4th Field Regiment
4th Field Regiment
The 4th Australian Field Artillery Brigade was raised in Albert Park, Melbourne, in September 1915 as part of the 2nd Division. The brigade served in Egypt and the Western Front during the First World War. During the interwar period as a Militia unit, the regiment was based in St Kilda, Victoria, and was attached to the 3rd Division. Following Japan’s entry into the war in December 1941, and the rapid advance through South East Asia and the Pacific, the unit, now the 4th Field Regiment was mobilised as a two battery unit (each battery had six 18-pounder guns) at Bonegilla where the regiment was under the command of the 4th Brigade.
In March the regiment moved to Connelly’s Dam, south of Warwick, Queensland, where a third battery was raised. By the end of April the regiment had its full establishment of 18 25-pounder guns as well as 12 18-pounders and four 4.5 inch Howitzers. At this time too, the 4th Brigade was deployed to the Maroochydore, Brisbane, Southport area. While there, the 4th Field Regiment trained with the 7th Division’s 2/4th Field Regiment. In June the 4th moved to Cabarlah, near Toowoomba.
Normally an infantry division would have three field regiments to support its operations, but during the Pacific war, Australian infantry divisions were reorganised into “jungle divisions” and the number of field regiments were reduced from three to one. The 4th Field Regiment survived this period and moved to the Helidon area in July 1943.
In January 1944 the regiment moved to Townsville in preparation for its deployment to New Guinea, where it was to relive an artillery unit at Lae. One of regiment’s batteries remained at Lae, while the rest of the unit moved to Dumpu in the Ramu Valley to relieve the two batteries of the 2/4th Field Regiment that were in action. The 4th came under the command of the 7th Division and on 2 February it fired its first shots in action. It was only a short campaign for the regiment though, as by March the infantry were supported by the 2nd Mountain Battery as they advanced towards Madang. In August the regiment moved to Wawin, near Nabzab.
Towards the end of 1944 Australian forces were being redeployed around the islands. At the end of October the 4th left Lae for Bougainville, arriving at Torokina, the main Australian base, on 5 November. The 2nd Field Regiment and the 2nd Mountain Battery provided artillery support for the campaign.
For the next nine months, until the end of the war in August 1945, the regiment would be in action. One of its batteries supported the advance across the Numa Numa Trail in the Northern Sector, another supported the 3 Division’s campaign in the Southern Sector in the push towards Buin, while the third battery and the regimental headquarters moved to the Northern Sector where the infantry were moving towards the Bonis Peninsula.
As the Australian campaign on the island progressed, in June 1945 a company from the 31st/51st Battalion made an amphibious landing at Porton, in Bougainville’s Norther Sector. Things quickly went bad for the landing troops and eventually they had to be evacuated, but through out the entire operation, 12 Battery, firing from Soraken, provided outstanding support. Indeed, if not for their professionalism and skill of Lieutenant David Spark, the Forward Observation Officer who had landed with the infantry at Porton, the company probably would have been over run by the Japanese. During the course of the Bougainville campaign, the 4th fired 62,723 rounds.
Over time the regiment’s ranks reduced as men returned to Australia and in December those left in the regiment returned home too where the 4th Field Regiment was disbanded.
- 15 died
- 19 wounded
- 3 MC
- 4 MM
- 1 MBE
- 17 MID
For more information please see Honours and Awards database
Search for related collection items
- AWM52/4/2/17: 4 Field Regiment war diary
- Burke, Arthur, 4th Field Regiment, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery : historical guide, (Aspley, Qld: A. Burke, 2003)