Here in this article we shall look at some of the history of both the AMF AIF CMF ARA and the ADF ANZACS.
We have touched on many different areas of ANZAC HISTORIES over the years however in this article we shall be including everything ANZAC .
We here at Sovereign Australian take a lot of pride in our ANZAC and shall fight to the death to keep their legacy alive and well in the hearts of all.
Its no secret to those who have been following Sovereign Australian for many years that we here at sovereign strive to keep the AIF History alive and in the forefront of the minds of all Australians, after all the AIF is the reason for the term Lest We Forget and ANZAC day .
Many that Know our works Know we regularly hold a market stall promoting our ANZAC and Commonwealth histories every month in Nanango Qld , their legacy is something we hold dear to our hearts.
At the time of WW1 the Commonwealth of Australia was only recently founded as a self governing self determining subdivision of the Empire of Great Britain and one who suffered great casualty’s in the defence of that great Empire for our size during the war effort.
during the start to the war our country had gone through a lot of sudden changes both politically and financially, yet still our diggers still stepped up to the call from the mother land to chip in.
We lost many Great men in that time in our history.
These men came forth as volunteers from all over our land and from all walks of life , from school teachers construction men , cleaners, farmers the wealthy and the poor both black and white they gave it their all.
Many of our diggers left children and wives to tend to the family homes and property’s never to return home ,leaving everything including their lives on the battle fields in foreign land in the defence of our newly formed Commonwealth and the empire.
Many of our diggers were still children themselves who fudged their ages to stand as brothers with their fellow man, most were not prepared for what awaited them in these foreign lands or the hell on earth they would encounter the moment they stood back on dry land.
Our diggers fought so hard and they become very well respected by all throughout the entire Empire as well as the entire Commonwealth and very well feared by those who apposed them , and rightfully so as the diggers would fight to the last man and Never giving in without a bloody battle.
Some Mens whole family lines would end in these days of war never to return , their bones put to rest on foreign shores.
Those of us here at Sovereign Australian are Sons, daughter’s ,grandsons and grand daughters of these legends as well as close family members of our many ANZACs .
So yes keepng their sacrifice and legacy alive is very personal indeed.
The horror of wars still effect many even on those foreign shores.
It was a lesson to all who had survived and one no one could ignore.
For the cost of freedom prosperity and liberty comes at the highest price of all.
Lest We Forget.
Sovereign Australian team members believe all our military service men and women have earned the right to hold and continue the ANZAC name and tradition while ever they serve we the people.
In fact we have taken it personally upon ourselves as our duty to step up and continue to remind the people of their selfless sacrifice .
This is why we stand in the public arena every month reminding all Australians about our ANZACS and Commonwealth of Australia histories , promoting our returned VETs organisations the RSl and supporting mates for mates.
They are our Brothers Sisters Mothers Fathers and grandparents after all.
We must remember these times of war especially today and to hope and prey we never see these days again.
We must honour their sacrifice each and every day for these great soldiers gave up their best days so we could have our tomorrows.
This is our tribute to them.
As you can see we do not want their sacrifice or their memory to fade in any way from the forefront of the minds of all Australians new and old .
For without their sacrifice there would have been no free sovereign men and women of the commonwealth of Australia,
lest we forget.
We are not trying to glorify war in this artical, we are merely showing the facts and showing you the public that war always comes with a heavy cost .
Our freedoms have come at a great cost of life therefore we should never let them go for the cost to get them back will be very costly indeed.
Nobody of sound mind wants to see a repeat of WW1 / WW2.
Ok lets get into it .
The Mighty AIF. Australian Imperial Force.
The First Australian Imperial Force in World War 1
The Australian Government established the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in August 1914 and immediately began recruiting men to serve the British Empire in the war. The men of the AIF served in the Middle East and on the Western Front during the war.
Before the war
Australia’s Regular Army was a young evolving force when war broke out. It had been formed when the separate defence forces of six colonial states were joined with the federation of Australia in 1901.
Before the war, the Army introduced two major changes:
- compulsory military training started in 1909
- military organisation was restructured after Field Marshal Viscount Herbert Kitchener visited Australia in 1910
The Regular Army was organised into:
- Australian Infantry Regiment (foot soldiers)
- field companies (engineers)
- garrison artillery batteries
- light horse brigades (mounted troops)
At the time, Australian law didn’t permit men in the Regular Army and the Citizen Forces (part-time reserves) to serve in wars overseas.
Declaration of war
Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Australia had already offered unreserved help:
- The Cabinet had pledged an initial armed force of 20,000 troops.
- The Royal Australia Navy had offered all its vessels and sailors.
General William Bridges and Major Cyril Brudenell White completed a defence scheme for the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) by 8 August 1914.
AIF recruitment offices opened in army barracks around Australia on 10 August 1914.
With days, the first AIF volunteers were in basic training camps preparing to fight for the British Empire.
A hurriedly assembled Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) captured and occupied German colonial outposts in New Guinea in September 1914. The Battle of Bitapaka was Australia’s first action in the war.
Most of first AIF contingent of troops and nurses destined for the war in Europe left Albany in Western Australia on 1 November 1914. The force sailed in a convoy of 38 Australian transports or troopships, 36 from Albany and two from Fremantle that joined the convoy at sea. The convoy also included 10 New Zealand Transports. The contingent included all the units that comprised a modern army:
- field ambulance
- light horse
Dawn of the legend: The A.I.F.
The Australian Imperial Force, first raised in 1914 for overseas war service, became better known by its initials – the “AIF”. It was a separate and purely volunteer army.
There was a distinct character to those who enlisted in the earliest months and who were destined to fight on Gallipoli. They were keen; they had to meet tougher physical standards than those later applied; and quite a few had previous experience in British or Australian forces. Each of them would need to be lucky to survive the next four years of war.
Eventually 330,000 Australians served overseas. During the war the AIF took its place among the great armies of the world, on some of history’s oldest battlefields. The Australians would attack at the Dardanelles, enter Jerusalem and Damascus, defend Amiens and Ypres, and swagger through the streets of Cairo, Paris, and London, with their distinctive slouch hats and comparative wealth of six shillings per day.
During the Second World War, when Australia again raised a volunteer force, they called it the “second AIF”
In 1918 a remnant of the original 9th Battalion came home on “Anzac leave” after four years’ service. H15412
A group of young AIF soldiers, dressed in full uniform and wearing slouch hats, march along a road in the Australian bush. This is one of the earliest depictions of the Australian men who voluntarily enlisted in the First World War. ART91492
These haunting figures of Australian soldiers are part of a series of eight created in response to the horror of the loss of life in the First World War. ART92254
Dawn of the Legend: ‘Worthy sons of the Empire’
In 1914 Great Britain declared itself, and consequently the forces of its Empire, to be at war with Germany. Australians responded with conviction and enthusiasm; they began raising a volunteer army, called the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
After Turkey joined the war on the side of Germany, the Australians took part in a British-led invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April 1915. The landing and the eight-month campaign that followed established the Australians’ reputation for courage, endurance and initiative, but ended in military defeat.
From that time the anniversary of 25 April has been commemorated as Anzac Day: not as a celebration of victory but as a commemoration of courage and sacrifice. Anzac Day also marks the emergence of the young newly-federated nation on the world’s stage.
The beach at Anzac
Crozier enlisted on 17 March 1915 with the 22nd Battalion and served in Egypt and on Gallipoli, where he worked on The ANZAC book. From 21 January 1917, Crozier served in France and did sketches recalling the battle of Pozières. He was appointed an official war artist in 1918 and served in this capacity until 1920. ART02161
I heartily congratulate you upon the splendid conduct and bravery displayed by the Australian troops in the operations at the Dardanelles, who have indeed proved themselves worthy sons of the Empire.
His Majesty, King George V
Casualties of war
Author Craig Tibbitts
Nurse and patients at the Anzac hostel in Brighton, Victoria, c.1919. A home for the care of totally and permanently incapacitated men, the property was donated by the Baillieu brothers as a hostel for veterans.
Throughout history, war has brought destruction and misery to humanity, and left millions dead. Among those who survive, many are broken in body or damaged in mind and spirit. The First World War was Australia’s first major conflict in an age of “total war”, and its first experience of casualties on a mass scale. More than 60,000 would die, but the majority who served did return home. For many bearing the scars of war, the transition back to civilian life would not be an easy one. Those suffering from painful wounds or lingering illness, or haunted by psychological trauma, all presented significant and often long-lasting medical challenges.
