19th Battalion (Australia): Wikis


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19th Battalion later 19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment
Active 1860–1930


Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Part of Australian 5th Brigade
Colors Brown over Green
Engagements World War I

World War II

Decorations 1 VC, 5 DSOs, 2 OBEs, 20 DCMs, 33 MCs (and two Bars), 87 MMs (and five Bars), 8 MSMs, 32 MIDs
Battle honours Suvla, Gallipoli 1915–1916, Egypt 1915–1917, Somme 1916, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916–1918, South-West Pacific 1945, Waitavolo, Liberation of Australian New Guinea
Unit colour patch 19th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 19th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Although the unit's numerical designation was bestowed upon it during World War I, the unit can trace its origins back to 1860 when a Volunteer Rifle corps was raised in South Sydney. During World War I, the 19th Battalion was raised as a unit of the 1st AIF, attached to the 5th Brigade, of the 2nd Division. This unit was formed in 1915 and was first sent to Gallipoli where it fought against the Turks, before being withdrawn from the peninsula and being sent to France in early 1916, where it served in the trenches along the Western Front as part of the Australian Corps. Over the next two years the battalion fought in many major battles and won numerous battle honours. In April 1918 it took part in defending against the German Spring Offensive, before the Allies launched their own last ditch effort as part of the Hundred Days Offensive. The battalion was disbanded shortly after it was involved in the assault at Montbrehain in October 1918, due to manpower shortages in the AIF and most of its men were sent to reinforce other battalions.

In 1921 the 19th Battalion was reformed as part of the militia, becoming known as the 19th Battalion (The South Sydney Regiment). From 1930 the battalion was linked with the 1st Battalion to form the 1st/19th Battalion (City of Sydney's Own Regiment), before being linked with the 20th Battalion. During World War II the battalion initially served in the defence of Darwin before being delinked from the 20th Battalion in 1941 and deployed in New Guinea and New Britain. In 1945 the battalion was disbanded and was not reformed until 1966 when it was re-raised as part of the Citizens Military Force, serving as a special conditions battalion known as the 19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment. The battalion would maintain this role until 1995, although in 1971 it would be amalgamated with the 1st Battalion once more to form the 1st/19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment.




Early origins

The battalion's origins began when a corps of volunteers was raised in 1860 in the southern suburbs of Sydney as part of the military forces of the New South Wales colonial defence force.[1] In 1903, following the Federation of Australia this unit became part of the Commonwealth Military Forces and was subsumed into the 1st Australian Infantry Regiment.[1]

In 1912 a system of compulsory military service was introduced and the unit was renamed the 18th Infantry, and then later, 1914, the 17th Infantry.[1] This scheme greatly expanded the army, however, when World War I began, due to the provisions of the Defence Act 1903 which precluded sending conscripts overseas to fight, it became necessary to raise an all volunteer force, separate to the militia, for service in the Middle East and Europe.[2]

World War I

This force was known as the 1st AIF. As a part of this, the 19th Battalion was raised in March 1915, the majority of men who were recruited for the battalion had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force.[3] After training in Egypt, the battalion landed at Anzac Cove on 21 August 1915, and following that took part in the attack on Battle of Hill 60.[3]

Following this, the battalion was mainly used in the defence of Pope's Hill, until it was withdrawn on 19 December 1915 after which it was sent to France.[3] Arriving there on 22 March 1916, the battalion moved to Pozieres, where it took part in the Battle of Pozières. In November 1916, following a period of respite in a quieter sector in Belgium, the 19th Battalion was involved in an attack around Flers, in conditions that were described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.[3]

In 1917 the 19th Battalion was involved in the attack on German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The battalion also took part in three other major battles in 1917, Second Bullecourt, Menin Road and Poelcappelle in Belgium.[3] In 1918 the battalion helped to repel the German Spring Offensive, and it was during this time, on 7 April 1918, that Lieutenant Percy Storkey earned a Victoria Cross for his actions during the fighting around Hangard Wood.[3] Following this, the battalion took part in the Allied offensive that eventually brought about the end of the war, fighting around Amiens, Mont St Quentin and then forcing the "Beaurevoir Line" at Montbrehain.[3] The engagement of Montbrehain would be the battalion's last contribution to the war, as it was disbanded on 10 October 1918, in order to reinforce other battalions in the 5th Brigade.[nb 1][4]

During the war, the battalion suffered 2,903 casualties, of which 836 were killed.[3] Members of the 19th Battalion received the following decorations: 1 VC, 5 DSOs, 1 OBE, 20 DCMs, 31 MCs, 90 MMs, 8 MSMs, 19 MIDs.[3][nb 2][nb 3]

Interwar years

In April 1921 the AIF was officially disbanded and the decision was made to reorganise the units of the militia in order to perpetuate the designations and battle honours of the AIF.[5] As a result of this, the 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, a militia unit that could trace its lineage back to 1860, was reformed as the 19th Battalion (The South Sydney Regiment).[1] Throughout the 1930s the unit was amalgamated with the 1st Battalion and then the 20th Battalion, before being delinked in 1941.

