A Short History Of The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment


In May 1945 when the Japanese were nearing the point when defeat was inevitable, the Australian Government decided that a force would be raised of volunteers from the Infantry Divisions then in operations against the enemy as part of the Occupation Forces in Japan.

At the cessation of hostilities the 9th. Division was then in Borneo and on the call for volunteers for this force, those from the 9th. Division congregated on the island of Moratai in a newly formed Battalion, the 66th. Australian Infantry Battalion. Joining them to form 34 Brigade were volunteers of the 7th. Division to form the 65th. Australian Infantry Battalion, and those from the 3rd, 6th. and 11th. Divisions to form the 67th. Australian Infantry Battalion. After much waiting the Brigade was to arrive in Japan in January 1946 to take up occupation duties in the Hiroshima prefecture.

Late in 1948 the three battalions were renamed 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, the Australian Regiment, and with the winding down of the duties in Japan the 1st. Battalion and the 2nd Battalion returned to Australia in December, the 2nd Battalion to Puckapunyal, and the 1st. Battalion to Ingleburn. In March 1949 the Royal prefix was approved and the Battalions became the battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment.In those days, however, the 2nd Battalion was a mere shadow of its former self with many members staying in Japan with the 3rd Battalion and many others taking their discharge; and it became a training battalion for new recruits to Infantry.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Australia committed several navy vessels and the RAAF's 77 Squadron to the United Nations forces set to oppose the North Korean invasion of the south. In September 1950 3RAR joined 27th. Commonwealth Brigade in the land war which saw a rapid advance to the Chinese border and as rapid a withdrawal to south of the South Korean capital, Seoul.

By 1952 the 1st. Battalion had joined the 3rd in operations, and later in that year 2RAR was warned for service in Korea. Throughout 1950-1952 thousands of special enlistees (K Force) had passed through Puckapunyal and the Battalion in training as reinforcements for 3RAR and later 1RAR. This role was taken over by the formation of 4RAR in 1952.

In March 1953 the 2nd Battalion sailed for Korea and took over from 1RAR, and thereafter till the Armistice on 27th. July 1953 fought with tenacity and outstanding steadfastness particularly at the Battle of the Hook from 24th. to 26th. July where it earned the Battle Honour "Samichon".

The Battalion returned to Enoggera, Queensland in 1954 and in 1955 was warned for service in the Malayan Emergency and arrived there on 19th. October 1955. The counter terrorist operations engaged in by the Battalion were taxing, but the two year tour of duty was a totally new experience for members of the Battalion, and they performed these tasks with the same outstanding solidarity as they had in Korea.

The Battalion trained at Holsworthy from the time of its return from Malaya in 1957. It had been very much reorganised into and out of a pentropic organisation, and sailed from there to Malaysia taking over from 1RAR in October 1961 for its second tour of duty with the Far East Strategic Reserve where it more than lived up to the traditions of Australian infantry, undertaking the same difficult task of winkling out communist terrorists from jungle hideouts.

The Battalion returned to Australia in 1963 and this time was stationed again at Enoggera, Queensland. Here the emphasis was still on training for jungle operations and in 1967 the Battalion was warned for service in Vietnam where it arrived in May of that year. Their arrival began a close association with the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment where a company of New Zealanders served the last six months of their overseas tour with the Australian Task Force, and a company of 1RNZIR became a 2RAR rifle company. During the year 1967/68, the Battalion conducted or took part in 23 major operations and numerous minor operations. It returned to Townsville and gradually rebuilt till warned for service in Vietnam where it landed in May 1970, conducting five major Battalion operations and being involved in numerous combined operations again as an ANZAC Battalion.

The Battalion returned to Australia in May 1971 where it settled in Townsville.

In 1973 the government decided to reduce the armed forces and 2RAR became linked with 4RAR as 2/4RAR. In 1993, as part of the operational deployment force, a company of 2/4RAR was directed to assist 1RAR in its operations in Somalia.

In late 1994 the Battalion was involved with the protection of Australian medical personnel in Rwanda with a company of men, during which time a de-linking occurred in February 1995 and 2RAR returned to the Order of Battle.

The 2nd Battalion has a fine record, both in war and peace in the defence of Australia, and continually lives up to those special conditions of an infantry unit, courage, initiative, intelligence and tenacity. 2nd Battalion had 72 Australians killed overseas as well as 10 New Zealanders and 4 others (one Australian, two Koreans and one Vietnamese) who were attached for service with the Battalion.

Seventy four Awards and Decorations have been presented to serving members of the Battalion between 1945 and 1995 with 30 for Korea, 15 for service in Malaya/Malaysia, 27 for service in Vietnam, and 2 for service in Rwanda.

Prepared by 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment Association Inc. PO Box 1097
Toombul 4012 Phone 07 3268 6375

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