2/101 General Transport Company
|For five years the men of the 2/101st Australian General Transport Company helped transport and resupply Australian troops, by driving vehicles, normally 3-ton trucks, in the Middle East and the Pacific theatres during the Second World War. As part of the Australian Army Service Corps (AASC), the company moved stores and personnel, and distributed supplies, rations, and ammunition, serving in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Australia, Papua, and on Morotai. |
The 2/101st was formed in mid-1940 in Marrickville, Sydney, as part of the larger I Australian Corps Ammunition Park. As part of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, all members of the company were volunteers, many of whom had been members of the pre-war Militia and had served in the 1st Cavalry Division's service corps.
From Marrickville the company moved to Greta and then Dubbo. On Boxing Day the company travelled by train to Sydney, where they boarded ships as part of a convoy taking troops to the Middle East. Upon arriving in Egypt, they travelled by train to Palestine and went into camp at Hill 69.
In early 1941 the company transported troops during the Libyan campaign, while in June the company was busy transporting men and equipment for the invasion of Syria, mainly supporting the infantry and pioneer battalions. When the I Australia Corps returned to Australia at the end of 1941 and the start of 1942, the 2/101st stayed in the Middle East with the 9th Division.
By July 1942 the war in North Africa had become critical for the British forces and Germans and Italian troops had reached El Alamein, in Egypt, about 70 miles from Alexandria. As one of only a few AASC companies supporting the division, the 2/101st was busy transporting the division from Syria to Alamein, where it was rushed to the area to reinforce the British forces. From August the company was heavily engaged in building up supplies, in preparation for the major Allied offensive, by transporting food, fuel, and ammunition. Once the battle began on 23 October, the company shuttled troops into position and delivered ammunition. These trips were often made under enemy artillery and small-arms fire. By 4 November the enemy forces were withdrawn and the company moved forward to the area around Tel el Eise station.
Alamein was a great, though bloody, success for the Allies but the 9th Division was needed elsewhere. The 2/101st left Alamein in December and went to Gaza, Palestine, where it participated in the 9th Division's parade on 22 December. In January 1943 the company left Palestine for the Suez Canal and boarded the troopships for Australia.
On its return to home, the company was based at Grovely, Brisbane, before being sent to Port Moresby, Papua, in July. New Guinea's terrain and limited infrastructure made transporting and resupplying the Allied forces by road difficult and much of this work had to be done by air. Many men from the 2/101st volunteered to work as crews on transport aircraft, on C-47 "biscuit bombers" - dropping supplies to the forward units "was a very exciting experience". At the end of May 1944 the 2/101st returned to Queensland, based at Warwick and then Petrie.
In March 1945 the company moved to Morotai, in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia). The Allies used Morotai as a base for the American operations in the Philippines and the Australian operations on Borneo. The 2/101st remained on Morotai until after the end of the war, at which time it returned to Australia.
|Related place||Morotai Island|
|Related conflicts||Second World War, 1939-1945|
|Related events||Syrian Campaign|