Second Australian Imperial Force

The Second Australian Imperial Force (Second, or 2nd, AIF) was the name given to the volunteer personnel of the Australian Army in World War II. Under the Defence Act (1903), neither the part-time Militia nor the full-time Permanent Military Force (PMF) could serve outside Australia or its territories unless they volunteered to do so. The Second AIF fought against Nazi Germany, Italy, Vichy France and Japan. After the war, Australia's wartime military structures were demobilised and the 2nd AIF was disbanded, although a small cadre of its personnel became part of the Interim Army that was established in 1947, and from which the Australian Regular Army was formed in 1948.

Second Australian Imperial Force
Australian 9th Div at Gaza in 1942 (AWM 050124)
Members of the 9th Division parade at Gaza Airport in late 1942.
Active1939–1947
CountryAustralia
BranchAustralian Army
RoleExpeditionary warfare
Size307,000
Nickname(s)2nd AIF
EngagementsWorld War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Sir Thomas Blamey

Formation

AIF (AWM ARTV04333)
A Second AIF recruiting poster

At the outset of World War II, there was controversy over whether Australia should concentrate on forming an expeditionary force for overseas service to fight Germany in Europe or a home defence force to fight Japan. Prime Minister Robert Menzies decided to do both, although the experience of the Great War indicated that Australia did not have the resources to do either.[1]

Conscription

On 15 September 1939, Menzies announced the formation of the Second AIF, an expeditionary force of 20,000, to consist of one infantry division and any auxiliary units that the Australian Army could fit into it. On 15 November 1939, Menzies announced the reintroduction of conscription for home defence service effective 1 January 1940. Unmarried men turning 21 in the year ending 30 June 1940 would be drafted into the Militia. Because of this, the AIF could not accept personnel who were in reserved occupations.[2]

Public opinion and the Australian Militia

Although the AIF had priority for scarce personnel and equipment over the Militia, many Militia commanders were reluctant to release any to the AIF. Although the government had hoped that half of the new force would be drawn from the Militia, it was soon clear that this would not be achieved. The public was torn between the dangers presented by Germany and Japan. After an initial rush, enlistments tapered off. For these reasons, the Second AIF possessed only one division, the 6th Division, for nearly a year.[3]

Effect of the fall of France on enlistment

The fall of France shocked both the government and the people into action. A huge surge of enlistments—48,496 in June 1940—provided enough personnel to fill not only the recently formed 7th Division, but also to form the 8th and 9th Divisions as well, and the government ordered units to the United Kingdom to assist in its defence.[4]

Organisation

Command

1st Armoured Div (AWM 025473)
1st Armoured Division M3 Grant tanks in June 1942

Lieutenant General Thomas Blamey was given command of the Second AIF on 13 October 1939 and retained it throughout the war. As such, he was answerable directly to the Minister of Defence, rather than to the Military Board. He was given a charter based on that given to Major General William Throsby Bridges in 1914. Part of his charter required the Second AIF to be kept together, but a series of political and military crises resulted in the divisions rarely fighting together, with individual divisions, brigades and even battalions deployed in different sectors or even different theatres. This resulted in conflicts with British commanders, particularly the Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, most notably over the relief of Tobruk.[5]

The 6th and 7th Divisions departed for the Far East in January 1942, followed by the 9th Division in February 1943. The last AIF units, three forestry companies, returned via the United States in late 1943.[6][7] All units of the Second AIF were thereafter deployed to the South West Pacific theatre, although some individuals remained in other theatres on exchange or liaison duty, such as Vernon Sturdee, who was head of the Australian Military Mission in Washington, D.C. from 1942 to 1944.[8]

A controversial decision of the Menzies government was that senior commands in Blamey's 6th Division would be restricted to Militia officers.[9] This upset many PMF officers. However, when the 7th Division was formed in May 1940, a regular officer, Lieutenant General John Lavarack was appointed to command it.[10] Blamey appointed two regulars, Major Generals Vernon Sturdee and Henry Wynter to command the 8th and 9th Divisions, but Wynter became ill and Sturdee was appointed Chief of the General Staff following the death of General Sir Brudenell White in the 1940 Canberra air disaster. The commands then went to two CMF soldiers, Major Generals Gordon Bennett and Leslie Morshead.[11][12]

