(by S. W. Doyle)
The 31st Battalion has existed in one
form or another for over 100 years. The earliest history of the regiment
can be traced back to 1881 when volunteer Independent Rifle Companies were
formed at Charters Towers, Townsville and Ravenswood. On 30th October 1886
a proclamation was published providing for the establishment of certain
Queensland based military forces. The 3rd Queensland Regiment was formed
in the Northern Military District.
The territorial titles of the regiments
were derived from the early explorers of the region, Edmund Kennedy was a
fitting namesake for the 3rd Queensland Regiment due to his exploits
throughout the north and Cape York. The first headquarters was established
in Townsville with two rifle companies in support. Rifle companies were
also formed at Charters Towers and Ravenswood. Another company was later
formed in Mackay.
In 1899 there was a reorganisation within
the battalion area, with the headquarters and three rifle companies formed
at Charters Towers and a company each at Townsville, Ravenswood and
Cairns. As the Kennedy Regiment grew it became necessary to divide it into
two Battalions. This occurred in 1890. The first comprised Charters Towers
and Ravenswood, the second Townsville, Cairns and Mackay.
Also in 1899, a military force of
volunteers was raised for service with Her Majesty's Army in South Africa.
Many members of the 3rd Queensland Regiment joined the first and second
contingents of the Queensland Mounted Infantry during the Boer War,
1899-1902. In appreciation of the service by members of the unit in the
Boer War, the unit was presented with the King's Banner.
In 1903 after further reorganisation the
unit was formed as the Kennedy Regiment, 1st Battalion. It remained as
such until the introduction of universal military training in 1912. The
designation was then changed to 2nd Infantry, Kennedy Regiment. At the
outbreak of WW1 in 1914 the Kennedy Regiment was dispatched from
Townsville to Thursday Island for coastal defence.
| It was the first
Australian Infantry unit mobilised for service in WW1. The Kennedy
Regiment played little further part in the war, though on return from
Thursday Island, many of its members volunteered to join the Australian
Imperial Force (AIF).
The Kennedy Regiment produced a number of
notable soldiers, including
Quinn whose name is perpetuated in
Quinn's Post at ANZAC Cove.
Private Patrick Bugden was awarded the
Victoria Cross for his actions at Polygon Wood in France in December 1917
and Lieutenant Colonel F. W, Toll commanded the 31st battalion AIF during
Bugden VC >>
The 31st Battalion AIF was part of the
8th Brigade, 5th Australian Division formed in 1915. The unit was
initially deployed for defence of the Suez Canal region, after which it
sailed for France as part of the 5th Australian Division. Their first
taste of action was in France during the battle of Fromelles, where the
Division suffered heavy losses. In late 1916, the Division joined other
Australian Divisions on the Somme, and in early 1917, took part in the
advance to the Hindenberg Line. For the remainder of 1917 the Battalion
was involved in heavy fighting in the Ypres sector. In August 1918 the
Battalion participated in the capture of Villers Bretonneux and later,
Bullecourt. The 31st Battalion as part of the 5th Division was later
dispatched south to Amiens to confront a full scale German offensive.
After the war the Battalion area and its disposition continually changed
and by 1939 many sub-units ceased to exist.
At the outbreak of WW2 in 1939 many of
the members enlisted into the newly formed 2nd AIF, while those who
remained with the Battalion carried out training camps on a part-time
basis. In September 1942, the Battalion moved into Cape York taking up
defence duties at the vital Jacky Jacky airstrip. Subsequently, the
Battalion returned to Cairns where it amalgamated with the 51st Battalion in
April 1943 to form the 31st/51st Battalion 2nd AIF. In 1943 this newly
formed Battalion served on defence and patrol duties at Merauke in Dutch
New Guinea. In 1944/45 the unit rendered great service in many bitter
engagements on Bougainville, including the battles of Tsimba Ridge and
Porton Plantation. Leaving Bougainville, the Battalion accepted the
Japanese surrender on Ocean and Nauru Islands and formed part of the
occupation forces and Nauru and Rabaul.
||Separate from the 31st
Battalion (CMF) is
the 2nd/31st Infantry Battalion. This Battalion was raised in England in
1940 mainly from technical units and reinforcements originally designated
the 70th Battalion. It was raised to counter the expected invasion of
Britain by Germany.
The Battalion took part in the 1941
invasion of Syria where Private James Gordon was awarded the Victoria
Cross for his actions near a village called Jezzine.
<< Gordon VC
Following the entry of Japan into the war
the 2nd/31st Battalion was recalled to Australia to fight in the Owen
Stanley campaign over the Kokoda Trail, taking part in fierce battles at
Gorari and Gona. In September 1943 the Battalion, after a short respite,
returned to New Guinea to fight in the Markham Valley campaign and on to
Lae. In July 1945 the 31st Battalion landed at Balikpapan in Borneo where
fighting was intense. On 17 September 1945, Lieutenant Colonel E. M.
Robson, DSO, Commanding Officer 2nd/31st Battalion, received the official
surrender from Major General Uno, Imperial Japanese Army, at Bandjermasin,
In the post war period the unit went
through numerous restructures and organisational changes. In 1965, the
unit was reformed within its present area as the 31st Battalion, The Royal
Queensland Regiment. In 1976, the strength of the unit declined and it was
reorganised as an independent rifle company. It subsequently regained its
battalion status on 30th October 1986.
At present the Headquarters 31st
Battalion and the headquarters of Kennedy Company and Combat Service
support company are located at Jezzine Barracks, Townsville along with one
platoon, mortar and signals platoon. The Battalion also has platoons
located at Cairns, Ingham, Charters Towers, Ayr and Bowen. All of these
towns have had a long association with the Battalion