It is generally accepted that the First World War killed some 16 million people worldwide, of which military deaths constituted about 9.5 million. It is also estimated that around 20 million were wounded, including 8 million left permanently disabled in some way. This was indeed a shocking toll for just four years. As if this were not enough, disease would then step in to claim an even greater toll in the form of the 1918–20 influenza pandemic, the Spanish flu.
Although comparatively small in numbers, Australia’s losses from the war were heavy for a nation of just 4.9 million. In round figures, the combined total of all Australian armed forces sent overseas during the war was about 340,000, of whom 331,000 served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Around 213,000 members of the AIF became battle casualties during the conflict: almost 54,000 died, 4,000 were taken prisoner, and 155,000 were wounded. The nature of their wounds ranged from minor to severe, and while most recovered to rejoin their units or at least remain in service of one kind or another, a significant portion were not fit to continue.
When repatriation of the Australian Imperial Force was completed in 1920, 264,000 men and women had returned to Australia, of whom 151,000 were deemed “fit”, and 113,000 “unfit”. Many had returned throughout the war, beginning in 1915 with those suffering from disease and injuries; then as fighting on Gallipoli, Sinai–Palestine and the Western Front progressed, the wounded began steadily returning home as well.
The two weapons that caused the most casualties during the First World War were artillery and machine-guns. Shell fragments, shrapnel or even blast concussion from artillery rounds accounted for 51 per cent of Australian battle casualties, while bullets spat from rifles, and particularly machine-guns, made up another 34 per cent. The range of wounds could vary greatly: from neat flesh wounds affecting no vital organs, bones or arteries – to shell fragments inflicting gross mutilation, leaving men torn apart, barely clinging to life.
A wounded man first had to survive the journey to the rear, often carried by stretcher-bearers through a battlefield raked by machine-gun and artillery fire. Patched up and stabilised at regimental aid posts, dressing stations and casualty clearing stations, if he could make it to the field hospital, a soldier’s chance of survival was far better than in previous wars. While significant breakthroughs in medical treatment had been made in the mid-to-late 19th century, by the First World War these were more widely appreciated and had been greatly improved. Better resuscitation and blood transfusion techniques, along with advances in anaesthetics, were all vital in preventing death through shock. General hygiene, antisepsis, debridement and the cleansing of wounds also greatly reduced the incidence of gangrene. These, along with the ability to properly set and mend compound bone fractures, ultimately meant less need for amputations. But despite these advances, the First World War was nevertheless pre-penicillin, and wound infection could still be very difficult to stop.
Legs, arms and heads were the most commonly wounded areas. Head wounds were dangerous for obvious reasons, while the other extremities were important in a functional, if not a vital sense. In some cases the shell fragment performed the amputation on the battlefield, while in others, a leg, an arm, or sometimes multiple limbs were simply too badly damaged to be saved. From the beginning of the war to June 1918, 1,749 amputation cases arrived home in Australia, of which 1,165 were legs and 584 arms. All told, the number of limbless would rise to more than 3,000. A lesser number lost their sight from wounds – around 100, rising to 130 ten years after the war. Some men also suffered terrible facial disfigurement and required extensive surgery over lengthy periods to rebuild their faces. Excellent medical treatment was available in England for the blind, the limbless and the disfigured [see Wartime 80], with further support at home in Australia, which greatly helped these men adjust to their future.
Poison gas was another danger troops had to contend with. Twelve per cent of Australian casualties were caused by this insidious weapon, mostly used on the Western Front. Depending on the type of gas encountered and how much one was exposed, the effects could range from uncomfortable irritation to horrible death. During the war, 16,000 Australians became gas casualties, of whom only 325 died. Yet many thousands who survived the war were plagued by respiratory problems for the remainder of their lives – ailments that could range from mild to chronic and incapacitating.
Privates Oswald Wilson, 29th Battalion, and Allan Frier, 14th Battalion, in The Strand, London, c. 1917. Wilson was wounded at Fromelles and Frier near Mouquet farm.
All of our ANZACS have seen the horrors that war can bring , some more than others ,all have suffered great loss at times of their fallen brothers and sisters .
The Psychological and neurological reactions to the trauma of war are as old as the history of human conflict itself. Essentially, they are reactions to innate fear: the dread of battle, of being wounded, and the legacy of war’s assault upon the senses (the horrific sights, sounds and smells) and upon one’s psyche and sense of morality.
Reactions could range from instantaneous combat shock to much longer-term manifestations. “Shell shock” was a term introduced in early 1915 to explain the range of symptoms soldiers were presenting with, such as hysteria, shaking, stuttering, tics, tremors, as well as loss of speech, sight, and hearing. At the time it was thought the concussion of exploding shells caused physical damage to the brain and nervous system. Many soldiers presented with less dramatic symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, confusion and chest pains, which were generally labelled neurasthenia. However, it was gradually accepted that the problems were not being caused by physical shock but by psychic shock. Such episodes could result from a range of experiences, but the more acute were commonly set off by incidents such as witnessing a horrific sight, being subjected to gas attacks, being buried by shell explosions, or enduring relentless heavy shelling.
Australians suffered just as much mental and nervous breakdown as any other troops during the war. It is recorded that among the AIF during 1915 there were about 1,500 soldiers treated for neuroses (traumatic neurasthenia, shock, shell-shock, disordered action of the heart), and psychoses (including melancholia, acute delirium, delusional insanity, exhaustion psychosis etc.). Then on the Western Front the figures grew much greater. Between April 1916 and March 1919, the field ambulances alone treated 7,205 cases of psycho-neuroses and other mental illnesses. Between Gallipoli, France and Belgium, only around 2,200 were actually diagnosed as “shell shock”; however, regardless of which labels were applied then or afterwards, these unseen wounds and mental traumas took a significant toll on the AIF during and after the war. By 1931, they accounted for some 13,500 pensions.
Order of Battle
No matter the odds stacked them our diggers still tried to smile for the camera and that old Aussie spirit was with them every day even when faced with the horrors of war .
How could Australians today give up on their sovereignty and freedoms when our ANZACS fought through hell on earth to protect those fundamental unalienable rights as free sovereign men and women is beyond us here at Sovereign Australian .
In our opinion and from our observations we should all hang our heads for allowing these tyrants in our parliament to errode even one.
These brave men of the AIF paid the price of blood for those very fundamental unalienable rights and liberty’s we have taken for granted.
Second World War
Second World War, 1939–45
On 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War on every national and commercial radio station in Australia.
Almost a million Australians, both men and women, served in the Second World War.
They fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and other parts of the Pacific. The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north-west Australia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney harbour.
On 7 May 1945 the German High Command authorised the signing of an unconditional surrender on all fronts: the war in Europe was over. The surrender was to take effect at midnight on 8–9 May 1945. On 14 August 1945 Japan accepted of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender. For Australia it meant that the Second World War was finally over.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) participated in operations against Italy after its entry into the war in June 1940. A few Australians flew in the Battle of Britain in August and September, but the Australian army was not engaged in combat until 1941, when the 6th, 7th, and 9th Divisions joined Allied operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
At sea off Crete in the Mediterranean, 19 July 1940: Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni under attack from HMAS Sydney near Cape Spada.
Following early successes against Italian forces, the Australians suffered defeat with the Allies at the hands of the Germans in Greece, Crete, and North Africa. In June and July 1941 Australians participated in the successful Allied invasion of Syria, a mandate of France and the Vichy government.
Up to 14,000 Australians held out against repeated German attacks in the Libyan port of Tobruk, where they were besieged between April and August 1941.
After being relieved at Tobruk, the 6th and 7th Divisions departed from the Mediterranean theatre for the war against Japan. The 9th Division remained to play an important role in the Allied victory at El Alamein in October 1942 before it also left for the Pacific. By the end of 1942 the only Australians remaining in the Mediterranean theatre were airmen serving either with 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) or in the Royal Air Force (RAF).
North Africa, 6 January 1941: Australian troops advance into Bardia.
Japan entered the war in December 1941 and swiftly achieved a series of victories, resulting in the occupation of most of south-east Asia and large areas of the Pacific by the end of March 1942.