Structure

The Second AIF's main strength consisted of a Corps Headquarters and five divisions:[13][14][15][16]

Divisions numbered 1st to 5th were Militia divisions, which had been raised during the inter-war years and perpetuated the numerical designations of the First AIF units that had fought during the First World War. In addition, the 10th through 12th and the 2nd and 3rd Armoured Divisions were also Militia formations.[13][14][15][16]

Second Australian Imperial Force 1939-1940
Organization at the outset of World War 2

There were three brigades in each division. Brigades were numbered from 16 onwards so as not to be confused with extant Militia brigades. There were at first four infantry battalions per brigade but this was soon reduced to three.[17]

Units of the Second AIF prefixed their numbers with a '2/' (pronounced 'second') to distinguish themselves from Militia units. Where such a unit did not exist in the First AIF or the Militia, the '2/' was not initially used, but later it was adopted as identifying a unit of the Second AIF.[18]

After the war with Japan began, large numbers of experienced AIF officers were posted to Militia units. As a consequence, units in which more than 75% of their personnel were AIF volunteers were permitted to call themselves AIF units. By November 1944, 20 of the Militia's 33 infantry battalions were entitled to call themselves AIF. At this time the Army was 423,000 strong, of whom 25,000 were women, and 307,000 were members of the AIF.[19]

In the South West Pacific, the Army found that its force structure was unbalanced, with a preponderance of operational units and a grave shortage of logistical units. The Army was also faced with government requests to release manpower to industry, and later to discharge long-serving personnel. This was remedied by disbanding operational units.[20]

From 1 May 1945, the Army's monthly quota was 420 men and 925 women. As its wastage was greater than this, units were disbanded for reinforcements.[21]

Weaponry and equipment

Unlike in 1914, Australia did not possess a stock of modern weapons and equipment at the outbreak of the war. As in 1914, the British Army was unable to help much in the initial stages, as it was preoccupied with its own mobilisation. The Treasury Department opposed the diversion of large numbers of men and women from industry, the conversion of industries to production of weapons, and the expenditure of large sums on defence. It took time for the Army to overcome its objections, and modern weapons, such as the 25 pounder, were soon coming off the assembly lines in Australia. In the meantime, the AIF, like the Militia, made do with the weapons that the First AIF had brought back from the Great War.[22]

Armour

The 1st Armoured Division was formed at Puckapunyal in 1941 after the German blitzkrieg had demonstrated the value of armour in modern warfare.[23]

Personnel

Awm 005392 2nd11th
Infantrymen from the 6th Division at Tobruk, January 1941

Personnel were required to be between 20 and 35 years old on enlistment, although there were many cases of this being evaded. A large number of personnel were aged 20 on enlistment, and many former members of the First AIF joined up, a practice encouraged by some unit commanders, who liked to have some old hands around.[24]

Pay

Although volunteer militiamen were paid 8s per day, an unmarried private in the AIF was paid 5s per day in Australia, with an extra 2s per day after embarkation for overseas. This was less than the 8s 6d per day dole, not to mention the average basic wage of £2 16s.[25]

Serial numbers

All members of the Second AIF were allocated a serial number. The first letter represented the state of enlistment: N – New South Wales; V – Victoria; Q – Queensland; S – South Australia; W – Western Australia; T – Tasmania; D ("Darwin") – Northern Territory; P - Papua New Guinea. The serial numbers of female soldiers followed this with an F. AIF serial numbers then had an X. A low number indicated an early enlistment. General Blamey was VX1. Soldiers transferring from the Militia often kept their old number with 100,000 added, while PMF officers had 20,000 added.[26]

Women in the AIF

From the first, women served with the AIF in the Australian Army Nursing Service. The Australian Army Medical Women's Service was formed in 1942, and the Australian Women's Army Service on 13 August 1941. The latter had a strength of 24,000. Some 35,000 women served in the Army, making up about 5% of the force.[27]

Uniforms and insignia

Shoulder patches

Units wore the shoulder patch of the corresponding unit of the First AIF, with a grey border to distinguish the unit from the Militia unit wearing the same patch. The shape of the grey indicated the division, which sometimes differed from that of the coloured part. Later, AIF personnel in Militia units were authorised to wear the grey border, resulting in some units wearing the same patches. The 9th Division replaced all its patches with a new type in the shape of a "T". As there were more units in the Second AIF than the First, many units wore patches of a new design.[28]

