History in focus

General J Van Fleet inspecting 3 RAR in Kapyong

The Australian Army History Unit focuses on a range of historically significant of events in the history of Australia's Army.

An Australian Army protected mobility vehicle under the evening sky in Uruzgan, Afghanistan

Operation Slipper

The end of 2014 marked the conclusion of Operation Slipper, Australia's military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan and the International Coalition against Terrorism mission across Afghanistan and the Middle East, that began in October 2001. More than 34,500 Australian Defence Force personnel, Australian Government civilians and Australian Federal Police have deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations.

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Australian soldiers at Kokoda in 1942

Kokoda recaptured

On 2 November 1942, a small Australian patrol led by Lieutenant Alexander Black of the 2/31st Battalion cautiously entered Kokoda. Expecting to encounter the Japanese, Black’s patrol found the village abandoned, the enemy having withdrawn to the Oivi Pass several days earlier.

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Map of the landing of the 503 Parachute Regiment.

The Airborne landing at Nadzab

Seventy years ago, on 5 September 1943, Australian combat troops took part in the first successful airborne operation of the Pacific War, completing an airborne landing at Nadzab in Marobe Province, Papua New Guinea.

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Two unidentified soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), and a Malayan Policewoman undertake gate checking duty of a group of people at the entry point to a village in the Kuala Kangsar district of Perak.

Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day

In 2011, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs designated 31st August as the official date of commemoration for two historical campaigns involving Australian Defence personnel – The Malayan Emergency (1955–1960) and the Indonesian Confrontation (or Konfrontasi, 1965-1966).

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Australian Women's Army Service disembarking from the MV Duntroon. Lae, New Guinea, 1945.

Women's historical contribution recognised on Anzac Day

Anzac Day provides an opportunity for all Australians to reflect on the contribution of all servicemen and women from our oldest to our youngest veterans.

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Australian Army soldiers at the Museum of Australian Army Flying.

Supporting Armys Aviation Capability

The Australian Army History Unit’s Museum of Australian Army Flying, in Oakey, plays an important training and support role for Army’s aviators, by sharing the museum’s aviation heritage and technical resources.

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Warfusee-Abancourt, France. Lieutenant Rupert Frederick Arding Downes MC addressing his Platoon from B Company, 29th Battalion, during a rest near the villages of Warfusee and Lamotte before the advance onto Harbonnieres, the battalion's second objective.

A Revolution in Military Affairs

The description, “A Revolution in Military Affairs”, has been applied to many periods in the Australian Army’s history. It has become more common in recent times due to massive changes in the technology of war and radical changes in how wars are fought. However, it is not a new phenomenon.

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A01829 Troops of an Australian Battalion on the deck of the battleship Prince of Wales in Murdos Harbour just before the landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

WWI Gallipoli

While still training in the Egyptian desert in late 1914, the 1st Australian Division and the New Zealand Australian Division were re-formed into the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – the ANZACs.

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E03137 Streatcher bearers of the 6th Field Battalion carrying wounded.

WWI The Western Front

By early 1916, recruiting in Australia had raised sufficient troops to replace the ANZAC losses. The Australian Imperial Force in Egypt was expanded to four divisions before being transferred to the Western Front, with a fifth division raised in Australia.

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J02468 Ludd, Palestine. The lines of C Squadron, 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment.

WWI Sinai, Palestine and Syria

In March 1916, the ANZAC Mounted Division was formed in Egypt from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. In August, the Division helped defeat the Turkish Advance to Romani and, by March 1917, had forced the enemy back to the line Gaza-Beersheba.

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A trench at Lone Pine after the battle, showing Australian and Turkish dead on the parapet.

A rare find leads to a mystery solved

Fort Queenscliff Museum reveals the secret identity of the author of the ‘Twelve Months with the Australian Expeditionary Force’.

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Messines, Belgium. German prisoners under escort bringing in wounded during the battle of Messines.

The Battle of Messines 1917

Precipitated by the detonation of 19 enormous mines under the German front lines, the Battle of Messines has historical significance for the Australian Imperial Force as it was the first time that the 3rd Australian Division saw service on the Western Front.

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AMWA proud custodians of Merv Hall DCM collection

Corporal Mervyn Hall was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his outstanding gallantry on the geographic feature known as ‘the Pimple’ during the battles for Shaggy Ridge in 1943.