Singapore fell in February, with the loss of an entire Australian division. After the bombing of Darwin that same month, all RAN ships in the Mediterranean theatre, as well as the 6th and 7th Divisions, returned to defend Australia. In response to the heightened threat, the Australian government also expanded the army and air force and called for an overhaul of economic, domestic, and industrial policies to give the government special authority to mount a total war effort at home.
In March 1942, after the defeat of the Netherlands East Indies, Japan’s southward advance began to lose strength, easing fears of an imminent invasion of Australia. Further relief came when the first AIF veterans of the Mediterranean campaigns began to come home, and when the United States assumed responsibility for the country’s defence, providing reinforcements and equipment.
The threat of invasion receded further as the Allies won a series of decisive battles: in the Coral Sea, at Midway, on Imita Ridge and the Kokoda Trail, and at Milne Bay and Buna.
Milne Bay, Papua, September 1942: a Bofors gun position manned by the 2/9th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, at Gili-Gili airfield. In the background a Kittyhawk is about to land.
Further Allied victories against the Japanese followed in 1943.
Australian troops were mainly engaged in land battles in New Guinea, the defeat of the Japanese at Wau, and clearing Japanese soldiers from the Huon peninsula.
This was Australia’s largest and most complex offensive of the war and was not completed until April 1944. The Australian army also began a new series of campaigns in 1944 against isolated Japanese garrisons stretching from Borneo to Bougainville, involving more Australian troops than at any other time in the war.
The first of these campaigns was fought on Bougainville and New Britain, and at Aitape, New Guinea. The final series of campaigns were fought in Borneo in 1945. How necessary these final campaigns were for Allied victory remains the subject of continuing debate. Australian troops were still fighting in Borneo when the war ended in August 1945.
While Australia’s major effort from 1942 onwards was directed at defeating Japan, thousands of Australians continued to serve with the RAAF in Europe and the Middle East.
Although more Australian airmen fought against the Japanese, losses among those flying against Germany were far higher. Australians were particularly prominent in Bomber Command’s offensive against occupied Europe. Some 3,500 Australians were killed in this campaign, making it the costliest of the war.
Over 30,000 Australian servicemen were taken prisoner in the Second World War and 39,000 gave their lives. Two-thirds of those taken prisoner were captured by the Japanese during their advance through south-east Asia in the first weeks of 1942. While those who became prisoners of the Germans had a strong chance of returning home at the end of the war, 36 per cent of prisoners of the Japanese died in captivity.
Singapore Straits Settlements, 19 September 1945: members of 2/18th Australian Infantry Battalion, prisoners of war of the Japanese, in Changi prison.
Nurses had gone overseas with the AIF in 1940.
However, during the early years of the war women were generally unable to make a significant contribution to the war effort in any official capacity. Labour shortages forced the government to allow women to take a more active role in war work and, in February 1941, the RAAF received cabinet approval to establish the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
At the same time, the navy also began employing female telegraphists, a breakthrough that eventually led to the establishment of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) in 1942.
The Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) was established in October 1941, with the aim of releasing men from certain military duties in base units in Australia for assignment with fighting units overseas.
Outside the armed services, the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was established to encourage women to work in rural industries. Other women in urban areas took up employment in industries, such as munitions production.
Battle of Rabaul (1942)
Throughout 1941, the Allies had planned to build Rabaul up as a “secure fleet anchorage” with plans to establish a radar station and a strong defensive minefield; however, these plans were ultimately shelved. Allied planners later determined that they did not have the capacity to expand the garrison around Rabaul, nor was the naval situation conducive to reinforcing it should the garrison come under attack. Nevertheless, the decision was made that the garrison would remain in place to hold Rabaul as a forward observation post.
The main tasks of the garrison were protection of Vunakanau, the main Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) airfield near Rabaul, and the nearby flying boat anchorage in Simpson Harbour, which were important for the surveillance of Japanese movements in the region.
However, the RAAF contingent, under Wing Commander John Lerew, had little offensive capability, with only 10 lightly armed CAC Wirraway training aircraft and four Lockheed Hudson light bombers from No. 24 Squadron.
The capture of New Britain offered them a deep water harbour and airfields to provide protection to Truk and also to interdict Allied lines of communication between the United States and Australia.
Japanese planning began with aerial reconnaissance of the town, which sought to identify the dispositions of the defending troops.
Planners, who had been flown from Guam to Truk, determined three possible schemes of manoeuvre based on these dispositions: a landing near Kokop, aimed at establishing a beachhead; a landing on the north coast of Rabaul, followed by a drive on Rabaul from behind the main defences; or a multi-pronged landing focused on capturing the airfields and centre of the town.
They eventually settled upon the third option.
For the invasion, the Japanese established a brigade group based on the 55th Division. Its main combat units were the 144th Infantry Regiment, which consisted of a headquarters unit, three infantry battalions, an artillery company, signals unit, and a munitions squad, as well as a few platoons from the 55th Cavalry Regiment, a battalion from the 55th Mountain Artillery Regiment and a company from the 55th Engineer Regiment.
These forces would be supported by a large naval task force, and landing operations would be preceded by a heavy aerial campaign aimed at destroying Allied air assets in region, so that they could not interfere with the landing operations.
Most civilian men were forced to stay in Rabaul but women who were not necessary to the defence of the base were evacuated in December 1941, shortly before Japanese air raids began.
Starting on 4 January 1942, Rabaul came under attack by large numbers of Japanese carrier-based aircraft. After the odds facing the Australians mounted significantly, the RAAF commander, Lerew, signalled RAAF HQ in Melbourne with the Latin motto “Nos Morituri Te Salutamus” (“we who are about to die salute you”),the phrase uttered by gladiators in ancient Rome before entering combat.
On 14 January, the Japanese force embarked at Truk and began steaming towards Rabaul as part of a naval task force, which consisted of two aircraft carriers—Kaga and Akagi—seven cruisers, 14 destroyers, and numerous smaller vessels and submarines under the command of Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue.
On 20 January, over 100 Japanese aircraft attacked Rabaul in multiple waves.
Eight Wirraways attacked and in the ensuing fighting three RAAF planes were shot down, two crash-landed, and another was damaged.
Six Australian aircrew were killed in action and five wounded. One of the attacking Japanese bombers was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.
As a result of the intense air attacks, Australian coastal artillery was destroyed and Australian infantry were withdrawn from Rabaul itself. The following day, an RAAF Catalina flying boat crew located the invasion fleet off Kavieng, and its crew managed to send a signal before being shot down.
As the Australian ground troops took up positions along the western shore of Blanche Bay where they prepared to meet the landing, the remaining RAAF elements, consisting of two Wirraways and one Hudson, were withdrawn to Lae. Once the aircraft had departed with a number of wounded, the Australians destroyed the airfield.
The bombing continued around Rabaul on 22 January and early that morning a Japanese force of between 3,000 and 4,000 troops landed just off New Ireland and waded ashore in deep water filled with dangerous mudpools. The 2/1st Independent Company had been dispersed around the island and the Japanese took the main town of Kavieng without opposition; after a sharp fight around the airfield the commandos fell back towards the Sook River.
That night, the invasion fleet approached Rabaul and before dawn on 23 January, the South Seas Force entered Simpson Harbour and a force of around 5,000 troops, mainly from the 144th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Masao Kusunose, began to land on New Britain.
A series of desperate actions followed near the beaches around Simpson Harbour, Keravia Bay and Raluana Point as the Australians attempted to turn back the attack.
The 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kuwada Ishiro, was held up at Vulcan Beach by a mixed company of Australians from the 2/22nd and the NGVR, but elsewhere the other two battalions of the South Seas Force were able to land at unguarded locations and began moving inland.
Within hours, Lakunai airfield had been captured by the Japanese force.
Assessing the situation as hopeless, Scanlan ordered “every man for himself”, and Australian soldiers and civilians split into small groups, up to company size, and retreated through the jungle, moving along the north and south coasts.
During the fighting on 23 January, the Australians lost two officers and 26 other ranks killed in action
Only the RAAF had made evacuation plans. Although initially ordered to turn his ground staff into infantrymen in a last-ditch effort to defend the island, Lerew insisted that they be evacuated and organised for them to be flown out by flying boat and his one remaining Hudson.
In the days that followed the capture of Rabaul, the Japanese began mopping up operations, starting on 24 January.
