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2/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion Plaque

Description
Brass plaque with marble backing. Commemorates the service of members of the 2/32nd Infantry Battalion during the Second World War. Enameled unit colour patches and Battle Honours displayed on the plaque.
Location
Shrine of Memories, ANZAC Square, Brisbane Qld 4000

Location of 2/32nd Australian Infantry Battalion Plaque

Inscription
Refer to image.
Conflicts commemorated
Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit Memorials
Memorial type
Plaque
Commemorative services held
The Shrine of Memories is utilised for commemorative events.
Additional information

The 2/32nd Infantry Battalion was unique in being one of only three Australian infantry battalions formed in the United Kingdom. In June 1940 a troop convoy carrying almost 8,000 Australians, sailing to Middle East to join the 6th Division, was diverted to Britain. This force was based around the 18th Brigade and also consisted of infantry reinforcements and other support troops. In late-June it was decided these reinforcements and support troops would form the basis of a new infantry brigade, the 25th Brigade, for the 7th Division. However, each battalion only had three rifle companies instead of the usual four. The brigade's three battalions were the 70th, 71st, and 72nd Battalions. The 71st Infantry Battalion, established on 27 June, became the 2/32nd on 28 October. The 70th and 72nd Battalions became the 2/31st and the 2/33rd Battalions respectively.

By April the war in the Western Desert had turned against the Allies. The German Afrika Korps led the Axis counter-attack, pushing the British back from El Agheila and Benghazi. The 9th Division was subsequently forced to withdraw to Tobruk. The 2/32nd participated in the usual pattern of defensive duties, manning parts of the Red Line and aggressively patrolling No Man's Land.

In July 1942 Germans and Italians had reached El Alamein in Egypt, about seventy miles from Alexandra. The 9th Division was consequently rushed to the El Alamein area and held the northern sector for almost four months as the British Eighth Army was reinforced for an offensive under new a commander. During attacks, the 2/32 suffered heavily: nearly half its number were either killed or wounded and over 200 men became prisoners of war. Alamein was a great, although bloody, success for the Allies and by 6 November Axis forces were retreating.

The 2/32nd left Alamein during the first week of December and went to Gaza in Palestine, where it participated in the 9th Division parade on 22 December. The battalion left Palestine in January 1943 for the Suez Canal and the return voyage to Australia, reaching Sydney on 27 February.

Reorganised for jungle operations, on the 2/32nd participated in the 9th Division's amphibious landing at Lae, but the 2/32nd, which had been the divisional reserve, did not take part in the fighting until 14 September. The battalion participated in the various battles of the northern New Guinea campaign and returned to Australia in February 1944.

The unit took part in the Borneo Campaign of 1945 and following the end of the war and Japan's surrender, the ranks of the 2/32nd thinned, as men were discharged, transferred, or volunteered for the occupation force for Japan. Those who remained with the unit returned to Australia in January 1946 and the 2/32nd was disbanded at Ingleburn at the end of the month.

Battle Honours

North Africa 1941-42, Defence of Tobruk, Defence of Alamein Line, El Alamein, South-West Pacific 1943-45, Finschhafen, Defence of Scarlet Beach, Liberation of Australian New Guinea, Borneo, Lae-Nadzab, Beaufort, Tell el Makh Khad, Sanyet el Miteirya, Pabu.

(Source: Australian War Memorial - www.awm.gov.au)

Recorded by
QLD War Memorial Register
Date recorded
14 April 2009

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