2/12th Cavalry Commando Squadron

mThe first independent company was formed in June 1941 and another seven were raised by July 1942. Following a reorganisation of the independent companies and the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions’ cavalry regiments, these divisions raised cavalry (commando) regiments to administer the independent companies. Consequently, the names of the independent companies were changed to cavalry (commando) squadrons which later became just commando squadrons. In January 1944 the 9th Division raised the 2/9th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment which controlled the 2/4th Commando Squadron and the newly raised 2/11th and 2/12th Commando Squadrons. The 2/9th Commando Regiment was unusual in that it had a pipe band, but it did not seem to have had a connection with a Scottish unit.

The 2/11th and 2/12th Commando Squadrons were formed from men mainly from the 9th Cavalry Regiment, as well as from the disbanded 1st Armoured Division and others who had volunteered for commando training. Both squadrons, as well as the 2/4th, spent the rest of 1944 and beginning of 1945 training on the Atherton Tablelands, initially at Kairi and then Ravenshoe.

In April 1945 the squadron sailed from Townsville for Morotai as part of the build up for the OBOE operations which were intended to liberate areas of the Netherlands East Indies and British Borneo with the 9th and 7th Divisions. In the first of these operations, the 2/4th made an amphibious landing on Tarakan in support of the 9th Division’s 26th Brigade. The rest of the division and the 2/9th Commando Regiment went into action, landing on Labuan Island and Brunei Bay, in Borneo, on 10 June. The 7th Division landed at Bakipapan at July.

The 2/11th Commando Squadron was attached to the 24th Brigade and saw some action in the early days of campaign and by 16 June, except “The Pocket”, where the Japanese had concentrated their defences in the mountain ridges off MacArthur Road the battle for Labuan had been won. During this phase, the 2/12th Commando Squadron had been in reserve, but now it was finally given an operational role. The 2/12th was given the task of making sure that the outlying parts of Labuan Island were cleared of Japanese.

Although the main fighting was over, the squadron still had a number of small clashes with the Japanese, killing 41 and capturing a prisoner. The fighting was over by the middle of July and from then the 2/12th switched to concentrating on topographic work and improving maps of the island. After the war, the 2/12th was transferred to Kuching, in Sarawak, where it became part of Kutching Force and formed the guard of honour for the post war victory celebrations.

With the war over, the ranks of the 2/12th thinned as men were discharged, transferred or volunteered for the Japanese occupation force. In January 1946 those men who were left in the squadron returned to Australia travelling to Chermside Camp, in Brisbane, before going on to Puckapunyal where the 2/12th Commando Squadron was disbanded in February.

Glossary

Battle Honours

  • nil

Casualties

  • 1 killed, 2 wounded

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

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM52/2/2/64: 2/12th Commando Squadron war diary
  • Martindale, R J; Martindale, R L, Blokes from the cav : personnel of 9th Australian Division Cavalry Regiment & 2/9th Australian Cavalry (Commando) Regiment, (Sydney : R.J. Martindale and R.L. Martindale, 1993)