January

Date Year Title Event
January 1969 Vietnam Australian military commitment to Vietnam reaches a peak of 8,300 service personnel.
1 January 1901 Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia The union of the six former colonies came into being with a proclamation by the Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun at Centennial Park Sydney.
1 January 1901 Sunnyside, South Africa Two companies of the Queensland Mounted Infantry Regiment along with British and Canadian troops attacked a Boer laager on the western border of Orange Free State. The Queenslanders suffered the first casualties of any Australian colony in the Boer War.
1 January 1975 Office of Australian War Graves established The Office is responsible for the maintenance of the graves of Australia's war dead in 78 countries around the world and in 76 war cemeteries within Australia.
2 January 1943 Buna Government Station captured The Japanese withdrawal from the Kokoda trail enabled the allies to plan the encirclement of important Japanese positions in the Buna, Sanananda and Gona beachhead. Buna was the second of the three to fall to the allies after weeks of heavy fighting.
3 January 1941 6th Division in action at Bardia, Libya The attack against the Italians at Bardia was the beginning of Australia's first major ground campaign of the Second World War.
3 January 1951 Seoul evacuated by UN Command Forces United Nations forces were forced to evacuate Seoul after a successful southward advance by Chinese and North Korean forces. It was the second time in the Korean war that Seoul had fallen; the first time was shortly after North Korea launched its invasion of the South.
4 January 1942 Japanese air attacks begin against Rabaul, New Britain Rabaul possessed a number of airfields and one of the best natural harbours in the south-west Pacific. Its capture gave Japan a base from which to launch air attacks towards New Guinea and north-eastern Australia as well as a strong south-eastern corner to its defensive perimeter in the Pacific.
5 January 1941 Bardia captured The Australian 6th Division captured 40,000 Italian prisoners, including four generals, at a cost of 130 killed and 326 wounded in Australia's first major land battle of the Second World War.
5 January 1945 HMAS Australia damaged by Kamikaze aircraft Australian ships were operating in support of United States amphibious landings in the Lingayen Gulf, Philippines when the Australia, for the second time in the war, became one of seven Allied ships to be struck by Kamikaze aircraft. 25 of her crew were killed and 30 wounded.
7 January 1952 HMAS Tobruk bombards Chomi Do, Korea The bombardment of Chomi Do, on the Haeju Gulf north-west of Seoul, forestalled a North Korean invasion of Yongmae Do, an island about 20 kilometres from Inchon.
8 January 1916 Evacuation of Helles British and French landings at Helles on 25 April 1915, had failed to secure their objectives, leading to a lengthy stalemate on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Penninsula.
8 January 1952 RAAF launch first meteor rocket attack against ground forces Meteors proved unsuitable in air-to-air combat against the superior MIGs and were reassigned to ground attack duties.
8 January 1958 Last Australian servicemen return from Korea At the end of hostilities in Korea the peninsula remained divided between North and South. The war has yet to officially end.
9 January 1917 Light Horse captures Rafa Following the capture of Magdhaba a fortnight earlier the Allies need to take Rafa, a former Egyptian police post on the Mediterranean border with Palestine, to enable their advance into Palestine.
9 January 1940 Australian Comforts Fund re-established The Australian Comforts Fund (ACF), based on its First World War predecessor, raised money for comforts parcels for Australian service personnel in the field, clothing and the provision of meals and accommodation for men on leave.
9 January 1966 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in Operation Crimp The operation became the scene of a major action against a Viet Cong tunnel complex.
10 January 1940 Second AIF sails for the Middle East Following in the footsteps of the first AIF, the second AIF were also sent to the Middle East rather than England. Unlike their earlier counterparts, however, most of their fighting took place in North Africa.
10 January 1942 Japanese air raid on Singapore After their rapid advance through Malaya, Japanese forces paved the way for their invasion of Singapore with a series of air raids against the island.
11 January 1942 Japanese captured Tarakan island, Borneo The success of Japan's war in South East Asia and the Pacific depended in large part upon the seizure of Borneo's oilfields, including those at Tarakan.
11 January 1973 Cessation of hostilities in Vietnam by Australian forces The proclamation by the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, ended 11 years of Australian involvement in Vietnam, the longest duration of any war in Australia's history.
12 January 1943 Beginning of allied attack on Sanananda The Japanese withdrawal from the Kokoda Trail enabled the allies to plan the encirclement of important Japanese positions in the Buna, Sanananda and Gona beachhead. Sanananda was last of the three to fall to the allies after weeks of heavy fighting.
13 January 1900 Prieska, South Africa New South Welshmen attacked at Prieska by Boers.
14 January 1942 Gemas, Malaya 8th Division inflicts heavy casualties on Japanese in an ambush at Gemas in the first Australian contact with Japanese troops of the Second World War.
15 January 1944 Sio The capture of Sio by the 9th Australian Division represented the final destruction of the Japanese 20th Division in the protracted Huon Peninsula campaign of 1943-1944.
16 January 1952 HMAS Sydney begins its seventh patrol in Korean waters Sydney began its service in Korea in August 1951. This was the ship's final patrol in Korean waters.
16 January 1962 Death of Frank Hurley Hurley was the first official AIF photographer having been appointed in 1917.
17 January 1917 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps sail for France No. 4 Squadron was the final Australian Flying Corps squadron formed in the First World War. Its pilots flew Sopwith Camels over the Western Front beginning their active service in the battle of Cambrai.
17 January 1991 Coalition air attacks begin against Iraqi forces in Iraq and Kuwait The first day of the Gulf War which ended when Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait.
