2/18th Australian Infantry Battalion


2/18th Australian Infantry Battalion

The 2/18th Infantry Battalion was part of the Australian 22nd Infantry Brigade, Australian 8th Division during World War II. It was sent to Singapore to strengthen the defences of that British colony should it be attacked. The 2/18th Battalion saw action against Japanese forces in the Malayan campaign in January 1942 and in the defence of Singapore, in February 1942. [ James Burfitt, "Against all odds: the history of the 2/18th Battalion, AIF ", (Frenchs Forest, NSW: 2/18th Battalion, AIF Association, c. 1991). ] [ [http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/ajrp/ajrp2.nsf/437f72f8ac2c07238525661a00063aa6/e2909070f075fdbeca256946001ef8ab?OpenDocument Australian War Memorial] "Australia Japan Research Project" retrieved 18 January 2007 ]

Following the fall of Singapore the men were prisoners of war.

Formation

The 2/18th Battalion, was raised in north western New South Wales and Sydney in June 1940. It had an initial strength of 1,227 personnel, [ [http://www.218battalion.com/index.php?page=history 2/18th Battalion History website] "History of 2/18th Battalion Part 1" retrieved 19 January 2007 ] and was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Varley. The battalion left Sydney on 5 February 1941 bound for Singapore on the RMS "Queen Mary".

The men arrived in Singapore on 18 February 1941. The Battalion was garrisoned in Malaysia and was involved in training (with an emphasis on jungle warfare) until the outbreak of war on 8 December 1941.

Malayan campaign

On 26 January 1942, the 2/18th affected an ambush in the Nithsdale Estate outside of Jemaluang. In the ensuing battle, 80 Australians died and the Japanese suffered heavy causalities (estimated at up to 2,000 dead and wounded). [ [http://www.dva.gov.au/commem/2005/singapore/background.htm Australian Department of Veterans Affairs] "60th Anniversay of the End of WWII in South East Asia" retrieved 26 January 2007 ] [ [http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/specials/noprisoners/resources/timeline.htm ABC Four Corners "No Prisoners"] a documentary on the fall of Singapore screened in 2002. website retrieved 26 January 2007 ]

After the withdrawal from Nithsdale, the battalion helped the Allied withdrawal over the Johor-Singapore Causeway.

Fighting in Singapore

The Battalion took part in the defence of Singapore from the launch of the Japanese attack on the north west coast on 8 February 1942 to the surrender on 15 February 1942.

The 2/18th attempted to defend the Tengah Airfield against the Japanese 5th Division. The battalion further withdrew to Reformatory Road and came under heavy bombardment which caused many casualties.

During the nine days of fighting history, the 2/18th lost 256 men with another 400 wounded, a casualty rate of 50%.

Prisoners of War

Initially, the remaining men of the 2/18th were sent to Changi POW Camp. As was the Japanese practice, the units were separated, with some remaining in Changi, some sent to Japan and a large majority sent to Blakang Mati. Some members of the 2/18th were sent on the Sandakan Death Marches and others to the Thai-Burma Railway.

See also

* 5th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
* Malaya Command

External links

* [http://www.218battalion.org.au 2/18th Battalion Association home page]
* [http://members.theplanet.net.au/dougree/html/history.html A Brief History of 18 Battalion A.I.F.] by Max Johnson
* [http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/pow/ww2_japanese.htm The Australian War Memorial Research Centre - "Australian prisoners of war: Second World War Prisoners of the Japanese"]

References


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