"The role of the Infantry is to seek out and close with the enemy,
to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground, repel attack,
by day or by night, regardless of season weather or terrain"
The Ethos of the Army
A soldier serving the nation, mentally and physically tough, and with the courage to win.
We fight as part of a team, and are inspired by the ANZAC tradition of fairness and loyalty to
our mates. We are respected for our professionalism, integrity, esprit de corps and initiative.
Both 5/6 Battalion RVR and 8/7 Battalion RVR form part of the Royal Australian Infantry Corp
and both Battalions are part of 4th Brigade, 2nd Division of the Australian Army.
Infantry is the primary combat arm of the Australian Army. To carry out this role the Royal Australian Infantry Corps (RAInf) relies heavily on skilled tactics, effective teamwork and cooperation with other corps. Infantry soldiers are equipped with the F88 AUSTEYR Individual Weapon, a robust rifle that can be fitted with the Grenade Launcher Assembly (GLA) and a range of advanced sighting systems. The Infantry soldier can also be equipped with the F89 Light Support Weapon, the M18A1 Claymore - anti personnel weapon, the 66mm Light Direct Fire Support Weapon (LDFSW), Grenades and Night Fighting Equipment. Specialists within the Infantry will utilise heavy weapons such as mortars, anti-armour weapons and Mag 58 General Support Machine Guns.
The RAInf Corps consists of six Standard Infantry Battalions and an Amphibious Ready Element based on a Battalion size group. Regional Force Surveillance Units are also part of the RAInf Corps. Each State has Army Reserve infantry Battalions such as 5/6RVR and 8/7RVR.
A Rifleman is a skilled soldier who fights the enemy at close quarters in all phases of warfare using a variety of weapons. Apart from being employed as a Rifleman, Infantry soldiers who hold the rank of Private can be employed as a Scout, Machine-Gunner or Combat Communicator in a rifle company. If selected for further training they can also be employed as a Mortarman, Signaller, Sniper, Direct Fire Support Weapon Crew Member, Reconnaissance Patrolman or Surveillance Operator in Support Company.
Riflemen are employed to locate the enemy and develop an intelligence picture through patrolling and surveillance. He is also employed to provide security for other units and agencies through the same means. Once the enemy is located, and usually after air, artillery or naval bombardment, the Rifleman fights the enemy at close quarters with rifle, machine gun, grenades, anti-armour weapons and bayonet by day and night, regardless of season, weather or terrain. He is also employed to seize or hold ground from the enemy. While the Rifleman is supported in operations by other elements of the Defence Force; infantry units are capable of independent action for limited periods of time. The Rifleman is responsible for his security and the maintenance of his fighting capability at all times.
The 2nd Division commands all the Army Reserve brigades of the Australian Army.
2nd Division (2 Div) brings together more than 10,000 soldiers within six brigades across Australia.
The units within each of these brigades are located across Australia's major cities and in remote and regional areas.
2nd Division’s Headquarters, Randwick, Sydney. 2 Div consists of the following formations and direct command units:
• 8th Signals Regiment
• 4th Brigade - Victoria
• 5th Brigade - New South Wales
• 8th Brigade - New South Wales
• 9th Brigade - South Australia
• 11th Brigade - Queensland
• 13th Brigade - Wester Australia
• 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment
• North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE)
• Pilbara Regiment
The 4th Brigade (4 Bde) is a brigade-level formation of the Australian Army. The brigade mission is to command assigned units of 4 Bde to enable provision of specified individual and collective capabilities to support, sustain and reinforce Army's Operational Force.
4 Brigade in front of the Shrine of Remeberance, Melbourne on Anzac Day 2015
The 4th Brigade is headquartered at Simpson Barracks at Watsonia. It consists of about 2,000 personnel, who are based in a number of locations in Melbourne and regional Victoria. The brigade currently consists of the following units:-
Headquarters 4th Brigade
4th/19 Prince of Wales' Light Horse, RAAC
5th/6th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment
8th/7th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment
Melbourne University Regiment
4th Combat Engineer Regiment, RAE
22nd Construction Regiment, RAE
108th Signals Squadron; and
4th Combat Service Support Battalion.
(Note - Monash University Regiment (MonUR) and the 2nd/10th Medium Regiment were removed from the Australian Army Order of Battle in 2012. The Officer Cadet Company of MUR was renamed Monash University Company, and the 2/10 Medium Regement was amalgamated with 5/6RVR as the 2nd/10th Light Battery, which employs mortars rather than artillery).
Operational Deployments and Civilian Commitments
The brigade has contributed personnel to deployments in Iraq, Afghanastan, East Timor, the Solomon Islands and boarder protection operations. It also, when required, supported Australia's commitment to Rifle Company Butterworth, Malaysia. Within Australia, the brigade provided a Reserve Response Force, engineer and logistic support during the 2003 Alpine Bushfires, the 2006 Gippsland Fires, as well as support to the community during the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the 2011 and 2012 Victorian floods. During major sporting and cultural events the brigade has allocated resources and personnel as requested by the Goverment.
Under Plan Beersheba currently being implemented the 4th Brigade would be paired with the reserve 9th Brigade to reinforce the regular 1st Brigade. In the event of the 1st Brigade being deployed, the two reserve brigades would be tasked with generating a battalion-sized battle group. This battle group would be called "Jacka".
5th/6th Battalion 8th/7th Battalion
The Royal Victoria Regiment
The Regiments Formation
Formed on 1 July, 1960 as the Royal Victoria Regiment (RVR) it formed part of the reorganisation of the Australian Army by the amalgamation of the six existing Citizen Military Forces (CMF) infantry regiments in Victoria to become the RVR. These CMF infantry regiments were:-
Victorian Scottish Regiment
Royal Melbourne Regiment
North Western Victorian Regiment
The Northern Victorian Regiment
The regiment was initially made up of two battalions, 1RVR and 2RVR (Pentropic). In 1965 this was increased to four battalions, 1RVR, 2RVR, 5RVR and 6RVR, plus a single independent rifle company, 1IRC at Mildura. In 1966 22RVR was raised to allow country Victorian and later Tasmanian men a "special conditions" battalion to serve in.
A further reorganisation in 1975 saw the three Melbourne battalions amalgamated into 1RVR. In 1982 1RVR was split into two battalions 1RVR and 5/6RVR. In 1987 1RVR was amalgamated with 5/6RVR and 2RVR was re-numbered as 8/7RVR. This re-numbering carried on the traditions of the original Victorian 1st AIF Anzac Battalions namely the 5 Bn, 6 Bn, 7 Bn and 8th Bn that landed at Gallipoli on the dawn of the 25th April 1915.”
A change of Government in 1996 led to a review of the Army Reserve which impacted directly on the 4th Brigade (Victoria) in general, and the 5/6th Battalion in particular. The Brigade was "revitalized" under Lt Col Mike Godfrey (ARA) and manning increased when D Company was formed to absorb those soldiers demobilised from the Ready Reserve scheme. Training was well resourced and tested by independent observers at the Cultana training area South Australia, in 1999.
The events in East Timor during 1999-2000 resulted in the requirement to reinforce Regular Army units, and members of both RVR battalions volunteered for service. Most served with the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR). Some elected to stay with the regular Army on their return to Australia while others returned home to their RVR Battalion.
In July 2002, the first Army Reserve infantry rifle company to serve on peace-keeping operations was raised from volunteers from 5/6RVR and 8/7RVR and soldiers from 2/17th Battalion, The Royal New South Wales Regiment. This company deployed as A Company 5/7RAR on that unit’s subsequent rotation to East Timor in 2002-03, and returned with vital experience among its members.
In 2003, Reserve Response Forces (RRF) were raised in each state, with 5/6RVR providing the headquarters elements and most of the soldiers of the 4 Brigade RRF. Major Murray Duckworth CSM commanded the RRF with distinction through to the unit’s deployment on OPERATION ACOLYTE the Army’s support to the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Both battalions also provided soldiers for the Army’s commitment to Rifle Company Butterworth on RCB 68 in 2004-2005, which gave them vital experience in close country operations. Some of the members were enlisted during that rotation to assist with the Aceh tsunami relief operation in Indonesia. Those at home continued to train in their Vital Asset Protection role, as well as maintaining their conventional infantry operations skills. 5/6RVR held its Annual Field Exercise at Canungra in July 2005; when the area received record rainfalls! Both units exercised again as part of 4 Brigade at Cultana in September 2006. 5/6RVR also exercised and re-established its Right of Freedom of the Cities of Melbourne in 2004 and Hawthorn in 2005.
5/6RVR was restructured at the end of 2006 in preparation for the new infantry battalion structure “Infantry 2012” with D Company being absorbed into B Company. At the same time, the soldiers began training for deployment on OPERATION ANODE - ADF support to the Solomon Islands in 2007. Desiginated Combined Task Force 635 (CTF635) Rotation 13, over 140 soldiers from 4th Brigade were deployed to The Solomon Islands with 2 infantry platoons from the RVR.
The Regiment went on to provided a rifle company to the Solomons in 2009 and 2010.
2009- Victorian Bush Fires
From the 7 Febuary until 14 March 2009 Victoria experinced the worst bush fires on record with the loss of 173 lives and aproxamatly 414 injured. Beyond the 173 deaths, 120 of them caused by a single firestorm, the fires destroyed over 2,030 houses and more than 3,500 structures, and damaged thousands more. Many towns northeast of Melbourne, were badly damaged, and Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong, Strathewen, and Flowerdale were all but completely destroyed. Houses in the towns of Pheasant Creek, Steels Creek, Humevale, Clonbinane, Wandong, St Andrews, Callignee, Taggerty, and Koornalla were also destroyed or severely damaged, with fatalities recorded at each location. The loss of life on this day was much larger than previous bushfires in the country. The death toll of Black Saturday is almost double that of Ash Wednesday 1983. The fires affected 78 townships and displaced an estimated 7,562 people. Many of those displaced sought temporary accommodation, much of it donated in the form of spare rooms, caravans, tents, and beds in community relief centres.
Due to the seriousness of the situation the Reserve and Regular ADF was imediatly ordered to assist in this unprecidented tragidy. More than 140 soldiers arrived in the bushfire ravaged town of Marysville, as part of the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to assist Victorian Government agencies with the bushfire crisis response.
