2/28th Battalion (Australia)

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2/28th Battalion
Active 1940–1946
Country  Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Size ~800–900 personnel[Note 1]
Part of 24th Brigade, 9th Division
Engagements

Second World War

Insignia
Unit Colour Patch 2 28th Battalion Australia Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 2/28th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army, which served during the Second World War. Formed in mid-1940 from Western Australian volunteers, the battalion served in North Africa in 1941–42 as part of the 24th Brigade, which was assigned to the 9th Division. In early 1943 the battalion returned to Australia and later took part in campaigns against the Japanese in New Guinea in 1943–44 and Borneo in 1945, before being disbanded in 1946.

History[edit]

Raised in Perth, Western Australia, in July 1940 from volunteers for overseas service as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force,[2] the battalion was allocated to the 24th Brigade, which was initially part of the 8th Division, but later re-assigned to the 9th Dvision.[3] Shortly after being raised, the battalion's personnel began concentrating at Fremantle on 17 July.[4] Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Lloyd, the battalion a period of basic training to prepare them for combat.[5]

After training in Australia, in January 1941 the battalion was shipped to the Middle East, where it undertook further training in Palestine before deploying to Libya. There it took part in the Siege of Tobruk, during which it helped defend the vital port for over six months before being withdrawn via the sea to Palestine. After serving in a garrison role in Syria and Lebanon, the battalion was then moved back to the Western Desert, where it took part in the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942. On 27 July, the battalion was tasked with capturing "Ruin Ridge".[6] After taking the position in a night attack, the 2/28th was then cut off and surrounded by German infantry and armour. Suffering heavy casualties, the majority of the battalion – around 500 men – was forced to surrender. A small group, about 90 men, were not captured, and they were later used as a cadre upon which the battalion was reformed in Palestine.[3] In September, the 2/28th returned to the front line, and, on 23 October, it was committed to the Second Battle of El Alamein, conducting raids behind German lines before being moved into the main area of operations around a position dubbed the "Saucer" on 31 October. They remained there until being withdrawn in December.[3]

2/28th Battalion personnel exercise at Palm Beach, August 1944

In early 1943, the 9th Division was brought back to Australia to take part in the fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific.[3] Its casualties during its time in the Middle East amounted to over 60 officers and 1,400 other ranks killed, wounded or captured and for its involvement at Tobruk it received a new "T-shaped" black and red Unit Colour Patch, replacing the previous blue and white diamond.[7] After re-organisation and training for jungle operations on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland,[8] it then subsequently took part in the amphibious landings around Lae in September 1943, leading the Australian advance across the Busu River.[9] After the capture of Lae, the battalion took part in the Huon Peninsula campaign that followed, during which they took part in actions around Finschhafen, Gusika and Wareo before returning to Australia in January 1944.[3]

The battalion undertook training on the Atherton Tablelands for the next year, before taking part in one of the final Australian campaigns of the war when they landed on Labuan Island. After taking part in the initial landings on 10 June, they advanced north coming up against stiff Japanese resistance around an area called the "Pocket", which was eventually cleared on 21 June. The battalion then re-embarked and was landed to the north of Brunei Bay, and advanced towards Beaufort, where they were when the war ended in August.[3][10] Following this it undertook garrison duties around Jesselton; the battalion's strength dwindled slowly as personnel were returned to Australia for demobilisation or were transferred to other units for subsequent service. The battalion was finally disbanded in January 1946.[3][11]

During its involvement in the war, the 2/28th lost 274 men killed and 511 wounded, while 480 were captured. Members of the battalion received the following decorations: two Distinguished Service Orders, six Military Crosses, four Distinguished Conduct Medals, 15 Military Medals and 51 Mentioned in Despatches.[3]

Battle honours[edit]

The 2/28th Battalion received the following battle honours:

  • Tell el Makh Khad, Sanyet el Miteirya, Qattara Track, Busu River, Siki Cove, Gusika, Labuan, Beaufort, Defence of Tobruk, Defence of Alamein Line, El Alamein, South-West Pacific 1943–45, Lae–Nadzab, Finschhafen, Defence of Scarlet Beach, Borneo, and North Africa 1941–42.[3][Note 2]

Commanding officers[edit]

The following officers served as commanding officer of the 2/28th:[3]

  • James Gordon Hendry;
  • John Edward Lloyd;
  • Jack Loughrey;
  • Lewis McCarter; and
  • Colin Hugh Boyd Norman.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ By the start of World War II, the authorised strength of an Australian infantry battalion was 910 men all ranks, however, later in the war it fell to 803.[1]
  2. ^ In 1961 these battle honours were entrusted to the 28th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment.[12]
Citations
  1. ^ Palazzo 2003, p. 6.
  2. ^ Masel 1995, p. 3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "2/28th Battalion". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Masel 1995, p. 6.
  5. ^ Masel 1995, p. 4.
  6. ^ Coulthard-Clark 1998, p. 221.
  7. ^ Masel 1995, p. 145.
  8. ^ Masel 1995, p. 158.
  9. ^ Maitland 1999, p. 78.
  10. ^ Masel 1995, p. 238.
  11. ^ Masel 1995, p. 239.
  12. ^ Festberg 1972, p. 88.

References[edit]

  • Coulthard-Clark, Chris (1998). The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles (1st ed.). Sydney, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-611-2. 
  • Festberg, Alfred (1972). The Lineage of the Australian Army. Melbourne, Victoria: Allara Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85887-024-6. 
  • Masel, Philip (1995) [1961]. The Second 28th: The Story of a Famous Battalion of the Ninth Australian Division (2nd ed.). Swanbourne, Western Australia: John Burridge Military Antiques. ISBN 0-646-25618-1. 
  • Maitland, Gordon (1999). The Second World War and its Australian Army Battle Honours. East Roseville, New South Wales: Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-975-8. 
  • Palazzo, Albert (2003). "Organising for Jungle Warfare". In Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey. The Foundations of Victory: The Pacific War 1943–1944. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Army History Unit. ISBN 978-0-646-43590-9. Retrieved 20 April 2011.