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Royal Australian Survey Corps
Active 1 July 1915 – 1 July 1996
Country  Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Corps
Role Military Survey
Motto(s) Videre Parare Est (to see is to prepare) – the crest and motto of the Royal Australian Survey Corps (RA Svy)as it existed at cessation in 1996. It replaced the original badge of the Australian Survey Corps approved in 1915. The crest was approved in 1949 with the King's crown and modified in 1953 with the Queen's crown. The motto was approved in 1965.[1]
March Wandering the Kings Highway
Anniversaries Corps Birthday 1 July. Centenary 2015.
Engagements Royal Australian Survey Corps was not awarded Battle honours.
Ceremonial chief Colonel-in-Chief Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales

The Royal Australian Survey Corps (RA Svy) was a Corps of the Australian Army that was formed on 1 July 1915 and disbanded on 1 July 1996. The role of the Royal Australian Survey Corps was to provide the maps, aeronautical charts, hydrographical charts and geodetic and control survey data required for land combat operations. Functional responsibilities associated with this role were: theatre wide geodetic survey for – artillery, naval gunfire and close air support – mapping and charting – navigation systems – command and control, communications, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance systems; map production and printing for new maps and charts, plans, overprints, battle maps, air photo mosaics and photomaps, rapid map and chart revision; map holding and map distribution. The operational doctrine was that the combat force deployed into the area of operations with topographic maps and products adequate for planning, force insertion and initial conduct of tactical operations, that new maps and broad area updates of the topographic base would be provided by the support area and communication zone survey forces, and that the combat support survey force in the area of operations would update the topographic base, add tactical operational and intelligence information and provide the value-added products required by the combat force.

The Historical Collection of the Survey Corps is maintained by the Australian Army Museum of Military Engineering at the School of Military Engineering, Steele Barracks, Moorebank, Sydney, New South Wales. Survey Corps Associations of ex-members, family and friends are located in Adelaide, Bendigo, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Sydney.[2][3][4][5][6]



Australia's first surveyor, Lieutenant August Alt, was an Army officer of the 8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot, which arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in January 1788. He had seen active service in France and Germany.[7] For the next 113 years of colonisation, much of the mapping of Australia, mainly for exploration, settlement and development, was supervised and conducted by naval and military officers. These officers included the well known explorers and surveyors: Lieutenant Dawes (New South Wales); Lieutenant John Oxley, Royal Navy, (New South Wales); Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Mitchell (New South Wales); Captain Charles Sturt (New South Wales and South Australia); Lieutenant John Septimus Roe, Royal Navy, (Western Australia)and Colonel William Light (South Australia). Military mapping in the colonial period was sporadic, essentially for military exercise purposes and conducted by British Army officers posted in Australia and volunteer part-time colonial militia officers. After Federation in 1901, the Defence Act 1903 made provision for military mapping. Commencing in 1907, military mapping for the Commonwealth of Australia was provided by part-time Citizen Military Force staff of the Australian Intelligence Corps (AIC). The deficiencies of this arrangement led to the establishment in 1910 of the Survey Section, Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) (Permanent Forces), allotted for duty under direction of the AIC. The Section was commanded by an Australian officer and staffed by four non-commissioned officers (NCO) on loan from the British Army Royal Engineers and Australian Warrant Officers and NCOs. All men were professional surveyors and draftsman. By late-1914, staff numbers had increased from the original seven in 1910 to seventeen. The Section was divided into two sub-sections and employed in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia producing scale 1 mile to 1 inch military maps mainly of areas around cities and key infrastructure. By mid-1913 the Section had completed field sheets for eight maps around Newcastle, Melbourne and Canberra, covering more than 9,300 square kilometres. A geodetic subsection was established in 1914 to provide surveys by geodetic triangulation as spatial frameworks for the topographic mapping field sheets produced by the method of plane-tabling. The AIC was disbanded in 1914 but the work of the Survey Section continued under the supervision and control of the Intelligence Section of the General Staff under the general direction of the Chief of the General Staff (CGS).