85 members of the Search Task Force travelled from the Kinglake area to undertake the search effort, working with Victoria Police. The search teams conducted rapid infrastructure assessment of all properties in the Marysville area, with the information gathered then forwarded to the Victorian Government authorities to assist in state-wide damage assessment. At the local sports oval, a small tent city was established to house Defence personnel from the Joint Task Force and other personnel from Victorian emergency response agencies. The tents were provided by Defence and were set up by a platoon from the 5th/6th Battalion, the Royal Victoria Regiment and a second platoon of soldiers who had been conducting pre-deployment training at Puckapunyal, prior to operations in the Solomon Islands.
A RVR Company sized group deploying to the Solomon Islands as part of the 30th and final ADF Rotation of OPERATION ANODE. The force numbered 110 ADF members and 32 Marines from the Kingdom of Tonga. 5/6RVR provided 32 infantryman and 16 members from the recently integrated Light Battery. 8/7RVR provided 26 personnel. The force was kept busy on a range of aid to the civil power and military training activities. 2013 saw the last rotation on Operation ASTUTE and was successfuly completed in August 2013. The training and experience gained by these overseas deployments has injected a level of soldiering professionalism into both RVR battalions that peace time training can't match.
In addition to completing several jungle training packages the force participated in the largest ANZAC Day activities to be conducted in Honiara. The return of the contingent does not ease the demands on the RVR. 5/6RVR as the ‘Ready Battalion’ within Army’s new three year Force Generation Cycle has been tasked to reset and begin preparing a concurrent Company sized group, centered on a Rifle Platoon each, from each Battalion.
The Royal Victoria Regiment are proud to carry on the infantry traditions, customs and training in Melbourne and Country Victoria that are enshrined within the two active Battalions together with the RVR Association. The Regiment remains very much a part of Melbourne and country Victoria.
For a far more detailed history of the Royal Victoria Regiment read on below.
B Company 1RVR's last CO's parade held at Hawthorn Depot before becoming 5/6RVR in 1982
THE ROYAL VICTORIA REGIMENT
(an history of)
By Captain Ron Austin, RFD, ED
Extract from 1993 book
“NEVER FORGET AUSTRALIA – N’OUBLIONS JAMAIS L’AUSTRALIE”
The Royal Victoria Regiment, under that title which was adopted on 1st July, 1960, is a non-tactical grouping of all infantry battalions raised by the citizens of Victoria from time to time. Units are added to or removed from the Order of Battle in accordance with Australian Government defence policy as deemed necessary to meet changing threats to the Nation's security. As such, the Regiment is the repository of the history and traditions of all battalions from the State from earliest times until the modern day.
The early history of the Colony of Victoria provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Australian Army and how our attitudes on defence were shaped. During the early and middle part of the 19th Century, the defence of the Port Phillip District, and later the Colony of Victoria was the responsibility of the British Army. Attempts had been made to colonise the area near Corinella in Western Port Bay, in December 1826, under the protection of the 3rd Regiment of Foot. Although this settlement was abandoned in March 1828, a new settlement was established, at what was to become Melbourne, in 1835. With the discovery of gold in 1851, the demands for additional military units to enforce order on the goldfields and to provide gold escorts, led to the arrival of the 40th Regiment of Foot, 2nd Somerset Shire, in October 1852.
Two events occurred in 1854 that were to dramatically affect the fledgling colony. In early 1854, a report by Captain Ross, RE, on the colony's defences had aroused some debate, but little activity. However, when news of the outbreak of the Crimean War between Britain, France and Russia reached Victoria, the ensuing apprehension led to a reappraisal of the colony's defences. Due to the prompting of John Hodgson, the Mayor of Melbourne, steps were taken to form unpaid volunteer units in Melbourne and Geelong.
The Melbourne Volunteer Rifle Regiment, commanded by Colonel William A. Anderson, ex 65th Foot, was formed in November 1854. The creation of a local military force coincided with the troubles at Ballarat, where detachments of the 40th Foot, quickly suppressed the miners' revolt at Eureka. Few military units can claim that their official place of parade was a hotel, but, the new Melbourne unit which was the direct antecedent of the 6th Battalion, the Royal Melbourne Regiment, paraded at the Criterion Hotel, until December 1854, when they werepermitted to use the Princes Bridge Barracks. The unit had several name changes in a short period of time, and in January 1856, the regiment was changed following a vote of the members, from an infantry unit to the Victoria Volunteer Artillery Regiment. Apparently this change came about because it was thought that an artillery unit was a more appropriate way of defending the colony.
Interest in the volunteers waned over the next couple of years, until sparked by fears of a war between Austria and Sardinia and French colonisation of New Caledonia. About 2,000 people attended a public meeting held in the Exhibition Buildings in July 1859. As a result of that meeting, the Governor, Sir Henry Barkly, authorised the formation of the Victoria Volunteer Rifle Corps.
This Regimental colour is one of a pair presented to Captain Septimus Martin of the Richmond Volunteer Rifles on 2 February 1861, at the Richmond cricket ground by the ladies of Richmond. This committee of women were wives, relatives and influential people connected with the Corps. The colours were designed by George Bourchier Richardson. Only four sets of colours were issued to the volunteer forces in Victoria after they were raised in 1859. The Richmond Colours are the oldest surviving Australian Colours.
Source: AWM Rel 17162.001
A very early group photo of
A Company 5th Battalion AIF
The newly formed AIF battalions of the 1st Australian Division were soon filled with officers, NCOs and men from the Citizen Force battalions as well as volunteers without prior military service. As the Regular Army was only approximately 3,000 all ranks, of the original officers of 1st Division, 493 came from the Militia as opposed to 99 from the Regulars. The original Victorian brigade was the 2nd Australian Infantry Brigade consisting of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions. The 5th and 6th enlisted recruits from Melbourne and the suburbs, while the 7th enlisted from Mildura and western and northern Victoria, the 8th recruited from the Ballarat area. The Brigade Commander was a capable citizen-soldier, Colonel (later Lieutenant General Sir) James McCay, a solicitor from Castlemaine, and the first battalion commanders were:
5th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel D S Wanliss, a lawyer of Ballarat;
6th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel J M Semmens, a public servant of Rushworth;
7th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel H E Elliott, a solicitor of Melbourne;
8th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel W K Bolton, a senator of Ballarat.
The brigade completed its initial training at a camp near Broadmeadows, and on 19th October, the convoy sailed from Port Melbourne, arriving at Alexandria in Egypt, in early December 1914. The troops were railed to Cairo, where camp was established at Mena, at the foot of the pyramids. After several months hard training in the desert, the AIF was ready for battle, but instead of going to France to fight the Germans, the Australians and New Zealanders sailed for Gallipoli, the gateway to the Straits of the Dardanelles.
The combined British and French naval assault on The Narrows in March 1915, ended in ignominious retreat following the loss of several battleships. The naval defeat led to a major military operation being undertaken against the Turkish Army along the Gallipoli coastline. General Sir Ian Hamilton, the Commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, planned a series of dawn landings along the Gallipoli Peninsula with a view to confusing the enemy as to the direction of the main attack. The Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was given the task of landing in the Gaba Tepe area, the British 29th Division at Cape Helles, and the French at Kum Kale on the Southern shore of the Dardanelles.
The 3rd Brigade commenced landing at around 4.30am on Sunday, 25th April, followed by the 2nd Brigade at around 6am. Unfortunately, the ANZAC landings were made at Anzac Cove near Ari Burnu, a mile to the north of Gaba Tepe. This mistake meant that the original plans were thrown into disarray, as the commanders and troops attempted to cope with the difficult country they now had to tackle. The ground around Ari Burnu consisted of precipitous hills covered with low thorny vegetation. As the Australians climbed up the uninviting hills, the waiting Turks rained rifle and machine gun fire onto them. Yet despite such odds, some small parties of Australians managed to penetrate deep into the Turkish territory. By dusk the Australians held the first two ridgelines despite repeated counter attacks, and over the next few days consolidated their precarious toehold. The bravery shown by countless young Australians on that sunny April morning set the standard for all future Australian soldiers. The citizen army of the new nation from the Antipodes demonstrated by its deeds that it was capable of playing its role on the world stage.
It was but a fortnight later that the 2nd Brigade and a New Zealand brigade sailed down the Gallipoli coast to assist the Allies in a fresh offensive at Cape Helles. It was not until late on the third day of the battle that the Australians were committed to the battle, which was later known as the Second Battle of Krithia. At 5.30pm on 8th May, the 2nd Brigade advanced across open fields towards the Turkish lines in front of' the village of Krithia, The four Victorian battalions, with the 6th and 7th in the lead, weathered a storm of enemy fire as they advanced the Allied line a further 600 yards. The British war correspondent, Ashmead-Bartlett witnessed the attack and wrote; ³The manner in which the Australians went forward will never he forgotten by those who witnessed it. They advanced steadily, as if on parade, sometimes doubling, sometimes walking. They melted away under the dreadful fusillade.²
In the space of one hour, the 3,000 strong 2nd Brigade had suffered over a thousand casualties.
The 6th Battalion lost 433 men killed, the highest loss for the unit for any day of the war.
The present day Colours of the current 5th/6th and 8th/7th Battalions of the
Royal Victoria Regiment recall the bravery of these Victorian soldiers.
The next major battle for the Australians was the attack on Lone Pine by the 1st Brigade at 5.30pm on 7th August. The attack on the enemy Positions at Lone Pine involved ferocious fighting in the enemy-held underground galleries. Turkish attacks and counter-attacks continued for some days before the situation was resolved in the Australians' favour.
A total of seven Victoria Crosses (the highest bravery award in the British Empire)
were won, including four on the same day to members of the Victorian 7th Battalion,
who joined in the fighting on 8th August - Lieutenants W. Symons and F. Tubb,
Corporals A. Burton and W. Dunstan.
The new corps of some 1600 volunteers was to be formed, with companies in Melbourne, Richmond, Collingwood, North Melbourne, Prahran and South Yarra, St Kilda, Emerald Hill, Hawthorn and Kew, Pentridge, and Williamstown. The existing Geelong Rifle Regiment was to be augmented by companies at Belfast (Port Fairy), Portland and Warrnambool. By 1860 the volunteer force of infantry, cavalry and artillery units in Victoria had increased to over 3,000 men. The need for a larger local defence force was exacerbated by the departure of the British units to fight in the Maori War in New Zealand. It was the subsequent amalgamation of the Melbourne, North Melbourne, Carlton and Pentridge Companies, some years later that led to the formation of the 1st Metropolitan Battalion. It was in Easter 1861 that the first annual camp was held at Thomas Chirnside's property at Werribee.
