23rd Brigade (Australia)

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23rd Brigade
7th Australian Infantry Battalion 23rd Brigade memorial plaque Darwin.jpg
memorial plaque for the 23rd Brigade in Bicentennial Park, Darwin
Active 1940–46
Country  Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Size ~3,500 men
Part of 8th Division (1940–42)
12th Division (1942–43)
3rd Division (1943–46)
Engagements

Second World War

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Arnold Potts

The 23rd Brigade was a brigade of the Australian Army. Formed in 1940 for service during the Second World War, the brigade was initially a formation of the Second Australian Imperial Force assigned to the 8th Division, however, after its subunits were captured by the Japanese in 1942 it was reformed with Militia battalions and was mainly used in a garrison role until late in the war when it was committed to the fighting on Bougainville. It was disbanded in 1946.

History[edit]

Formed in July 1940 at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, Victoria[1] for service during the Second World War, it was initially raised as a unit of the Second Australian Imperial Force, attached to the 8th Division. Upon formation it consisted of three infantry battalions—the 2/21st, 2/22nd and 2/40th Battalions—although later both a pioneer and a machine gun battalion were added to its establishment.[2]

When the 8th Division was sent to Malaya in early 1941, the 23rd Brigade remained in Australia where it deployed to Darwin until Japanese intentions became clearer. Nevertheless, ultimately its subunits experienced the same fate that befell the rest of the division. Broken up and sent piecemeal to reinforce the garrisons at Rabaul, Ambon and on Timor, the 2/21st, 2/22nd and 2/40th Battalions were all eventually destroyed or captured by the Japanese.[3][4][5]

The brigade's headquarters remained intact in Darwin, and consequently it was decided to reform the brigade with three Militia battalions—the 7th, 8th and 27th Battalions.[6] Reassigned to the 12th Division,[7] the brigade was once again sent to garrison Darwin, however, in March 1943 it was relieved and sent to the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland to undertake training prior to deployment overseas.[8]

In 1944–45, under the command of Brigadier Arnold Potts,[9] and reassigned to the 3rd Division,[7] the brigade took part in the Bougainville campaign. Initially they were used in a static role, garrisoning the Outer Islands, however, in 1945 the brigade was committed to the fighting on Bougainvile Island, where they took over responsibility for the central and northern sectors, engaging the Japanese in direct combat for the first time, carrying out patrolling operations and a number of small attacks.[8][10][11] During one of these attacks, north of Ratsua, one of the 8th Battalion's members, Private Frank Partridge, performed the deeds that led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross.[11]

Following the end of hostilities, the brigade remained on Bougainville guarding Japanese prisoners as the demobilisation process began. Finally, in 1946 all its subordinate units were disbanded.[8][10][11]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "23rd Brigade". Orders of Battle.com. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "23rd Brigade: Subordinate Units". Orders of Battle.com. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "2/21st Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "2/22nd Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "2/40th Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Second World War, 1939–1945 Units". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "23rd Brigade: Superiors". Orders of Battle.com. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c "27th Battalion (South Australian Scottish Regiment)". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "23rd Brigade: Commanders". Orders of Battle.com. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "7th Battalion (North West Murray Borderers)". Australian War Memeorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c "8th Battalion (City of Ballarat Regiment)". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Morgan, Joseph (2013). "A Burning Legacy: The Broken 8th Division". Sabretache (Military Historical Society of Australia). Volume LIV (No. 3, September): pp. 4–14. ISSN 0048-8933.