Military History

This week in Australian Army History | Week 2

By The Cove December 19, 2019

06 January to 12 January


08 January 1958: Last Australian Combat Troops depart Korea

The armistice that ended the Korean War was signed at 10 am on 27 July 1953. Sporadic fighting continued throughout the day, but as evening fell the guns grew silent. The armistice came into effect at 10 pm, ending three years, one month, and two days of war in Korea. The end came so suddenly that some soldiers took some convincing that the fighting was really over. The former belligerent nations each withdrew two kilometres in accordance with the armistice agreement, forming the Demilitarized Zone which still exists today. Australian Forces remained in Korea as part of the multi-national peacekeeping force until 1958.

Over 17,000 Australians served during the Korean War, of which 340 were killed and over 1,216 wounded. A further 29 had become prisoners of war.

09 January 1917: Capture of Rafa in the Sinai Peninsular by the ANZAC Mounted Division. 

The Battle of Rafa, fought on 9 January 1917, was the third and final battle to complete the recapture of the Sinai Peninsula by British forces during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. 

Three miles south of Rafa the ANZAC Mounted Division encountered a 2,000 strong Turkish force that had constructed a defensive position on a rise known as Hill 255 at El Magruntein. On the morning of 9 January 1917, the Division and the 5th Mounted Brigade, together with three battalions of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, isolated the Turkish garrison by cutting the telegraph lines to Gaza. The 5th Mounted Brigade moved in from the west and the New Zealanders were sent south with instructions to attack the Turkish forces from the east and north. At 7 am artillery opened fire and the allied forces advanced across the open ground. The Turks were able to maintain a high rate of fire and delayed the assault.  Early in the afternoon the British and Commonwealth forces began to run low on ammunition and, aware of the approach of a Turkish relief force, plans were made to fall back to El Arish. As evening approached several units launched final efforts against the Turkish forces. Charging in from the north, three New Zealand regiments, supported by Imperial Camel Corps and the regiments of the Australian Light Horse, attacked the main redoubt on Hill 255. These attacks were successful in overcoming the Turkish forces who began surrendering.

10 January 1940: First contingent of 2nd AIF (6 Div) embarks for the Middle East. 

The Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) was the name given to the volunteer personnel of the Australian Army in World War II. Under the Defence Act (1903), neither the part-time Militia nor the full-time Permanent Military Force (PMF) could serve outside Australia or its territories unless they volunteered to do so. Following in the footsteps of the first AIF, the second AIF were sent to the Middle East rather than England. Unlike their earlier counterparts, however, most of their fighting took place in North Africa.

10 January 1943: Evacuation of the guerrilla Lancer Force from Timor

The "Z" Lancer Force left Timor on 10 February 1943, picked up by the submarine USS Gudgeon. They had been part of a guerilla campaign against the Japanese that had tied up an entire Japanese division for more than six months and were the last allied ground forces to leave South East Asia after the Japanese offensives of 1941-1942.

11 January 1973: Cessation of hostilities in Vietnam by Australian Forces.

The proclamation by the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, ended 11 years of Australian involvement in Vietnam, at that time the longest duration of any war in Australia's history. From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in 1962, almost 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded. 



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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