17th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch

17th Battalion 1921–1944

2-17th Battalion original colour patch

2/17th Battalion 1940–1942

2 17th Battalion Australia Unit Colour Patch

2/17th Battalion 1942–1946

Operations

The 6th Division, under Major General Iven Mackay fought in the Western Desert Campaign at Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi.[29] It experienced many casualties in the Greek Campaign, where 3,000 Australian soldiers were taken prisoner.[30]

After refitting in Syria, the 6th Division was recalled to Australia to take part in the Pacific War in February 1942.[31] Its 16th and 17th Infantry Brigades were temporarily diverted to garrison Ceylon.[32] The 19th Infantry Brigade was sent to Darwin, except for its 2/11th Infantry Battalion, which went to Western Australia.[33]

When the remainder of the 6th Division returned, it was committed to the fighting in New Guinea.[34] The 16th Infantry Brigade participated in the fighting on the Kokoda Track and at Buna.[35] The 17th Infantry Brigade fought in the Battle of Wau and the Salamaua campaign.[36]

2-8 Field Regt
Guns of the 2/8th Field Regiment at El Alamein in July 1942

The 7th Division, under Major General Arthur Allen and other Australian units formed the body of the Allied invasion of Lebanon and Syria in 1941.[37] The division's 18th Infantry Brigade fought at Tobruk.[38]

Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific, elements of the 7th Division were sent to the Dutch East Indies, reinforcing a few 8th division units.[39] The bulk of the 7th Division was deployed in support of Militia battalions engaged in a rearguard action on the Kokoda Track Campaign in New Guinea. With elements of the 1st Armoured Division and 6th Divisions, and Militia, it formed a large part of the Allied forces which destroyed the major Japanese beachhead in New Guinea, at the Battle of Buna-Gona.[40]

Most of the 8th Division was sent to Malaya to strengthen the garrison prior to war with Japan, while the remaining battalions were deployed in the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea.[41] Consequently, most of the division was lost at the Fall of Singapore in February 1942, where the division lost 1,789 killed and 1,306 wounded; another 15,395 were captured.[42] The divisional commander, Major General Henry Gordon Bennett created an enduring controversy by escaping.[43][44]

A small, lesser-known force known as Mission 204 was drawn from units in Malaya, including forty men of the 8th Division. It served in China, advising the Chinese Army, until it was withdrawn in October 1942.[45]

7 Div Adelaide (030127-05)
Troops from the 7th Division are cheered by civilians as their train passes through Adelaide in March 1942

The 23rd Infantry Brigade remained, but without battalions, as these had been lost when Ambon,[46] Rabaul[47] and Timor[48] fell. It was filled up with Militia battalions, and it and other remaining elements of the 8th Division participated in the campaigns in the South West Pacific.[49] The 8th Division was reformed after the war to process prisoners of the Japanese.[50]

Australian prisoners of war, like other Allied prisoners of the Japanese, were often held in inhumane conditions, such as Changi prison or in Japan. Some were subject to forced labour, including the Burma Railway or forced long distance marches, such as on Sandakan.[51]

AIF Independent companies continued guerrilla operations in East Timor for many months until being evacuated in January 1943. Independent companies played an important part in the defence of New Guinea, initially occupying several locations to Australia's north to provide an early warning capability in the months prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, and then, after the fighting had started, fighting several delaying campaigns in Timor, New Guinea, and New Britain. Later in the war, these units were converted into "commando" units, subsequently fighting several campaigns in New Guinea, Bougainville and Borneo.[52]

The 9th Division fought in the North African campaign under Major General Leslie Morshead and distinguished itself first at the Battle of Tobruk, where it became the first Allied unit to resist German Blitzkrieg tactics. The Axis leader in North Africa, Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, described the 9th Division at Tobruk as: "immensely big and powerful men, who without question represented an elite formation of the British Empire, a fact that was also evident in battle."[53]

The 9th also served with distinction at the First and Second Battles of El Alamein.[54] It returned to Australia in early 1943 in a convoy operation designated Operation Pamphlet.[55]

In 1943, the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions were reunited on the Atherton Tableland.[56]

