Military History

This Week In History | Week 11

By The Cove March 9, 2020

09-15 March


11 March 1989 | First Australian contingent to UNTAG in Namibia

The Australian Services Contingent was the Australian Army's contribution to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) peacekeeping mission to Namibia between 1989 and 1990. Australia sent two contingents of over 300 engineers each to assist the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Martti Ahtisaari, in overseeing free and fair elections in Namibia for a Constituent Assembly. At the time it was the largest deployment of Australian troops since the Vietnam War.


12 March 1942 | Allied forces in Java surrender to Japanese

Japanese forces invaded the island of Java on 28 February 1942. The fighting over the following two weeks became know as The Battle of Java. Allied commanders signed a formal surrender at Japanese headquarters at Bandung on 12 March.


12 March 1951 | The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment capture Hill 703 Korea and ends the Battle of Maehwa-san

The Battle of Maehwa-San was a battle fought for control of the hills and area around Maehwa mountain between 7–12 March 1951 during the Korean War. The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was tasked with eliminating the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) and North Korean Korean People's Army (KPA) forces occupying the area. 3 RAR's capture of Hill 703 effectively ended the battle.


13 March 1901 | General Order 10 notified disbandment of colonial military forces and the raising of the newly formed Australian Army

Until Australia became a Federation in 1901, each of the six colonial governments was responsible for the defence of their own colony. From 1788 until 1870 this was done with British regular forces. In all, 24 British infantry regiments served in the Australian colonies. Each of the Australian colonies gained responsible government between 1855 and 1890, and while the Colonial Office in London retained control of some affairs (and the colonies were still firmly within the British Empire), the Governors of the Australian colonies were required to raise their own colonial militia. To do this, the colonial Governors had the authority from the British crown to raise military and naval forces. Initially these were militias in support of British regulars, but British military support for the colonies ended in 1870 and the colonies assumed their own defence. The separate colonies maintained control over their respective militia forces and navies until 1 March 1901, when the colonial forces were all amalgamated into the Commonwealth Forces following the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

At that time, the Australian Army came into being under the command of Major General Sir Edward Hutton and all of the colonial forces, including those then on active service in South Africa, transferred into the Australian Army. General Order 10 notified disbandment of colonial military forces and the raising of the newly formed Australian Army.


14 March 1916 | First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) depart Egypt for Western Front 

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli the Australians returned to Egypt and the AIF underwent a major expansion. In 1916, the infantry began to move to France while the mounted infantry units remained in the Middle East to fight the Turkish Army. Australian troops of the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Australian Mounted Division saw action in all the major battles of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, playing a pivotal role in fighting the Turkish troops that were threatening British control of Egypt, while the remainder of the AIF saw action in France.




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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