2/4th Armoured Regiment (Australia)

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2/4th Armoured Regiment
A 2/4th Armoured Regiment Matilda II advancing with Australian infantry on Bougainville in March 1945
A 2/4th Armoured Regiment Matilda II advancing with Australian infantry on Bougainville in March 1945
Active 1942–1946
Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Armoured
Part of 3rd Armoured Division, 4th Armoured Brigade
Equipment M3 Stuart, M3 Grant and Matilda II tanks
Engagements

World War II

The 2/4th Armoured Regiment was an armoured regiment of the Australian Army, which served during World War II. The regiment was formed in November 1942 as part of the Second Australian Imperial Force by amalgamating a number of previously existing armoured units and was disbanded in September 1946 after seeing action in New Guinea and Bougainville Island, where it provided individual squadron-group sized elements which operated in support of infantry operations against the Japanese. During its service the regiment received 10 battle honours.

History[edit]

The 2/4th Armoured Regiment was one of the last armoured units raised by the Australian Army during the war,[1] being formed in order to replace the 2/6th Armoured Regiment which had been detached from the 1st Armoured Division to serve in New Guinea.[2] Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel D.A Cameron,[3] the regiment was raised in November 1942[4] from elements of a number of Australian armoured reconnaissance units, including 'D' Squadron of the 2/11th Armoured Car Regiment and the 2/1st and 2/2nd Light Tank Squadrons,[5][6] and was concentrated at Wee Waa, New South Wales.[2] Initially, the regiment formed part of the 2nd Armoured Brigade of the 3rd Armoured Division and was equipped with M3 Grant medium tanks and M3 Stuart light tanks.[1][2]

At the beginning of 1943, the regiment was relocated to Manumbah in Queensland, travelling over 350 miles (560 km) from Narabri to their final destination near Murgon. The move north was punctuated by heavy rain that turned the road into a quagmire that was meant that at times the tank transporters had to be towed by the tanks that they were supposed to be transporting.[7] Upon reaching their destination they commenced training and would remain in Queenland for the best part of a year. In October 1943, however, the 3rd Armoured Division was disbanded and the 2/4th was allocated to the 4th Armoured Brigade,[2] an independent armoured brigade,[1] and was re-equipped with Matilda II tank which were better suited for jungle warfare than the Grant and Stuart tanks.[1]

In August 1944, after training at Southport on the Gold Coast, the regiment received orders to deploy overseas and was moved to Madang in New Guinea, where it replaced the 1st Tank Battalion.[1][2] Deployed to provide support to the Australian Army infantry units fighting the Japanese, the regiment provided a number of elements—organised into squadron-group sized elements[2] each with its own support units—to different infantry formations and the first element of the regiment to see action was the 'C' Squadron Group which was attached the 6th Division during the Aitape–Wewak campaign from November 1944 until the end of the war.[1][8]

In December 1944 the 'B' Squadron Group was sent to Bougainville Island to support the Australian II Corps during the Bougainville Campaign.[1][4] This squadron first saw action on 31 March 1945 when it played an important role in supporting the 3rd Division during the Battle of Slater's Knoll.[9][10] The Regimental Headquarters and the 'A' Squadron Group were also sent to Bougainville in May 1945[4] and the regiment continued to provide support to the Australian infantry until the Japanese surrender taking part in a number of battles during the advance towards Buin in the southern sector, including the fighting around the Hongorai River and the crossings of the Hari and Mivo Rivers.[1][11] In July a troop-sized detachment was allocated to the 23rd Brigade which was fighting along the Ratsua front in the northern sector of the island in the Bonis Peninsula.[1][2]

Following the end of the war a detachment from the regiment was deployed to Rabaul[1] to assist with guarding the 100,000 Japanese troops in the region.[2] As the regiment's numbers were gradually reduced due to the demobilisation process, the 2/4th Armoured Regiment returned to Australia in May 1946 and was finally disbanded in September 1946.[1] During the course of the unit's war service it suffered 25 men killed in action or died on active service and 31 wounded. Members of the 2/4th received the following decorations: one Distinguished Service Order, three Military Crosses, two Orders of the British Empire, three Military Medal and seven Mentioned in Despatches.[1][12]

Commanding officers[edit]

  • Donald Allen Cameron (November 1942 – December 1942)
  • Arnold Jack Caddy (December 1942 – May 1944)
  • Tom Mills (May 1944 – September 1946).[1][13]

Battle honours[edit]

The 2/4th Armoured Regiment received 10 battle honours for its service during World War II, these were:

  • South-West Pacific 1945, Liberation of Australian New Guinea, Hawain River, Wewak, Wirui Mission, Slater's Knoll, Hongorai River, Egan's Ridge–Hongorai Ford, Hari River, Mivo River.[1][14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "2/4th Armoured Regiment". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 25 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Handel 2003, p. 151.
  3. ^ Hopkins 1978, p. 318.
  4. ^ a b c Long 1963, p. 183.
  5. ^ "2nd/4th Australian Armoured Regiment". Australian Armour.com. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Hopkins 1978, p. 104.
  7. ^ Hopkins 1978, p. 109.
  8. ^ Hopkins 1978, p. 140.
  9. ^ Maitland 1999, p. 145.
  10. ^ Hopkins 1978, p. 146.
  11. ^ Hopkins 1978, pp. 147–155.
  12. ^ Handel 2003, p. 152.
  13. ^ "Commanding Officers of the 2/4th Armoured Regiment". Australian-armour.com. Retrieved 25 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Maitland 1999, pp. 144–145.

References[edit]

  • Handel, Paul (2003). Dust, Sand & Jungle: A History of Australian Armour During Training and Operations, 1927–1948. Puckapunyal, Victoria: RAAC Memorial and Army Tank Museum. ISBN 978-1-876439-75-0. 
  • Hopkins, Ronald (1978). Australian Armour. A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 978-0-642-99414-1. 
  • Long, Gavin (1963). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 1—Army. Volume VII (1st ed.). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian War Memorial. 
  • 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.