Australian soldiers remained at large in the interior of New Britain for many weeks, but Lark Force had made no preparations for guerrilla warfare on New Britain. Without supplies, their health and military effectiveness declined. Leaflets posted by Japanese patrols or dropped from planes stated in English, “you can find neither food nor way of escape in this island and you will only die of hunger unless you surrender”.
The Japanese commander, Horii, tasked the 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment with searching the southern part of the Gazelle Peninsula and securing the remaining Australians.
Over 1,000 Australian soldiers were captured or surrendered during the following weeks after the Japanese landed a force at Gasmata, on New Britain’s south coast, on 9 February, severing the Australians’ line of retreat.
Following this, the Japanese reorganised their forces, occupying a line along the Keravat River, to prevent possible counterattacks.
British Commonwealth Occupation Force 1945–52
Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the Allied occupation of Japan was announced on 31 January 1946, though planning and negotiations had been in progress since the end of the war. The main body of Australian troops arrived in Japan on 21 February.
The entire BCOF force totalled 45,000, from Britain, India, New Zealand, and Australia. About 16,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200, and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet. For two-thirds of the period of occupation the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians, and throughout its existence BCOF was always commanded by an Australian officer.
BCOF marching to parade ground for Anzac Day celebrations in Kure, 1946.
The BCOF area of responsibility was the western prefectures of Shimani, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over twenty million Japanese citizens and 57,000 square kilometres of country. Adjacent to the area of Australian responsibility were prefectures occupied by the 2 New Zealand EF (Japan), the British and Indian Division (Brindiv), and further away the US 8th Army.
The main Australian occupation component was the 34th Infantry Brigade, which arrived in early 1946 and was made up of the 65th, 66th, and 67th Battalions. The RAN ships that served were HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Shropshire, and the destroyers HMAS Arunta, Bataan, Culgoa, Murchison, Shoalhaven, Quadrant, and Quiberon. Landing Ships Infantry Manoora, Westralia, and Kanimbla were used for transport.
HMAS Manoora loaded with BCOF troops at No. 8 Wharf, Glebe Island, Sydney, before departing for Japan, September 1946.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) component was stationed at Bofu, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The RAAF squadrons which served were No.’s 76, 77, and 82, all flying Mustangs. The airforce component of BCOF was known as BCAIR. By 1950 only one Australian squadron, No. 77, remained in Japan.
Line-up of Mustang aircraft of No. 82 (Fighter) Squadron, RAAF, BCOF, which participated in a fly-past over Tokyo and were based temporarily at the United States Air Force (USAF) base at Kisarazu, 1947.
By early 1947 BCOF had begun to decline and, by the end of 1948, was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled in 1952, as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. Some personnel stayed on to serve in the Korean War. Members of No. 77 Squadron, for example, had their “going home” celebrations interrupted by the news they were to be sent immediately to Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1952 when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.
Japanese civilians watch planes fly over Kure during the BCOF Anzac Day parade, 1948.
Australia’s role in BCOF
The primary objective of BCOF was to enforce the terms of the unconditional surrender that had ended the war the previous September. The task of exercising military government over Japan was the responsibility of the United States forces. BCOF was required to maintain military control and to supervise the demilitarisation and disposal of the remnants of Japan’s war-making capacity. To this end, Australian Army and RAAF personnel were involved in locating and securing military stores and installations. The intelligence sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was either retained by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF’s general surveillance duties.
The RAN component of BCOF was responsible for patrolling the Inland Sea, to prevent smuggling and the illegal immigration of Koreans to Japan. It was assisted by the RAAF whose aircraft were also involved in tracking vessels suspected of smuggling or transporting illegal immigrants. RAAF squadrons also flew surveillance patrols over each of the prefectures in the BCOF zone in order to help locate leftover weapons and ordnance.
By the end of 1946 the task of demilitarising Japan required less effort and the role of the occupying forces was changing, with guard duties and training becoming the main focus.
The Mighty CMF – Civilian Military Force
Post World War II to the Vietnam War.
Due to an over commitment of resources early in the war, the Australian economy suffered badly from manpower shortages as early as 1942.
As a result, the government began the demobilisation process before the war was over and, when it had finally come to an end, the government was very keen for the demobilisation process to be completed as quickly as possible. Defence issues were not given a high priority as people tried to rebuild their lives after the war and as such it was not until 1948 that the CMF was reformed.
Subsequent reviews of defence policy and the strategic situation in South East Asia after the war had resulted in the formation of the Australian Regiment in 1948, the first regular infantry unit of the Australian Army.
From that time on as tension within the region increased the strength of the Regular Army increased rapidly in contrast to the CMF, signifying if not an end to Australian military planners’ reliance upon citizen soldiers, at least a shift in focus and a realisation of the mistakes that had been made prior to World War II. This would see the CMF providing a platform upon which the Army could mobilise in the event of a war.
Initially, the plan had been for the CMF to be made up of 50,000 men organised into two divisions and other units, however, recruitment was unable to meet these targets as initially it was attempted to achieve this through voluntary enlistment. Indeed, in its first year of existence, the actual strength of the CMF was only 8,698 personnel, although this rose the following year to 16,202 and to 32,779 in 1950.
In March 1951, a system of compulsory national service was re-established.
The reintroduction of this conscription scheme saw the numbers of the CMF rise substantially but its management and administration required the allocation of a large number of resources and personnel from the Regular Army at a time when the army Regular Army already heavily committed in Korea and Malaya and so the scheme was suspended in 1959.
This was a significant blow to the CMF and its strength fell by more than half in that year to 20,000 men.
Further changes came with the introduction of the pentropic (five battle group) division into the Australian Army in 1960. This proved a disaster for the CMF, as wholesale changes were made and units removed from the order of battle.
Seven artillery regiments were disbanded from an original total of 17, while 31 infantry battalions were reduced to 17. This excluded the University Regiments and the Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles which remained unchanged. The remaining battalions were later merged into just nine battalions.
Meanwhile, the CMF armoured units had already been rationalised in 1957 and as a result the change to the pentropic structure mostly resulted in a change in role only, such as the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse, which changed from an armoured unit to a reconnaissance regiment. The two CMF armoured brigade headquarters were also disbanded.
The mighty ARA – Australian Regular Army.
Korean War, 1950-53
Only five years after the end of the Second World War, Australia became involved in the Korean War.
Personnel from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and the Australian Regular Army (ARA) were committed soon after the war began and would serve for the next three years in the defence of South Korea.
Prelude to war
The origins of the Korean War can be traced back to the end of the Second World War, when the Allies were entrusted with control of the Korean peninsula following 35 years of Japanese occupation.
The United States and the Soviet Union accepted mutual responsibility for the country, with the Soviets taking control of the country to the north of the 38th Parallel and the Americans taking the south.
Over the next few years, the Soviet Union fostered a communist government under Kim Il-Sung and the US supported the provisional government in the south, headed by Syngman Rhee.
By 1950 tensions between the two zones had risen to the point that two increasingly hostile armies had built up along the 38th Parallel.
In the pre-dawn hours of 25 June 1950 the Korean People’s Army (KPA) launched a massive offensive across the 38th Parallel into South Korea.
They drove the Republic of South Korea’s (ROK) forces down the peninsula, capturing the capital, Seoul, within a week. South Korean and hastily deployed United States Army units fought delaying actions as they were forced further down the Korean peninsula, which allowed defensive positions to be set up around the port city of Pusan.
Within two days of the war’s beginning, US President Harry S. Truman committed US navy and air force units to aid South Korea. By the end of the month, he had authorised US ground forces to be deployed to the peninsula.
The United Nations Security Council asked its members to assist in repelling the North Korean invasion. The Security Council was aided by Russia boycotting the UN over its lack of recognition of the communist Chinese government. With the Russian delegate absent and unable to veto any resolution, the UN was able to act decisively and commit forces from willing nations to the aid of South Korea.
In all, 21 nations committed troops, ships, aircraft, and medical units to the defence of South Korea. Australia became the second nation, behind the United States, to commit personnel from all three armed services to the war.
Australia, with its commitment to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, had two readily deployable RAN vessels, HMAS Shoalhaven and HMAS Bataan (which was on its way to Japan to relieve Shoalhaven), as well as No. 77 Squadron, RAAF. The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) was also available, but it was understrength and ill prepared for a combat deployment.
