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2/1st Battalion
2-1st Infantry battalion parade.jpg
Active October 1939 – December 1945
Country Australia
Branch Army
Type Infantry
Part of Australian 16th Brigade
Colors Black over Green
Engagements North African campaign, Greek campaign, New Guinea campaign

The 2/1st Battalion was a battalion of the Australian Army was raised at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, on 16 October 1939 as part of the 16th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division for World War II.

History[edit | edit source]

Greece and the Middle East[edit | edit source]

The battalion embarked for overseas service on 10 January 1940 and arrived in Egypt on 13 February. The battalion then moved to Palestine were it concentrated with the rest of the 16th Brigade at Julis near Gaza. The entire brigade remained in Palestine until the end of August, when it moved to Egypt to carry out preparations for active service with the 6th Division. The battalions first campaign of World War II was the advance from Egypt into eastern Libya in January and February 1941. The battalion was involved in the attacks to capture Bardia and Tobruk, and was left to garrison Tobruk as the advance continued. It left Tobruk on 7 March, ultimately bound for Greece with the rest of the 6th Division.

The battalion arrived in Greece on 22 March and was quickly deployed to the north of the country to resist the anticipated German attack. The battalion took up positions at Veria on 7 April but, in the face of a superior German force, it began a withdrawal south on 12 April and was evacuated by sea from Megara on 25 April. The battalion landed on Crete the next day and was subsequently deployed with the 2/11th Battalion to defend the airfield at Retimo. The German airborne invasion of Crete on 20 May but a strong defence by the two battalions at the Battle of Retimo denied the Germans Retimo airfield until 30 May. German victories elsewhere on Crete, however, allowed them to concentrate overwhelming force against Retimo and, short of supplies, the 2/1st surrendered and became prisoners of war.

The battalion was rebuilt in Palestine in October 1941 and took up the defences in Northern Syria. The Battalion returned to Australia on 10 March 1942 to assist in the defence of Australia from Japanese advances. During the voyage home the battalion was diverted to Ceylon to defend it from a possible Japanese attack. The 2/1st Battalion finally arrived in Melbourne on 7 August 1942.

Pacific[edit | edit source]

The battalion deployed to New Guinea and took part in the advance along the Kokoda Track between September 1942 and January 1943. During the counter-offensive against Japanese forces the 2/1st Battalion were involved in the major battles at Eora Creek and then at Gorari, followed by Sanananda between October and late November 1942. Heavy casualties were suffered by the battalion during the campaign. Subsequent to the Kokoda campaign, the 2/1st returned to Australia to rebuild and were then sent back to New Guinea in December 1944 to help round up an estimated 35000 Japanese in the Aitape-Wewak region.

The Battalion was finally disbanded in December 1945.

References[edit | edit source]

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