2/3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion

From Our Contribution

2-3rd MGB.jpg
Oct 1941 A Vickers MG crew from the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
2-3rd MGB POWs.jpg
ex POW members of 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion on MV Highland Brigade 10 Oct 1945 - AWM 117841

Brief History

The 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion was formed in June 1940 to be part of the 8th Australian Infantry Division. Companies that had been raised in Northam, Western Australia and Brighton, Tasmania as part of the 2/2nd MGB were transferred in as 'D' and 'C' Companies respectively while the Battalion headquarters, Headquarter Company and 'A' Company were raised in Oakbank, South Australia, and 'B' Company in Seymour, Victoria. In October 1940 they came together at Warradale in South Australia. The unit moved to Woodside in January 1941 before leaving for the Middle East as part of the 9th Division in April.

In May 1941 they were at Hill 95 in Palestine where they were reallocated to the 7th Division in June before moving to Er Rama in northern Palestine to prepare for the invasion of Vichy French Syria. During the five weeks of fighting individual companies were attached to 7th Division Brigades. After the Armistice the majority of the unit concentrated outside Sidon, before moving to Mrouj and then Qaraqq in September where all companies rejoined the Headquarters. In October the unit moved to Fih for the winter.

With the entry of Japan into the war, the battalion returned to Hill 69 in January 1942, and then departed in February aboard SS Orcades for Oosthaven in Sumatra. With the Japanese advance moving quicker than expected they re-boarded the ship and sailed to Batavia on Java. Here without their guns they were put ashore to assist with the defence of Javanese airfields as a part of Blackforce. Later they were to defend the road south to Bandung, but following the Japanese landings in February they were forced to retreat into the hills around Tjikadjang where they were forced to surrender in March 1942 soon after the Dutch forces.

As the battalion's transport and equipment, along with some men had boarded other ships than the Orcades, they had not gone to Java. This saved them from captivity, and back in Australia they formed the cadre of the rebuilt battalion. In May they were in Balcombe, Victoria but moved to Ingleburn in July 1942 where they were joined by a large number of reinforcements before moving to Cowra for training. In May 1943 the battalion moved to Deception Bay near Brisbane. C Company moved to South Moreton Island, and D Company to Bribie Island, before both rejoined the main unit in July when B Company moved to the south coast of Dutch New Guinea. In August the rest of the battalion moved to Wondecla where they remined until late 1944. B Company had rejoined their parent unit in May.

In December 1944 the 2/3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion arrived at Tadji near Aitape in New Guinea. B and C Companies advanced with the 19th Infantry Brigade towards the Danmap River, while A Company with the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion advanced along the coast to Abau. In early 1945 the battalion was converted to an Infantry Battalion and in March advanced inland to Arohemi, reaching Marabus by the end of March. In April the battalion moved to But to provide perimeter defence for the base being developed there. In May B Company joined the force that landed in Dove Bay east of Wewak. The unit remained in the vicinity of Wewak for the rest of the war. 195 men lost their lives while posted to this unit and 586 were either POWs or posted as Missing in Action.

Battalion Personnel

Battle Honours

  • Syria 1941
  • Sidon
  • Jezzine
  • Jebel Mazar
  • Damour
  • Java 1942
  • South-West Pacific 1944-45
  • Liberation of Australian New Guinea
  • Nambut Ridge
  • Anumb River
  • But-Dagua

Individual Honours

  • 1 x Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • 1 x Distinguished Service Order
  • 3 x Military Cross
  • 4 x Military Medal
  • 1 x British Empire Medal
  • 21 x Mentioned in Despatches


Content has come from The Unit Guide - Volume 2 - The Australian Army 1939-1945, pages 2.351 - 2.353 - Graham R McKenzie-Smith - Big Sky Publishing - 2018

External Links