2/2nd Battalion was raised at Victoria Barracks, Sydney on 24 October
1939 as part of the 16th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division. It
relocated to the newly-opened Ingleburn Camp on 2 November and, after
conducting basic training there, sailed for overseas service on 10
January 1940. After disembarking in Egypt on 13 February 1940, the 2/2nd
trained with the rest of the 16th Brigade in Palestine until the end of
August. It then moved to Egypt to carry out its final preparations for
operations with the 6th Division.
The 2/2nd Battalion’s first campaign
of the Second World War was the advance from Egypt into eastern Libya in
January and February 1941. It was involved in the attacks to capture
Bardia (3–5 January) and Tobruk (21–22 January), and remained as
part of the Tobruk garrison when the advance continued. The 2/2nd left
Tobruk on 7 March, ultimately bound for Greece.
Arriving in Greece on 22 March, the
2/2nd was soon deployed north to resist the anticipated German invasion.
It occupied positions at Veria on 7 April, but a succession of
withdrawals by the Allies in Greece meant that the battalion did not
meet the enemy in battle until 18 April – at Tempe (Pinios) Gorge.
There, in a desperate fight, the 2/2nd blocked German movement through
the gorge to permit the safe withdrawal of Allied forces further
It held its ground until overwhelmed
by vastly superior German forces. Some parties from the battalion later
managed to rejoin the main withdrawal south, and were eventually
evacuated by the Allied navies, while others made epic escapes through
the Greek islands. A group of 189 members of the 2/2nd subsequently
fought with the 16th Brigade Composite Battalion on Crete.
After being rebuilt in Palestine, the
2/2nd manned defences in northern Syria between October 1941 and January
1942. It left the Middle East, heading for the war against Japan, on 11
March 1942. The 16th and 17th Brigades, however, were diverted on the
voyage home. Between 27 March and 13 July they defended Ceylon
(current-day Sri Lanka) from possible Japanese attack. The 2/2nd finally
disembarked in Australia, at Melbourne, on 4 August 1942.
The 2/2nd’s first campaign against
the Japanese was the advance along the Kokoda Trail to the Japanese
beachheads between September and December 1942. Fighting major
engagements at Templeton’s Crossing (20 October), Oivi (5–12
November), and on the Sanananda Track (21 November–10 December), the
battalion suffered heavily from both wounds and sickness. It arrived in
Port Moresby on 21 September 670 strong, but withdrew from the Sanananda
Track with only 88 men. 1943 and 1944 were spent training in northern
Queensland, and the 2/2nd’s last campaign of the war was the drive to
clear the Japanese from the Aitape-Wewak region of New Guinea between
December 1944 and August 1945. For his actions at Dagua during these
operations, Lieutenant Albert Chowne was posthumously awarded the
The 2/2nd Battalion disbanded in
Brisbane on 15 February 1946. Text from AWM