On 28 June Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed Australia’s RAN assets to the Korean War, followed several days later by No. 77 Squadron. It wasn’t until 26 July that 3RAR was committed to ground operations in Korea.
First to fight
On 1 July HMAS Bataan and HMAS Shoalhaven left Japanese waters escorting US troop ships to Pusan.
The following day, No. 77 Squadron, led by Wing Commander Lou Spence, flew the first ground support operations over Korea, becoming the first British Commonwealth and United Nations unit to see action in the Korean War.
Over the next few weeks, No. 77 Squadron flew numerous sorties against KPA forces and, along with other allied air units, greatly assisted in slowing the North Koreans’ advance.
In mid-July General Douglas MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of United Nations forces in Korea and wasted no time in requesting the deployment of 3RAR to the peninsula. The Australian government agreed, but stipulated that the battalion would deploy only when fully ready.
The battalion was brought up to strength over the next month and a half with reinforcements from K Force, an Australian government initiative calling for volunteers to serve a three-year period in the army, including a year in Korea. In early September, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green took command of the battalion and put his men through an intensive training program.
In a brilliant master stroke, General MacArthur landed marines of the 1st Marine Division at Inchon on 15 September. Two days later, ROK, US, and British troops took part in the breakout from the Pusan perimeter. One week later, Seoul had been recaptured and UN units began their advance towards the North Korean border.
On 27 September 3RAR embarked from Kure, Japan, and arrived at Pusan the followng morning.
The Australian battalion was taken on strength of the British 27th Brigade, joining the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Southerland Highlanders, and 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. The brigade was renamed the 27th Commonwealth Brigade to reflect its Antipodean addition.
3RAR’s first battle
As UN forces neared the North Korean border, China warned them not to cross into North Korean territory, and that such an incursion would not be tolerated.
General MacArthur received permission to pursue the fleeing North Korean forces and shortly after crossed into North Korea. The capital, Pyongyang, fell soon after.
As part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade 3RAR advanced north of Pyongyang to assist the US 187th Regimental Combat Team, which had encountered heavy resistance after being dropped behind enemy lines in an attempt to rescue American prisoners of war.
On the morning of 22 October 1950, 3RAR was the lead battalion leaving the town of Yongju when it came under fire from enemy troops within a nearby apple orchard.
The ensuing fight was swift and brutal, with the Australians routing a numerically superior force and suffering only seven wounded. It was the first combat action fought by a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and the men of 3RAR had acquitted themselves well.
In the following week those men would fight two more battles – at Kujin, known as the battle of the broken bridge, and Chongju.
At the beginning of November, 3RAR’s commanding officer, the indomitable Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green DSO, was mortally wounded by shrapnel as he rested in his tent. Several North Korean artillery rounds had been fired into 3RAR’s position but Green was the only casualty. He died of his wounds two days later.
China enters the war
The battle of Pakchon marked the furthest point that the Australians reached into North Korea. It was also the first time Chinese forces were encountered in large numbers. Unbeknownst to UN intelligence sources, Chinese troops had been infiltrating North Korea across the Yalu River, and in late October they began an offensive against, annihilating several UN divisions and badly mauling others before seeming to melt away. The ensuing weeks saw an eerie quiet settle over the battlefield.
In November, buoyed with a false sense of security, UN forces under MacArthur’s direction once again began to advance north towards the Yalu River. On 25 November the Chinese launched the next phase of their offensive and by January 1951 had pushed the UN forces back across the 38th Parallel. During the retreat, the 27th Commonwealth Brigade had fought many rear-guard actions, allowing formations from the US and South Korea to pass through their positions. The brigade was the last formation out of Seoul before the city once again fell to Communist forces in January 1951.
The second major battle the Australians fought in 1951 was Operation Commando.
Operation Commando was the last major UN offensive thrust of the Korean War. It was an attack on a PVA salient in a bend of the Imjin River, designed to prevent the PVA/KPA from interdicting the UN supply lines near Seoul.
By July 1951, 3 RAR had come under the control of the 1st Commonwealth Division. Objectives of the 1st Commonwealth Division during Operation Commando, including the Australians, were Hill 355 and Hill 317.
The attack began on 3 October 1951 with the US I Corps (including four US Divisions, the 1st Commonwealth Division and the ROKA 1st Division) seizing the Jamestown Line destroying elements of the PVA 42nd Army, 47th Army, 64th Army and 65th Army, and after five days of intense combat, eventually forcing the PVA into retreat. The operation was a success, and ended on 15 October, with a few hills south of the line still in PVA/KPA hands, requiring a follow-up operation (Operation Polecharge).Men from the Royal Australian Regiment, June 1953.
The official historian for the Korean War, Robert O’Neill, wrote of this battle: “In this action 3RAR had won one of the most impressive victories achieved by any Australian battalion. In five days of heavy fighting 3RAR dislodged a numerically superior enemy from a position of great strength. The Australians were successful in achieving surprise on 3 and 5 October, the company and platoon showed high courage, tenacity and morale despite some very difficult situations, such as that of D company when the mist rose on 5 October and those of B and C Companies when the weight of enemy fire threatened their isolation of Hill 317 on 7 October … The victory of Maryang San is probably the greatest single feat of the Australian Army during the Korean War”.
Australian casualties during Operation Commando were 20 dead and 89 wounded.
After 1951, both sides were in a type of combat comparable to the Western Front in World War I in which men lived in tunnels, redoubts, and sandbagged forts behind barbed wire defences. From 1951 to the end of the war, 3 RAR held trenches on the eastern side of the Commonwealth Division’s positions in the hills northeast of the Imjin River. Across from them were heavily fortified PVA positions.
As the war continued, several other nations grew less willing to contribute more ground troops. Australia, however, increased its troop strength in Korea,by sending 1 RAR. This battalion arrived in Korea on 6 April 1952 and experienced its first major combat during Operation Blaze on 2 July.
In March 1953, they were replaced by 2 RAR.
Vietnam War 1962–75
Iroquois helicopters land to take members of 7RAR back to Nui Dat after completion of Operation Ulmarra, August 1967.
The arrival of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) in South Vietnam during July and August 1962 was the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Australia’s participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973. The only combat troops remaining in Vietnam were a platoon guarding the Australian embassy in Saigon, which was withdrawn in June 1973.
The Australian commitment consisted predominantly of army personnel, but significant numbers of air force and navy personnel and some civilians also took part.
From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Team in 1962 almost 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded. The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War. Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protesters were fined or jailed, while soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.
Australian support for South Vietnam in the early 1960s was in keeping with the policies of other nations, particularly the United States, to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia.
In 1961 and 1962 Ngo Dinh Diem, leader of the government in South Vietnam, repeatedly requested security assistance from the US and its allies. Australia eventually responded with 30 military advisers, dispatched as the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), also known as “the Team”. Their arrival in South Vietnam during July and August 1962 was the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In August 1964 the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also sent a flight of Caribou transports to the port of Vung Tau.
By early 1965, when it had become clear that South Vietnam could not stave off the communist insurgents and their North Vietnamese comrades for more than a few months, the US commenced a major escalation of the war. By the end of the year it had committed 200,000 troops to the conflict. As part of the build-up, the US government requested further support from friendly countries in the region, including Australia. The Australian government dispatched the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), in June 1965 to serve alongside the US 173d Airborne Brigade in Bien Hoa province.
Vung Tau, Vietnam: door-gunner from No. 9 Squadron, RAAF, using twin-mounted M60 machine-guns.
The following year the Australian government felt that Australia’s involvement in the conflict should be both strong and identifiable. In March 1966 the government announced the dispatch of a taskforce to replace 1RAR, consisting of two battalions and support services (including a RAAF squadron of Iroquois helicopters), to be based at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy province. Unlike 1RAR, the taskforce was assigned its own area of operations and included conscripts who had been called up under the National Service Scheme, introduced in 1964. All nine RAR battalions served in the taskforce at one time or another, before it was withdrawn in 1971; at the height of the Australian involvement it numbered some 8,500 troops. A third RAAF squadron (of Canberra jet bombers) was also committed in 1967, and destroyers of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) joined US patrols off the North Vietnamese coast. The RAN also contributed a clearance diving team and a helicopter detachment that operated with the US Army from October 1967.