In October 1863, the Victorian Government reorganised the volunteer corps into 13 volunteer rifle companies, plus artillery and mounted units. Two months earlier, the Prince of Wales had agreed to the existing Mounted Volunteer Corps to be retitled The Prince of Wales Victorian Volunteer Light Horse. The popularity of the revitalised defence force was evident on New Year's Day 1864, when 15,000 spectators watched a Military Review by 2,500 troops at Emerald Hill. The traditional morning training parades were, by 1865, replaced by evening parades, which like the institution of annual camps, persists to this day.
Just as new units were flourishing in metropolitan Melbourne, a number were also being formed in country Victoria. In the early 1860s, Volunteer Rifle Corps and Ranger units were formed which covered districts such as Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine. In August 1870, the 2nd Battalion (Royal Irish), which was the last British unit in the colony, had left Victoria, and the growing colony was now totally dependent on its own resources for immediate defence. A Royal Commission on the Volunteer Forces was held in 1875. The Commission recommended a small, well-drilled force under the command of an Imperial Officer. The recommended size of the force was to be 3,400. In 1882, the first permanent unit was formed in Victoria - the Victorian Garrison Artillery Corps.
The appointment of Sir Frederick Sargood, as Victoria's first Minister of Defence in 1883, led to the replacement of the volunteer system, by a part time paid militia force, with the 1st Battalion (West Melbourne) of Victorian Rifles carrying on the tradition of service started in 1854. The Victorian Rangers was reorganised into three country battalions around this time. In 1887, the Victorian Defence Forces leased 476 acres of land at Langwarrin, and the first of many Easter Camps was held at the new location.
The citizens of Victoria loyally backed their new militia with the first general parade held at East Melbourne on 28th June, 1884, at a strength of 14,674 out of a total population of only approximately 250,000.
An early problem to arise was contention as to whether the new militia units were liable to serve outside the Colony. This assumption, continued into the Commonwealth Military Forces after Federation, was to hinder the organisation and deployment of the Australian Army until after the Second World War.
The early 1890s was not a good period for Victoria in economic terms. Government expenditure was cut in a wide range of areas, including defence. Private soldiers in the militia had their pay reduced by 16% in 1892, and by a further 25% in 1893. This had the effect of reducing the size of the military by about 1800 men. In 1898, the Victorian Scottish Regiment, later to become the 5th Battalion, was formed, adopting the tartan and customs of the Gordon Highlanders. In March 1901, the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia took over the Victorian Defence Forces.
It should be remembered that only a year or so earlier, Victoria had responded to Britain's call to arms, and provided 3,626 men for the Boer War in South Africa, of whom 126 died. The Regiment carries the Battle Honour, South Africa 1899-1902, in recognition of their service.
The Commonwealth's assumption of its responsibility for defence led to a reorganisation which saw the formation in Victoria of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Australian Infantry Regiments, the Victorian Scottish Regiment and the Victorian Rangers. Following the visit of Lord Kitchener, and his subsequent report to the Australian Government on how the new nation should be defended, a scheme of compulsory training was introduced in 1911, and the existing Army units reorganised into the Citizen Force in 1912, comprising, in Victoria, twenty-five infantry battalions numbered from 45-71 (less 61 and 68) Australian Infantry Battalions. For example, the 5th Australian Infantry Regiment was divided and the Melbourne element was retitled the 64th Infantry (City of Melbourne); the Victorian Scottish Regiment was designated the 52nd Infantry; the Ballarat based 7th Australian Infantry Regiment was split into the 70th and 71st Infantry; the Victorian Rangers and 8th Australian Infantry Regiment became the 67th (Bendigo) and 73rd Infantry.
Upon the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, the Australian Government immediately offered the British Government an infantry division for service overseas. This offer was accepted with alacrity. Recruiting for the Australian Imperial Force or AIF as it was commonly known, opened in mid August, and there was a flood of adventurous and patriotic volunteers eager to serve overseas.
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. c. 11 May 1915. All the men left of A Company, 6th Battalion, after the landing at Anzac and the 2nd Brigades actions at Cape Helles. Although not a clear picture it depicts the sacrifice made by the Diggers of the 6th Battalion. The normal strength of an infantry company was approximately 150.
Source: AWM G00967G
Despite the valour of the Australians, it was obvious that a stalemate had been reached. The Turks could not eject the Allies, who in turn could not reach the Dardanelles. This led to the decision to evacuate the Allies from Gallipoli. Fears of a costly evacuation were fortunately not realised, as the deception and evacuation plan went smoothly, the Australians being evacuated in December 1915 and the British in January 1916.
The Anzacs returned to Egypt where they spent the next few months training in the hot Sinai Desert. News of the battles at Gallipoli had stimulated recruiting back in Australia, and the large numbers of men now in Egypt, enabled the authorities to create new battalions by halving the existing ones and supplementing the old and the new with reinforcements. The 5th Battalion spawned the 57th, the 6th the 58th, the 7th the 59th, and the 8th Battalion the 60th Battalion. The four new Battalions formed the 15th Brigade. In this way many officers and men from the original 2nd Brigade found themselves involved in the battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Not least was Brigadier General H E Elliott who had been CO of 7th Battalion at Lone Pine. It was Elliott who commanded the 15th Brigade from 1916 to 1918. The divisions set sail for France from late March, and by early April, the troops were facing German units, and learning the differences between trench warfare in Gallipoli and France. The obvious difference was of course the plentiful use of artillery by both sides in France.
The first major battles fought by the Victorian battalions were at Fromelles and Pozieres during July and August 1946. The Battle of the Somme had commenced on 1st July, and the Australians were given the task of capturing the German lines near the small French village of Pozieres. It was here that the Australians encountered ferocious and almost unceasing German artillery bombardments. Corporal Arthur Thomas of the 6th Battalion wrote in his diary:
“Made a move forward into a seething hell and my God, what sights! Our chaps have been cut up -
if a man gets through it, it will be a marvel. Last night's inferno is printed in our minds in red ... Hundreds of shells from big 12 inch howitzers are being fired at us. God! It is cruel.”
The enemy shelling at Pozieres set the standard by which all future operations on the Western Front would be measured. It was here that Private T Cooke of the 8th Battalion won a posthumous Victoria Cross. Following Pozieres, the 1st Division, including the 2nd Brigade, travelled up to Belgium, and then back to France in time to participate in the Bullecourt battle. It was during the Bullecourt battle that Lieutenant R Moon of the 58th Battalion won a Victoria Cross. From there they returned to Belgium to participate in the Third Battle of Ypres. The 5th and 6th Battalions advanced through Glencorse Wood 5.40am on 20th September 1917, during which time 2nd Lieutenant F Birks of the 6th Battalion won the Victoria Cross. By mid-morning the 1st Division had reached Polygon Wood.
The fearful cold, wet winters on the Somme and in Flanders added to the strain of being frequently shelled by the German guns, and when news of a huge German offensive reached the Australians who were marching toward the Somme, the men had to turn around and march back to Flanders to halt the German offensive. It was on the Le Motte-Vieux Berquin Road that the CO of the 6th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel C Daly, DSO was killed by a German shell. A bronze memorial plaque to Colonel Daly and the men of the 6th Battalion killed in France, was donated by the author and erected in the village of Herleville in May 1992.
In April 1918 the Germans made a desperate last bid to win the war before the expected massive American build-up. As part of an effort to split the Allied forces and seize the Channel ports, on 24th April they successfully flung four divisions against a weakened British division holding Villers-Bretonneux, the key to Amiens and the ports beyond. The formation on the British left was the Victorian 15th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier ‘Pompey’ Elliott, who anticipated the German actions. He received approval to launch an immediate counter-attack with his 15th Brigade hooking North of the town and the 13th Brigade to the South. The bold plan against massive odds was a complete success, resulting in ‘perhaps the greatest feat of the War’ and the bayonet charge amongst ‘the wildest in the experience of Australian infantry.’
The German offensive was successfully halted and in August 1918, the Australian Corps under Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, broke the shackles of the costly trench warfare that had restricted both sides since 1915, and commenced to advance east from Amiens. The 2nd Brigade was involved in two very costly infantry battles at Lihons on 10th August, and at Herleville Wood on 23rd. It was during the Lihons battle that Private R Beatham of the 8th Battalion, won the Victoria Cross. In the latter battle Lieutenant W Donovan Joynt of the same battalion won the Victoria Cross. As an example of the ferocity of the fighting, the 6th Battalion had entered the Herleville battle with 16 officers and 417 men, and came out of the battle with 6 officers and 141 men. The Battle Honours won by the Victorian battalions are emblazoned on the Queen's and Regimental Colours now carried by the 5th/6th and 8th/7th Battalions of the Royal Victoria Regiment.
Over the four years of World War I, Victoria sent on active service nineteen infantry battalions. A total of 112,399 Victorians (equal to 38.6% of the male population aged 18 to 44 years) enlisted in the AIF, of whom the majority served in the infantry. Casualties were higher in proportion to any other part of the British forces - 65.98% of those who embarked for overseas service - indicative that Australian infantry having gained a reputation as effective and capable fighting soldiers were often in demand as shock troops.
Victorian infantry won 35 different Battle Honours or, if counted as separate awards to the individual battalions, 335 separate awards of a Battle Honour. Sixteen Victorian infantrymen won the Victoria Cross. Whilst the AIF battalions were overseas, their sister militia battalions were maintained back in Australia. When the war was over, twenty-one infantry battalions were re-raised but the units were renumbered so as to reflect the existing territorial links and acknowledge the deeds of the AIF battalions. For example, the Victorian Scottish Regiment was renumbered as the 5th Battalion, the 64th (City of Melbourne) as the 6th Battalion, the 66th (Mt Alexander) as the 7th Battalion, and the 70th and 71st (Ballarat) as the 8th Battalion. Compulsory training was abandoned by the Government in 1929 and this had the effect of immediately reducing the size of the existing regiments. However, by the mid 1930s, the regiments had re-established themselves as thriving units. The 6th Battalion in 1935 had bestowed on it the title The Royal Melbourne Regiment and was until after the end of World War II, the only infantry regiment in Australia bearing the Royal title.
The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, saw the formation of a volunteer Second AIF, which maintained the numerical designations used by the Great War battalions. Unfortunately, due to the territorial policy referred to earlier, the existing militia battalions were not called up for overseas service, although they again fostered the formation of the AIF units. One infantry division was raised initially, designated 6th Division, and Victoria was responsible to raise its second brigade, called 17th Brigade, to be made up of 2nd/5th, 2nd/6th, 2nd/7th and 2nd/8th Battalions (the prefix ‘2’ distinguishing them from the militia battalions which continued under the same numerical designations). The original Commander of 17th Brigade was Brigadier (later Lieutenant General Sir) Stanley Savige, a company director from Melbourne and the first Commanding Officers were:
2nd/5th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel T P Cooke, a bank officer of Melbourne,
2nd/6th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel A H L Godfrey, an auctioneer of Geelong,
2nd/7th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel T G Walker, a bank officer of Hampton;
2nd/8th Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel J W Mitchell, a company director of Melbourne.
