9th Division Cavalry Regiment

The 8th Division Cavalry Regiment was formed in July 1940 when it was raised around the nucleus of two squadrons from the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment. Based at Seymour, in Victoria, the regiment trained on Vickers light tanks and machine-gun carriers but in February 1941 the unit was redesignated the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment. With the 8th Division being sent to Malaysia, Singapore, and the islands, its commander mistakenly thought that armour would only have limited use in the jungle. Consequently, the regiment was reassigned to the 9th Division.

Sailing for the Middle East in April the regiment arrived in Egypt and then moved to Palestine. Within 30 days of its arrival in Palestine the regiment was in action in Syria. In June, with the 6th Division Cavalry Regiment, it supported the 7th Division as part of the Allied invasion of Syria. The 9th Divisional Cavalry Regiment’s A and C Squadrons relieved the 6th Divisional Cavalry Regiment’s troops supporting the 21st Brigade south of Saida and the 25th Brigade in the Merdjayoun area. While in Syria, the regiment also used a number of captured French Renault R35 tanks in addition to its Vickers light tanks and machine-gun carriers.

As the war in the North Africa continued and German armour became stronger, the regiment was equipped with Crusader cruiser tanks, Stuart light tanks, and machine-gun carriers. By July 1942 the situation had become critical for Allied forces as German and Italian troops had reached El Alamein, in Egypt. The 9th Division was consequently rushed to the Alamein “box” and held the northern sector for almost four months as the 8th Army was reinforced for a new offensive.

Two of the regiment’s squadrons provided protection for 9th Division headquarters, while in September the regiment supported the 2/15th Battalion’s raid during operation “Bulimba”. During the main Alamein offensive at the end of October the regiment was held in reserve and did not play a large role in the fighting. However, once the breakthrough was made on 3 November, the regiment’s crusaders led the coastal advance and reached El Daba the same day, before being withdrawn.

Alamein was a great, although bloody, success for the Allies and by 6 November enemy forces were retreating. But the 9th Division was needed elsewhere. In January 1943 the regiment left Egypt and boarded troopships for Australia. The unit reached Sydney at the end of February and, after a period of leave, regrouped with the rest of the division on the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, in April.

During 1943 and 1944 divisional cavalry regiments were reorganised into cavalry (commando) regiments. In January 1944 the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment became the 2/9th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment. The regiment lost its vehicles and instead became the administrative headquarters for the 2/4th, 2/11th, and 2/12th Commando Squadrons. However, the regiment remained with the 9th Division for its final campaign on Tarakan and British north Borneo during 1945.

Glossary

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • 13 died

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

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 OBE
  • 3 MC
  • 7 MM
  • 27 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM52/2/2/10: 9th Division Cavalry Regiment war diary
  • Cossor, Les, Albury to El Alamein and back : a memoir of life in the Australian 9th Division Cavalry Regiment, (Albury, N.S.W.: Ian Cossor Design, 2004)
  • Kerr, Colin, Tanks in the East : the story of an Australian Cavalry Regiment, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1945)
  • MacArthur-Onslow, Denzil, "A brief history of the Australian Armoured Corps" MSS1403
  • 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)
  • Pura, Colin, Black berets : the history and the battles of the 9th Division Cavalry Regiment, (Melbourne : 9th Australian Division Cavalry Regiment Association, 1983)