World War II

During World War II, the 19th Battalion served as a garrison force in Darwin as part of the Darwin Mobile Force.[6] In 1943 the 19th Battalion was attached to the 6th Brigade and sent to the Buna area in New Guinea where it was used on defensive duties carrying out patrols and providing labour for work parties.[6] In late 1944 the battalion was sent to New Britain and over the course of the next five months they undertook a campaign of harassment operations to keep the Japanese forces stationed there off balance. In April 1945, however, the battalion was brought back to Australia and in July it was disbanded.[6] During the course of the war the battalion suffered 69 casualties, 18 of which were killed.[6] Members of the battalion received the following decorations for their service: 1 OBE, 4 MCs, 2 MMs, and 13 MIDs.[6]

Post World War II

Following the end of the war even though the Citizens Military Force was reformed in 1948, the battalion was not re-raised at the time. The CMF had been reformed on a restricted establishment and as a result the unit remained off the order of battle until 1966 when the 19th Battalion was re-raised as the 19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, a special conditions battalion, providing training for national servicemen unable to meet their training obligations due to their residence in isolated areas.[1] The battalion continued to fulfil this role until 1995, although in 1971 it was amalgamated with the 1st Battalion once more to form the 1st/19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment,[1] an Australian Army Reserve unit that remains in existence today and perpetuates the honours and traditions of both the 1st and 19th Battalions and their predecessor units.[7]

Battle honours


1860–1862 — 1st Regiment New South Wales Rifle Volunteers (The South Sydney Volunteer Corps)
1862–1868 — The Sydney Battalion New South Wales Volunteer Rifles
1868–1876 — The Suburban Battalion New South Wales Volunteer Rifles
1876–1878 — 1st Regiment New South Wales Volunteer Infantry
1878–1901 — 2nd Regiment Volunteer Rifles
1901–1903 — 1st Infantry Regiment
1903–1908 — 1st Australian Infantry Regiment
1908–1912 — 1st Battalion, 1st Australian Infantry Regiment
1912–1913 — 21st Infantry (Sydney Battalion)
1913–1915 — 21st (Woolahra) Infantry
1915–1918 — 22nd Infantry
1918–1921 — 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment
1921–1927 — 19th Battalion
1927–1930 — 19th Battalion (The South Sydney Regiment)
1930–1937 — 1st/19th Battalion
1937–1939 — 1st/19th Battalion (City of Sydney's Own Regiment)
1939–1941 — 20th/19th Battalion
1941–1945 — 19th Battalion (The South Sydney Regiment)
1966–1971 — 19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment.[8]



  1. ^ In late 1918, as a result of the combined effects of the high casualties suffered during the German spring offensive, long-term leave that was granted for 1914 enlistees and the reduced numbers of new enlistments into the AIF, the AIF had to reduce its number of units at this time. Three battalions were disbanded at this time.
  2. ^ The AWM Unit Information also states that there were six foreign awards, but does not elaborate what these were, so they have not been included here.
  3. ^ This list has been put together using AWM figures, however, it differs slightly in so much as where a Bar was awarded, that is included in the figures. As such, there were 29 individuals who received the MC from the 19th Battalion, with two Bars. There were also 85 individuals who received the MM, with five Bars.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Harris, Ted. "Royal New South Wales Regiment Battalions Off Orbat". Digger History.org. Archived from the original on 2009-05-19. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1242693731998000. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  
  2. ^ Grey 2008, p. 85.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "AWM Unit Information — 19th Battalion, AIF, World War I". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/diaries/ww1/folder.asp?folder=960. Retrieved 2009-03-19.  
  4. ^ Neillands 2004, p. 493.
  5. ^ Grey 2008, p. 125.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "AWM Unit Information — 19th Battalion (South Sydney Regiment), World War II". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11951.asp. Retrieved 2009-05-18.  
  7. ^ "The 1st/19th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment History". Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. http://www.webcitation.org/5iXTyOeW0. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  8. ^ Harris, Ted. "Lineage of the Royal New South Wales Regiment". Digger History.org. Archived from the original on 2009-05-19. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1242693750053945. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  


See also


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