In August 1966 a company of 6RAR was engaged in one of Australia’s heaviest actions of the war, in a rubber plantation near Long Tan. The 108 soldiers of D Coy held off an enemy force, estimated at over 2000, for four hours in the middle of a tropical downpour. They were greatly assisted by a timely ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from Australian artillery, and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell. The armoured vehicles had been delayed because they had to ‘swim’ across a flooded creek and fight through groups of enemy on the way. When the Viet Cong withdrew at night fall they left behind 245 dead, but carried away many more casualties. Seventeen Australians were killed and 25 wounded, with one dying of wounds several days later.
The year 1968 began with a major offensive by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, launched during the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday period, known as “Tet”. Not only the timing but the scale of the offensive came as a complete surprise, taking in cities, towns, and military installations throughout South Vietnam. While the “Tet Offensive” ultimately ended in military defeat for the communists, it was propaganda victory. US military planners began to question if a decisive victory could ever be achieved and the offensive stimulated US public opposition to the war. For Australian troops, the effects of the offensive were felt around their base at Nui Dat, where a Viet Cong attack on targets around Ba Ria, the provincial capital, was repulsed with few casualties.
A wounded digger, hurt in a booby-trap explosion, is evacuated to Vung Tau.
By 1969 anti-war protests were gathering momentum in Australia. Opposition to conscription mounted, as more people came to believe the war could not be won. A “Don’t register” campaign to dissuade young men from registering for conscription gained increasing support and some of the protests grew violent. The US government began to implement a policy of “Vietnamisation”, the term coined for a gradual withdrawal of US forces that would leave the war in the hands of the South Vietnamese. With the start of the phased withdrawals, the emphasis of the activities of the Australians in Phuoc Tuy province shifted to the provision of training to the South Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces.
At the end of April 1970 US and South Vietnamese troops were ordered to cross the border into Cambodia. While the invasion succeeded in capturing large quantities of North Vietnamese arms, destroying bunkers and sanctuaries, and killing enemy soldiers, it ultimately proved disastrous. By bringing combat into Cambodia, the invasion drove many people to join the underground opposition, the Khmer Rouge, irreparably weakening the Cambodian government. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in April 1975, it imposed a cruel and repressive regime that killed several million Cambodians and left the country with internal conflict that continues today. The extension of the war into a sovereign state, formally neutral, inflamed anti-war sentiment in the United States and provided the impetus for further anti-war demonstrations in Australia. In the well-known Moratorium marches of 1970 and 1971, more than 200,000 people gathered to protest against the war, in cities and towns throughout the country.
Phuoc Tuy province, South Vietnam, November 1966: 6RAR soldiers follow an armoured personnel carrier (APC) during Operation Ingham, a “search and destroy” mission.
By late 1970 Australia had also begun to wind down its military effort in Vietnam. The 8th Battalion departed in November (and was not replaced), but, to make up for the decrease in troop numbers, the Team’s strength was increased and its efforts became concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province. The withdrawal of troops and all air units continued throughout 1971 – the last battalion left Nui Dat on 7 November, while a handful of advisers belonging to the Team remained in Vietnam the following year. In December 1972 they became the last Australian troops to come home, with their unit having seen continuous service in South Vietnam for ten and a half years. Australia’s participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973. The only combat troops remaining in Vietnam were a platoon guarding the Australian embassy in Saigon (this was withdrawn in June 1973).
Vietnam, 1966: Australians patrol near the village of Tan Phu, near Bien Hoa Air Base.
In early 1975 the communists launched a major offensive in the north of South Vietnam, resulting in the fall of Saigon on 30 April. During April a RAAF detachment of 7–8 Hercules transports flew humanitarian missions to aid civilian refugees displaced by the fighting and carried out the evacuation of Vietnamese orphans (Operation Babylift), before finally taking out embassy staff on 25 April.
From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Team in 1962 almost 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded. The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War. Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protesters were fined or gaoled, while some soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.
In our humble opinion here at Sovereign Australian those who showed such hostile reception to our returned vets need a wake up call or a kick in the arse.
Our vets were called by our country to serve and they did .
Malayan Emergency, 1950–60
Main article: Military history of Australia during the Malayan EmergencyA Lincoln from No. 1 Squadron RAAF bombing communist targets during the Malayan Emergency, c. 1950.
Australian involvement began in June 1950, when in response to a British request, six Lincolns from No. 1 Squadron and a flight of Dakotas from No. 38 Squadron arrived in Singapore to form part of the British Commonwealth Far East Air Force (FEAF).
The Dakotas were subsequently used on cargo runs, troop movement, as well as paratroop and leaflet drops, while the Lincoln bombers carried out bombing raids against the Communist Terrorist (CT) jungle bases.
The RAAF were particularly successful, and in one such mission known as Operation Termite, five Lincoln bombers destroyed 181 communist camps, killed 13 communists and forced one into surrender, in a joint operation with the RAF and ground troops.
The Lincolns were withdrawn in 1958, and were replaced by Canberra bombers from No. 2 Squadron and CAC Sabres from No. 78 Wing. Based at RAAF Base Butterworth they also carried out a number ground attack missions against the guerrillas.
Australian ground forces were deployed to Malaya in October 1955 as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve.
In January 1956, the first Australian ground forces were deployed on Malaysian peninsula, consisting of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR).
2 RAR mainly participated in “mopping up” operations over the next 20 months, conducting extensive patrolling in and near the CT jungle bases, as part of 28th British Commonwealth Brigade.
Contact with the enemy was infrequent and results small, achieving relatively few kills. 2 RAR left Malaysia October 1957 to be replaced by 3 RAR. 3 RAR underwent six weeks of jungle training and began driving MCP insurgents back into the jungle of Perak and Kedah.
The new battalion extensively patrolled and was involved in food denial operations and ambushes. Again contact was limited, although 3 RAR had more success than its predecessor.
By late 1959, operations against the MCP were in their final phase, and most communists had been pushed back and across the Thailand border.
3 RAR left Malaysia October 1959 and was replaced by 1 RAR. Though patrolling the border 1 RAR did not make contact with the insurgents, and in October 1960 it was replaced by 2 RAR, which stayed in Malaysia until August 1963. The Malayan Emergency officially ended on 31 July 1960.
Australia also provided artillery and engineer support, along with an air-field construction squadron. The Royal Australian Navy also served in Malayan waters, firing on suspected communist positions between 1956 and 1957.
The Emergency was the longest continued commitment in Australian military history; 7,000 Australians served and 51 died in Malaya—although only 15 were on operations—and another 27 were wounded.
The Mighty ADF. Australian Defence Force.
Creation of the Australian Defence Force, 1976
Australian Defence Force was established on 9 February 1976.
Although the Crown ,flag, laws and name of our brave soldiers may have changed the spirit of our ANZAC did not.
These brave soilders still carry on that ANZAC legacy and continue to give it their all.
These Men and Women Still Fight to protect the Commonwealth Of Australia and its People.
In 1976, the government made a strategic change and established the ADF to place the services under a single headquarters. Over time, the degree of integration has increased and tri-service headquarters, logistics, and training institutions have supplanted many single-service establishments.
The ADF is technologically sophisticated but relatively small. Although the ADF’s 58,206 full-time active-duty personnel and 29,560 active reservists make it the largest military in Oceania, it is smaller than most Asian military forces.
Nonetheless, the ADF is supported by a significant budget by worldwide standards and can deploy forces in multiple locations outside Australia.
he three military branches amalgamated into the ADF in 1976.
Although the importance of ‘joint’ warfare had been highlighted during Second World War when Australian naval, ground and air units frequently served as part of single commands, the absence of a central authority continued to result in poor co-ordination between the services in the post-war era, with each organising and operating on the basis of a different military doctrine.
The need for an integrated command structure received more emphasis during the Australian military’s experiences in the Vietnam War.
In 1973, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Arthur Tange, submitted a report to the Government that recommended the unification of the separate departments supporting each service into a single department and the creation of the post of Chief of the Defence Force Staff.
The Whitlam Labor Government subsequently amalgamated the five defence ministries (Defence, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Supply) into a single Department of Defence in 1973, while conscription under the National Service scheme was abolished.
On 1 January 1976, the three branches of the Australian military were brought together as a unified, all-volunteer, professional force known as the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Today, the ADF is headquartered at Russell Offices in Canberra and is divided into Air, Land, Maritime and Special Operations Commands. In addition, Northern Command is based in Darwin, and is responsible for operations in Northern Australia.
