South Brisbane 2/31st Battalion War Memorial

Location of South Brisbane 2/31st Battalion War Memorial

Stanley Street
South Brisbane QLD 4101

Stone cairn memorial with a marble plaque on concrete stepped base. The memorial is surrounded by four green iron posts and was erected by the 2/31 Battalion to honour fallen WWII comrades. It also possesses a symbolic horse drinking trough.

Inscription

TO THE

HONOUR AND GLORY

OF OUR

FALLEN COMRADES

WORLD WAR II

1939–1945

ERECTED BY 2/31 BATTALION

AIF

Conflicts commemorated
  • Second World War, 1939–1945
  • Unit memorials
Memorial type
Stone/cairn/plinth
Additional information

The 2/31st Infantry Battalion was one of three formed in the United Kingdom on 27 June 1940 to create the 25th Infantry Brigade. The battalion s personnel were drawn from throughout the Australian force that had arrived in Britain earlier in the month and manpower shortages meant the battalion included only three rifle companies instead of the usual four. It was initially known as the 70th Battalion and was based at Tidworth, but in October it was retitled the 2/31st, and in the same month relocated to Colchester. It left Britain on 4 January 1941 and disembarked in Egypt on 9 March.

After arrival 2/31st moved to Palestine for training where it was joined by a fourth rifle company. On 11 April the 25th Brigade, now part of the 7th Australian Division, began to move to Egypt to bolster the defences along the Libyan frontier against an expected German attack and the 2/31st occupied positions at Mersa Matruh. In late May 1941, the 2/31st returned to Palestine to take part in the invasion of Syria and Lebanon. The 2/31st s first major engagement in eastern Lebanon was around Khirbe between 8 and 11 June. It was subsequently ordered to capture the town of Jezzine, which controlled one of the lateral routes to the coast. Jezzine fell to the 2/31st on 14 June but was heavily counter-attacked by the Vichy French on the 16th. The terrain around Jezzine was steep and rugged and the fighting exhausting; it was still in progress when the armistice was declared on 12 July. The 2/31st remained in Lebanon as part of the Allied garrison until 13 January 1942.

The Battalion arrived in Port Moresby on the 9 September to reinforce the battered Australian units on the Kokoda Trail. On 1 November it was the first battalion to re-enter Kokoda, and played a key role in smashing the last Japanese defensive position on the trail at Gorari between 7 and 11 November. The 2/31st was briefly involved in the operations at Gona between 23 November and 4 December, before returning to Port Moresby by air on 15 December and eventually sailing back to Australia in early January 1943.

The 2/31st returned to Port Moresby to join the advance on the Japanese base at Lae, in New Guinea. They spent the rest of the year principally engaged in patrol actions in the Ramu Valley and the foothills of the Finisterre Range. It returned to Australia on 16 February 1944.

On 2 July 1945 the unit landed at Balikpapan in Borneo and suffered the heaviest casualties of any unit involved in the campaign. The unit was disbanded in the first week of March 1946.

Battle Honours
Syria 1941, Syrian Frontier, Merjayun, Jezzine, Damour, Hill 1069, Baradene, South-West Pacific 1942-1945, Kokoda Trail Ioribaiwa, Eora Creek-Templeton's Crossing II, Oivi-Gorari, Buna-Gona, Gona, Lae-Nadzab, Lae Road, Liberation of Australian New Guinea, Ramu Valley, Shaggy Ridge, Borneo 1945, Balikpapan, Milford Highway

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

Recorded by
Shirley and Trevor McIvor
Date recorded
15 April 2009

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