9th Australian Division Cavalry Regiment
Shortly after their arrival in Palestine the unit was warned out to participate in the forthcoming Syrian campaign. Because the unit had already done armoured training in Australia, and were probably the best prepared of the Divisional Cavalry Regiments at the time of embarkation, the short time between their arrival and being committed into action did not appear to be a problem. As with the other regiments, the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment were equipped with Vickers Light Tanks Mark VIB and various types of Machine Gun Carriers on arrival in the Middle East. Contact was first made with the Vichy French Forces at Jezzine on 14 June 1941, barely two months from their embarkation in Australia. The unit acquired some Vichy French Renault R35 tanks, small but heavily armoured, and these were take into action at Barada Gorge. At the completion of the Syrian Campaign, the Regiment returned to Palestine for rest and re-training. In January 1942 they returned to Syria, engaging in reconnaissance work and patrolling of northern Syria. The 9th Division Cavalry accompanied their parent formation to Egypt after the German advances in July 1942.
Here, for the first time in the Middle East campaign, an Australian Cavalry Regiment was equipped with modern armour, in the form of British Crusader Mark 2 Cruiser tanks, M3 Stuart Light tanks as well as the ubiquitous Machine Gun Carriers. By the beginning of July the Regiment moved into the desert where they provided two squadrons for the protection of the Headquarters of the 9th Australian Division, becoming involved in several tank versus tank engagements. During these actions several Universal Carriers were destroyed and some Crusaders were damaged.
At the time of the battle of El Alamein in October 1942, the regiment had on strength 5 M3 Stuart Light Tanks, 15 Crusader Mk 2 Cruiser Tanks and 52 Universal Carriers. The Cavalry did not play a major role during the battles of Alamein, being held in divisional reserve. In early November the regiment was chosen as the advance guard to lead the division in the westward advance. The Eighth Army’s advance, however, was too fast, and as the 9th Division was being withdrawn to serve in South West Pacific theatre, the Cavalry did not take part in the pursuit of the Afrika Korps. The equipment was returned to British stocks and by January 1943 the unit was on its way back to Australia.
In March 1943 the regiment was located on the Atherton Tableland in Queensland, where it remained as a Division Cavalry Regiment until December of that year when it was converted to a Cavalry Commando Unit and its involvement with armour ceased.
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