Generals, Brigadiers and Colonels wear gorget patches, known colloquially as red tabs, on the collar.
Originally, the gorget was a piece of armour that protected the throat or gorge, which date from the fourteenth century, first appearing on suits of armour. Improvements in musketry brought about the gradual demise of protective armour. By the beginning of the 18th Century, any pieces that remained had no practical value and were nothing more than a distinguishing accoutrement on an officers’ uniform for ornamental or ceremonial purposes.
During the Boer War, a khaki uniform was introduced and red gorget patches were added to distinguish senior officers.
There are two types of gorget patch, both worn on the collar and identical in shape and colour, but with different design features. The gorget patch worn by a colonel or brigadier has a central line of silk gimp (the thread with a cord or wire in the centre) the same colour as the gorget patch. The patch worn by major generals and above has oak leaf embroidery on the full-size patch and a strip of gold braid on the smaller patch.
There are some variations in the gorget patch dependent on the members’ corps.
Members of Nursing Corps wear a silver silk gimp.
The senior officers of three corps wear a gorget patch of a different colour: the Chaplains Department wears a purple patch; the Medical Corps wears a dull cherry; and the Dental Corps wears burnt orange patches. Senior officers of the Australian Army Cadets wear a royal blue gorget patch.