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15th Brigade (Australia): Wikis


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15th Brigade (Australia)
AWM 092041 Matilda tanks advance on Hongorai River 1945.jpg
Troops and Matilda tanks from the15th Brigade cross the Hongorai River in May 1945
Active 1916–1919
Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Size ~3,500 men
Part of 5th Division (1916–1919)
3rd Division (1921–1946)
Engagements World War I

World War II

Heathcote Howard Hammer

The 15th Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Australian Army. Originally raised in 1916 for service during World War I the brigade took part in the fighting on the Western Front in France and Belgium before being disbanded in 1919. After this it was re-raised as a part-time unit of the Citizens Military Force in 1921 in Victoria. During World War II the brigade took part in the the Salamaua–Lae and Bougainville campaigns before being disbanded following the end of hostilities.




World War I

Originally raised as part of the expansion of the 1st AIF in 1916 during World War I, the brigade was assigned to the 5th Division and consisted of four infantry battalions—the 57th, 58th, 59th and 60th Battalions—seeing service on the Western Front in France and Flanders between 1916–1918.[1] During this time the brigade's major actions included Fromelles, Bullecourt, Polygon Wood, Villers–Bretonneux and St Quentin Canal.[2]

Inter war years

Following the end of hostilities the brigade was disbanded in 1919, however, in 1921 it was decided to perpetuate the numerical designations and honours of the AIF by re-raising the AIF units as part of the Citizens Military Force.[3] To a large extent most of these units were raised in the areas from where their personnel had been drawn during the war, thus maintaining their regional links in the process. As a result the brigade was reformed in Victoria as part of the 3rd Division[4] when the CMF was reformed on 1 May 1921.[3]

World War II

Upon the outbreak of World War II the brigade consisted of three infantry battalions—the 57th/60th, 58th and 59th Battalions.[5] Throughout 1941 they were stationed around Seymour, Victoria before undertaking training around Casino, New South Wales in 1942 where they were joined by the 24th Battalion which was transferred to the brigade from the disbanded 10th Brigade.[6] The 10th Brigade had been disbanded as part of the partial demobilisation of Australian forces that was undertaken in 1942 in order to rectify a manpower shortage that developed within the Australian economy at the time. As a result of the additon of the 24th Battalion it was decided to amalgamate the the 58th and 59th Battalions to form the 58th/59th Battalion in order to maintain the triangular structure of the brigade.[7]

Later in 1943 the brigade was deployed to New Guinea where it fought against the Japanese during the the Salamaua–Lae campaign.[8] Later, in early 1944 it was temporarily attached to the 7th Division for the its campaign in the Markham and Ramu valleys, arriving at Dumpu on 7 January.[9] In February, after fighting around the Kankiryo Saddle, the 15th Brigade moved up the Faria Valley to take over from the 18th Brigade. The brigade then proceeded to advance towards Madang,[10] which was reached on 24 April 1944.[11]

After sixteen months active service the brigade returned to Australia in 1944 for rest and reorganisation on the Atherton Tablelands.[12] By that time it had grown to a full brigade-group, consisting of a headquarters, the 24th, 57th/60th and 58th/59th Battalions, with supporting elements including a signals section, flamethrower platoon, three troops from the 2/4th Armoured Regiment, a section from the 15th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers, a company from the 1st New Guinea Infantry Battalion, the 266th Light Aid Detachment, as well as military police, postal and dental units and a detachment from the ANGAU.[13] Also in support was artillery from 5 Battery, 2nd Field Regiment and four 155 mm guns of 'U' Heavy Battery.[13][14]

In April 1945 the 15th Brigade was sent to Bougainville to rejoin the 3rd Division where, under the command of Brigadier Heathcote Hammer, it took part in the advance to the Hongorai River as well as drive towards the Mivo before being relieved by the 29th Brigade on 1 July.[15] Its losses while on Bougainville were heavier than any other Australian brigade that took part in the campaign, suffering 32 officers and 493 men killed or wounded.[12]


Following the end of hostilities the 15th Brigade was disbanded as the demobilisation process was undertaken. Afterwards, in 1946, the decision was made to discard the existing army organisational structures and established an 'interim force' until arrangements could be put in place to establish the post-war army.[16] When the CMF was re-raised in 1948, it was done so on a reduced establishment and the 15th Brigade was not reformed.[17]


  1. ^ "Australian Military Units: First World War, 1914–1918". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  2. ^ "Unit Information – 57th Battalion, AIF, World War I". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 December 2009.  
  3. ^ a b Grey 2008, p. 125.
  4. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 91.
  5. ^ Palazzo 2001, p. 151.
  6. ^ Dexter 1961, p. 60.
  7. ^ Dexter 1961, p. 61.
  8. ^ Dexter 1961, p. 151.
  9. ^ Bradley 2004, p. 184.
  10. ^ Bradley 2004, p. 241.
  11. ^ "57th/60th Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 26 December 2009.  
  12. ^ a b "To the Bitter End on Bougainville". Digger History. Retrieved 25 December 2009.  
  13. ^ a b Long 1963, p. 177.
  14. ^ "'U' Australian Heavy Battery Association". Royal Australian Artillery Regiment Association NSW. Retrieved 29 December 2009.  
  15. ^ Long 1963, pp. 177–178.
  16. ^ Palazzo 2001, pp. 196–198.
  17. ^ McCarthy 2003, pp. 16–17.


  • Bradley, Phillip (2004). On Shaggy Ridge—The Australian Seventh Division in the Ramu Valley: From Kaiapit to the Finisterres. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195551001.  
  • Dexter, David (1961). The New Guinea Offensives. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 1—Army. Volume VI (1st ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial.  
  • Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521697910.  
  • Long, Gavin (1963). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 1—Army. Volume VII (1st ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial.  
  • Palazzo, Albert (2001). The Australian Army: A History of its Organisation 1901–2001. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195515064.  
  • McCarthy, Dayton (2003). The Once and Future Army: A History of the Citizens Military Forces, 1947–1974. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195515692.  


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