The part-time militia units lapsed after the war ended in 1945. However, the onset of the Cold War, prompted the Australian Government in 1948, to reform the part-time volunteer militia under the title - Citizen Military Forces (CMF). In Melbourne, the 5th Battalion (Victorian Scottish Regiment), 6th Battalion (Royal Melbourne Regiment) and 58th/32nd Battalion (City of Essendon Regiment) were raised, and in country Victoria the 8th/7th Battalion (North West Victoria Regiment), 38th Battalion (Bendigo Regiment) and 59th Battalion (Hume Regiment). In 1960, a massive reorganisation was instituted throughout the Australian Army. The so-called “Pentropic” structure saw all the existing Victorian CMF units subsumed by the Royal Victoria Regiment (RVR). The metropolitan battalions became 1st Bn RVR, and the country units 2nd Bn RVR. The traditions that the older regiments had built up for over 100 years were hurriedly and, without thought or sensitivity, cast aside. But, within five years, the Pentropic experiment was abandoned. This meant the reinstatement of the 3 units: the 1st Bn RVR (formed from 58th/32nd Bn personnel) 5th Bn RVR and 6th Bn RVR - together again in 4th Brigade. Later, 22nd Bn (Bushman's Rifles) was added. Due to the decline in recruitment, following the Vietnam war, in 1975 the 1st Bn RVR was disbanded and the 5th and 6th joined to be the 5th/6th Bn RVR.
This battalion in 1993, is now the sole metropolitan infantry battalion in Melbourne, with the 8th/7th Bn RVR operating from its Headquarters in Ballarat to cover the bulk of country Victoria. However, in the case of 5th/6th Bn RVR, the traditions of its predecessors are again recognised and it is hoped that at some future date, 5th/6th Bn RVR will be in a position to divide and again form the 5th and 6th Battalions in their own right, as with the case of 8th/7th Bn RVR.
The two serving battalions now form part of the Australian Army's Field Force and have been allotted real and important tasks to protect vital assets in the North of the country in the event of a defence emergency. Members train for these roles and are liable for call-out to full-time service on Government order and, unlike their predecessors, for service anywhere in the World.
The 2nd AIF was increased to four infantry divisions (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th) and Victorian battalions served in each. At the same time the militia was increased from five to eight divisions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th and 12th). Of these, the 3rd and 11th served outside Australia on active service. Following a change in Government policy due to the direct Japanese threat to Australia, militia units were for the first time allowed to serve outside the geographical limits of the country. A number of Victorian militia battalions did so with distinction - e.g. 7th, 8th, 14th/32nd, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 29th/46th, 37th, 39th (credited with stopping the Japanese capture of Port Moresby and inflicting the first ground defeat on the Japanese Army), 52nd, 57th/60th and 58th/59th.
Victorian infantry served in all Theatres of War in which Australian troops participated, winning 88 different Battle Honours or, if counted as separate awards to the individual battalions, 214 separate awards of a Battle Honour. Two Victorian infantrymen won the Victoria Cross.
It is often incorrectly assumed that Australia and its Army lacks the traditions found in some of the long established regiments in Britain and Europe. However, it is evident from this very brief overview of the Royal Victoria Regiment, from its humble beginnings in the latter half of the 19th Century, to the current day, that it is an Australian Regiment with a long and proud tradition and a fascinating history. The long list of Battle Honours won by Victorian infantry battalions, bears witness to the many different parts of the World in which the Victorian infantryman has served with distinction.
Ulupu, New Guinea, 9 July 1945.
16 Platoon, D Company, 2nd/5th Infantry Battalion with the spoils of their successful attack on the main Japanese stronghold in the village of Ulupu. They included 3 pistols, 4 Samari swords, 25 watches, a Jap battle flag and a Japanese Battalion flag (in the background). In true Aussie Digger style a lottery was drawn to share the spoils of war amoungst the company.
Source AWM Photo 093941
RVR Battle Honours
South Africa 1899–1902
World War I
Landing at Anzac Cove
Somme 1916 - 1918
Mont St Quentin
World War II
Capture of Tobruk
South West Pacific 1942–1945
South Africa 1899–1902
World War I
Landing at Anzac Cove
Somme 1916 - 1918
Mount St Quentin
World War II
Capture of Tobruk
South West Pacific 1942–1945
MILITARY HISTORY READING
If you are seeking excellent military reading material you can’t go past the
Australian Army History Unit
ANZAC House Referance Library
The following books are selected reading about the various Victorian Infantry Battalions
5th Battalion, AIF
Forward with the Fifth - The story of 5th Battalion's war service in WWI 1914-1918 - A.W.Keown
All the Kings Enemies - History of the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion - Syd Trigellis-Smith
Espirit de Corps - A history of the 5th Btn, Victoria Scottish Regiment and Royal Victoria Regtiment
6th Battalion, AIF
As Rough as Bags - History of the 6th Battalion 1914-1919 - Ron Austin
Nothing Over Us - History of the 6th Btn 2nd AIF WWII service 1939-1946 - Sir David Hay
7th Battalion, AIF
Bold, Steady, Faithful - History of the 6th Btn, Royal Melbourne Regiment and RVR - Ron Austin
Seventh Battalion A.I.F. - World War I history 1914-1918 - Arthur Dean and Eric W. Gutteridge
Country Victoria’s Own - 150 year history of 8/7RVR and it’s predecessors 1858-2008 - Neil Leckie
The 2nd/14th Battalion - History of the 2/14Btn in WWII 1940-1946 - W. B. Russell
Mud and Blood - P. Share
To Kokoda and Beyond - The Story of the 39th Battalion in WWII 1941-1943 - Victor Austin
Those Ragged Bloody Heroes - From The Kokoda Trail To Gona Beach 1942 - Peter Brune
From July to September 1942, a single poorly-equipped 39th Battalion managed to keep a force of
10,000 crack Japanese troops from breaking through the front line. Their dedication, courage and
spirit were not destroyed by the tragic cost of their near victory. This book is an account of Australian
citizen soldiers on the Kokoda Trail.
Militia Battalion at War - History of the 58th/59th Btn WWII 1942-1946 - Russell Mathews
The White Ghurka's -The Australians At The Second Battle Of Krithia Gallipoli - Ron Austin
A mere two weeks after the April landings at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, the 2nd Australian Infantry
Battalion added further to its honours by the charge at the Second battle of Krithia. In the space of an
hour, the brigade had lost 1000 dead and wounded. This historic but costly charge was described by
several survivors as 'sheer murder'. Those two battles, which form the foundations of the Anzac
tradition, are vividly retold through the diaries and letters of officers and men of the four Victorian
battalions of the brigade.
Not as Duty Only - History of the 6th Battalion in WWII - Major H. Gullet MC
Above: Ivor Hele's painting, crowded with 6th Battalion's dead and wounded, conveys both the intensity
of fighting at Post 11 and the horror of its aftermath. Jo Gullett, being helped by Private Brockley,
is the painting's central figure. Bardia; the action leading to the fall of post 11.
52nd Gippsland Regiment Story
The Gippsland Regiment our forgotten military heritage no more.
On Remembrance Day this year, a bridge in Greater Dandenong is to be named the Gippsland Regiment Bridge to honour the memory of the 52nd Battalion. The Gippsland Regiment was a part-time Militia Unit which prior to World War 2 had its Headquarters in the Drill Hall in Dandenong and which drew its members from the local Dandenong area. In World War 2 it was first mobilised to defend Australia and then sent to fight the Empire of Japan’s forces in New Guinea.
This unit In turn was numbered the 52nd Battalion to honour the memory of the battalion of the same number which fought in World War 1.
This article seeks to acquaint readers with military history from a local perspective. The links between where you live and events in Australia’s military history are often very strong and if you are proud of where you live, there often are more reasons than you may think to be so. The reason for this is that many places and cities in Australia have direct links to military units which served our country in its darkest hours during World War 2 because the pre-war Australian Army consisted of part-time Militia units which were formed on a regional basis and recruited their soldiers from the local area in a similar way to the Country Fire Authority.
In the early part of World War 2 Australia’s all-volunteer Army, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was raised with officers and senior soldiers sourced from the peace time Militia and which was then deployed to North Africa to fight against the forces of Hitler’s Germany. When the Empire of Japan suddenly entered the War and thrust seemingly unstoppably Southward, Australia found itself with its best trained and equipped forces, the AIF in the European Theatre. The defence of Australia, in its moment of peril, fell upon the hastily mobilized Australian Military Forces (AMF), Militia Units.
Dandenong’s local unit was the 52 Battalion known as the Gippsland Regiment. Following World War 1 It was decided by Defence that it would be beneficial for the post-war Army to be able to lay claim to the spirit and traditions so hard won by the 1st AIF. This was primarily reflected in the choice to assign battalion numbers that wherever possible aligned to the regions from which the battalions were originally raised. Soldiers from Dandenong where more likely to have served in the 58th or 59th Battalions in World War 1 but these battalions had been re-raised elsewhere. The numbers of available recruits meant it was possible to raise a further battalion in Victoria. Therefore after a false start with the 48th Battalion, it was decided to assign the battalion number 52 to the Gippsland Regiment.
The decision to re-raise the 52nd Battalion in Dandenong after the war was really a tribute to the high regard for the service of the original 52nd Battalion. The original 52nd Battalion was an ‘other’ states battalion in World War 1 and drawn from Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. It is by means of the Armies choice of the number 52 for its battalion that the Gippsland Regiment laid claim to and carried on its colours (a record of its official history) several World War 1 battle honours including the now legendary battle of Villers Bretonneux on ANZAC Day 1918. The original 52 Battalion suffered such heavy casualties at Villers Bretonneux and was disbanded soon after on 16th May 1918.
When Japan entered the war in 1941 the 52 Battalion was training as part of the 3rd Division in the Seymour Area. Both the 52nd Battalion and 3rd Division were seriously deficient in the; level of training, the number of men serving (it was about half strength) and the equipment needed as the needs of the AIF serving in what, till then, had been the only active war front had been met at the expense of the AMF.