First World War

The outbreak of World War I did not, at first, seriously affect the work of the members of the section as they were not enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in their Permanent Force role of producing surveys and maps. At that stage it was understood that the British Army would provide the maps required for AIF war fighting. On 3 July 1915, Military Order 396 of 1915 promulgated that His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to approve of: 'A Corps to be called the Australian Survey Corps being raised as a unit of the Permanent Military Forces. All officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men now serving in the Survey Section of the Royal Australian Engineers being transferred to the Australian Survey Corps with their present ranks and seniority.’ The Australian Survey Corps was placed fourth in the Order of Precedence of Corps after the Royal Australian Engineers. This had nothing to do with supporting the AIF then at Gallipoli, but provided for the key tasks of military mapping the high priority areas of Australia without direction or control of Intelligence Staff or the Royal Australian Engineers. Before the end of July the strength of the Corps was three officers and sixteen other ranks. When enlistment of Survey Corps members into the AIF for employment in topographic mapping was approved in 1917, three officers and twelve other ranks enlisted leaving only five members in Australia. Mapping operations in Australia then came to a virtual standstill when the AIF members departed for the Middle East and the Western Front where some of them joined the 1st ANZAC Topographic Section in France/Belgium and others served with British Army Royal Engineer Survey Companies. One Survey Corps member and one Topographic Section Engineer were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for mapping under enemy fire, one Topographic Section Engineer was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Officer Commanding the 1st ANZAC Topographic Section was awarded the Belgian Croix De Guerre.

Inter-War Period

After the war, AIF members were discharged and re-appointed to the Australian Survey Corps (Permanent). Military reorganisation after World War I, and the general reduction in military capability, saw the Survey Corps numbers reduced to 15 all ranks. Then in 1920 the Corps was suspended and all members were transferred to the Survey Section, RAE (Permanent). Mapping continued, mainly at the scale 1 mile to 1 inch, albeit at a reduced rate consistent with the allocated resources, with priority given to areas around Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Technical developments provided for improved efficiencies. These included use of single photographs and strips of air photographs to supplement ground surveys for map detail and control of spatial accuracy. These developments highlighted inconsistencies in State map reference systems and the need for a national system. In 1932, the Australian Survey Corps was once again formed and all Survey Section RAE (Permanent) members (15) were transferred to the Corps. Recruiting recommenced and in 1935 the Corps establishment was raised to 25 all ranks. Increments allowed for a mapping Survey Section to be based in each of three states, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and a Geodetic Survey Section. Then in 1938, with war clouds once again on the horizon, a three-year Long Range Mapping Programme was approved, with additional funding bringing the total to 97 all ranks. These extra resources would provide for a total of about 35 new maps each year. However, at the outbreak of World War II there were only 50 members in the Australian Survey Corps. Most of them were professionally qualified, and the Corps was very knowledgeable of emerging technical developments which would improve map production. That there were no militia units of the Corps was due mainly to the fact that little progress in the mapping programme was achieved with part-time effort. The Corps was well equipped for the range of field survey and office mapping tasks with the exception of printing presses. Maps were printed by the Victorian State Government Printer. At this stage, just before World War II, the total map coverage at the scale one-mile to one-inch was about 50,000 square miles (130,000 km2) or about 40% of the identified military tactical requirement for mapping of Australia.

Sections (all Permanent Forces) from World War I to pre-World War II were:

  • Survey Section, RAE
  • No 1 Draughting Section (Melbourne)
  • No 1 Survey (Topographic) Section (QLD and South Australia)
  • No 2 Survey (Topographic) Section (VIC)
  • No 3 Survey (Topographic) Section (NSW)
  • No 4 Survey (Geodetic) Section

Second World War

Soldiers from the Australian 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company, near the Turkish–Syrian border, December 1941.