General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific Area depended on the AIF as the spearhead of his land forces in 1942 and 1943. The 7th Division, now under Major General George Vasey, fought at Nadzab and in the Finisterre Range campaign. Meanwhile, the 9th Division, now under Major General George Wootten fought at Red Beach and then in the Huon Peninsula campaign.[57]

Infantry Balikpapan (AWM 110383)
Members of the 7th Division at Balikpapan in July 1945

MacArthur deployed the AIF divisions in secondary assignments during 1944–45, where they often fought what many considered to be pointless battles. A shortage of first operational units and then logistic units caused the 6th Division, now under Major General Jack Stevens to be committed to the Aitape-Wewak campaign despite MacArthur's efforts.[58] He employed the 7th and 9th Divisions in the Borneo Campaign (1945).[59]

A planned invasion of the Japanese home island of Honshū in 1946, Operation Coronet, would almost certainly have included an "Australian 10th Division", made up of experienced personnel from the three existing divisions. However, the Japanese surrendered before the invasion took place.[60]

Disbandment

Most Second AIF personnel were demobilised by the end of 1946. The Second AIF ceased to exist on 30 June 1947. All Second AIF personnel still on full-time duty were transferred to the Interim Army on 1 July 1947; this force was used to form the foundation of the Australian Regular Army in 1948.[61]

Notes

  1. ^ Long, To Benghazi, pp. 33–39
  2. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 39
  3. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 61
  4. ^ Long, To Benghazi, pp. 86–87
  5. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein, pp. 380–382
  6. ^ "Forestry Unit in New York". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 October 1943.
  7. ^ "Forestry Unit Back from Scotland". The Herald (Melbourne). 8 November 1943.
  8. ^ McCarthy, South West Pacific Area – First Year, p. 140
  9. ^ John Lavarack to Gavin Long, 6 August 1953, AWM93 50/2/23/63
  10. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 84
  11. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, p. 32
  12. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein, p. 8
  13. ^ a b Johnston, The Australian Army in World War II, p. 6
  14. ^ a b Lambert, The Birth, Life and Death of the 1st Australian Armoured Division
  15. ^ a b Hopkins, Australian Armour: A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972, p. 104
  16. ^ a b Kuring, Redcoats to Cams, p. 138
  17. ^ Burness, The Battle of Bardia, p. 27
  18. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 51
  19. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, pp. 19–20
  20. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, pp. 34–81
  21. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, pp. 30–34
  22. ^ Long, To Benghazi, pp. 40–41, 53, 88
  23. ^ Hopkins, Australian Armour: A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972, pp. 39–47
  24. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 58
  25. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 66
  26. ^ Long, To Benghazi, p. 63
  27. ^ Bomford, Soldiers of the Queen, pp. 5–6
  28. ^ Glyde, Distinguishing Colour Patches of the Australian Military Forces 1915–1951: A Reference Guide, pp. 17–23
  29. ^ Long, To Benghazi, pp. 163–304
  30. ^ Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, p. 316
  31. ^ Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, p. 550
  32. ^ McCarthy, South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau, pp. 77–79, 118–119
  33. ^ McCarthy, South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau, pp. 8, 15, 21, 25–26
  34. ^ Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, p. 244
  35. ^ Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, pp. 244–449
  36. ^ McCarthy, South–West Pacific Area – First Year: Kokoda to Wau, pp. 543–578
  37. ^ Long, Greece, Crete and Syria, pp. 333–522
  38. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein, pp. 101–375
  39. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 447–457
  40. ^ Johnston, The Silent 7th, p. 250
  41. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 28–61
  42. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, p. 382
  43. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 650–652
  44. ^ Morgan, A Burning Legacy: The Broken 8th Division
  45. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 643–645
  46. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 418–441
  47. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 392–417
  48. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 466–494
  49. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, p. 490
  50. ^ NAA (ACT) A2653/1 M246/1945
  51. ^ Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 511–642
  52. ^ Dennis et al, The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, pp. 308–309
  53. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein, p. 210
  54. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein pp. 542–746
  55. ^ Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein, pp. 748–754
  56. ^ Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives, pp. 15–17
  57. ^ Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives, pp. 326–762
  58. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, pp. 271–387
  59. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, pp. 388–583
  60. ^ Robertson, Australia at War, 1939–1945, p. 196
  61. ^ Sligo, The Development of the Australian Regular Army 1944–1952, pp. 45–46