Defence of Australia, 1980s and 1990s
Until the 1970s, Australia’s military strategy centred on the concept of Forward Defence, in which the role of Australian military and naval forces were to co-operate with Allied forces to counter threats in Australia’s region.
Following the adoption of the Guam Doctrine by the United States in 1969, and the British withdrawal ‘east of Suez‘ in the early 1970s, Australia developed a defence policy emphasising self-reliance and the defence of the Australian continent. Known as the Defence of Australia Policy, it focused Australian defence planning on protecting the nation’s northern maritime approaches (the ‘air-sea gap’) against possible attack.
In line with this goal, the ADF was restructured to increase its ability to strike at enemy forces from Australian bases and to counter raids on continental Australia. This was achieved by increasing the capabilities of the RAN and RAAF, and relocating regular Army units to Northern Australia.
During this time the ADF had no military units on operational deployment outside Australia. However, in 1987 the ADF made its first operational deployment as part of Operation Morris Dance, in which several warships and a rifle company deployed to the waters off Fiji in response to the 1987 Fijian coups d’état.
While broadly successful, this deployment highlighted the need for the ADF to improve its capability to rapidly respond to unforeseen events.
During this period Australia continued to retain forces in Malaysia as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) agreed in 1971 to defend it in the event of external attack, with this commitment initially including significant air, ground and naval forces.
However, these forces were gradually reduced with the infantry battalion withdrawn from Singapore in 1973, and the two Mirage fighter squadrons in 1988.
Since then a detachment of Orion maritime patrol aircraft, support personnel, and an infantry company known as Rifle Company Butterworth have been maintained, as well as occasional deployments of F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.
Australian submarines reportedly undertook a number of clandestine surveillance missions throughout Asian waters in the last decades of the Cold War.
Airforce and Navy units were also involved in tracking Soviet ship and submarine movements in the region.
Since then the Orions have continued to participate in maritime security operations as part of Operation Gateway, conducting patrols over the Indian Ocean, Strait of Malacca and South China Sea.
They have reportedly also been involved in freedom of navigation flights.
Gulf War, 1991
Australia was a member of the international coalition which contributed military forces to the 1991 Gulf War, deploying a naval task group of two warships, a support ship and a clearance diving team; in total about 750 personnel. The Australian contribution was the first time Australian personnel were deployed to an active war zone since the establishment of the ADF and the deployment tested its capabilities and command structure.
However, the Australian force did not see combat, and instead playing a significant role in enforcing the sanctions put in place against Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait. Some ADF personnel serving on exchange with British and American units did see combat, and a few were later decorated for their actions.
Following the war, the Navy regularly deployed a frigate to the Persian Gulf or Red Sea to enforce the trade sanctions which continued to be applied to Iraq.
A number of Australian airmen and ground crew posted to or on exchange with US and British air forces subsequently participated in enforcing no-fly zones imposed over Iraq between 1991 and 2003.
Global security, late-1990s
Since the late 1980s, the Australian government had increasingly called upon the ADF to contribute forces to peacekeeping missions around the world. While most of these deployments involved only small numbers of specialists, several led to the deployment of hundreds of personnel.
The 1996 election of the Howard Liberal government resulted in significant reforms to the ADF’s force structure and role, with the new government’s defence strategy placed less singular emphasis on defending Australia from direct attack and greater emphasis on working in co-operation with regional states and Australia’s allies to manage potential security threats in recognition of Australia’s global security interests.
In line with this new focus, the ADF’s force structure changed in an attempt to increase the proportion of combat units to support units and to improve the ADF’s combat effectiveness
East Timor, 1999–2013
: United Nations Mission in East Timor, International Force for East Timor, United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, and Operation Astute Australian members of International Force East Timor, 2000.
The former-Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, however, following years of violent struggle the new Indonesian government of President B.J. Habibie subsequently agreed to allow the East Timorese to vote on autonomy in 1999.
The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established to organise and conduct the vote, which was held at the end of August 1999 and resulted with 78.5% of voters deciding in favour of independence.
However, following the announcement of the results pro-Indonesian militias supported by elements of the Indonesian military, launched a campaign of violence, looting and arson and many East Timorese were killed, while perhaps more than 500,000 were displaced. Unable to control the violence, Indonesia subsequently agreed to the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force.
Australia, which had contributed police to UNAMET, organised and led an international military coalition, known as the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), a non-UN force operating in accordance with UN resolutions.
The total size of the Australian force committed numbered 5,500 personnel, and included a significant ground force, supported by air and naval forces, in the largest single deployment of Australian forces since 1945.
Under the overall command of Australian Major General Peter Cosgrove, INTERFET began arriving on 12 September 1999 and was tasked with restoring peace and security, protecting and supporting UNAMET, and facilitating humanitarian assistance operations.
With the withdrawal of the Indonesian armed forces, police and government officials from East Timor, UNAMET re-established its headquarters in Dili on 28 September.
On 19 October 1999, Indonesia formally recognised the result of the referendum and shortly thereafter a UN peacekeeping force, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established, becoming fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence.
The hand-over of command of military operations from INTERFET to UNTAET was completed on 28 February 2000. Australia continued to support the UN peacekeeping operation with between 1,500 and 2,000 personnel, as well as landing craft and Blackhawk helicopters and remained the largest contributor of personnel to the peacekeeping mission.
During these operations Australian forces regularly clashed with pro-Indonesian militia and on a number of occasions Indonesian forces as well, especially along the border with West Timor. Significant actions occurred in Suai, Mota’ain and at Aidabasalala in October 1999.
However, with the security situation stabilised the bulk of the Australian and UN forces were withdrawn by 2005. Two Australians died from non-battle related causes, while a number were wounded in action.
The unexpected deployment to East Timor in 1999 led to significant changes in Australian defence policy and to an enhancement of the ADF’s ability to conduct operations outside Australia.
This successful deployment was the first time a large Australian military force had operated outside of Australia since the Vietnam War and revealed shortcomings in the ADF’s ability to mount and sustain such operations
In response, the 2000 Defence White Paper placed a greater emphasis on preparing the ADF for overseas deployments. The Australian government committed to improve the ADF’s capabilities by improving the readiness and equipment of ADF units, expanding the ADF to 57,000 full-time personnel and increasing real Defence expenditure by 3% per year.
In May 2006, 2,000 ADF personnel were again deployed to East Timor as part of Operation Astute, following unrest between elements of the Timor Leste Defence Force. Australian forces were involved in a number skirmishes during this time, including a heavy clash with rebels commanded by Alfredo Reinado at Same on 4 March 2007.
However, by early-2010 the security situation had been stabilised and just 400 Australian personnel remained to train the local security forces as part of a small international force.
Following a drawdown, the International Stabilisation Force commenced withdrawing from Timor-Leste in November 2012, a process which was completed in April 2013.
Shortly after the Islamist inspired terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, Australian forces were committed to the American-led international coalition against terrorism. The ADF’s most visible contribution—codenamed Operation Slipper—has been a special forces task group operating in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2002 and again from mid-2005 to fight against the Taliban.
Over time the Australian commitment has grown, with the addition of further ground forces in the form of a Reconstruction Task Force from 2006 to provide security, reconstruction and to mentor and train the Afghan National Army.
Australia has also contributed a frigate and two AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft and three C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to international operations in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean since 2001, supporting both the operations in Afghanistan and those in Iraq under Operation Catalyst.
A detachment of four F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers was based at Diego Garcia from late-2001 to mid-2002, while two Boeing 707 air-to-air refuelling aircraft were also based in Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan to provide support to coalition aircraft operating in Afghan airspace but were later withdrawn.
A Special Operations Task Group was deployed to support the Reconstruction Taskforce in April 2007. In addition to radar crews, logistics and intelligence officers, and security personnel, this brought the number of Australian personnel in Afghanistan to 950 by mid-2007, with further small increases to 1,000 in mid-2008, 1,100 in early 2009 and 1,550 in mid-2009, An ASLAV providing security for ground troops in the Tangi Valley in 2010.
A modest force remained in Afghanistan over this time and was involved in counter-insurgency operations in Uruzgan Province in conjunction United States and other coalition forces, including the Dutch prior to their withdrawal.
The force consisted of motorised infantry, special forces, engineers, cavalry, artillery and aviation elements.