In July 1939 'Instructions for War – Survey' were issued. This outlined the military survey organisation to undertake an emergency mapping programme and the nucleus for expansion to war establishment. The emergency mapping programme was for strategic mapping at scale 4 miles to 1 inch covering a coastal strip 200 miles (300 km) inland from Townsville to Port Augusta and 100 miles (200 km) inland from Albany to Geraldton and key strategic areas in Tasmania and around Darwin. Map production was from existing State information and conducted jointly between State and Commonwealth agencies and Survey Corps units. The programme expanded to include more of Australia, New Guinea, New Britain and New Ireland and although many maps were of a preliminary standard only, they provided general coverage critical at the time.

Initially, the Survey Corps proceeded with programmed tasks and survey units were established as RAE militia units. In late 1940 expansion of the Survey Corps was approved to include militia units. Four militia Field Survey Companies were established in the military districts and absorbed the Corps Sections in those districts. In early 1941, 2/1 Corps Field Survey Company RAE, sailed with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, to provide survey and mapping to the Australian Corps in the Middle East theatre. Over the next four years fifteen Corps units with various roles provided survey and mapping support to military operations in the South West Pacific Area theatre of the war including Northern Territory, Papua, New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, Dutch New Guinea, Borneo and the States of Australia in particular northern Australia. Women of the Australian Women's Army Service served in Survey units and formation headquarter sections in Australia and in New Guinea. The value of survey support within combat forces was well acknowledged, with Survey Sections assigned to both 7th Division and 9th Division for the large scale amphibious landings in Borneo. The Corps produced more than 1400 new maps of the theatres of war, printing more than 3 million copies of the maps. The highly valued efforts of the Corps did not go unnoticed by senior commanders. Lieutenant-General Edmund Herring, General Officer Commanding New Guinea Force, and Lieutenant-General John Northcott, Chief of the General Staff, wrote letters of appreciation of the work of the Corps to the Director of Survey, Advanced Land Headquarters. General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief, South West Pacific Area wrote a letter of high commendation of Corps work to General Thomas Blamey, Commander, Allied land Forces, South West Pacific Area. At Morotai in Borneo, the Mobile Lithographic Section was given the privilege of preparing the Instrument of Surrender signed by Lieutenant-General Teshima, Commander, Second Japanese Army and countersigned by Blamey, Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces. The unit then printed thousands of copies of the surrender document for souvenirs. At the end of the war more than half of the Corps strength of 1700 were on active service outside Australia.

The achievements of the Corps during World War II were its greatest contributions to the nation than at any other time during its existence. This was duly recognised in 1948 when King George VI granted the title 'Royal' to the Australian Survey Corps.

Sixteen members of the Corps, or soldiers serving with Corps units, died during the war and are commemorated on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour. Four members of the Corps were formally recognised with awards and nineteen members were mentioned-in-despatches.

Corps units in World War II were:

  • Survey Directorate Land Headquarters – Melbourne, Dutch New Guinea, Borneo
  • 2nd/1st Army Topographical Survey Company, formerly 2nd/1st Corps Topographical Survey Company – Middle East, New Guinea, Dutch New Guinea, Borneo
  • No 6 Army Topographical Survey Company – Victoria, Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, New Guinea, Dutch New Guinea
  • Land Headquarters Cartographic Company, formerly Army Headquarters Cartographic Company – Melbourne and Bendigo Victoria
  • No 2 Field Survey Company – New South Wales, New Guinea, New Britain, Bougainville
  • No 3 Field Survey Company – Victoria, New Guinea
  • No 4 Field Survey Company – Western Australia
  • No 5 Field Survey Company, formerly 1 Field Survey Company – Queensland, Dutch New Guinea, Borneo
  • No 7 Field Survey Section, formerly Northern Territory Force Field Survey Section – Northern Territory
  • No 8 Field Survey Section, formerly New Guinea Field Survey Section and No 2 Field Survey Section – New Guinea
  • No 1 Mobile Lithographic Section, formerly 2 Army Survey Mobile Reproduction Section – Melbourne, Brisbane, Borneo
  • No 11 Field Survey Depot – Bendigo
  • No 12 Field Survey Depot – Queensland, Borneo
  • No 13 Field Survey Depot – Sydney, New Guinea
  • Field Survey Training Depot – Victoria

Post Second World War

Surveying and Mapping (Australia)