References

  • Bomford, Janette (2001). Soldiers of the Queen: Women in the Australian Army. Australian Army History Series. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195514070.
  • Burness, Peter (2007). "The Battle of Bardia". Wartime. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian War Memorial (37): 26–29. ISSN 1328-2727.
  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (1st ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553227-9.
  • Dexter, David (1961). The New Guinea Offensives. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 6. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 2028994.
  • Glyde, Ken (1999). Distinguishing Colour Patches of the Australian Military Forces 1915–1951: A Reference Guide. Claremont, Tasmania: Ken Glyde.
  • Hopkins, R.N.L. (1978). Australian Armour: A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 0-642-99407-2.
  • Johnston, Mark (2005). The Silent 7th: An Illustrated History of the 7th Australian Division 1940–46. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-191-5.
  • Johnston, Mark (2007). The Australian Army in World War II. Elite. Martin Windrow (consultant editor). Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-123-6.
  • Kuring, Ian (2004). Redcoats to Cams: A History of Australian Infantry 1788–2001. Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military History Publications. ISBN 1-876439-99-8.
  • Lambert, Zach (2012). "The Birth, Life and Death of the 1st Australian Armoured Division" (PDF). Australian Army Journal. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Land Warfare Studies Centre. IX (1): 89–103. ISSN 1448-2843. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-02.
  • Long, Gavin (1952). To Benghazi. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 1. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 18400892.
  • Long, Gavin (1953). Greece, Crete and Syria. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 2. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 3134080.
  • Long, Gavin (1963). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1  – Army. Volume 7 (1st ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 1297619.
  • Maughan, Barton (1966). Tobruk and El Alamein. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 3. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 954993.
  • McCarthy, Dudley (1959). South-West Pacific Area – First Year. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 5. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 3134247.
  • Morgan, Joseph (2013). "A Burning Legacy: The Broken 8th Division". Sabretache. Military Historical Society of Australia. LIV (3, September): 4–14. ISSN 0048-8933.
  • Robertson, John (1981). Australia at War, 1939–1945. Melbourne, Victoria: Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-85561-046-3.
  • Sligo, MAJ Graeme (1997). "The Development of the Australian Regular Army 1944–1952". In Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey (eds.). The Second Fifty Years: The Australian Army 1947–1997. Canberra: School of History, University College, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy.
  • Wigmore, Lionel (1957). The Japanese Thrust. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Volume 4. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 3134219.

External links

2/1st Battalion (Australia)

The 2/1st Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Formed as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force at the start of World War II, the battalion was deployed to the Middle East in early 1940 and subsequently took part in the early fighting in the North African campaign, taking part in battles around Bardia and Tobruk before later being sent to Greece in early 1941. A lightning German advance quickly pushed the Allies back and forced them to evacuate after a very short campaign and the 2/1st was landed on Crete where they subsequently fought unsuccessfully to repel a German invasion in May. The majority of the battalion was captured on Crete, but the 2/1st was subsequently re-built from survivors in Palestine and returned to Australia in early 1942 following Japan's entry into the war. They then fought two campaigns against the Japanese in New Guinea, fighting in the Kokoda Track campaign during 1942–43 and the Aitape–Wewak campaign in 1944–45. Following the war, the 2/1st was disbanded.

2/21st Battalion (Australia)

The 2/21st Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Raised for service during Second World War as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force, it was formed on 11 July 1940 at Trawool in central Victoria as part of the 23rd Brigade of the 8th Division. It was subsequently deployed to Ambon as part of Gull Force in December 1941 following the Japanese invasion of Malaya; however, with the defence of the island considered untenable due to the limited military resources available and overwhelming Japanese strength it was subsequently captured despite determined resistance, surrendering on 3 February 1942. Most members of the battalion became prisoners of war, and a large number died in captivity.

2/22nd Battalion (Australia)

The 2/22nd Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Raised as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force for service during World War II, the battalion formed part of the 23rd Brigade, attached to the 8th Division. It was captured by the Japanese during the Battle of Rabaul in 1942. After being captured, the battalion was not re-raised and a large number of its personnel died in captivity; those that did not were returned to Australia at the end of the war in 1945.

