62nd Battalion (Australia)
|Part of||Merauke Force|
|Colours||Purple beside Green|
|Engagements||World War II|
|Unit Colour Patch|
The 62nd Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. It was first raised in 1917 during World War I but was disbanded before seeing active service. During World War II the battalion was re-raised in 1942 as a unit of the Militia and was tasked with undertaking garrison duty in Dutch New Guinea, where they defended Merauke from possible Japanese attack. In 1944 the battalion was disbanded and its personnel distributed to units of the 9th Division as reinforcements.
The battalion was initially formed in the United Kingdom during World War I as part of the effort to raise a 6th Division of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Established on 25 April 1917 it was assigned to the 17th Brigade before being transferred to the 16th Brigade on 16 May 1917. It was disbanded on 16 September 1917, however, due to manpower shortages that resulted from heavy losses amongst the Australian Corps in France during the fighting around Bullecourt and Messines, which, coupled with the shortage of reinforcements due to the reduced number of volunteers and the failure of attempts to introduce conscription, meant that the 6th Division had to be broken up and its personnel dispersed in order to reinforce the other five Australian divisions.
During World War II, the battalion was re-raised on 29 December 1942 as a unit of the Militia. At this time, the battalion drew its personnel from the 14th Garrison Battalion who were stationed on Thursday Island and adopted the territorial designation of the "Merauke Regiment".
The battalion was gazetted as an AIF unit shortly after its formation, which meant that it could be deployed outside of Australian territory, and in January 1943, the 62nd sailed to Merauke, in Dutch New Guinea as part of Merauke Force. While defending Merauke’s airstrip and port, the 62nd also carried out patrolling operations and undertook other garrison duties such as constructing defences, building roads and unloading ships. They remained at Merauke until February 1944 when the 62nd Battalion was relieved by the 20th Motor Regiment and returned to Australia, arriving in Brisbane in March. They then moved to Mount Stuart, near Townsville where they remained until they were disbanded in May 1944, as nearly 400 men from the battalion were transferred to the units of the 9th Division to make up for its losses during the operations around Lae, Finschhafen and Sattelberg.
The following officers served as commanding officer of the 62nd Battalion:
- "Sixth Division, AIF (England, February – September 1917)". 1st AIF Order of Battle. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- "62nd Battalion AIF". Digger History. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- Bean 1941, pp. 543–544.
- Grey 2008, p. 111.
- "62nd Battalion (Merauke Regiment)". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
- Festberg 1972, p. 117.
- Johnston 2002, p. 186.
- Bean, Charles (1941). The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1917. Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Volume IV (11th ed.). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian War Memorial.
- Festberg, Alfred (1972). The Lineage of the Australian Army. Melbourne, Victoria: Allara Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85887-024-6.
- Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-69791-0.
- Johnston, Mark (2002). That Magnificent 9th: An Illustrated History of the 9th Australian Division 1940–46. Sydney, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-654-1.