|Conflict||Second World War, 1939-1945|
Second World War, 1939-1945
7th Australian Division Cavalry Regiment
The 7th Division Cavalry Regiment was formed in April 1940, mainly with men who were from New South Wales and Queensland, as the Victorians and South Australians with the regiment were released to form the basis of the 8th Division Cavalry Regiment. The 7th carried out its initial armoured vehicle training at Cowra with Vickers light tanks and machine-gun carriers.
Destined for the Middle East, the regiment sailed from Sydney Harbour, on board the Queen Mary, on Boxing Day 1940 and arrived in Egypt at the start of February 1941. The regiment then immediately moved to Palestine, where it continued training. In April the regiment handed over its vehicles to the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment, which used them in the advance to Benghazi. The 7th moved to the Suez Canal, where it helped with the defences. The following month, the regiment was sent to Cyprus to support British troops who had been sent to the island.
In addition to the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment, a British battalion and brigade headquarters were also sent to the island. Following the fall of Greece, it was thought that the presence of Allied troops on the island would deter the Germans from invading Cyprus. However, as Allied troops were preparing to defend Crete, as well as prepare for the invasion of Syria, few troops could be spared for Cyprus. The regiment's main job was to give the impression of being a far larger force, the size of an armoured brigade. Using Vickers light tanks, carriers, and trucks - Ford and Morris one-ton trucks with oversized tyres, for travelling over sand, called "Battle Buggies". A number of these "Battle Buggies" were armed with 2-pounder guns to act as anti-tank vehicles.
The regiment arrived at the port of Famagusta on 5 May and moved to Athoulassa, near Nicosia, Cyprus's capital, five days later. The unit remained on Cyprus until 16 August, when it was transferred to Syria as part of the garrison force.
At the start of 1942 the 6th and 7th Divisions returned to Australia, the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment returned home in the middle of March. The regiment initially stayed in South Australia, but then moved to Landsborough, near Caloundra, Queensland. The regiment was sent to Papua to help defend Port Moresby in September.
Australian troops had been fighting Japanese troops in Papua since July and, after months of hard fighting along the Kokoda Trail, in terrible terrain, towards the end of the year they had pushed the Japanese back to their bases at Gona, Buna, and Sanananda. Casualties were heavy and in the middle of December the regiment was flown from Moresby to Poppendetta to reinforce the Australians. The regiment's carriers, however, remained in Moresby, as it was thought they would not be needed in the jungle.
On 18 December the regiment moved up to Huggins roadblock, and went on to take part in the bitter fighting along the Sanananda Track and village. The village was not captured and cleared until 21 January 1942, by which time only about fifty fit men remained with the regiment. Fifty-four men, including the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Logan, had been killed, while another man had died of wounds, and 67 had been wounded. Three more had died from scrub typhus, while over 240 men were ill with malaria.
In February 1943 the regiment slowly reformed on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland. In 1943 and 1944 divisional cavalry regiments were reorganised into cavalry (commando) regiments. In April the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment became the 2/7th Cavalry Regiment. The regiment lost its vehicles and became the administrative headquarters for the 2/3rd, 2/5th, and 2/6th Commando Squadrons. The regiment remained with the 7th Division and its final campaign was at Balikpapan, Borneo, in July 1945.