By 2010 it included a combined arms battalion-sized battle group known as the Mentoring Task Force, and the Special Operations Task Group, both based at Forward Operation Base Ripley outside of Tarin Kowt, as well as the Rotary Wing Group flying CH-47D Chinooks, the Force Logistics Asset and an RAAF air surveillance radar unit based in Kandahar.
In addition, a further 800 Australian logistic personnel were also based in the Middle East in support, but located outside of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, detachments of maritime patrol and transport aircraft continued to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, based out of Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
Australian forces were at times involved in heavy fighting, and significant actions included Operation Anaconda in 2002 and Operation Perth in 2006, as well as actions in Chora in 2007, Kakarak in 2009, the Shah Wali Kot and Derapet in 2010, and Doan in 2011; although others have yet to be publicly acknowledged due to operational security requirements.
Casualties include 41 killed and 256 wounded, while another Australian also died serving with the British Army.
Four Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, the first such decorations in forty years.
Following a drawdown in forces, the last combat troops were withdrawn on 15 December 2013; however, approximately 400 personnel remain in Afghanistan as trainers and advisers, and are stationed in Kandahar and Kabul.Over 26,000 Australian personnel have served in Afghanistan.
In November 2020, a report for the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force by Major General Paul Brereton, a New South Wales Court of Appeal judge, found credible information that 25 current or former members of the ADF were allegedly involved in, or accessories to, the murder of 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians, and the cruel treatment of two others.
None of these matters allegedly occurred in the “heat of battle”. Brereton’s inquiry took four and a half years to complete, and involved the interviewing of 423 witnesses, the examination of more than 20,000 documents and 25,000 images, regarding conduct in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
It recommended that 36 incidents be referred to the AFP for criminal investigation.
Campbell offered an apology for “any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers”, and highlighted that the matters predominantly involved the SASR.
He summarised the report by saying that “It is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands, rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed”, and said that practices developed in order to conceal deliberate unlawful killings.
On 26 November, it was reported that Defence had commenced administrative action against at least 10 serving members of the SASR, issuing them with “show cause” notices for their dismissal.
Australian forces later joined British and American forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The initial contribution was also a modest one, consisting of just 2,058 personnel—codenamed Operation Falconer. Major force elements included special forces, rotary and fixed wing aviation and naval units.
Army units included elements from the SASR and 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando), a CH-47 Chinook detachment and a number of other specialist units. RAN units included the amphibious ship HMAS Kanimbla and the frigates HMAS Darwin and HMAS Anzac, while the RAAF deployed 14 F/A-18 Hornets from No. 75 Squadron, a number of AP-3C Orions and C-130 Hercules.
The Australian Special Forces Task Force was one of the first coalition units forces to cross the border into Iraq, while for a few days, the closest ground troops to Baghdad were from the SASR.
During the invasion the RAAF also flew its first combat missions since the Vietnam War, with No. 75 Squadron flying a total of 350 sorties and dropping 122 laser-guided bombs.
An Australian cavalry scout in Iraq in October 2007.
The Iraqi military quickly proved no match for coalition military power, and with their defeat the bulk of Australian forces were withdrawn. While Australia did not initially take part in the post-war occupation of Iraq, an Australian Army light armoured battlegroup—designated the Al Muthanna Task Group and including 40 ASLAV light armoured vehicles and infantry—was later deployed to Southern Iraq in April 2005 as part of Operation Catalyst.
The role of this force was to protect the Japanese engineer contingent in the region and support the training of New Iraqi Army units.
The AMTG later became the Overwatch Battle Group (West) (OBG(W)), following the hand back of Al Muthanna province to Iraqi control. Force levels peaked at 1,400 personnel in May 2007 including the OBG(W) in Southern Iraq, the Security Detachment in Baghdad and the Australian Army Training Team—Iraq. A RAN frigate was based in the North Persian Gulf, while RAAF assets included C-130H Hercules and AP-3C elements
Following the election of a new Labor government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd the bulk of these forces were withdrawn by mid-2009, while RAAF and RAN operations were redirected to other parts of the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper.
SECDET was finally withdrawn in August 2011, and was replaced by a private military company which took over responsibility for providing security for Australia’s diplomatic presence in Iraq.
Although more than 17,000 personnel served during operations in Iraq, Australian casualties were relatively light, with two soldiers accidentally killed, while a third Australian died serving with the British Royal Air Force. A further 27 personnel were wounded.
Military intervention against ISIL, 2014–present
An RAAF F/A-18 Hornet taking off for a mission over Iraq in 2017.Main article: Operation Okra
In June 2014 a small number of SASR personnel were deployed to Iraq to protect the Australian embassy when the security of Baghdad was threatened by the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive.
Later, in August and September a number of RAAF C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft based in the Middle East were used to conduct airdrops of humanitarian aid to trapped civilians and to airlift arms and munitions to forces in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
In late September 2014 an Air Task Group (ATG) and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) were deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates as part of the coalition to combat Islamic State forces in Iraq.
The SOTG is tasked with operations to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces, and was deployed to Iraq after a legal framework covering their presence in the country was agreed between the Australian and Iraqi Governments.
It began moving into Iraq in early November.
In April 2015 a 300-strong unit known as Task Group Taji was deployed to Iraq to train the regular Iraqi Security Forces. In September 2015 airstrikes were extended to Syria.
Strike missions concluded in December 2017.
Peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations
Australia’s involvement in international peacekeeping operations has been diverse, and included participation in both United Nations sponsored missions, as well as those as part of ad hoc coalitions. Australians have been involved in more conflicts as peacekeepers than as belligerents; however “in comparative international terms, Australia has only been a moderately energetic peacekeeper.”
Although Australia has had peacekeepers in the field continuously for 60 years—being among the first group of UN military observers in Indonesia in 1947—its commitments have generally been limited, consisting mostly of small numbers of high-level and technical support troops such as signallers, engineers, medics, observers, and police.
One significant commitment has been Australia’s ongoing involvement with the long running Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. The operational tempo started increasing in the mid-1990s, when Australia became involved in a series of high-profile operations, deploying significantly larger combat units in support of a number of missions including Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands. Australia has been involved in close to 100 separate missions, involving more than 30,000 personnel; 14 Australians have died during these operations.
In addition, approximately 7,000 personnel have been involved in 66 different overseas humanitarian relief operations between 1918 and 2006. Ten personnel lost their lives during these missions.
As one can see, the commonwealth of Australia being such a young self governing self determining subdivision of the empire of great Britain ,we have more than paid our dues in blood and sacrifice fpr the greater world community ,we have indeed played our part on many levels .
Our diggers have more than earned the deserved respect from the wide world community .
Our ANZAC should never be forgotten for the sacrifices they have made especially at home .
Sovereign Australian shall always support our ANZAC Come hell or high water.
Politicians will always play these games that place we the commonwealth people in harms way while we allow them to, but make no mistake our diggers will always have our backs and will defend us at every turn with their lives .
The Australian People must remember our diggers do not start these fights but by god will they defend us .
lest we forget
Many Australia find it easy to judge our armed service men and woman from their arm chairs but its another thing to witness it first hand after all their lives are not on the line, our diggers are deliberately placing themselves in harms way so you arm chair critics do not have to.
We must remember also our diggers go into these country’s mainly for peace keeping missions however these missions can easily turn violent .
They do these things for our country at a moments notice with no thought for their own lives , they leave thier own lives behind mostly for the love of country and duty.
War changes many of our men and woman for life.
the taking of another life changes a man or woman instantly .
People must comprehend our forces are trained to kill, they are trained to put all emotions aside in heat of battle.
They are fighting to end evil and its a fine line .
People need to comprehend sometimes to conquer evil one sometimes needs to do evil things.
The majority of our service men do not go looking for a fight however they are ready to fight at a moments notice.
Sovereign Australian Would like to thank each and every ANZAC for your Service, we salute you for your bravery and commitment to keep our land and its people safe at home and abroad.
We would also like to thank the Australian War Memorial and the various Authors for all the research material used in this document .
- 1War and Australian society
- 2Colonial era
- 3Australian military forces at Federation, 1901
- 4First World War, 1914–18
- 5Inter-war years
- 6Second World War, 1939–45
- 7Post-war period
- 8Cold War
- 9Post-Vietnam era
- 10New Millennium
- 11Peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations
- 12Military statistics