The year 1942 was a year firstly of alarms and setbacks in the Pacific followed by hard fought battles on the Kakoda Track and then on the Northern Coast of New Guinea. Singapore had fallen in February and with it went the Australian 8th Division also in February Darwin was bombed for the first time. In March the Japanese landed in New Guinea and pushed south, resisted at first only by Militia Units including the heroic 39th Battalion known as the Hawthorn Regiment. In the scramble to organise Australia’s defence the training of Militia Battalions intensified and it became common practice to combine understrength Militia Battalions into deployable battalions and then move them quickly north with them taking on more and more important roles in Australia’s Defence. As a result of wartime needs late 1942 found the 52nd Battalion in Queensland as part of the 4th Brigade having been transferred from the disbanded 10th Brigade and defending the Brisbane Line. On the 27th August 1942 it was linked with the 37th Battalion known as the Hunt or Henty Regiment a Militia Unit drawn from Sale and the East Gippsland region to form the 37th/52nd Battalion. The other 4th Brigade units where the 22nd Battalion known as the South Gippsland Regiment and the 29th/46th Battalion a combination of the 29th the East Melbourne regiment and the 46th the Brighton Rifles all pre-war Militia Units.
The 4th Brigade including the 37th/52nd Battalion was then deployed to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea on 25th February 1943. By February 1943 Milne Bay would be what would be regarded in the military as a quiet or nursery sector. There was an ongoing threat from Japanese stragglers and potential saboteurs. Service at Milne Bay also represented an opportunity for further training to improve the battalion’s combat skills as well as an opportunity to learn how to operate in the harsh tropical conditions that prevailed in New Guinea. This was considered to be needed so that the battalion would be better prepared for more demanding operations against the main Japanese forces later in the war. The downside of service at Milne bay was that the base was being developed into an important logistical hub needed to support further operations in New Guinea and the later Philippines campaigns. Due to this fact the 37th/52nd Battalion found that for much of 1943, in addition to its Base Security roles and the need to keep itself combat ready, it was required to provide labour details to provide the roads, defensive accommodation and field works needed to ensure that this important base could function in the face of constant Japanese land and air threats.
By mid-September the Salamaua-Lae campaign had been successfully completed. This was followed the battle of Sattelberg. General Doulas MacArthur’s then designed the pursuit phase along the Huon Peninsula campaign as the next part of his New Guinea strategy. The 4th Brigade to which the 37th/52nd Battalion was attached was now considered sufficiently combat capable and was placed under command of the 9th Division for this next operation. Its commander Major General Wooten ordered the 4th Brigade to lead the Australian main effort on the first part of this campaign which was the Advance from Gusika to Fortification Point. This operation in turn represented part of the Advance to Sio which was all part of Operation Cartwheel MacArthur’s strategy to isolate the large Japanese air and naval base at Rabaul.
The Commander of the 4th Brigade, Brigadier C. R. V. Edgar’s available forces for this operation consisted of his own 4th Brigade, C Squadron the 1st Australian Tank Battalion; 9 Platoon C Company the Papuan Infantry Battalion, and detachments from the 532nd EBSR (An American waterborne supply unit), Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU), Australian Army Service Corps (AASC) and the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC). In support were the Sappers of the 2/7th Field Company and the artillery of the 2/6th Field Regiment.
Brigadier Edgar planned the Advance so that 29th/46th Battalion with a Company of 37th/52nd Battalion attached under Command alternated with the 22nd Battalion in Advancing along the Coast whilst the remainder of the 37th/52nd Battalion provided flank protection by advancing parallel to but inland from the main 4th Brigade force. The terrain on the inland route consisted of dense jungle on the seaward slopes of steep mountain ranges cut by several fast flowing rivers in full flood as it was the rainy season. Indeed the terrain was regarded by many of the soldiers as more of an obstacle than the enemy. That said, elements of the battalion were involved in a number of sharp fire fights with Japanese forces and the battalion lost eighteen Killed in Action during the Advance.
Following this campaign the 37th/52nd Battalion then took part in the amphibious landing on Karker Island which in the event was unopposed as the Japanese had abandoned the Island shortly before the landing. The battalion then took its part in occupying Madang before their return to Australia in August 1944.
At a parade in Melbourne to mark their return from their first deployment in October of 1944 the Minister of the Army, Francis Forde who was in attendance made the comment “These men have done all that has been asked of them. They have been asked to do more than we could rightfully expect”.
The 37th/52nd Battalion was then refitted and retrained before it was deployed to New Britain as part of the 5th Division to contain the very large number of Japanese forces at Rabaul. When Japan surrendered the battalion then moved to Rabaul where it spent several months supervising and facilitating the repatriation of the surrendered Japanese forces. Whilst at Rabaul the numbers in the 37th/52nd Battalion diminished as members become eligible for repatriation. The unit was disbanded whilst stationed in Rabaul in June 1946 and its remaining members allocated to other units.
Somme 1916, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Ancre 1918, Villers Bretonneux, France and Flanders 1916 – 1918 and Egypt 1916.
2 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO), 17 Military Crosses (MC), 1 Bar to MC, 88 Military Medals (MM), 1 Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) and twenty Mentioned in Despatches (MID).
Roll of honour 647.
37th/52nd Battalion WW2
Capture of Lae and Gusika – Fortification Point
One Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), One MM and ten MID.
Roll of honour 31.
Lest we forget.
Royal Victoria Regiment
by Major Neil Leckie
In the early 1950s Australian troops fought in the Korean War as part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade, 1st Commonwealth Division. After Korea, as a part of ‘forward defence’, Australia maintained a battalion in Malaya as part of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade. Despite these continuing links with British forces, Australia decided to adopt a structure compatible with US forces.
In 1956 the US adopted the pentomic divisional structure. This consisted of five combined arms ‘battle groups’, which were relatively self-contained, and included combat support elements. Greater emphasis was placed on strategic mobility. The number of men in a division was reduced by almost 3000, at the expense of command and control and combat service support. The US considered that these changes would increase ‘foxhole strength’.
In 1956, Australian Army planners looked at two options for the reorganisation of the ARA field force:
Plan A: two brigade groups supplemented by national servicemen serving with the ARA for two years; and
Plan B: one brigade group (plus a battalion in Malaya) using ARA personnel only.
The CMF would retain a three division structure, with some units disbanded and strength reduced from 82,000 to 51,000. The NSTS would continue on a reduced scale, with 12,000 entries per year. Modern weapons and support items were needed. In September 1957 the minister for the Army, Mr John Cramer, announced a mobile regular brigade group, implementing Plan B. With the NSTS scaled down, 2000 ARA personnel were released for other duties.
A three year defence plan was announced on 26 November 1959, based on a new strategic assessment. It included abolition of the NSTS, a 35 percent increase in ARA strength, and a 50 percent increase in the volunteer strength of the CMF. Introduction of the Pentropic organisation was foreshadowed. On 22 March 1960 the Sydney Morning Herald reported the abolition of 30 CMF battalions and the closure of 54 of the 292 training depots, due in part to abolition of the NSTS (which finally ceased in June 1960). This effectively reduced the CMF from 50,000 to 20,000 men.
On 29 March Mr Cramer announced that Australian equipment and organisation would be along US lines. The Army was reorganised into two Pentropic divisions, each of five battle groups. Divisional strength was 14,000, compared with 13,000 for the tropical establishment (TE), or jungle, division. The Army planners did not know that in 1961 the US would scrap the pentomic organisation, and Australia would be the only country with a five sided structure. A US journal published on 17 June 1961 was the first notice of this change received by the government.
In the CMF, territorial battalions and regiments were replaced by state based regiments, the Royal Queensland Regiment (RQR), RNSWR, RVR, RSAR, Royal Western Australian Regiment (RWAR), and Royal Tasmania Regiment (RTR). The 10th Medium Regiment was also formed.
The ARA formed two battle groups and the necessary combat and logistic units. The 1st Division consisted of the two ARA battle groups, 1 RAR at Holsworthy and 3 RAR at Enoggera, and three CMF battle groups, 1 RQR (HQ Brisbane), 2 RNSWR (HQ Sydney) and 3 RNSWR (HQ Sydney). The 2nd Division was converted to HQ Communication Zone, and the 3rd Division had five CMF battle groups, 2 RQR, 1 RVR, 2 RVR, 1 RSAR and 1 RWAR. An ARA TE battalion was maintained in Malaya, on a four company structure compatible with the British Commonwealth’s Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR). A further ARA TE battalion was raised as a rotation battalion.
Both divisions had combat support groups, which were combat and support units that could be allotted to a division if required, while the communication zone included units to maintain the rear area of an operational zone. The CMF strength was set at 25,000 for 1960-61, and 30,000 for 1961-62. By June 1964 it was 27,500.
Claimed benefits of the Pentropic organisation were greater firepower, quicker dissemination of information (one fewer level of command) and greater flexibility. Problems encountered related to mobility, the wide span of command, inadequate communications, the limited range of artillery support and the negative attitude of personnel towards the organisation.
Within the infantry of a division, the five battle groups were each about one and a half times the strength of the old battalions, with over twice the firepower (80 sections rather than 36). A Pentropic division had 400 sections rather than the 324 under the old organisation. The battle groups theoretically had greater manoeuvrability, offensive capability and protection, while allowing for wastage. Each had five rifle companies of four rifle platoons and a weapons platoon. The support company had anti-tank, assault pioneer, mortar and signals platoons. Overall, however, the Pentropic division was not as effective in jungle warfare as had been hoped.
The former country Victoria battalions formed the five rifle companies of 2 RVR, which were named to retain their local identities. The HQ was formed in Melbourne from HQ 6th Brigade, located at Sandringham. The initial plan for 2 RVR was:
HQ and HQ Company Sandringham;
Support Company Ballarat;
A Company Ballarat and Maryborough;
B Company Bendigo, Castlemaine and Kyneton;
C Company Mildura and Red Cliffs;
D Company Kerang and Swan Hill; and
E Company Geelong.
Within two weeks the 2 RVR organisation had changed to:
HQ and HQ Company: Sandringham;
Support Company Ballarat (ex 8th/7th Battalion);
A Company Geelong (ex 23rd/21st Battalion);
B Company Ballarat and Maryborough (ex 8th/7th Battalion);
C Company Mildura and Red Cliffs (ex 8th/7th Battalion);
D Company Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton and Kerang
(ex 38th Battalion); and
E Company Shepparton, Echuca and Cobram
(ex 59th Battalion).
The staff for the new battle group was drawn from the existing battalions and brigade HQ. Stuart McDonald, a former CO of the 8th/7th Battalion, commanded the 6th Brigade at that time, and became the first CO of 2 RVR.
