2/25th Battalion

The 2/25th Battalion was formally raised in Brisbane on 1 July 1940. Recruited in Queensland, it began assembling at Grovely Camp on 15 July, and subsequently trained at Grovely (15 July-15 October) and around Darwin (23 October 1940-1 February 1941). It returned to Brisbane to complete its preparations for overseas service, and embarked at Sydney on 7 April 1941.

On 3 May 1941, the 2/25th landed in Egypt and moved out into the desert to join the 25th Brigade of the 7th Australian Division that was manning defences along the Egypt-Libya frontier against an expected German attack. The 2/25th occupied positions at Mersa Matruh throughout much of April and May 1941, before returning to Palestine in preparation for its first offensive operation - the invasion of Syria and Lebanon, which began on 8 June.

The 2/25th initially constituted the 25th Brigade’s reserve for its drive into eastern Lebanon, and its companies were widely scattered. Reunited, the battalion fought its only major battle of the campaign at the inland town of Merdjayoun on 19 June. Given inadequate time to prepare, and confronted by Vichy French tanks, the 2/25th failed to capture Merdjayoun, which had previously been occupied by Australian forces but lost to a counter offensive. The battalion suffered heavy casualties, including over 50 men taken prisoner. On 25 June the 2/25th was temporarily placed under the command of the 21st Brigade to secure a route from the coast to the inland town of Beit ed Dine against the possibility of a Vichy French counter attack. It was still thus engaged when the armistice came into effect on 12 July, and remained in Lebanon as part of the Allied garrison until 13 January 1942.

After sailing from Egypt on 9 February 1942, the 2/25th disembarked in Adelaide on 10 March. It trained in Australia until August and on 9 September arrived in Port Moresby to reinforce the battered Australian units on the Kokoda Trail. Joining the fray at Ioribaiwa on 15 September, the battalion participated in the last Australian withdrawal on the trail - to Imita Ridge. It subsequently participated in the advance that followed the Japanese withdrawal, fighting major battles near Templeton’s Crossing (13-21 October) and at Gorari (7-11 November). The 2/25th was briefly involved in the operations at Gona between 23 November and 4 December, before returning to Port Moresby by air on 13 December and eventually sailing back to Australia in early January 1943.

The 2/25th returned to Port Moresby on 22 July in preparation for the 25th Brigade’s next operation - the advance on the Japanese base at Lae, in New Guinea. The brigade flew into Nadzab on 7 September, commenced its advance on the 11th and Lae was in its hands by the 16th - the 2/25th was the first battalion to enter the town. On 29 September the 2/25th was flown from Nadzab to Kaipit and spent the rest of the year principally engaged in patrol actions in the Ramu Valley and the foothills of the Finisterre Range. The battalion returned to Australia on 16 February 1944.

Like most of the AIF battalions, the 2/25th spent over a year training in Australia prior to its final operation of the war. It departed Australia on 2 June 1945 and landed at Balikpapan in Borneo on 2 July. The 2/25th’s operations were concentrated around the Milford Highway, the site of the most determined Japanese resistence at Balikpapan. It was still involved in active operations when the war ended on 15 August. Drafts of long-service personnel began returning home from October, and what was left of the battalion disembarked in Brisbane on 4 February 1946. It disbanded there on 7 March 1946.

Glossary

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • 176 dead, 365 wounded

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

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 VC
  • 2 DSO
  • 1 MBE
  • 4 MC and one bar
  • 1 DCM
  • 8 MM
  • 33 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References