2/3rd Australian Field Ambulance

From Our Contribution

2-3 AFA Western Desert.jpg
22 Jul 1942 Transferring wounded from Ambulances to Dressing Station AWM photo 024617
2-3 AFA.jpg
20 Jul 1945 Out patients Department at Beaufort Civil Hosp run by 'A' Coy AWM photo 111831

Brief History

the 2/3rd Australian Field Ambulance was formed at Redbank in Queensland in November 1939 to be attached to the 18th Infantry Brigade Group. In December they moved to Rutherford, and then to Ingleburn the following month. In May 1940 they embarked as part of the 'Third Convoy' for the Middle East, but as a result of Italy entering the war they were diverted to the UK via Cape Town. On arrival they moved to Lopcombe Corner in Wiltshire, and while there they were split to form the 2/11th Australian Field Ambulance, with both units coming up to strength with reinforcements. The 2/3rd moved to Colchester in Essex in October 1940, and in January 1941 they left for the Middle East where they joined the 9th Infantry Division.

In March 1941 they moved to Tobruk where they were besieged for six months before being relieved, and sent to Hill 95 in Palestine during September 1941. With the start of the Pacific War the 9th Division relieved 1 Australia Corps in Syria, with the field ambulance moving to Tripoli, and then to Batroumine in May. The German advance towards the Egypt/Libya border led to the 9th Infantry Division and its units being rushed back to Egypt where they participated in the defensive battles near El Alamein and the subsequent break out in October. They then moved back to Julis in Palestine during December where they prepared for their return to Australia in January 1943. Following a period of leave, the 2/3rd Australian Field Ambulance reformed at Kairi in Queensland. during April.

Following the landings near Lae, the field ambulance moved with the 24th Infantry Brigade to Milne Bay in July to prepare for a landing east of Lae. Following the fall of Lae, they moved to Finschaffen and established a Main Dressing Station at Simbang and Advanced Dressing Stations at Katik and Scarlet Beach. The Main Dressing Station moved to Bonga and then by December it was at Gusika, before the unit left for Australia and leave in March 1944.

Reassembled in Ravenshoe, Queensland they were to await a new role north of New Guinea. The 9th Division was tasked with the liberation of Brunei Bay following the landing on Tarakan where they were to establish an airfield. In April 1945 the field ambulance moved to Morotai, and in April they landed with the 24th Infantry Brigade on Labuan island and then on the mainland with the 2/3rd Australian Field Ambulance establishing a main Dressing Station at Beaufort, and with Advanced Dressing Stations accompanying the advancing units until the end of the war.

Two members of this unit were captured in the Pacific Theatre, with one dying in Thailand while a POW.


Tripoli, Syria

Beaufort, British North Borneo

Individual Honours

  • 1 x Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • 1 x Distinguished Service Order
  • 1 x Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 5 x Military Medal
  • 16 x mentioned in Despatches


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