19th Australian Infantry Brigade
From Our Contribution
The 19th Brigade was established in April 1940 at Qastina in Palestine, by receiving one infantry battalion from each of three other brigades as part of the re-organisation of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. It was allocated to the 6th Division, based at Borg El Arab in Egypt, and contained the 2/4th; 2/8th; and 2/11th Battalions; in addition to supporting arms. Following extensive training the Brigade moved to the Libyan border, and acted as a reserve force when Bardia was captured from the Italians. Their role in the capture of Tobruk was more substantial and they joined the advance on Derna and Benghazi before being withdrawn to Ikingi Maryut for a rest.
Sent to Greece, they arrived at Piraeus on 3 Apr 1941, but with the arrival of over whelming German forces were forced on the defensive, fighting an important delaying action on 14 April in the Brallos Pass before being evacuated from Megara the following day. Evacuated to Crete, they fought in the Canea area before again being evacuated from Sfakia to Egypt. The brigade was concentrated around Khassa in Palestine until June and then at Julius until October 1941 where they carried out Garrison duties in Syria until being returned to Australia in January 1942 as a result of Japan's entry into the war.
Following leave, they reformed in Darwin where they remained, providing Garrison duties until late in the war. (The [[2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion had been detached to its home state, Western Australia from April 1942 until July 1943, during which time the Militia 23rd/21st Australian Infantry Battalion had replaced them.) The Brigade was sent to Papua New Guinea in October 1944 and joined the push along the island's north coast towards Wewak, with periods spent defending the defensive perimeter around Aitape until the war's end.
In mid-November 1945, the brigade's cadre staff embarked upon the SS Ormiston and sailed via Finschhafen and Port Moresby to Brisbane, where demobilisation continued. At the end of the month, the remaining personnel moved to Puckapunyal, Victoria, where final disbandment was completed around 14 December 1945. Four soldiers lost their lives while posted to the Brigade headquarters.
- Walter Leonard Axford 22 Jul 1940 - 12 Nov 1942 & 10 Apr 1943 - 3 Jun 1944
- Geoffrey Gordon Benson 10 Jun 1942 - 22 Sep 1943 - Signals
- 1 x Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- 1 x Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- 1 x Bar to Distinguished Service Order
- 7 x Mentioned in Despatches