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2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion

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2-16 Battalion.jpg
2-16th arrive by air in NG.jpg
2/16th Battalion arriving in Kaiapit, New Guinea by air (Lt Norman Bradford Stuckey photo)


Brief History

Raised in Perth during April 1940 with volunteers primarily from Western Australia. The battalion served as Part of the 21st Brigade, 7th Division. Following early enlistments the battalion moved to Northam camp where it underwent basic training, only partially completing that training before embarking for Egypt. On 25 Oct 1940 the battalion boarded the HMT Aquitania in Gage Roads and departed for Bombay in India, arriving there on 4 Nov 1940. Disembarking two days later they spent a week in Deolali before boarding the HMT Rajula on 10 Nov 1940, and sailed the next day for the Middle East, disembarking in El Kantara on 25 Nov 1940.


Ashore they boarded trains for Al Majdal in Palestine where they resumed their interrupted training before moving into defensive positions on the Egypt - Libya border. In April 1941 they were again back in Palestine, and used in the attack on Vichy French forces in Lebanon and Syria during a six week period in June and July 1941. The 2/16th took heavy casualties (264men) during this successful campaign. At the conclusion they remained in Lebanon until January 1942.


With the entry of Japan in the war, troops were required at home and the 2/16th, along with the rest of the 21st Brigade were the first to return. Boarding the SS Île de France in Port Tewfik. Seven days later they disembarked in Bombay and then boarded the SS Kosciusko. Intended for Java, the rapid advance of Japanese troops brought about a change of plans and eventually the convoy that they were part of sailed for Fremantle, arriving there on 15 Mar 1942. Here due to confusion, 350 men were left behind when the ship sailed - AWOL.


Gathering in Adelaide, the Militia units in Papua New Guinea were being forced back down the Kokoda Track. Sent to Port Moresby in mid-August 1942 they were rushed forward into action to support them at Alola. They took heavy casualties during the Battle of Mission Ridge when encircled by the Japanese troops but fought a fighting retreat to Imita Ridge. when relieved in mid September, they were joined with the remnants of the 2/14th Battalion for a time. Given a rest and time to reorganise, with the Australian advance now under way they were used in the Battel of Buna-Gona in November 1942.


At the time they were withdrawn to the Atherton tablelands for a proper rest and rebuild, they numbered only 56 men. Rebuilt it returned to New Guinea to play a support role in the attack on Lae, before being airlifted into the Markham Valley where they fought in the Finisterre Range and Shaggy Ridge. Withdrawn after the capture of Shaggy Ridge, they returned to Australia in late March 1943. Here they spent more than a year training for their final campaign, a beach landing at Balikpapan, Borneo where they were when the war concluded. They were to spend a brief time as the occupying force in the Celebes islands before returning to Brisbane where they were disbanded in February 1946.


Battle Honours

  • North Afric
  • Syria 1941
  • Syrian Frontier
  • The Litani
  • Wadi Zeini
  • Damour
  • South West Pacific 1942-45
  • Kokoda Trail
  • Isurava
  • Eora Creek - Templeman's Crossing 1
  • Efogi - Menari
  • Ioribaiwa
  • Buna-Gona
  • Gona
  • Amboga River
  • Lae - Nadzab
  • Liberation of Australian New Guinea
  • Ramu Valley
  • Shaggy Ridge
  • Borneo 1945
  • Balikpapan.

Individual Honours

  • 3 x Distinguished Service Orders
  • 6 x Military Crosses (two bars)
  • 5 x Distinguished Conduct Medals
  • 20 x Military Medals (one bar)
  • 63 X Mentioned in Despatches
  • 1 x Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Notes

Content for the history and honours sections has come from a combination of Wikipedia and the Australian War Memorial websites. 3,275 men served in the battalion, and of these 671 were casualties - 223 KIA or died from wounds accident or disease.


External Links