After World War II the Corps reverted to its peace time role of contributing to the defence and development of Australia retaining a capability in the Permanent Force Interim Army in 1946, and the Australian Regular Army from 1947 with a Corps strength of about 430 all ranks. In the early post-war years the Corps continued with the 1 mile to 1 inch mapping programme and contributed to nation building projects for water conservation and settlement in the Burdekin River basin in Queensland, investigative surveys for the Snowy River Diversion Scheme in New South Wales and Victoria, surveys for water flows between the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers near Urana, New South Wales, production of maps for the 1947 Australian Census and survey and mapping projects for the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia and Western Australia and the atomic test range at Maralinga in South Australia. Corps units were established in each of the States, except Tasmania, and a survey school was established in Victoria. These units supported the regional military commands and contributed, in a prominent and leadership way, to Defence priority areas in the Government approved national survey and topographic mapping programmes. In 1968 the Corps completed its commitment to a large part of the national topographic map series at scale 1:250,000 and then embarked on its part of the national programme of scale 1:100,000 topographic maps. It completed its commitment of 862 maps in 1982. The Corps' geodetic surveys provided the framework for the mapping programmes and were integrated with other Government surveys to create the national geodetic datum and mapping grid. Whilst the Corps had produced maps at scale 1:50,000 and larger of areas of high Defence priority since its formation, it was not until 1983 that Defence endorsed a program for more than 2600 scale 1:50,000 maps in Defence priority areas in Northern Australia and the main land communication routes. As well as supporting Army requirements for survey and mapping, the Corps produced air navigation charts for the Royal Australian Air Force of Australia and a large area of its region and printed hydrographic charts for the Royal Australian Navy.

Units and command staff post-World War II were:

  • Army Headquarters Directorate of Survey – Army
  • Headquarters Field Force Command – Survey Section
  • Army Survey Regiment based at Bendigo, Victoria, formerly AHQ Survey Regiment and Southern Command Field Survey Section and AHQ Cartographic Unit
  • 1st Topographic Survey Squadron, now part of the Royal Australian Engineers, based at Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane, formed from 1st Field Survey Squadron (formerly Northern Command Field Survey Section and Northern Command Field Survey Unit – Queensland, Territory Papua and New Guinea) and 1st Division Survey Section
  • 2nd Field Survey Squadron based at Sydney, NSW, formerly Eastern Command Field Survey Section and Eastern Command Field Survey Unit – New South Wales, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, nations of South West Pacific
  • 4th Field Survey Squadron, based at Keswick Barracks, Adelaide, SA, formerly Central Command Field Survey Section and Central Command Field Survey Unit – South Australia, Northern Territory, Territory of Papua and New Guinea
  • 5th Field Survey Squadron based Perth, formerly Western Command Field Survey Section and Western Command Field Survey Unit – Western Australia, Indonesia
  • New Guinea Field Survey Unit
  • 8th Field Survey Squadron raised and disbanded in Papua New Guinea based at Popondetta, Wewak, Port Moresby
  • 1st Topographical Survey Company (CMF) based in Sydney, NSW
  • 2nd Topographical Survey Company (CMF) based in Melbourne, VIC
  • 1st Topographical Survey Troop – raised and based in Sydney NSW
  • 1st Topographic Survey Troop – Detachment thereof later re designated A Sect in Vietnam, B Sect based in Sydney, NSW
  • 9th Topographic Survey Troop (CMF) based in Sydney, NSW
  • 7th Military Geographic Information Section based at Darwin, NT
  • Army Map Depot, formerly AHQ Field Survey Depot and Army Field Survey Depot – Victoria
  • School of Military Survey that was initially based at Balcombe, Victoria and subsequently at Bonegilla, Victoria it was superseded by the Geomatic Engineering Wing of the School of Military Engineering based at Steele Barracks in Moorebank, New South Wales
  • Joint Intelligence Organisation Printing Section

Direct Support to Australian Military Operations (other than Survey)

RA Svy was involved in the planning and execution phases of nearly all Australian Defence Force operations after World War II. Corps units, officers and soldiers were deployed on operations and conflicts of various types including:

  • 1946 – staff posted to British Commonwealth Occupation Force, Japan
  • 1955–1960 – Malayan Campaign, officers posted to Force Headquarters
  • 1965 – 1st Topographical Survey Troop raised in Sydney NSW based at Randwick
  • 1966 – Detachment 1st Topographical Survey Troop deployed with the Australian Task Force in Vietnam
  • 1967 – Detachment 1st Topographical Survey Troop re-designated A Section 1st Topographical Survey Troop
  • 1966–1971 – A Section, 1st Topographic Survey Troop remained deployed with the Australian Task Force in Vietnam
  • 1975 – Cyclone Tracey – rapid response production of orthophotomaps and a senior Corps officer seconded as Staff Officer to the Army General commanding the emergency operations
  • 1987 – Operation Morris Dance – rapid response mapping of Fiji
  • 1988 – Operation Sailcloth – rapid response mapping of Vanuatu
  • 1990/1991 – Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Corps officers posted in United States and United Kingdom mapping agencies and units on operations
  • 1993 – Corps soldiers posted to UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia
  • 1995 – Corps officers posted to UN Protection Force Headquarters in Bosnia-Herzegovina

International Cooperation

Commencing in 1954, the Corps was again involved in mapping the New Guinea area, initially in cooperation with the United States Army Map Service for two years, and again as solely an Australian force in the 1960s. There was a continuous Survey Corps presence in Papua New Guinea from 1969 to 1995. During this period the Corps completed the national mapping programme of scale 1:100,000 topographic maps covering the entire country, the derived 1:250,000 Joint Operations Graphic – Air charts, large scale military city ortho-photo maps and participated in beach surveys of most of the coastline. The national mapping programme was based on high altitude air photography acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force on Operation Skai Piksa, supported by the Corps. Under the Defence Cooperation Programme, the Corps completed many projects with nations in Australia’s area of strategic interest. These projects included ground surveys, definition of geodetic datums, air photography, assistance with definition of Exclusive Economic Zones, mapping and training of officers and technicians. Projects commenced in 1969 in Indonesia and expanded to include Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa. Technical Advisers were posted to national survey and mapping organisations in Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Associations with other Armies commenced in World War I and for more than 50 years the Corps participated in mapping, charting and geodesy projects for standardisation and interoperability with major allies including Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States. The Corps participated in cooperative and collaborative geodetic satellite programs with the United States including the first observations of GPS satellites in Australia during the development phase from 1981 to 1994. The Corps managed bi-lateral Defence and Army map exchange arrangements with major allies and regional nations. Personnel exchange programs included Canada, United Kingdom and United States.

Integration with the Royal Australian Engineers

The Survey Corps was subject to many Government and Defence reviews since the 1950s, with seven from the early-1980s. Review outcomes led to many reorganisations. In the late 1980s and early 1990s efficiency reviews led to an Army direction that the non-core strategic mapping functions of the Corps were to be tested as part of the Defence Commercial Support Program. The outcome of this review was that the majority of Corps staff positions would be removed and that the work would be performed by Defence civilians in a new Defence agency. The Chief of the General Staff (CGS) decided that the remaining combat force and training force functions of the Corps would be retained and enhanced and that the Corps and its people would once again be integrated with the Corps of Royal Australian Engineers. At the integration parade of the two Corps on 1 July 1996, 81 years after the formation of the Australian Survey Corps, the CGS said that "Since 1915 the Survey Corps has not just been a major contributor to the tactical success of the Australian Army in two World Wars and other conflicts, it has played an outstanding role in the building of this nation – the Commonwealth of Australia – and the building of other nations such as Papua New Guinea". The Army-appointed author of the official Corps history, Chris Coulthard Clark – not a Corps member but a much published author and highly regarded military historian – concluded that "Australians as a whole might still be blissfully unaware and hence unappreciative of the debt of gratitude owed to the generations of surveyors who have helped make possible the enviable standard of living generally enjoyed today across the country. Should that situation ever change, and the story receive the wider recognition that it deserves, then the part within that tale occupied by military mapmakers is worthy of special acclaim by a grateful nation."

