2/6th Armoured Regiment
2/6th Armoured Regiment
In November 1940 the Australian War Cabinet aproved the formation of an armoured division and the 1st Armoured Division was raised in July 1941. The 2/6th Australian Armoured Regiment was formed at Greta Camp, NSW, on 25 August, as part of the division’s 1st Armoured Brigade. Following Japan’s entry into the war, in December the 2/6th moved to Tamworth, where it was equipped with machine-gun carriers and held responsibility for the mobile defence of the Coffs Harbour area.
In January 1942 the regiment moved to Singleton, NSW, for further training, where the men received their first tanks in May -M3 Stuart light tanks. In mid-August the 1st Armoured Brigade moved to Narrabri, NSW, where the 2/6th was chosen to be the first armoured regiment to go to Papua. “A” Squadron went first, arriving in Port Moresby in late September, and the rest of the regiment shortly followed.
In Moresby the 2/6th conducted jungle training and the men also worked as stretcher bearers, unloading aircraft carrying wounded evacuated from Kokoda. By December the Japanese had been pushed back along the Kokoda Trail, and plans were underway to attack the Japanese positions at Buna, Gona, and Sanananda.
Sailing at night by barge, the tanks were taken from Port Moresby to Oro Bay. C Squadron went into action first, supporting the successful American attack on Cape Endaiadere on 18 December. C Squadron was relieved by B Squadron, who took part in the bitter fighting at Buna.
Moving through the coconut plantation, B Squadron provided invaluable assistance to the accompany infantry, attacking Japanese pillboxes and other defences. In one attack, on Old Buna Strip on 24 December, all four tanks involved were put out of action in under two hours, and some of the crew was killed. There was no reprieve for the others, though, as they acted as stretcher-bearers for the rest of the day. Despite this, the remaining squadron continued fighting and Buna was captured at the start of 1943. After Buna, B Squadron also participated in the fighting around Sanananda.
Towards the end of April the 2/6th returned to Australia, where it became part of the 4th Armoured Brigade, at Caboolture, Queensland. The 2/6th remained in Australia for the rest of the war.
- 15 died
- 1 MC
- 1 MM
- 7 MID
For more information please see Honours and Awards database
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