Recruiting did not go as well as expected, and in 1961, D Company, in Bendigo, Castlemaine and Kyneton, transferred to the 6th Company RAASC. A new D Company was raised in Brighton. The Kerang, and Kyneton in 1962, depots were closed and A Company in Geelong transferred to the RAA in 1964. Support Company was relocated to the Brighton depot from Ballarat, with Administration Company (originally HQ Company) from Sandringham. Due to the new structure and staff changes, no camp was held by 2 RVR in the second half of the year.
In 1960, 2 RVR in Ballarat consisted of B Company (less 8 Platoon at Maryborough) and Support Company. After the reorganisation, WO 2 George Horwood was transferred from CSM D Company to CSM B Company. He was also a member of the battalion’s long range raiding party (LRRP), commanded by Captain Don (DB) Edwards. The first course was run in Geelong by an ARA officer, Major Welsh, who introduced himself by saying that he was a regular army officer, and he demanded the highest standard of military discipline. One of the participants was WO 2 Jim Smith, a British Army DCM recipient from the Second World War, and a warder at the Geelong Jail next door. On hearing this introduction, he said to Sergeant Wilkie ‘We’ll have to cut the **** down a peg or two!’ And they did!
On one occasion the LRRP members created a problem when they fired blanks and upset some stud cattle. On another night patrol one of the members lost his glasses in the dark. As he could not see without them, Horwood told the soldier to hang on to a nearby tree, and not move until the patrol returned, as there were deep ravines nearby, and they would look for the glasses in daylight. On arrival back at the location some eight hours later, they found the digger still holding onto the tree, located on flat, open countryside.
On 1 July 1961 Colonel Sydney (Spin) Buckler took command of the battalion, replacing McDonald, who was posted as aide de camp to the governor general in June. As the senior officer of a cut-off force of the 2/14th Battalion on the Kokoda Track, Buckler got some of his men back to safety after almost two weeks out of contact. He was the only one able to return to find the wounded who had been left behind. Unfortunately, the Japanese had murdered them. While serving in Korea as a battalion commander he earned the nickname ‘spin’ for charging his soldiers with misdemeanours and fining them a ‘spin’, or ₤5 ($10). The fine was sent home to the soldier’s mother.
In the 1950s he was CO of 14 NSTB. The hill behind the battalion lines at Puckapunyal was named Buckler Hill. It was decided that a commemorative cairn would be built on the hill to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Stones were carried up the hill by men of the battalion. The cairn was unveiled on Coronation Day, 2 June 1953, by Ballarat born Brigadier Charles Kappe, commanding the 1st Brigade, and his wife. Mount Kappe at Puckapunyal is named after him. Because of the shape of the cairn and the hill, it was affectionately known as ‘Tit’ Hill for years to come. In Lieutenant Colonel Darrell Strickland’s time as CO of 22 RVR (around 1969), after the battalion had moved into S Block at Puckapunyal, the 22 RVR assault pioneer platoon reconstructed the cairn.
Under Buckler, in September 1961 Support Company moved to Warrnambool, leaving in Ballarat only B Company, less a platoon in Maryborough. The battalion attended a 3rd Division camp at Eildon as a Pentropic company with the five companies (from Geelong, Ballarat, Mildura, Bendigo and Shepparton) each providing a platoon. The country was extremely hilly and rugged. Wilkie remembers being told that the division’s members consumed 30,000 dozen cans of beer during the exercise. During the camp, the CMF deputy CO was Lieutenant Colonel Alex Lochhead, MM, the ARA XO was Lieutenant Colonel Tim Wilson, and the RSM was WO 1 M. Dent. Lochhead’s MM was awarded for actions on the Kokoda Track with the 39th Battalion. He ended the war as a lieutenant in the 2/2nd Battalion.
In 1962 HQ and Administration Company moved to George Street, Fitzroy, while Support Company moved to Brighton. D Company, which was originally to be raised in Bendigo, was raised at Brighton. The problem of the title Bendigo Company was never resolved.
A composite B Company participated in the 2 RVR camp in 1962. It started with a 32 kilometre march-in to Mount Hickey. Weapons fired during the camp included the SLR (and the Energa grenade fired from it), Bren and Owen guns, and the rocket launcher, while the mortar platoon fired their mortars. A nine-day patrol school, run by Major Bullard, was held near Puckapunyal. At 0530 on the first day of the course the members found themselves marching towards the top of Mount Hickey (or Mount Tallarook). After a lunch break at Dabyminga Creek, and a chance to rest aching and blistered feet, they pushed on. The little jaunt over the top of Mount Hickey and down to Trawool was the precursor to later exercises named ‘Little Kokoda’. Buckler chose the name.
He also instituted a voluntary walk called ‘A message from Garcia’, from Mount Puckapunyal to Mount Hickey and back, a distance of almost 60 kilometres. Men walked in pairs, and Buckler, then almost 60, selected Wilkie to walk with him. Wilkie reported that the colonel was hanging on to his webbing and, although he was almost exhausted, he was basically pulling Buckler up the hills. The trek took 23 hours to complete.
In 1962, C Company also sent 67 members from Mildura to the other end of the state, for a 14 day camp at Cape Schanck, on the southern extremity of the Mornington Peninsula. The base camp was Fort Pearce, at Point Nepean. The camp consisted of a number of exercises, the first called Operation Coastline. This gave the troops training in locating tracks that could be used by a force landing on the peninsula and moving inland. Another exercise saw two of the company’s platoons pitted against each other during advance, attack, defence and withdrawal training in the thick scrub between Point Nepean and Cape Shanck. It was the first visit to the sea for some Mildura soldiers. Private Dixson’s photograph was used in the magazine Australia Post.
Lochhead had a senior position in a flour mill, and his peak work dates coincided with camp dates, so he could not attend. He was replaced by Strickland, who had served with both the 38th and 59th Battalions before the Pentropic system. He raised the second country Victorian battalion, 22 RVR, in 1966.
The 1963 Eildon camp was known as the ‘Wet Camp’. It was reported that 250 millimetres of rain fell in four days. Bill Whitfield was the company clerk for Major Brian Colbert’s B Company. Just before the camp he broke his leg. He shouldn’t have attended, but the OC considered him essential, and he came to camp with the two padres. Unfortunately, the wet meant that Bill’s crutches sank into the mud each time he left the company HQ tent. The sergeant cook, Arthur Hems, brought three meals a day to him. The roads were so muddy that Shepparton’s Captain Earl had to provide a half platoon of soldiers to pull the stores trucks up the hills with ropes, so supplies could be delivered.
The GOC of the 3rd Division at this time was Major General Roy Gordon, CBE. He wanted to replace all the infantry company commanders with ARA officers. Buckler objected, and at short notice was replaced in July by Colonel Geoffrey Swan. When Gordon ended his term at the 3rd Division in November 1963 the company commanders were still CMF officers, and remained that way.
Swan joined the CMF a couple of years before the Second World War. He was one of the early enlistees in a company raised at Lord Somers Camp for service in the Melbourne based 14th Battalion. He soon became an NCO, and was commissioned in August 1940. Two months later the 14th amalgamated with the 32nd Battalion to form the 14th/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion. Swan became adjutant of the new battalion, which fought in New Guinea and New Britain. Post war he served in the 6th Battalion, which he commanded from 1956 to 1960, when he was posted to the Command and Staff Training Unit (CSTU) until taking command of 2 RVR.
The following year, 1964, was known as the ‘Dry Camp’, where Whitfield and his mates learnt how to use knapsacks to fight bushfires. Fires almost burned through the exercise area. A track was bulldozed through the hills to save the HQ. The E Company members saved a hut full of explosives from burning, and stopped the fire at the camp.
The battalion set up camp and signal posts along the ridges, and four Army Sioux helicopters and two light aircraft were used during the exercise. The Melbourne Sun had an article showing the diverse range of backgrounds of the CMF soldiers. The photograph shows Don Dow, (born in France), Gerry Discher, (Germany), Czeslan Gryson, (Poland), Helmut Borner, (Germany), Ardi van Hammond, (Holland), Kek Gober, (Hungary) and Ralph van Beek, (Holland).
At a Ballarat Airfield camp in 1964, Hawkes commanded the recruit company. His 2 IC, Captain Frank Canning-Cheal, was not happy with the state of the recruits’ rooms. Hawkes harangued them about their rooms and then ordered the 40 or so recruits to ground arms on the road outside their huts and move into the huts to correct the problems. While they were in the huts, he heard a strange grinding sound on the road behind him. As he turned around, he heard the CSM, WO 2 Michael Symons, yelling to the driver of the hygiene vehicle to stop. The driver had driven over and damaged about 16 rifles. He claimed that he was blinded by the sun.
On 10 November 1964, Mr Menzies announced the reintroduction of selective national service. Under the scheme, 20 year old men had the option to serve in the CMF part-time for six years, or take the risk of their birthday being drawn out in a ballot, which meant two years full-time service in the Army. CMF service had to be effective, or national service would be required. As with the earlier scheme, this bolstered the numbers in CMF units.
In December the CGS, Lieutenant General Sir John Wilton, announced that cabinet had approved abandonment of the Pentropic structure. A triangular division similar to the TE division of the 1950s replaced it. Among the reasons for the change were that no-one else used the Pentropic system, the ARA needed to maintain two infantry structures, and it was unwieldy in jungle conditions.
One of the most significant factors in the elimination of the Pentropic division was that ‘it’s not the size of the battalion that counts: it’s the number’. Australia needed more deployable units. The new division organisation the consisted of three task forces each of three battalions, giving the division an extra four battalions.
The size of each battalion was reduced (to about 800), and an additional five ARA battalions (to nine) and six CMF battalions were raised. However, conscription was needed to provide the soldiers to increase the strength of the ARA from 20,000 to 40,000, and the CMF target was 35,000. National servicemen were required to serve anywhere in the world.
Plans to deploy RAF Victor, and later Vulcan, medium bombers to Darwin, the build up of troops in Malaysia, and ever-present rumblings from Indonesia were pointers to a threat from the north. The role of the CMF was to provide follow up units and formations to supplement ARA strength in an overseas theatre, and to provide a base for further expansion that the situation might demand, including home defence. Amendments to the Defence Act were made to allow use of the CMF and Reserves in circumstances short of war. CMF members were all volunteers and could deploy overseas.
Around this time the CO of 1 RVR, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Bacon, sketched a Regimental badge. It had a pair of crossed rifles, the letter V and the word Victoria under a crown. The design became the RVR Badge.