2/2nd Pioneer Battalion (Australia)

The 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion was one of four pioneer battalions raised as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force during World War II. Raised in 1940, the battalion served in the Middle East during the Syria–Lebanon Campaign against the Vichy French in mid-1941, fighting mainly as infantry. In 1942, the battalion was committed to the defence of Java, fighting against the Japanese and was all but destroyed following the capitulation of the defending garrison. Rebuilt in 1943, it later took part in the Salamaua–Lae and Finisterre Range campaigns in 1943–44 and the Borneo campaign in 1945 before being disbanded.

21st Brigade (Australia)

The 21st Brigade was a brigade-sized infantry unit of the Australian Army. It was briefly raised in 1912 as a Militia formation providing training as part of the compulsory training scheme. Later, it was re-formed in April 1940 as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force, the unit was raised for service during World War II. As part of the 7th Division the brigade's constituent units were raised from volunteers from several Australian states. After rudimentary training in Australia, the brigade deployed for the Middle East in October 1940. Defensive duties were mounted along the Libyan border in early 1941, before the brigade was committed to the Syria-Lebanon campaign, fighting against Vichy French forces. In early 1942, following Japan's entry into the war, the brigade returned to Australia. After a period of defensive duties in Australia, it was deployed to New Guinea and subsequently played a key role in the Kokoda Track campaign, delaying the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby and then joining the pursuit as the Japanese withdrew towards Buna–Gona. In 1943–1944, the brigade took part in the capture of Lae and the Ramu Valley–Finisterre Range campaign. Its final campaign of the war, came in the final months when it took part in the Balikpapan landings. It was disbanded in 1946.

23rd Brigade (Australia)

The 23rd Brigade was a brigade of the Australian Army. It was briefly raised in 1912 as a Militia formation providing training as part of the compulsory training scheme. Later, it was re-formed in July 1940 for service during the Second World War, the brigade was initially a formation of the Second Australian Imperial Force assigned to the 8th Division; however, after its sub units were captured by the Japanese in 1942 it was reformed with Militia battalions and was mainly used in a garrison role around Darwin, in the Northern Territory, until late in the war when it was committed to the fighting against the Japanese on Bougainville. It was disbanded in 1946.

26th Brigade (Australia)

The 26th Brigade was an Australian Army infantry brigade of World War II. It was raised on 22 July 1940, and formed part of the all volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force. Initially, it was assigned to the 7th Division, but was later transferred to the 9th Division with which it served throughout the war. The 26th Brigade saw action in North Africa including the Siege of Tobruk in 1942–1943, New Guinea in 1943–1944 and on Tarakan Island in 1945. The 26th Brigade was disbanded in Brisbane on 25 January 1946.

Arthur Wade

William Arthur Wade (25 March 1919 – 24 August 2014) was an Australian politician, elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.

Wade was born in the Newcastle suburb of Carrington and educated at Carrington Public School and Broadmeadow High School. During World War II he served in the Second Australian Imperial Force from 1939 in the 2/3 Field Regiment. He was captured in 1941 and was a prisoner of war in Germany and Poland until the end of the war in 1945. After the war he was a shopkeeper and married Heather Muncaster in August 1949 and they had two sons and one daughter.Wade was an alderman on Newcastle City Council from 1947 to 1968, including a year as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1958. He was a member of Shortland County Council (the local electricity retailer) from 1958 to 1968. He was the Labor Party member for Newcastle from 1968 to 1988.

Australian Instructional Corps

The Australian Instructional Corps (AIC) was a corps of the Australian Army that existed between 1921 and 1955. Tasked with providing training to soldiers serving in Australia's part-time military force, the corps consisted of Permanent force warrant officers and senior non commissioned officers from all arms of service, who were posted to Citizen Force units as cadre staff, filling various regimental and training appointments. During the Second World War, the majority of the corps' personnel were transferred to the Second Australian Imperial Force, and in the aftermath of the war the corps eventually became part of the fledgling Australian Regular Army. In the post-war years, as the focus of Australia's defence strategy shifted towards the maintenance of a strong Regular force, the corps' role declined and it was eventually disbanded in 1955.

