2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment - New Zealand (ANZAC)

In 1945 Australia sent three units to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). Originally known as the 65th, 66th and 67th Infantry Battalions, they were raised from Australian divisions stationed in New Guinea and Borneo at the end of the Second World War. On 23 November 1948, the battalions were renamed the First, Second and Third Battalions, The Australian Regiment, respectively. The prefix “Royal” was granted by King George VI on 31 March 1949.

The 2RAR advance party arrived in Vietnam in April 1967. Some members of the battalion would only serve six months in Vietnam, as they had already completed 18 months of overseas service in Malaysia and Borneo. The battalion was brought to full strength with new recruits and National Service Scheme conscripts from Australia; it took over from 6RAR in May. It was stationed at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy province, as part of the First Australian Task Force (1ATF).

V Company from the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR), was attached to 2RAR as a fifth rifle company. V Company was relieved by W Company in December 1967.

2RAR, as part of 1ATF, was deployed to the Bien Hoa-Long Khanh border for Operation Coburg (24 January - 1 March 1968). Coburg aimed to protect allied bases during the 1968 Tet Offensive. It was the first time 1ATF had been deployed outside Phuoc Tuy. 2RAR was involved in the operation until 14 February. The New Zealand W Company remained with 3RAR until the end of the operation, rejoining 2RAR in March.

2RAR continued to carry out operations in Phuoc Tuy province. In February 1968 those members who had completed their two years’ overseas service withdrew to Australia. The battalion was brought up to full strength by amalgamating with V2 and W1 companies (RNZIR) on 1 March. The battalion was formally given the title “2RAR/NZ”. It was the first official integration of Australian and New Zealand forces into an infantry battalion under the same name.

On 25 April, the battalion was deployed to the Bien Hoa-Long Khanh border for Operation Toan Thang (21 April - 7 June). 2RAR returned to Nui Dat on 5 May to prepare for its return to Australia. On 1 June it was relieved by 4RAR. It arrived in Australia on 13 June.

In May, 1970, 2RAR relieved 6RAR at Nui Dat. The battalion comprised three rifle companies and support companies, and was joined in Vietnam by W Company and V Company from RNZIR. On 15 May the battalion resumed the ANZAC title and became 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC).

2RAR joined 1ATF in pacification operations in Phuoc Tuy. 1ATF had adopted the “Pacification Program” as its first priority in April, 1969. Pacification involved seeking out and destroying the enemy in its base areas, preventing enemy access to the civilian population and helping to create a secure climate for South Vietnamese social, political and military life to develop. This work was demanding, dangerous and monotonous for the troops. It was the primary task carried out by the battalion during its second tour.

The battalion was relieved by 4RAR in May 1971.

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • First tour: 28 killed (4 RNZIR), 169 wounded (37 RNZIR) Second tour: 14 killed (6 RNZIR), 72 wounded (20 RNZIR)

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

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • First tour
    • 1 DCM
    • 1 MM
    • 1 MID
  • Second tour
    • 1 DSO
    • 2 MC
    • 1 DCM
    • 6 MM (2 RNZIR)
    • 15 MID (6 RNZIR)

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

References

  • John Church, Second to none: 2RAR as the ANZAC battalion in Vietnam 1970-71, (Mosman: Army Doctrine Centre, 1995)
  • David Horner (ed.), Duty First: the Royal Australian Regiment in war and peace, (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990)
  • Ian Kuring, redcoats to Cams: a history of Australian Infantry 1788 to 2001, (Loftus: Australian Military History Publications, 2004)
  • Kevin Newman, The Anzac Battalion; a record of the tour of 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, 1st Battalion, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (the Anzac Battalion) in South Vietnam, 1967-68, (Brookvale: Printcraft Press, 1968)
  • A. R. Roberts, The ANZAC Battalion, 1970-71, (Sydney: Printcraft Press for the Royal Australian Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 1972)