This Month In Australian Military History
Date Year Title Event 1 May 1945 26th Brigade, 9th Division, troops invade Tarakan General MacArthur instructed Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead, commander of I Corps, to seize and hold Tarakan Island and destroy the enemy forces there. The Netherlands East Indies Government was to be re-established, Tarakan's oil producing capacity was to be conserved and the island's airfields put into use. The operation was codenamed Oboe 1, and the invasion began on 1 May 1945. Within five days the town and airstrip had been secured. 2 May 1945 Soviets take Berlin The fall of Berlin signaled the end of the Second World War in Europe. 3 May 1917 Second attack on Bullecourt Operations against the Hindenburg line at Bullecourt were aimed at protecting the British flank during operations at Arras. After a disastrous first attempt, a second involving the 2nd Australian Division was made. That attack succeeded, at a cost of about 7,000 allied casualties. 4 May 1915 Australian attack on Gaba Tepe, Gallipoli The attack on Gaba Tepe by the 11th Battalion was an ill-conceived venture to deny the Turks a vantage point from which they could observe operations around Anzac Cove. It ended in failure. 4 May 1942 Battle of Coral Sea begins This was the first naval engagement fought by aircraft alone. Although neither side won a clear victory, the Japanese were forced to attempt to capture Port Moresby in a ground campaign, rather than by sea as they had hoped. 5 May 1915 Australians and New Zealanders on Cape Helles The 2nd Australian Brigade and the New Zealand Brigade were redeployed from Anzac Cove to Cape Helles to assist British and French troops in their attempts to capture the dominating heights known as Achi Baba. 6 May 1917 Corporal G.J. Howell, VC Corporal G.J. Howell, 1st Battalion, originally of Enfield, NSW, wins the Victoria Cross near Bullecourt. 6 May & 11 May 1969 Warrant Officer Class 2 R.S. Simpson, VC Warrant Officer Class 2 R.S. Simpson, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, originally from Chippendale, NSW, wins the Victoria Cross in Kontum Province, South Vietnam 7 May 1945 Germany surrenders Germany's surrender, signed at the French city of Reims, ended the Second World War in Europe. 8 May 1915 Second battle of Krithia The Australian 2nd Brigade and New Zealand Brigade took part in this predominantly French and British battle against the Turks on Cape Helles. None of the objectives set for the allies during the battle were achieved. 8 May 1945 Separate surrender of Germany to the Soviet Union At the end of the war in Europe, Stalin refused the accept the German surrender, signed at Reims, as valid and demanded another, which took place at 11.30 pm on 8 May. 9 May became the Soviet Victory in Europe day. 8 May 1970 Anti-war demonstrations in Australia Up to 200,000 Australians participate in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. 10 May 1900 Zand River New South Wales Mounted Rifles in action at Zand River, South Africa. 11 May 1945 Wewak captured Wewak was captured by the 6th Division in a combined land and amphibious operation. Its fall marked the beginning of the end of the Aitape–Wewak campaign, the last major campaign on mainland New Guinea in the Second World War. 12 May 1917 Lieutenant R.V. Moon, VC Lieutenant R.V. Moon, 58th Battalion, of Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, wins the Victoria Cross at Bullecourt. 12 May 1945 Corporal J.B. Mackey, VC Corporal J.B. Mackey, 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion, originally from Leichhardt, Sydney, wins the Victoria Cross on Tarakan. It was a posthumous award. 13 May 1943 Axis forces surrender in Tunisia The surrender of Axis forces in Tunisia meant the end of the three-year-long North African campaign. 13 May 1968 Fire Support Base Coral attacked
The partly-constructed base, north of Saigon, was defended by Australian infantry, artillery, and air support when it was attacked by North Vietnamese troops. Eleven Australians were killed and 28 wounded before the attackers were driven back. Fifty-two enemy soldiers were killed and one was taken prisoner.
14 May 1943 Centaur sunk The hospital ship Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the south Queensland coast. Only 64 of the 333 on board survived. 14 May 1956 Sungei Siput, Malaya 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, attacks communist terrorists near Sungai Siput, Malaya. 15 May 1915 Major General W.T. Bridges wounded at Gallipoli Bridges commander of the First Division, AIF, died on 18 May while being taken to Egypt for treatment. His body was returned to Australia and buried overlooking the Royal Military College, Duntroon. 15 May 1942 Prisoners of Japanese transported to begin work on Burma–Thailand Railway Movement of prisoners of war (A Force) to Thailand from Singapore begins for work on the Burma–Thailand Railway. 15 May 1945 Private E. Kenna, VC Private E. Kenna, 2/4th Battalion, originally from Hamilton, Victoria, wins the Victoria Cross near Wewak, New Guinea. 16 May 1901 Lieutenant F.W. Bell, VC Lieutenant F.W. Bell, 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, of Perth, Western Australia, wins the Victoria Cross at Brakpan, South Africa. 16 May 1943 Dam Busters raid No. 617 Squadron carry out the Dam Busters raid against targets in the Ruhr Valley, Germany. A significant number of Australians took part in the raid. 16 May 1968 Fire Support Base Coral attacked for a second time
An attack on the base by a North Vietnamese Army force estimated at three battalions was repelled by APCs and soldiers from 1st battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Five Australians were killed and 19 wounded. Thirty-four enemy bodies were found.