Basil Dickinson

John Basil Charles Dickinson (25 April 1915 – 7 October 2013) was an Australian athlete who competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Born in Queanbeyan, Dickinson attended Sydney Boys High School, graduating in 1932. At the 1936 Summer Olympics he struggled with an injury; after finishing 16th in the triple jump he withdrew from the long jump.Dickinson won the Australian title in the triple jump in 1934 and 1936–37. At the 1938 Empire Games he earned bronze medals in both the long jump and triple jump, and in 1939 he won the New South Wales decathlon title. This was his last athletics competition, as the same year he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force. After World War II he worked in insurance and remained involved in athletics as an administrator. He was the chief judge of the jumping events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.After the death of Bill Roycroft on 29 May 2011, Dickinson was recognised as Australia's oldest surviving Olympian, and as the last surviving member of the Australian 1936 Olympic team. He died on 7 October 2013, aged 98.

Bull Allen (soldier)

Leslie Charles (Clarence) Allen, (9 November 1916 – 11 May 1982), nicknamed "Bull" Allen, was an Australian soldier and a recipient of the United States' Silver Star. A stretcher-bearer, Allen enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force in mid-1940, volunteering for overseas service. He was posted to the 2/5th Battalion, an infantry unit, and deployed to the Middle East where he saw action in the Western Desert and Syria–Lebanon Campaigns, before his unit returned to Australia in 1942. He subsequently served in New Guinea. In July 1943, Allen took part in the Battle of Mount Tambu where he rescued twelve United States soldiers who had been wounded in the fighting. For this action he was awarded the Silver Star. He returned to Australia later in the year and was eventually medically discharged in 1944 after his mental health deteriorated. After the war, he worked as a labourer and as a medical orderly. He died in May 1982 at the age of 65.

Colin McKellar

Gerald Colin McKellar (29 May 1903 – 13 April 1970) was an Australian politician and government minister.

McKellar was born in Gulgong, New South Wales and educated at Gilgandra and became a wheat and sheep farmer in the Gilgandra area. He married Florence Emily Smith in 1926. He commanded the local militia from 1936 and was appointed a major in the second Australian Imperial Force in September 1942. He was transferred to the reserves in April 1946. After World War II, he became an official in several farming organisations.

Geoff Crawford

Geoffrey Robertson Crawford, DCM (16 December 1916 – 29 December 1998) was an Australian politician. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the Country Party from 1950 to 1976, and served as Minister for Agriculture from 1968 until 1975.

Crawford was born in Inverell, New South Wales and educated at a state high school. He initially worked as a farm hand and share farmer before buying his own farm in the Inverell district. He served in the Second Australian Imperial Force in North Africa and New Guinea and received the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1944. Crawford was elected to the New South Wales Parliament as the Country Party member for Barwon at the 1950 state election. He defeated the sitting member Roy Heferen who had been disendorsed by the Labor Party after breaking caucus solidarity during an indirect election of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Crawford held the seat for the next 8 elections. He retired at the 1976 state election. During the premierships of Robert Askin and Tom Lewis he was Minister for Agriculture. He also held various parliamentary positions including Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker.

Gordon Mackie (politician)

Gordon Charlton Mackie (1912 – 5 May 1990) was an Australian politician, elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing the seat of Albury.

Mackie moved to Albury as a young man where his father was a businessman and farmer and Gordon Mackie became a grazier. He served in the Second Australian Imperial Force during World War II. He married Edna and had one son and one daughter. He was a councillor of Culcairn Shire from 1959 until 1965 and deputy president of it from 1959 until 1965.

Mackie was elected the Liberal member for Albury in 1965 and held it until defeated by Harold Mair in 1978. He died in Albury.

List of Australian divisions in World War II

The following is a list of Australian divisions in World War II, including all divisions raised within the Australian Army during World War II. A total of 15 such formations were established by the Army during the war; of these four infantry divisions served as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force, along with one armoured division. Two other armoured divisions were formed as part of the Militia, as well as eight other infantry divisions. The 2nd AIF formations provided the bulk of Australia's deployed forces, while many of the Militia formations were employed mainly for home defence and many were only partially formed before being broken up without seeing combat. Nevertheless, two Militia divisions were deployed as formed units, and elements of several others also fought overseas during the war.