The Royal Victoria Regiment
"The Bushmen's Rifles"
In 1964, the Federal Government of Australia introduced conscription to raise the strength of the Australian Army in order to prepare for Australia's possible defence commitments in South East Asia, particularly South Vietnam. Conscription would be by a ballot of birth dates drawn from a barrel and would be for two years. At the same time the Government decided to boost the strength of the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) by offering those men who were due to be balloted the option of six years of CMF Service if they enlisted in the CMF before the ballot.
In 1966, the Government ordered the Army to raise a "Special Conditions" CMF Battalion in each state to cater for those young men who could not parade with "normal" CMF units because of their home location or work situation but had "opted" for the CMF alternative. Many of these volunteers were Victorian farmers. The 22nd Battalion, The Royal Victoria Regiment, was the Victorian battalion that catered for Victorian and Tasmanian Special Conditions CMF soldiers or Optees.
HQ 22 RVR was eventually moved to the depot at Gipps Street, Richmond. Two 33-day camps were held each year in 1967 and 1968. With the help of staff from other units, it trained its own NCO's and became virtually self-sufficient. The Battalion was considered a country unit, as most of its members were from rural Victoria. In June 1975 22RVR was disbanded.
The RVR Today
Above: 5th/6th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment, Anzac Day 25th April 2015
The 100th Anniversary of the Landing at Gallipoli in 1915
Today both 5/6 and 8/7 Battalions of the Regiment continues to provide opportunity,
training and experience for infantrymen based in Melbourne (5/6RVR) and country Victoria (8/7RVR).
Both regiments proudly represent the traditions, customs and history of the
Australian Infantry in the State of Victoria.
ROYAL VICTORIA REGIMENT
TIMORE - LESTE
SOLOMON ISLANDS II
2007 2009 2010 2013
Members of Combined Task Force 635 (CTF 635), deployed to the Solomon Islands as part of Operation ANODE attended an event marking the 10 year anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). After a successful decade long presence in Solomon Islands, Australian troops have now returned home, with the final ADF element arriving back in Australia in September 2013. Troops from both RVR batalions served in the Solomons as part of four four Combined Task Forces. These deployments have provided an excellant training opertunity to all RVR members deployed and will boost infantry skills within the Battalions. For a video on Army Reserve deployment to the Solomon Islands go to:-
Left: Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley, AC, DSC addresses members from the Combined Task Force 635 at the Guadalcanal Beach Resort.
5/6 RVR is organised as a standard light infantry battalion, with its respective sub-units situated throughout metropolitan Melbourne. In 2013, the 2nd/10th Field Regiment, based at 8 Chapel Street, St Kilda East, was downsized to a single battery and incorporated into the battalion's structure. In 2018, the battery was removed from the battalion to form part of the newly raised 9th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.
Each company is located at:
Battalion Headquarters (BHQ) – 202 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
Alpha Company (A Coy) – 43-65 Princes Highway, Dandenong South
Bravo Company (B Coy) – 2 Robinsons Road, Surrey Hills
Charlie Company (C Coy) – 67 Royal Avenue, Sandringham
Delta Company (D Coy) - 127 Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Ponds
8/7 RVR is organised as a standard light infantry battalion, with its respective sub-units situated throughout Western Victoria.
Each Company is located at:
Battalion Headquarters (BHQ), Ranger Barracks, Sturt Street, Ballarat
Combat Service Support Company (CSSC), Ranger Barracks, Sturt Street, Ballarat
Bravo Company Headquarters (B Coy), Ranger Barracks, Sturt Street, Ballarat
The battalion also has regional depots located at:
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for acts of bravery in wartime. Instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria, the award was made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War.
Any serving member of the armed forces is eligible for the decoration which accords recognition to persons who in the presence of the enemy, perform acts of the most conspicuous gallantry or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty.
The Victoria Cross is designed in the form of the Maltese Cross: in the centre of the medal is a lion guardant standing upon the Royal Crown. The words "FOR VALOUR" are inscribed below. The Victoria Cross is suspended from a crimson ribbon. On the reverse of the cross the date of the act of bravery is inscribed, along with the name, rank, and unit of the recipient.
Until it was superseded by the Victoria Cross for Australia on 15 January 1991, the British or Imperial Victoria Cross had been awarded to ninety six Australians. Six awards were made during the Second Boer War, sixty four in World War I (including nine at Gallipoli), twenty in World War 2, four in the Vietnam War, and two to Australians in the North Russia Relief Force in 1919. Twenty eight of the awards were made posthumously.
The Victoria Cross for Australia has been awarded four times since its inception, all for actions during the War in Afghanistan. The first was awarded to Trooper Mark Donaldson of the Special Air Service Regiment by the Governor-General on 16 January 2009. Corporal Ben Roberts - Smith MG of the Special Air Service Regiment received the award on 23 January 2011, Corporal Daniel Keighran of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment received the award on 1 November 2012 and in 2014 postumously, Corporal Cameron Baird, from the 2nd Commando Regiment, who was killed by small arms fire during an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley in southern Afghanistan on 22 June 2013.
The Royal Victoria Regiment is proud to include in its Battalion's history nine soldiers acclaimed for exceptional gallantry by the award of the Victoria Cross. Eight of these were awarded during the Great War and one in World War II, and serve as a reminder that wherever Australian Infantry has served, they have done so with bravery distinction and honour.
Second Lieutenant Frederick BIRKS VC MM 6th Infantry Battalion AIF
Within two weeks of war being declared on August 4th 1914, Fred Birks, not yet 20, enlisted in the 1st Australian Division. He was a member of the 100-plus 2nd Field Ambulance attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade at Gallipoli. He won the Military Medal at Pozieres in June 1916.
On the 20th September 1917 Lt. Birks found himself in Ypres, Belguim, with the German's hoping to capture Boulogne and Calais. The Allies' offensive would only begin after they had removed the Germans from ridges that ran to the east of the town. (The Battle of Menin Road)
A Battalion report says that Lt. Birks first sprang into action when the 6th Battalion was held up by a German Maxim machine gun. In an incident near Glencorse Wood, bombs were thrown and hasty shots fired from up to three pill boxes. The Australians were quickly into them and the enemy surrendered.
From one of the enemy pill boxes, a machine-gun fired, and Lt. Birks and Cpl W Johnson instantly rushed in. They were met by bombs, Johnson was wounded but Lt. Birks reached the back of the pill box and the enemy defenders, seeing the rest of the battalion attacking, surrendered.
It didn't end there. The next day the 6th Battalions artillery held a stationary barrage in front of the forward lines in anticipation of a counter attack. The enemy did fight back. A shell burst in a post of D Company, killing Lieut Birks along with four others and wounded two more. The full citation reveals a third incident which was taken into consideration when Lt Birks was awarded the VC posthumously.
The citation reads "For most conspicuous bravery in attack when, accompanied by only a corporal, he rushed a strong-point which was holding up the advance. The corporal was wounded by a bomb, but Second Lieutenant Birks went on himself, killed the remainder of the enemy occupying the position, and captured a machine-gun. Shortly afterwards he organised a small party and attacked another strong point which was occupied by about 25 of the enemy of whom many were killed and an officer and 15 men captured. During the consolidation this office did magnificent work in reorganising parties of other units which had been disorganised during the operation. By his wonderful coolness and personal bravery, Second Lieutenant Birks kept his men in splendid spirits throughout. He was killed at his post by a shell while endeavouring to extricate some of his men who had been buried by a shell."
The VC was awarded on the 8th November 1917. He is buried in Perth Cemetery at Zillebeke.
Lieutenant Birks' military records can be viewed at:
Nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli.
The three that follow were awarded at Lone Pine, the only instance during World War I where three
Victoria Crosses were awarded for a single action
Corporal Alexander Stewart BURTON VC MID 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Alexander Burton was born on 20 January 1893 at Kyneton, Victoria and in 1911 began his period of compulsory military service. Burton enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, on 18 August 1914 and embarked for Egypt in October. On 4 April 1915 his battalion embarked for Lemnos and on the 25th took part in the landing at Anzac. Burton, who was ill with a throat infection, watched the landing from a hospital ship but a week later was in the trenches. The 7th Battalion was then fighting near 400 Plateau. On 5 May it left Anzac beach to participate in the attack on Krithia, then returned to serve at Monash Valley and Steele's Post. Burton was slightly wounded in action and in July was promoted lance corporal for having volunteered for a dangerous operation; he was later promoted to the rank of corporal.
Burton was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in the trenches at Lone Pine on 9 August. Early that morning the Turks launched a strong counter-attack on a newly captured trench held by Burton, a personal friend Lieutenant F. H. Tubb, Corporal W. Dunstan and a few others. The Turks advanced up a sap and blew in the sandbag barricade but Burton, Tubb and Dunstan repulsed them and rebuilt it. Supported by strong bombing parties, the enemy twice more destroyed the barricade but were driven off and the barricade was rebuilt. Burton was killed by a bomb while building up the parapet. Burton's award was gazetted on 15 October and on 28 January 1916 he was mentioned in dispatches. His kind and manly nature had won him many friends; even before Lone Pine he was frequently mentioned in soldiers' letters for various daring acts. He has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, and by an oak tree and bridge at Euroa. He was unmarried.
Corporal Burton's military records can be viewed at:
Corporal William DUNSTON VC MID 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
William Dunstan was born on 8 March 1895 at Ballarat East, Victoria and was a cadet under the compulsory training scheme gaining the cadet rank of captain. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the militia with the 70th Infantry (Ballarat Regiment) in July 1914 before deciding to enlist as a private in the Australian Imperial Force as in June 1915. A fortnight later he embarked for Egypt as an acting sergeant of the 6th Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion. From 5 August he was an acting corporal with the 7th on Gallipoli where four days later he won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine. Early on 9 August the Turks made a determined counter-attack on a newly captured trench held by Lieutenant F. H. Tubb and ten men. Two men were told to remain on the floor of the trench to catch and throw back enemy bombs or to smother their explosions with overcoats; both were soon mutilated. Tubb, with Corporal Dunstan, Corporal A. S. Burton and six others, kept firing over the parapet. Several bombs burst simultaneously in the trench killing or wounding five men. Tubb continued to fight, supported only by Dunstan and Burton until a violent explosion blew down the barricade. Tubb drove the Turks off and Dunstan and Burton were rebuilding it when a bomb burst between them, killing Burton and temporarily blinding Dunstan. He was invalided to Australia and discharged on 1 February 1916 having been twice mentioned in dispatches. He then rejoined the Citizen Forces, serving in the rank of lieutenant as area officer, Ballarat, and later as an acting brigade Major, 18th Infantry Brigade. His army career concluded when he transferred to the 6th Infantry Battalion in Melbourne in 1921, the unattached list in 1923 and the reserve officer's list in 1928.
