2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment (Australia)

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2/7th Cavalry Commando Regiment
Active 1940–1945
Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Role Commando
Size ~800–900 personnel all ranks
Part of 7th Division
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Ronald Hopkins
Insignia
Unit Colour Patch 2 7 Cav Cdo Regt Unit Colour Patch 3.PNG

The 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment was one of three commando regiments raised by the Australian Army for service during World War II. It was originally raised as the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment in 1940 and in this guise it served in North Africa and the Middle East at the beginning of the war, before it was brought back to Australia and sent to New Guinea in late 1942 to serve against the Japanese. In mid-1943 the Australian high command decided to disband the divisional cavalry regiments and use their headquarters elements to administer the independent companies that had been raised earlier in the war. In the process the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment disbanded its squadrons, gave up their vehicles and changed its name to the 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment, as it became the administrative headquarters for the 2/3rd, 2/5th and 2/6th Commando Squadrons.

History[edit]

The 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment was formed in April 1940 as the "7th Division Cavalry Regiment", under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Hopkins.[1] Consisting of a headquarters squadron and three sabre squadrons designated 'A' through 'C', the regiment drew personnel from New South Wales for its headquarters squadron, while its sabre squadrons came from Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. In May, the regiment provided two squadrons – 'A' and 'B' – for the newly formed 8th Divisional Cavalry Regiment, and as a result raised new squadrons from personnel recruited in New South Wales and Queensland.[2]

Part of the Second Australian Imperial Force that was raised for overseas service, originally the regiment was conceived as an armoured reconnaissance regiment attached to the 7th Division and in this role it was sent to the Middle East in December 1940 after undertaking initial training around Cowra, New South Wales.[3] Arriving in Egypt in early 1941, the regiment conducted further training was used mainly in a defensive role. Equipped with Vickers light tanks and Bren carriers, the regiment carried out garrison duties around the Suez Canal, before being moved to Cyprus following the fall of Greece.[3]

In April 1941, the regiment was moved to Syria where they formed part of the Allied occupation force, before being returned to Australia in March 1942 following the entry of Japan into the war in response to concerns about a direct threat on Australia.[1][4] After a period of training and defensive duties in Queensland, in September 1942 the regiment was sent to New Guinea to help defend Port Moresby as the Japanese continued their advance along the Kokoda Track.[3] Upon the 2/7th's arrival, the decision was made for the regiment to leave its Bren carriers in Port Moresby and as the campaign began to turn in the favour of the Australians the 2/7th were flown to Popondetta to reinforce the units there in December.[3] For over a month they took part in the fighting around Huggins Roadblock along the Sananada Track serving in the dismounted role as infantry.[5][1]

Finally on 21 January 1943 the Australians linked up with US forces and the Sanananda village fell.[6] Shortly afterwards the regiment was withdrawn back to Dobodura airstrip from where they were transported back to Australia.[7] The casualties that the regiment had suffered during the fighting were very high with 54 men killed and 67 wounded. On top of this over 200 men had contracted malaria and three had died from scrub typhus.[3] Among those that were killed was the regiment's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Logan.[8] During its time in the Middle East and in New Guinea, the regiment lost 59 men killed or died on active service and 67 wounded. Four members of the regiment were decorated with the Military Medal.[3][9]

Men wearing military uniforms including jungle greens and slouch hats, display Japanese flags
Members of the 2/6th display Japanese flags captured during the Battle of Kaiapit

Following their return to Australia, the regiment began reorganising on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.[3] At this time the Australian Army was undergoing a period of restructuring as its strategic focus shifted towards concentrating upon fighting the war against the Japanese in the Pacific.[10] As a part of this restructuring it was decided that there was no need for divisional cavalry regiments, however, it was decided that the independent companies should be grouped together under a regimental structure, and in response the divisional cavalry regiments were broken up and their headquarters elements were used to administer the commando squadrons. Three such units were formed at this time,[11] with the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment adopting the title of the 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment in April 1943.[12] The regiment's subordinate squadrons were: the 2/3rd, 2/5th and 2/6th Commando Squadrons, however, in terms of tactics and training the individual squadrons retained their independence.[13]

Although the 2/6th Commando Squadron was deployed to New Guinea in late 1943 and into early 1944, the regiment as a whole did not see action again until late in the war when they landed along with the rest of the 7th Division Balikpapan, Borneo, in July 1945 in one of the final campaigns of the war.[3] Landing on Green Beach on 1 July 1945, the regiment's three squadrons participated in the advance along the Vasey Highway, undertaking the flank protection and reconnaissance roles before contributing to the mopping up effort as the war came to a close.[14][15][16] Following the end of hostilities, the regiment was disbanded.[3]

Commanding officers[edit]

Battle honours[edit]

  • World War II: North Africa 1941, South-West Pacific 1942–43, South-West Pacific 1945, Buna–Gona, Sanananda Road, Borneo, Balikpapan, Milford Highway.[3]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ Hopkins later achieved the rank of Major-General.
  2. ^ Killed in action 19 December 1942.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c Handel 2003, p. 147.
  2. ^ Hopkins 1993, p. 34.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "7th Divisional Cavalry Regiment". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Hopkins 1993, p. 107.
  5. ^ Johnston 2005, pp. 154–155
  6. ^ Johnston 2005, p. 161
  7. ^ Johnston 2005, p. 162
  8. ^ Johnston 2005, p. 154
  9. ^ Handel 2003, p. 148.
  10. ^ Palazzo 2003, p. 4
  11. ^ Horner 1989, p. 26
  12. ^ Hopkins 1993, p. 108.
  13. ^ Trigellis-Smith 1992, p. 213
  14. ^ "2/3rd Independent Company". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  15. ^ "2/5th Independent Company". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "2/6th Independent Company". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  17. ^ Hopkins 1993, p. 317.

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 1-876439-75-0. 
  • Hopkins, Ronald (1993) [1978]. Australian Armour: A History of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps 1927–1972. Puckapunyal, Victoria: Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum. ISBN 0-642-99414-5. 
  • Horner, David (1989). SAS: Phantoms of the Jungle—A History of the Australian Special Air Service (1st ed.). St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-007-9. 
  • Johnston, Mark (2005). The Silent 7th: An Illustrated History of the 7th Australian Division 1940–46. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-74114-191-5. 
  • 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. 
  • Trigellis-Smith, Syd (1992). Purple Devils: History of 2/6 Australian Commando Squadron. Melbourne, Victoria: 2/6 Commando Squadron Association. ISBN 0-646-07125-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Grinyer, Norman; Birks, Mervyn (1974). The 2/7th Australian Cavalry Regiment. Guilford, New South Wales: 2/7th Australian Cavalry Regiment Association.