Richard Kelliher

Richard Kelliher, VC (1 September 1910 – 28 January 1963) was an Irish-born Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Kelliher received his VC while serving with the Second Australian Imperial Force in New Guinea during the Second World War.

Second Australian Imperial Force in the United Kingdom

Elements of the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) were located in the United Kingdom (UK) throughout World War II. For most of the war these comprised only a small number of liaison officers. However, between June and December 1940 around 8,000 Australian soldiers organised into two infantry brigades and supporting units were stationed in the country. Several small engineer units were also sent to the UK, and up to 600 forestry troops were active there between July 1940 and mid-1943. A prisoner of war (POW) repatriation unit arrived in the UK in August 1944, and over 5,600 released AIF prisoners eventually passed through the country. Following the war small numbers of Australian soldiers formed part of a military cricket team which toured England, and the Army contributed most members of the Australian contingent to the June 1946 victory parade in London.

Although the UK had accommodated the main rear base for the First Australian Imperial Force during most of World War I, the deployment during 1940 was the only time significant numbers of Australian combat soldiers were stationed in the country during World War II. These soldiers arrived in mid-June on a convoy which had been diverted from its original destination in the Middle East. During the Battle of Britain the Australian force formed part of the mobile reserve which would have counter-attacked any German amphibious or airborne landings in southern England. The Australians were moved to eastern England in October 1940, and departed the country in several convoys between mid-November 1940 and January 1941 to concentrate the AIF in the Middle East.

In August 1944, AIF personnel arrived in the UK and established facilities to accommodate and support the thousands of Australian POWs held by Germany once they were released. Significant numbers of released AIF POWs arrived in the UK during the last weeks of the war in Europe and after the German surrender in May 1945. After being granted a period of leave, these men were accommodated at reception camps located in and around the coastal town of Eastbourne until they could be repatriated to Australia. Almost all of the released prisoners had departed the UK by August 1945.

Stanley Gibbs

Stanley Frederick Gibbs, GC (2 January 1909 – 3 March 1991) was an Australian shipping clerk and an exchange recipient of the George Cross, the highest civil decoration for heroism in the United Kingdom and formerly in the Commonwealth. On 3 January 1927, the day after his eighteenth birthday, Gibbs went to the rescue of 15-year-old Mervyn Allum during a shark attack at Port Hacking, New South Wales. He managed to fend off the shark by striking at it with his legs and fists and, with the assistance of a friend, pulled Allum clear of the water. Although Alllum died from his injuries, Gibbs was publicly praised by the coroner and local community leaders for his actions, and was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal.

Born in Hunters Hill, Sydney, and educated locally, Gibbs was employed by the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) as a shipping clerk for forty-five years. During the Second World War, he enlisted as a private in the Second Australian Imperial Force in February 1942 and served with the 35th Battalion on home defence and patrolling duties in Sydney and Western Australia for two years. The battalion was deployed to New Guinea in January 1944 for service in the Huon Peninsula campaign, but Gibbs' overseas experience was short lived. He broke his leg on the day of arrival, and spent an extended period in hospitals in New Guinea and Australia. Discharged in December 1944, he returned to his work with AGL. In 1971, the British Government announced that the Albert Medal would be discontinued and living recipients would henceforth be regarded as holders of the George Cross. The change came into effect from 21 October, and living recipients were accordingly invited to exchange their medals; Gibbs took up the offer and formally became a recipient of the George Cross. Aged 82, Gibbs died in Bondi, New South Wales, in 1991.

Theodore McCall

Theodore Bruce McCall (29 December 1911 – 16 January 1969) was an Anglican bishop in Australia.Born into a distinguished family, McCall was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide and was an apprentice at Mercantile Marine (AUSNCo) until 1931. He studied for the priesthood at St Columb's Hall, Wangaratta, was ordained in 1936 and served first as a curate at Milawa. Later he was Rector of Yea and then a chaplain in the Second Australian Imperial Force. After World War II he was Rector of Macquarie and then Holy Trinity, Launceston. He was the Home Secretary of the Australian Board of Missions from 1953 until 1959 when he was ordained to the episcopate as the sixth Bishop of Rockhampton, a post he held for four years. He was later translated as the Bishop of Wangaratta, His son, David McCall, was Bishop of Bunbury from 2000 until 2010.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.