Military History

This Week in History | Week 14

By The Cove March 30, 2020

30 March - 05 April
01 April 1921 | The First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) disbanded

By the end of the First World War, the First Australian Imperial Force had gained a reputation as a well-trained and highly effective military force. Following the Gallipoli campaign, it had endured more than two years of costly fighting on the Western Front before playing a significant role in the final Allied victory in 1918, albeit as a smaller part of the wider British Empire war effort. Like the other Dominion divisions from Canada and New Zealand, the Australians were viewed as being among the best of the British Empire forces in France, and were often used to spearhead operations. A total of 64 Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross, nine of which were for actions at Gallipoli.

This reputation came at a heavy price, with the AIF sustaining approximately 210,000 casualties from a force of 331,000, of which 54,00 were killed or died of wounds. This represented a total casualty rate of 64.8 percent, which was among the highest of any belligerent for the war. When repatriation of the AIF was completed in 1920, a total of 264,000 men and women had returned to Australia, of whom 151,000 were deemed “fit”, and 113,000 “unfit”. 

The AIF officially ceased to exist on 1 April 1921. As a volunteer force, all units were demobilised at the end of the war. Australia's part-time military force, the Citizens Force, was subsequently reorganised to replicate the AIF's divisional structure and the numerical designations of many of its units allowed the CMF to perpetuate the identities and battle honours of 1st AIF units.

04 April 1918 | First action at Villers-Bretonneux

Villers-Bretonneux, overlooking the Somme and within artillery range of Amiens, was a principal objective during the dying stages of the German Spring Offensive in early April 1918. The German advance was repulsed by the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division as well as some British units.


04 April 1941 | Battle of Er Regima, Tobruk 2/13th Australian Infantry Battalion

The 2/13th was first complete Australian unit to fight German troops during the Second World War. The battle took place at Er Regima on 4 April 1941. The battalion was thinly spread along an 11 kilometre front against a German force of about 3,000 men. The battle began mid-afternoon and continued into the night. Outnumbered and vulnerable, the battalion fought on until 10 pm before withdrawing. They initially moved off on foot but were soon picked up by trucks and driven 16 km east of Barce to rest. The Battle Honour Er Regima is unique to the 2/13th Battalion.


05 April 1951 | 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, involved in Operation Rugged, Korea

Operation Rugged involved United Nations forces crossing the 38th Parallel and occupying strong defensive positions formed by a line of hills that were codenamed the Kansas Line. This included hills Salmon, Cod and Sardine which were approximately 45 kilometres north of Seoul.





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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