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Papua, 1942. Men of the 2/14th Infantry Battalion have a rest near their positions on a ridge overlooking the valley of Ioribaiwa in the Owen Stanley Ranges.

The Battle of Ioribaiwa

The final great defensive battle fought by the Australians in the Kokoda Campaign was fought on Ioribaiwa Ridge.

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Members of the 2/27th Australian Infantry Battalion as they reached the outpoast at Itiki, 1942.

The Battle for Brigade Hill

The Battle for Brigade Hill, fought along the Kokoda Trail, was an unmitigated calamity for Australia’s Maroubra Force. The battle was fought over three days in September 1942 as besieged Australians desperately fought to hold the advancing Japanese as far north of Port Moresby as possible.

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April 1915. Private (Pte) James (Jim) Martin.

The Youngest ANZAC

Private James Charles (Jim) Martin (1901-1915) is believed to have been the youngest Australian to die during service at Gallipoli.

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Australian troops chat to American paratroopers who landed at Nadzab.

What did Grandpa do in the war?

This is a common question. And being a member of the Australian Army History Unit (AAHU) I get asked it a lot! What many people do not understand is that it is not the function of the AAHU to conduct such research on behalf of individuals. But regrettably, most individuals do not understand how to conduct their own research to find the answers. The fact is, however, that such research can be relatively easy – once you know how!

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Mr Eden inspects men of the Mechanised Cavalry http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/003551

Australian Armour in the Middle East 1940 to 1943

Last year celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fall of Crete, the Siege of Tobruk and the Battles for Syria,all of which included Australian forces. The efforts of Australia’s fledgling armoured units is less well known, and this article will attempt to give an overview of Australia armoured operations in the Middle East during the Second World War.

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Brownlow Medal.

The Changi Brownlow

In an attempt to raise morale amongst the Prisoners of War within the Changi Camp in Singapore, many sports competitions were conducted.

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Shell Green Cemetery

The Shell Green Cricket Match

There are many rumours that the ANZACs staged a cricket match at Gallipoli and this is in fact true.

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France, 1915. Olive May (Kelso) King.

Olive and Ella

Olive May Kelso King was a young Australian woman with a passion for adventure.

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1942. The burnt out remains of what was probably a Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force ML-KNIL Lockheed Lodestar LT-9-18.

Attacks on Australia

Did you know that during the period February 1942 to November 1943 that Australia came under attack on nearly 100 occasions by the Japanese?

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1919, North Russia. The grave of Samuel George Pearse VC MM.

Russia 1919

We have received a number of enquiries in relation to Australia’s involvement in the war in Russia. As the Australians involved fought under British units, it is difficult to gain detailed information.

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25 December 1942, Paupa. Australian soldier being helped by Pauan native.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels

During the war in Papua New Guinea, the local population who were sympathetic to the Australian troops would assist where they could.

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1 October 1942, New Guinea. An Australian Militia Officer with an enemy light tank.

Milne Bay - Papua New Guinea

Milne Bay is situated on the south eastern tip of Papua New Guinea; it was a vital forward garrison made up of Australians (7,459) and Americans who were mostly engineers (1,365) grouped in construction and support of the airfields.

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August 1942, Paupa. Wounded members of the 39th Infantry Battalion making their way to the base hospital.

Isurava - Papua New Guinea

Isurava provided as good a delaying position as could be found amongst the terrain on the Kokoda track.

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October 1942, New Guinea. Members of the 2/27th Infantry Battalion as they reached the outpost at Itiki.

Brigade Hill - Papua New Guinea

Initially known as Efogi Ridge, Brigade Hill was the site of one of the most horrific delaying battles the Australian were forced to fight while withdrawing over the Owen Stanley Range.

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28 August 1942, New Guinea. Scenes in a native village at Eora Creek.

Eora Creek - Papua New Guinea

Eora Creek was the site of the largest battle on the Owen Stanley Ranges in the Australians advance to Kokoda.

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Senior personnel from 3 RAR

1951: Korea

During 1951, the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), fighting as part of a British Commonwealth Brigade in Korea, was engaged in the two most significant and commemorated battles of the Australian Army’s deployment to the three-year Korean War.

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Soldiers practise the actions to be taken when a patient requires medical attention

Students to save lives

Despite having both parents in the Air Force, a trainee medic at the triservice Army School of Health at Bonegilla, Victoria, decided to join the Army.

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