47th Battalion (Wide Bay Regiment)

After the First World War the defence of the Australian mainland lay with the part-time soldiers of the Citizens Military Force, also known as the Militia. The Militia was organized to maintain the structure of the First AIF and kept the same numerical designations. The Militia units were distributed in the same areas the original AIF units were raised. Consequently, Militia units were also known by the name of their shire. Thus, Queensland's 47th Infantry Battalion was the "Wide Bay Regiment": headquarters was located at Maryborough, and training centers were established at Tiaro, Gympie, Murgon, Wondai, Kingaroy, Childers, Howard, and Bundaberg.

After the outbreak of the Second World War the 47th regularly held training camps lasting from one to three months, before being mobilised on 17 March 1941. Towards the end of the year the 47th moved from Rockhampton to Tiaro, where it joined the 15th and 42nd Battalions of the 5th Division’s 29th Brigade. In early 1942 the brigade moved to Townsville to prepare defensive positions from Giru to Rollingstone. The brigade later conducted jungle training at Mount Spec, near Townsville.

In January 1943 the brigade was sent to Milne Bay, while the 47th was sent to Goodenough Island the next month. In September the 47th was transferred to Nassau Bay and then Tambu Bay, where it took part in the Salamaua Campaign.

In early 1944 the brigade linked up with the 7th Division, in order to clear the Japanese from Lae. After spending several months patrolling around Lae, the 47th was transferred to Strathpine in Queensland. Until August 1944 the brigade held the record for the longest time spent in New Guinea - 18 months.

At Strathpine the 47th was given well-earned leave, before the 29th Brigade was sent to Bougainville to become part of the 3rd Division.

On Bougainville the 29th Brigade opened the campaign in the Southern Sector. At the end of December the 15th Battalion made the initial advance, moving down the coast from the Jaba to the Tavera Rivers and with a company landing at the Adele River by barge. The 15th was followed by the 47th. On 9 January 1945 the 47th took the lead and captured Mawaraka in the third week of January. Because of the frequent clashes with the Japanese and the miserable environment the brigade’s campaign was aptly known as the “battle of the swamps”. Upon reaching Mawaraka, the brigade was relived by the 7th Brigade and returned to Torokina.

At the start of July the 29th Brigade relieved the 15th Brigade along the Mivo River. The 42nd took up positions along the Buin Road, between Mobiai River and Nana Creek. The 47th placed a company on the Mivo River, along Lawne’s Track. The 15th Battalion was the furthest forward at Sisikatekori, with two companies along Killen’s Track. The 29th Brigade’s advance to the Silibai River was postponed on 3 July, beginning a week later on 10 July, because of dogged Japanese resistance. On 9 July the Japanese attacked the brigade’s front, hitting the 47th and conducting raids and ambushes along Lawne’s Track. The area was eventually cleared and, by the end of July and despite the heavy rain, the 47th crossed the Mivo. By the end of the war its patrols had reached the Oamai River.

The 47th returned to Australia on 23 December and was disbanded on 9 January 1946.

Glossary

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • 67 died
  • 147 wounded

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Second World War Nominal Roll (external website) databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 OBE
  • 6 MC
  • 9 MM
  • 21 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

References