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14th Brigade (Australia)
AWM AWM E03183 peronne
Soldiers of the 54th Battalion at Peronne, September 1918
Country Flag of Australia.svg Australia
Branch Australian Army
Service history
Active 1916–1943
Size ~3,500 – 4,000 men
Battles World War I

World War II

Commanders
Insignia

The 14th Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Australian Army. Originally raised for service during World War I, the brigade was assigned to the 5th Division and served on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918 before being disbanded. It was later re-raised as part of the Australia's part-time military forces during the inter war years. During World War II it was a Militia formation and it took part briefly in the New Guinea campaign before being disbanded in mid-1943.

HistoryEdit

Raised in mid-1916 in Egypt as part of the expansion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) after the Gallipoli Campaign, the brigade was formed from a cadre of experienced personnel drawn from the 1st Brigade, reinforced by new recruits from Australia.[1] With a strength of around 4,000 men organised into four infantry battalions – the 53rd, 54th, 55th and 56th Battalions – the brigade was assigned to the 5th Division.[2] The brigade also later raised the 14th Australian Machine Gun Company and the 14th Australian Trench Mortar Battery, although the machine-gunners were later removed from the brigade and formed into the Australian 5th Machine Gun Battalion in February 1918.[3]

Australian 53rd Bn Fromelles 19 July 1916

Members of the 53rd Battalion at Fromelles; three of the men survived the battle, all wounded.

After a short period of training in the desert, the brigade was transferred to Europe along with the rest of the 5th Division, which had the distinction of being the first Australian division committed to the fighting on the Western Front when it took part in the Battle of Fromelles in July.[4] Conceived as a diversion to the Somme, the battle proved disastrous for the Australians and due to the heavy casualties the division suffered, it was later described as "the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history".[5] For the next two years, the brigade took part in several major operations including the advance to the Hindenburg Line in 1917, the Battle of Bullecourt, the Third Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Hamel, the Battle of Amiens, and the Battle of St. Quentin Canal.[3] For most of its duration on the Western Front, the brigade was commanded by Brigadier General Clarence John Hobkirk, a British officer originally from the Essex Regiment.[6]

After the cessation of hostilities, the brigade was disbanded in 1919. It was re-raised again in 1921 as Australia's part-time military, the Citizens Force (later renamed the Militia) was reorganised to perpetuate the designations of the AIF units.[7] At this time, the 14th Brigade consisted of four battalions – the 3rd, 53rd, 55th, and 56th – and was headquartered at Marrickville, New South Wales.[8] From 1933, Colonel Arthur Allan commanded the brigade, remaining in command until after the outbreak of World War II.[9]

In September 1939 the brigade had a strength of around 3,500 men and consisted of the 3rd, 34th and 55th/53rd Battalions and was assigned to the 2nd Division.[9] Only one of the these units saw active service while under its command. This was the 55th Battalion,[10] which was briefly delinked from the 53rd in October 1941 (with the 53rd being assigned to the 30th Brigade) and subsequently served in New Guinea from May to October 1942, undertaking garrison duties around Port Moresby and Milne Bay before carrying out patrols along the Goldie River Valley throughout September. In October 1942 they were amalgamated once again with the 53rd and together they were assigned to first the 30th Brigade for the remainder of their early service in New Guinea. In early 1943 this battalion was returned to Australia and from January to April 1943 they were reassigned to the 14th Brigade, however, in April 1943 they were assigned to the 11th Brigade[9] with whom they remained for the rest of the war.[10][11]

Other units that were assigned to the brigade around this time were the 36th Battalion[12] (8 April 1941 – 14 December 1942 and then again 3 January 1943 – 24 April 1943), which replaced the 34th; the 49th Battalion (11–21 August 1942), and the 39th Battalion (18–27 September 1942).[9] Its divisional assignments were changed a number of times after the outbreak of the war as it was moved from the 2nd Division to New Guinea Force in May 1942, the 7th Division in September 1942, the 11th Division in February 1943 and then finally to the 4th Division in March 1943.[9]

The 14th Brigade was eventually disbanded on 24 April 1943, as manpower shortages required the Australian Army to merge or disband a number of Militia formations to reallocate resources elsewhere. Upon disbandment, the brigade consisted of two battalions, the 55th/53rd and the 36th. Its final commander was Brigadier Ian Fullarton.[9]

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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