EZ0066

Specialist Corps

There are also a number of smaller corps, the roles of which are self explanatory:

  • Band
  • Chaplains
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Pay