18 January 1919 Versailles Peace Conference opens The Treaty of Versailles, signed between Germany and representatives of 27 victorious powers punished Germany territorially and financially for her role in the First World War. The treaty was supposed also to prevent Germany from having the means to make war in the future.
18-22 January 1942 Lieutenant Colonel C.G.W. Anderson, VC Lieutenant Colonel Charles Anderson, 2/19 Battalion, 8th Division, originally of Cape Town, South Africa, won the Victoria Cross during operations against the Japanese at the Muar River, Malaya.
19 January 1942 North Borneo surrendered to Japanese The Japanese continued their conquest of South East Asia in early 1942. Oil rich North Borneo was a vital objective that would allow Japan to carry on its war in Asia and the Pacific.
19 January 1951 No. 77 Squadron raids Pyongyang Mustangs of No. 77 Squadron attacked a suspected Chinese headquarters with rockets.
20 January 1942 Wirraways engage Japanese fighter and bomber formations over Rabaul In the days before the fall of Rabaul, Japanese aircraft conducted a series of raids on the town. In an engagement lasting less than ten minutes three of 24 Squadron's eight Wirraways were shot down, one crashed on take-off and two were damaged in crash-landings.
21 January 1941 6th Division begins its attack on Tobruk, Libya The Port city of Tobruk was a well fortified Italian held strong point held by about 25,000 men.
22 January 1941 Tobruk surrenders to Australian 6th Division After its capture Tobruk was garrisoned by the 9th Division , elements of the 7th Division and other Allied units. The town was surrounded on three sides by the German Afrika Korps in April and remained besieged, but able to be re-supplied by sea, until December. Most Australian, however, left Tobruk between August and October.
23 January 1942 Japanese capture Rabaul, New Guinea Rabaul possessed a number of airfields and one of the best natural harbours in the south-west Pacific. Its capture gave Japan a base from which to launch air attacks towards New Guinea and north-eastern Australia as well as a strong south-eastern corner to its defensive perimeter in the Pacific.
23 January 1944 7th Division defeat Japanese at Shaggy Ridge, New Guinea Australian troops cut the main Japanese routes through the Finisterre ranges with the capture of Shaggy Ridge, north west of Lae, after days of heavy fighting.
23 January 1952 Death of John Treloar John Treloar, Director of Australian War Memorial between 1920 and 1952, was a staunch advocate of the need for a permanent building to house the vast collections of records and relics that had been collected during and after the First World War.
24 January 1967 First contact at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam Fighting at Bien Hoa involved a series of contacts between units of the 1st Australian Task Force and communist forces in the area of the Bien Hoa - Long Binh complex near Saigon. Australian and American units sought to dominate the area and prevent enemy rocket attacks on nearby military bases and installations.
25 January 1942 Japanese land at Lae Japanese forces sought to capture Lae in order to build a forward air base for the defence of Rabaul and for attacks on northern Australia and New Guinea.
25 January 1942 Full mobilisation ordered in Australia The threat of a Japanese invasion and the proximity of Japanese forces to Australia demanded an increased commitment from the Government and public.
25 January 1952 Last day of HMAS Sydney's service in the Korean war HMAS Sydney had served in Korean waters since August 1951. The carrier had operated Firefly and Sea Fury aircraft (both types can be seen in the Memorial's Aircraft Hall).
26 January 1945 Beginning of Sandakan death march, Borneo Sandakan prisoner of war camp was established by the Japanese in July 1942. Fearing invasion from Allied forces, Japanese troops marched the prisoners inland to Ranau in January 1945. Many of the prisoners died of malnutrition, exhaustion, disease and ill-treatment and the survivors were shot when they reached their destination. Only six out of 2,500 Australians survived.
27 January 1941 Fighting at Derna, Libya, begins Following the capture of Tobruk two brigades of the 6th Australian Division under Major General Iven Mackay pursued the Italians westwards and encountered an Italian rear guard at Derna.
27 January 1973 Conclusion of hostilities in Vietnam by United States forces The United States government announced a policy of 'Vietnamisation' whereby the burden of fighting the war against the communists would be borne entirely by the South Vietnamese.
28 January 1991 RAN Clearance Diving Team departs Perth for Kuwait As part of Australia's commitment to the Gulf War a Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team was dispatched to the Gulf for explosive ordnance demolition tasks.
29 January 1941 Italians evacuate Derna, Libya The Italians having been defeated at Derna by units of the 6th Australian Division continued their westward retreat across North Africa in the face of an Allied advance.
29 January 1943 Battle of Wau, New Guinea, begins The Japanese recognised that Allied possession of Wau posed a significant threat to important Japanese bases at Lae and nearby Salamaua and sought to take the town. They were defeated after weeks of heavy fighting.
30 January 1942 Japanese attack Ambon, Netherlands East Indies. Australia's 'Gull Force' along with some 2,600 Netherlands East Indies troops fought in defence of Ambon but were unable to defeat the Japanese invasion of the island.
30 January 1968 Tet offensive begins in Vietnam While the Tet Offensive, named for Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year holiday period over which the attacks occurred, was a military defeat for the Communist forces it proved to be a propaganda victory accelerating the American public's growing opposition to the war and causing United States military planners to question whether victory was possible.
31 January 1942 British forces withdraw to Singapore Having been driven from the Malayan peninsula, Allied forces retreated to what was believed to be the impregnable fortress of Singapore.
31 January 1943 German forces surrender at Stalingrad 90% of the German effort in the Second World War was directed against Russia. The defeat of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad is widely regarded as the turning point for the Allies. Thereafter the Germans were unable to regain the initiative on the Eastern Front.