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Papuan Infantry Battalion
Bengari AWM075165.jpeg
Sergeant Bengari MM of A Company, 5 August 1944
Active 1940–1946
Disbanded August 1946
Country Australia Australia
Allegiance Allied
Branch Army
Type Infantry
Size Battalion
Colours Red and Green
Battle honours South West Pacific 1942–45, Kokoda Trail, Kokoda-Deniki, Nassau Bay, Tambu Bay, Finschhafen, Scarlet Beach, Liberation of Australian New Guinea, Sio-Sepik River, Kaboibus-Kiarivu and Bonis-Porton
Insignia
Unit Colour Patch PIR colour patch.png

The Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army formed on 27 May 1940 in the territory of Papua, during World War II, in order to fight the Japanese.[1] The unit was slow in forming, with its first members posted in March 1941.[1] By 1942 it consisted of only three companies and were all understrength and poorly equipped. PIB was soon sent forward in June 1942 to patrol the northern coast of Papua and were dispersed over a wide area, led by Australian officers and NCOs. The small parties were the first to make contact with the Imperial Japanese forces upon landing in Papua. The battalion would ultimately serve in many of the allied campaigns in New Guinea, with its soldiers becoming noted for their ferocity and tenacity against the Japanese during the Kokoda Trail campaign, Salamaua-Lae campaign, Ramu Valley-Finisterre Range campaign, Bougainville campaign and Aitape-Wewak campaign.

The battalion had an establishment of about 77 Europeans and 550 native soldiers.[2] The PIB along with the 1st and 2nd New Guinea Infantry Battalion were amalgamated to form the Pacific Islands Regiment in November 1944. The 3rd and 4th New Guinea Infantry Battalion joined the regiment in 1945, although 4NGIB was soon disbanded, whilst the 5th New Guinea Infantry Battalion—although authorised—was never raised.[3] The battalion was disbanded in August 1946.[1]

Battle honours[edit | edit source]

  • World War II: South West Pacific 1942–45, Kokoda Trail, Kokoda-Deniki, Nassau Bay, Tambu Bay, Finschhafen, Scarlet Beach, Liberation of Australian New Guinea, Sio–Sepik River, Kaboibus–Kiarivu and Bonis–Porton.[4]

Commanding officers[edit | edit source]

  • Major I. Logan (1940–1942)
  • Major W.T. Watson (1942–1944)
  • Lieutenant Colonel E.A. Standfield (1944)
  • Lieutenant Colonel S. Elliott-Smith (1944–1945)

Decorations[edit | edit source]

Casualties[edit | edit source]

  • 32 killed, 15 missing, 42 died, 25 wounded.[6]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sinclair 1990, p. 296.
  2. Dennis et al 1995, p. 449.
  3. Sinclair 1990, p. 273.
  4. The battle honours listed above are those awarded to the PIR in 1966 as listed in Byrnes 1989, p. 269.
  5. Figures for awards to PIR are difficult to accurately determine as most sources are incomplete, these figures are from Sinclair 1990, pp. 228–246. Neither Sinclair nor Byrnes seem to include complete lists however.
  6. Byrnes 1989, p. 269.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Byrnes, G.M. (1989). Green Shadows: A War History of the Papuan Infantry Battalion, 1 New Guinea Infantry Battalion, 2 New Guinea Infantry Battalion, 3 New Guinea Infantry Battalion. Newmarket: G.M. Byrnes. ISBN 0-7316-6716-6. 
  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; and Robin Prior (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (First ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553227-9. 
  • Sinclair, James (1990). To Find a Path: The Life and Times of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment: Volume I — Yesterday's Heroes 1885–1950. Brisbane: Boolarong Publications. ISBN 0-7316-9120-2. 
  • Sinclair, James (1992). To Find a Path: The Papua New Guinea Defence Force & The Australians to Independence: Volume II - Keeping the Peace 1950–1975. Brisbane: Boolarong Publications. ISBN 1-86333-062-3. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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