The founding unit of the corps was a West Australian-formed Militia unit, the 13th Brigade. In mid-1942, as fears of Japanese surface attacks against the Australian mainland were increasing, the 4th Division, a Militia division raised in Victoria, was included and Major General Gordon Bennett was appointed corps commander. In August 1942, the 2nd Division, a New South Wales Militia unit joined III Corps.
According to the Army History Unit:
- At its peak, in Apr-May 1943, 3rd Corps included, in addition to 2nd and 4th Divisions, [the] 1st Armoured Division (1st Armoured Brigade and 3rd Motor Brigade). As the tide of war against Japan turned in favour of the Allies, the role of 3rd Corps in defence of WA diminished.
The main function of the corps then became the preparation of smaller units for active service in New Guinea and Borneo. A succession of units then passed rapidly through it.
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