31/51st (Kennedy/ Far North Queensland Regiment) Battalion Plaque
Bronze plaque within the ANZAC Square Crypt, commemorating the service of members of the Battalion during WWII. The plaque dispalys battle Honoues and a Roll of Honour to 63 individuals who made the supreme sacrifice. The two original battalion colour pathces are enameled at the top and there is a 'Rising Sun' insignia.
We Will Remember Them
- Conflicts commemorated
- Second World War, 1939–1945
- Unit memorials
- Memorial type
- Commemorative services held
- The Crypt is utilised for commemorative events.
- Additional information
After the First World War the defence of the Australian mainland lay with the part time soldiers of the CMF - otherwise know as the Militia. The Militia was organised to maintain the structure of the First AIF and kept the same numerical designations. These Militia units were also distributed in the same areas that had raised the original AIF units. Consequently, Militia units were also known by the name of their shire. Thus, Townsville's 31st Infantry Battalion was the "Kennedy Regiment", while the 51st Infantry Battalion was the "Far North Queensland Regiment". The 31st and 51st were both raised in 1921, however during the 1930s little was spent on defence and the Militia had few volunteers. The 51st merged with the 30th Infantry Battalion and then the 18th Infantry Battalion in 1935. The following year the two were unlinked.
Following the start of the war, in early 1940, the 31st and 51st received their first intake of men called-up for national service. The 31st drew its personnel from and around Townsville, Home Hill Ayr, Bowen, Charters Towers, and Ingham. Similarly, the 51st drew its personnel from and around Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands, Mossman, Innisfail and Tully. These districts were all sugar-growing areas and many of the men came from Italian families. The battalions remainded in defence of Australia.
In mid-1943, while still in the Cairns area, the 31st/51st underwent amphibious training, using American landing craft. But it was going to be some time before the battalion could put what it learnt into practice. Leaving Australia in June, the battalion travelled to Merauke in Dutch New Guinea, via Horn Island in the Torres Strait, arriving in July. Merauke Force was comprised of units mostly from the 11th Brigade. Consequently, the 11th Brigade had the distinction of being the only Militia unit to have served outside Commonwealth territory.
In August 1944 the brigade was withdrawn from Dutch New Guinea and the 31st/51st travelled via Thursday Island to Townsville, for some well-appreciated leave. The battalion, along with the rest of the brigade, then assembled at Strathpine for training, in preparation for its next deployment - Bougainville. Until now the 11th had spent the war doing garrison duties; but this was about to change.
In December the 11th Brigade, now the 26th, 31st/51st, and 55th/53rd Battalions, moved to Bougainville. The brigade was responsible for the Northern and Central Sectors. After Japan's surrender, the 31st/51st was transferred to Nauru and Ocean Islands, as part of the occupation force that garrisoned the islands. Beginning in October the Japanese were transported to Torokina and then Fauro Island for repatriation to Japan. The occupation force stayed in the islands until December, when the 31st/51st was transferred to Rabaul in New Britain where it performed a similar role. The battalion stayed on Rabaul until May 1946 when it finally returned to Australia. The 31st/51st was disbanded on 4 July 1946.
Tsimba Ridge, Bonis-Porton, South-West Pacific 1943-1945, Liberation of Australian New Guinea.
(Source: Australian War Memorial www.awm.gov.au)
- Recorded by
- QLD War Memorial Register
- Date recorded
- 14 April 2009
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