2/5th Independent Company (2/5 Commando Squadron)

Having completed their training, the 2/5th Independent Company was formed in March 1942 and the following month it sailed for Port Moresby. From Moresby, the 2/5th was flown to Bulolo, in New Guinea, where it joined Kanga Force. Kanga Force consisted of the 2/5th, the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, and a platoon from the 1st Independent Company. The force’s main purpose was to conduct reconnaissance on the Japanese positions at Lae and Salamaua, however, it also carried out a number of successful raids against the Japanese.

The most successful of these was led by Captain N. I. Winning on 30 June when the 2/5th raided Salamaua. The raid killed over a hundred and twenty Japanese for three Australians wounded. In the following moths, the 2/5th made many more patrols in the Huon Gulf area. When the Japanese started to concentrate around Mubo in preparation for an attack on Wau, the 2/5th raided Mubo and ambushed Japanese troops who were moving inland.

When the Japanese attacked Wau in January 1943, the 2/5th participated in the defence of the airstrip. After the battle, the 2/5th carried out more long range patrols in the Markham Valley, before returning to Australia in May.

After some leave, in June, the 2/5th regrouped at the army’s jungle warfare centre at Canugra, Queensland. In August the company moved to Wongabel, on the Atherton Tablelands. While it was there, all independent companies were reorganised into cavalry commando squadrons. Consequently, in October, it became the 2/5th Cavalry (Commando) Squadron, attached to the 7th Division. The 2/5th joined the 2/3rd Cavalry (Commando) Squadron and the 2/6th Cavalry (Commando) Squadron to form the larger 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment. Throughout 1944 the 2/5th trained with the rest of the 7th Division, but did not go into action again until almost the end of the war. In July 1945 the 7th landed at Balikpapan, Borneo.

Along with the 9th Division, the 7th landed on Borneo as part of the OBOE operations which were designed to reoccupy areas of the Netherlands East Indies. Brigades from the 9th landed on Tarakan and in British Borneo, while, on 1 July, the 7th made an amphibious landing at Balikpapan.

On the first day of the battle, the 2/5th landed on Green Beach and moved off along Vasey Highway and then the near by hills, occupying first Lady Shofield’s and then Jade and Jelly hills. The squadron went on to clear a number of other features, before concentrating at Sepinggang airfield on 7 July. Patrols then moved into the hills between the airfield and Batakan Besar. On 25 July the 2/5th was transferred across the Australian front to support the 25th Brigade in its advance along the Milford Highway. The squadron was involved in patrolling the surrounding jungle tracks almost right until the end of the war.

At the end of December the 2/5th left Borneo for Australia, and in early 1946, in Chermside camp, Brisbane, the squadron was disbanded.

Glossary

Casualties

  • 24 died

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

Commanding Officers

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM52/2/2/57: 2/5 Cavalry (Commando) Squadron war diary
  • Boxall. Jack, A story of the 2/5 Australian Commando Squadron A.I.F, (Lakemba [N.S.W.] : Metropoliton Printers)
  • Pirie, Andrew, Commando double black : an historical narrative of the 2/5th Australian Independent Company, later the 2/5th Cavalry Commando Squadron, 1942-1945, (1993)