On 9 July 2007, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia unveiled a plaque, at the Australian War Memorial, to Royal Australian Survey Corps units which served in war. In his address he praised the efforts of all personnel of the Corps over its 81 years of service to the nation in both war and peace.

Corps Appointments and Its People

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II approved the appointment, on 1 July 1988, of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Survey Corps. In 1965 the Corps adopted the tune and song 'Wandering the King's Highway' as its Corps marching tune.

The high reputation and esteem in which the Corps was held within the Australian Defence Force, the surveying and mapping profession and amongst Australia's military allies and friends was based on its achievements largely possible only by the quality of its people. After World War II eight Corps officers were later appointed Surveyors-General or Directors of Survey/Mapping/Lands in the States or Commonwealth organisations. Many personnel went on to leadership positions in professional institutions.

Most Corps officers were tertiary educated with many at the post-graduate level in either mapping or computer disciplines and military command and staff training. Corps soldier training was both broad within a trade, across Corps trades and specific to specialised equipment with military training for various levels of leadership. Officers and soldiers posted outside Corps positions were highly regarded. Until the 1970s the Corps sponsored and trained other than mapping related trades essential to its operations. These included drivers, storemen and clerks. After some rationalisation the Corps retained career and training responsibility for all mapping related trades, but also photographers (non public relations), illustrators and projectionists who were posted mainly to training institutions and headquarters. The Army Audio Visual Unit was the only Corps unit not to have a mapping related role.

The Corps participated in the national service scheme in the 1950s, training and maintaining two Citizen Military Force field survey companies in Sydney and Melbourne from 1951 to 1957, mainly for national servicemen to complete their obligations. National servicemen served with the Survey Corps in Vietnam.

Technology and Techniques

RA Svy had the enviable military, international and national reputation of leading innovation, development and implementation of many generations of state of the art technology and techniques across all areas of surveying and mapping. Significant examples of these include:

