Structure of the Australian Army during World War II

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Members of the 9th Division during a formal parade in late 1942

The structure of the Australian Army changed considerably during World War II. At the outbreak of war the Army comprised a small regular component and a large, but ill-trained and equipped, militia force. In September 1939 the government authorised the establishment of the Second Australian Imperial Force for overseas service; this force eventually reached a strength of four infantry divisions, an armoured division and various headquarters and support units. The militia force, which remained in Australia, was neglected until the outbreak of the Pacific War.

The militia units were fully activated in late 1941, and additional such formations were established in 1942. Despite the loss of the 8th Division in February 1942, the Army reached its peak strength of eleven infantry divisions and three armoured divisions later that year.[1] This force was larger than what the Australian economy could support, however, and was gradually reduced in size.[2] At the end of 1943 the Government determined that the Army's strength was to be six infantry divisions and two armoured brigades, though further reductions were ordered in August 1944 and June 1945.[3] If the conflict had continued past August 1945, the size of the Army would have been further reduced to three divisions.[4]

Following the end of the war the Australian Army was rapidly demobilized. However, the force formed for occupation duties in Australia became the nucleus of the permanent Australian Regular Army, and a large number of militia units continued to be maintained.

Orders of battle[edit]

3 September 1939[edit]

On the outbreak of war, the Army comprised the following major units:[5]

9 April 1942[edit]

The Army was restructured in 1942, with major units as follows:[6]

15 August 1945[edit]

The structure of the Army's major combat units and commands at the end of the war was as follows:[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnston 2007, p. 10.
  2. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 174.
  3. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 177.
  4. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 178.
  5. ^ Niehorster, Leo; Watson, Graham; Robert, Michel. "Australian Military Forces 3 September 1939". World War II Armed Forces: Orders of Battle and Organizations. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 170.
  7. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 181.
  8. ^ "AWM52, 1/1/1/63 - August 1945" (PDF). General Staff (Operations) General Staff (Staff Duties) Land Headquarters (LHQ G(Ops) and (SD)) war diary. Australian War Memorial. p. 13. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 


  • Johnston, Mark (2007). The Australian Army in World War II. Elite. Martin Windrow (consultant editor). Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-123-6. 
  • Palazzo, Albert (2001). The Australian Army. A History of its Organisation 1901–2001. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-551507-2. 

Further reading[edit]