18 May 1885 Sudan contingent departs Suakin New South Wales troops of the Sudan contingent depart Suakin for Sydney, having spent a little over two months in the Sudan without seeing any serious action. 19 May 1915 Turkish counter-attack on Gallipoli The Turkish counter-attack sought to drive the Australians and New Zealanders from Anzac Cove. The attack failed and over 10,000 Turks were killed or wounded in their greatest disaster of the entire campaign. 19 May 1918 Sergeant W. Ruthven, VC Sergeant W. Ruthven, 22nd Battalion, originally from Collingwood, Victoria, wins the Victoria Cross at Ville-sur-Ancre, France. 19-20 May 1915 Lance Corporal A. Jacka, VC Lance Corporal A. Jacka, 14th Battalion, originally of Winchelsea, Victoria, wins the Victoria Cross at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli. Jacka's was the first VC to be awarded to an Australian in the First World War. He also went on to win the Military Cross and Bar. 20 May 1941 Germans invade Crete German airborne forces begin their invasion of Crete on 20 May. Though outnumbered by Allied troops, they were better equipped and better organised. After less than two weeks of fighting allied troops began to evacuate the island. 21 May 1968 HMAS Sydney leaves Brisbane HMAS Sydney leaves Brisbane on its tenth voyage to Vietnam with 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, embarked. 22 May 1940 Decision to form 8th Division made Most of the 8th Division was lost in the fall of Singapore in February 1942. The Division never took the field as a complete Division because the battalions of the 23rd Brigade were sent to Ambon, Timor and Rabaul. 23 May 1942 Kanga Force moved to Wau, New Guinea Kanga Force was formed in April 1942 to reinforce the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. Kanga force was primarily involved in reconnaissance work, but did stage some raids against Japanese positions in the Wau–Bulolo area. 24 May 1915 Formal truce on Gallipoli A formal truce was declared on Gallipoli during which the Turkish dead of the 19 May attacks were buried. 24 May 1966 Private Errol Noack killed in Vietnam Private Noack, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was the first Australian national serviceman to be killed in the Vietnam War. 24 May 1969 Warrant Officer Class 2 K. Payne, VC Warrant Officer Class 2 K. Payne, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, originally from Ingham, Queensland, wins the Victoria Cross in Kontum Province. 26 May 1968 Fire Support Base Balmoral attacked Fire Support Base Balmoral, just north of FSB Coral, was attacked by a North Vietnamese Army battalion. Three soldiers from 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, were killed and 14 wounded. Six enemy bodies were found. 27 May 1965 HMAS Sydney's first voyage to Vietnam HMAS Sydney departs on first voyage to Vietnam with 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, embarked. 28 May 1902 Boer War ends Boers surrender, ending the Boer War. Over 16,000 Australians served in South Africa, nearly of whom 600 died. 28 May 1968 Fire Support Base Balmoral attacked for a second time A second heavy assault on Fire Support Base Balmoral took place in the early hours of the morning. The attack was driven off by combined arms – infantry, armour, artillery and air support. Forty-two enemy bodies were found on the battlefield and seven prisoners were taken. 28 May 1968 D company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, receives citation Award of United States Presidential Unit Citation to D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, for the Battle of Long Tan. 28 May 1970 Australian Army Training Team Vietnam awarded United States Meritorious Citation Australian Army Training Team Vietnam awarded United States Meritorious Citation. 29 May 1915 Quinn's Post Turkish attack on Quinn's Post, Gallipoli. 29 May 1941 HMAS Perth damaged HMAS Perth was damaged during the evacuation of Allied troops from Crete. Over 16,000 troops were successfully evacuated from the island over four successive nights. 30 May 1942 RAAF participates in first 1,000-bomber raid First 1,000-bomber raid launched by the RAF. The target was Cologne, Germany. To make up the numbers crews were taken from operational training units to participate in the raid. 31 May 1918 Monash Commands the Australian Corps Lieutenant General Sir John Monash succeeds Birdwood as General Officer Commanding the Australian Corps. 31 May 1942 Japanese midget submarines raid Sydney Harbour Of the three Japanese submarines that attacked Sydney Harbour, two were destroyed or disabled during the raid; the third disappeared and was located off Sydney's northern beaches by a group of amateur divers in November 2006. Little material damage was caused by the attack, but 21 sailors were killed when the depot ship HMAS Kuttabul was torpedoed.