On 10 June 1916 he was presented with the V.C. by the Governor-General on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne. This was the occasion for an outburst of exceptional public fervour. ‘A reserved man disliking fuss', Dunstan found it a great ordeal. Dunstan died suddenly on 2 March 1957. His funeral service was attended by over 800 people including seven V.C. winners.
Corporal Dunstan's military records can be viewed here:
Lieutenant Frederick Harold Tubb VC 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Frederick Tubb was born on 28 November 1881 at Longwood, Victoria. He was 5 ft. 5 3/4 ins. (167 cm) tall, an extrovert and a born leader. After volunteer service with the 58th Infantry (Essendon Rifles), CMF; Victorian Mounted Rifles Brigade(1900-02) and the Light Horse Brigade(1902-11), he joined the 6Oth Battalion, Australian Military Forces, and was commissioned second lieutenant in 1912.
Appointed to the Australian Imperial Force on 24th August 1914 as a second lieutenant in the 7th Battalion, Tubb was promoted lieutenant on 1 February 1915. He reached Gallipoli on 6th July and was gazetted captain on 8 August. On the same day he took over a vital sector of captured trench at Lone Pine, with orders to 'hold it at any cost'. Early on the 9th the Turks launched a furious attack, advancing along a sap which had been barricaded with sandbags. From the parapet, with eight men, Tubb fired at the enemy; two corporals in the trench caught enemy bombs and threw them back or smothered them with greatcoats. Although Tubb was blown from the parapet and the barricade repeatedly wrecked, each time it was rebuilt.
He inspired his men, joking and shouting encouragement. A huge explosion blew in the barricade and killed or wounded most of the defenders. Wounded in the arm and scalp, Tubb was left with Corporals A. S. Burton and W. Dunstan; he led them into action, shooting three Turks with his revolver and providing covering fire. While the barricade was rebuilt a bomb burst, killing Burton and temporarily blinding Dunstan. Tubb then obtained additional help but the Turks did not renew the attack. Evacuated that evening, Tubb was taken to England to convalesce. For his gallantry at Lone Pine he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
He was invalided to Australia and arrived home in April 1916 to a hero's welcome. Having persuaded an AIF medical board that he was fit, he rejoined his battalion in France in December and was promoted major on 17th February 1917. His company had an important role in the Menin Road attack, 3rd battle of Ypres, on 20th September. Before the battle he was troubled by his hernia yet refused to be evacuated. With dash and courage he led his company to its objective but was hit by a sniper and while being taken out on a stretcher was mortally wounded by shell-fire. Tubb was buried in the Lijessenthoek military cemetery, Belgium, and is commemorated by Tubb Hill, Longwood, and a memorial tree in the Avenue of Honour, Euroa.
To view Lieutenant Tubb's military record go to:
Lieutenant William John Symons VC 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
William John Symons was born at Eaglehawk, Victoria on 12 July 1889 and served in the militia (5th and 60th battalions) before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1914. Posted to the 7th Battalion as colour sergeant, he embarked for Egypt on 18 October, was promoted acting regimental quartermaster sergeant on 9 April 1915 and landed with his battalion at Gallipoli on 25 April. He was commissioned second lieutenant next day and promoted lieutenant on 2 July. About 5 a.m. on 9 August the Turks made a series of determined attacks on Jacob's Trench at Lone Pine where six Australian officers were killed or severely wounded. Learning that the position had been overrun, Lieutenant-Colonel Harold 'Pompey' Elliott ordered Symons to retake the trench. 'I don't expect to see you again', he said, 'but we must not lose that post'. Symons led the charge that drove off the Turks, but the enemy continued attacking from the front and both flanks. Symons received Elliott's permission to abandon fifteen yards (14 m) of open trench and to establish a new barricade. Although the Turks set fire to the overhead woodwork, Symons extinguished the flames, kept the barricade inplace and finally forced the enemy to discontinue their attacks. Lieutenant Symons received his V.C. from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4 December 1915. On this occasion the King, so the story goes, said to Symons: 'I am proud to decorate an Australian with this Cross. You may be interested to know the intrinsic worth of this bronze cross is only five and a half pence. I hope you will live long enough to wear it.'
Returning to Australia in March 1916, 'Curly' Symons was fêted at civic receptions at Bendigo and Brunswick. He re-embarked for the Western Front as a captain commanding a company in the 37th Battalion. Wounded in the 10th Brigade's raid on 27 February 1917, he was subsequently gassed during the battle of Messines, Belgium, on 7 June. He rejoined his unit in January 1918 and fought at Dernancourt, France, in March. After the war Symons settled with his family in England and served as a lieutenant-colonel in the home guard in 1941-44. He died of a brain tumour on 24 June 1948 in London.
Lieutenant Symons' military records can be viewed here:
Lieutenant William Donovan Joynt VC 8th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Lieutenant William Donovan Joynt, was born on 19 March 1889 at Elsternwick. He served as a corporal in the Victorian Rifles, Militia , before enlisting in the AIF in May 1915. Commissioned on 24 December 1915, he arrived in France in May 1916 and joined the 8th Battalion in July. On 30 September he was shot in the shoulder during a raid on the German trenches at The Bluff in the Ypres sector, Belgium. He was evacuated to England, commended in divisional orders and in December promoted to lieutenant. In January 1917 he rejoined his battalion and, except for three months at an army school and on leave during the 1917-18 winter, served with the unit on the Western Front theWestern Front until August 1918, fighting in the second battle of Bullecourt and at Menin Road and Broodseinde.
Lieutenant Joynt, 8th Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the attack on Herlville Wood” on the 23rd of August 1918, near Peronne, France. Lieutenant Joynt took charge of the company after the company commander was killed. He reorganized and led the troops under heavy machine gun fire. At a later stage of the battle he led a frontal bayonet charge on the German enemy, saving a critical situation by his leadership and sheer determination. He continued to attack the enemy in this manner until he was badly wounded by a shell.
In the Second World War, Joynt served as a lieutenant colonel, commanding training camps in Australia. He was a foundation member of the Legacy Club, Melbourne. The last surviving of Australia’s World War I VC winners, he died on 5 May 1986 at Windsor and was buried with full military honours in Brighton cemetery.
Lieutenant Joynt's military records can be viewed here:
Private Robert Matthew Beatham VC 8th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Robert Matthew Beatham was born on 16 June 1894 at Glassonby, Cumberland, England. While still in his teens he migrated alone to Australia and was working at Geelong, Victoria, as a labourer when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 8 January 1915. Beatham embarked for Egypt in April and was returned to Australia on medical grounds in July. He re-embarked in September with reinforcements for the 8th Battalion and six months later moved on to France where he was twice wounded in action—at Pozières in August 1916 and Passchendaele in October 1917. When the great Allied offensive was launched on 8 August 1918, his unit was among those ordered to advance from Harbonnières and capture the high ground of Lihons north of Rosières. On approaching this German strong point on 9 August the 8th Battalion, its supporting tanks knocked out by heavy artillery fire, was halted by a line of machine-guns. Private Beatham's company worked its way forward to enfilade the enemy position and, assisted by Lance Corporal W. G. Nottingham, he rushed forward and bombed the crews of four guns, killing ten men and capturing ten others. This action enabled the battalion to renew its advance. Later the same day when nearing its objective on the southern slope of Lihons it was again halted by German reinforcements. Beatham, though wounded, rushed another machine-gun and bombed and silenced it, but was riddled with bullets. He was buried at Heath cemetery, Harbonnières. His award of the Victoria Cross was posthumous. The citation praised his 'most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice' which had 'inspired all ranks in a wonderful manner'.
Private Beatham's military records can be viewed here:
Private Thomas Cooke VC 8th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Thomas Cooke was born on 5 July 1881 at Kaikoura, Marlborough. Educated at Kaikoura District High School, he later moved to Wellington. His hobby was music; was an excellent cornetist and belonged to the city's garrison band. In 1912, with his wife and three children, he migrated to Victoria, settling in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. Cooke worked as a builder until World War I. On 16 February 1915 he enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force and after training at Broadmeadows and other camps was allotted to the 24th Battalion as a reinforcement. He embarked for Egypt in November and on arrival joined the 8th Battalion at Serapeum in the Suez Canal Zone. His unit sailed for France on 26 March 1916 and from April to July served in the Fleurbaix and Messines sectors of the Western Front.
In mid-July the battalion was moved south to the Somme where it took part in the furious fighting around Pozières. The task of advancing through the village itself had been allotted to the 8th Battalion and on 24-25 July 1916, as the men moved forward under an intense bombardment, Cooke was ordered, with his Lewis-gun team, to a dangerous part of the newly captured line. There was little cover, and heavy enemy fire killed all his companions, but he continued to hold out alone. When assistance finally reached him he was found dead beside his gun. For his gallantry he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. His name is commemorated on the roll of honour at the Australian war memorial, Villers-Bretonneux.
Private Cooke's military records can be viewed here:
Private Frank John Partridge VC 8th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Frank John Partridge was born on 29 November 1924 at Grafton, New South Wales. Frank left Tewinga Public School at the age of 13 and worked on the family farm near Macksville. While serving in the Volunteer Defence Corps, he was called up for full-time duty in the Australian Military Forces on 26 March 1943. He was posted to the 8th Battalion, a Militia unit which moved to Lae, New Guinea, in May 1944 and to Emirau Island in September.
From June 1945 the 8th Battalion operated in northern Bougainville, containing Japanese forces on the Bonis Peninsula. On 24 July Partridge was a member of a patrol ordered to destroy an enemy post, known as Base 5, near Ratsua. The Australians came under heavy machine-gun fire. Despite wounds to his arm and thigh, Partridge rushed the nearest bunker, killing its occupants with grenade and knife, then began to attack a second bunker until loss of blood forced him to stop. He “inspired his comrades to heroic action”, and was awarded the Victoria Cross. Of the Australians who won the V.C. in World War II, he was the youngest and the last, and the only militiaman. After visiting London in 1946 for the Victory march, he was discharged from the A.M.F. on 17 October in New South Wales; he was again to travel to England in 1953 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and in 1956 for the Victoria Cross centenary celebrations. He was killed in a motorcar accident on 23 March 1964 near Bellingen and was buried with full military honours in Macksville cemetery.