  • 1910–1915: established the standard for the Australian Military Map Series, based on United Kingdom Ordnance Survey maps; maps produced from field survey sheets using plane tabling and cadastral surveys for scale and orientation and map compilation by ink fair drawing
  • 1914: commenced geodetic triangulation (angles by theodolite, azimuth by astronomy and scale by baselines measured with metal tapes) as the basis for topographic mapping
  • 1923–1927: used No 1 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force air photography to complement ground survey
  • 1930: graphical methods of perspective rectification of air photography to produce the Albury, New South Wales, 1 mile to 1 inch map, identified the disparity between the Victoria and New South Wales state survey triangulation networks
  • 1933: adopted Sydney Observatory as the geodetic datum for the eastern states, the Clarke 1858 spheroid of reference and a British modified map grid based on the Transverse Mercator map projection with Australian zones
  • 1934: first baseline measurement by the method of temperature cooefficent of electrical resistance of invar measuring tapes near Millicent, South Australia (development by Professor Grant of University of Adelaide was acknowledged as world class science and development)
  • 1934: commencement of a geodetic survey triangulation program to connect the eastern states into one coherent network
  • 1936: adopted the 'Arundel' method of slotted templates for overlapping strip air photography for mapping, first map Sale, Victoria, 1 mile to 1 inch map
  • World War II: many innovative adaptions of conventional survey and mapping methods to rapid response support to military operations
  • 1952: mapping by multi-projector (anaglyph) stereoplotting from overlapping air photography
  • 1953: large format cartographic camera
  • 1956: changed to metric scale mapping, largely as part of standardisation with allies in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and adoption of an improved Australian spheroid of reference for mapping, first map Mildura 1:50,000
  • 1956: cartographic scribing of map detail replaced fair drawing with ink, first map Mildura 1:50,000
  • 1957: helicopter transport of survey parties revolutionised transport in remote areas
  • 1957: electromagnetic distance measurement (EDM) systems changed geodetic survey methods for rapid network extension and densification, from triangulation to EDM and theodolite traverse
  • 1960: adoption of the '165 Spheroid'
  • early-1960s: manual hill-shading, analytic stereocomparitor for air photography, block aerotriangulation by digital computer, presensitised lithographic printing plates, radar airborne profile recorder (WREMAPS I), vehicle mounted ground elevation meter, airborne electromagnetic distance measurement system (MRC2) for geodetic surveys over long distances by trilateration to replace traverse requiring survey station intervisibility, optical/mechanical photogrammetric plotters for map compilation from air photography
  • 1966: the Corps' Australian and Territory of Papua New Guinea surveys were integrated with other Commonwealth and State agency surveys into a national geodetic network which was published as the Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 and Australian National Spheroid with map coordinates on the Australian Map Grid (Transverse Mercator) projection. This was used for surveying and mapping until 1994.
  • 1970: digital coordinatograph plotter for grids, graticules and base compilation sheets with aerial triangulated model control
  • 1971: super wide angle air survey cameras (WILD RC10)
  • 1972: second generation airborne electromagnetic distance measurement system (MRB3)
  • 1972–1973: orthophotomap production
  • 1974: portable Doppler satellite (US Navy Navigation Satellites) receivers (AN/PRR-14) and computing system to replace geodetic astronomy for absolute positioning and airborne electromagnetic distance measurement equipment, airborne laser terrain profile recorder (WREMAPS II) to replace heighting by barometry
  • 1975: computerised cartography and mapping system (AUTOMAP 1), first map published 1978 (Yampi Training Area, 1:50,000)
  • 1978: new cartographic specifications (SYMBAS Symbolisation All Scales) for map and air chart production by digital cartographic methods
  • 1982: 'Bundle' analytic adjustment to augment 'polynomial strip' adjustment of large area block air photography
  • 1984: second generation computerised cartography and mapping system (AUTOMAP 2) as a precursor to collection of digital geographic information and creation of geographic information systems in support of military operations
  • 1986–1988: portable Global Positioning System (GPS) geodetic receivers (TI4100) and helicopter and vehicle mounted Inertial Positioning System (FILS3)to replace AN/PRR-14 satellite receivers
  • 1988–1992: adopted the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84 – used by GPS) as the reference framework and spheroid for all military geospatial products of Australia and the rest of the world. In 1994 the Australian Government adopted the Geodetic Datum Australia 1994 which for practical purposes is coincident with the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84). The associated map grids remain based on the Transverse Mercator projection.
  • 1990–1992: participation with military allies, Canada, United Kingdom and United States, in research and development of digital geospatial product standards to produce the Digital Chart of the World (DCW) and associated standards which became the baseline for international exchange of digital geospatial information
  • 1993: high capacity large format process print presses for rapid response map printing and print on demand

Gallery – Corps Badges and Unit Colour Patches

On the left is the coloured badge of the Australian Survey Corps 1915–1948. In the middle is the colour patch of Survey Corps units in the 2nd AIF (World War II) – it is based on the colour patch of the World War I 1st ANZAC and Australian Corps Topographic Sections: the triangle shape shows that Survey units were generally assigned at higher formation (Corps) level; the colour purple is the Engineer colour and the central vertical white stripe completed the Survey patch; the grey background was that of the 2nd AIF – this patch was the basis of Survey unit colour patches when Army reintroduced unit colour patches in 1987. On the right is the coloured badge of the Royal Australian Survey Corps.

See also


  1. Fitzgerald, Lawrence, 1980, Lebanon to Labuan, ISBN 0 9594979
  2. Coulthard-Clark, CD, 2000, Australia's Military Mapmakers – The Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915–96, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-551343-6
  3. Fitzgerald, Lawrence, 1980, Lebanon to Labuan, ISBN 0 9594979
  4. Sargent, Clem, 1990, The Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915–1990
  5. Royal Australian Survey Corps Association Bulletin 1965 to 1989
  6. School of Military Survey,1985, The Chronology of RASvy Corps, Edition 2
  7. Reilly, SE, Soldiers and Surveyors, 1983; The Australian Surveyor, March 1983, Vol 31, No 5, p 315

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