Military History

This Week In History | Week 39

By The Cove September 21, 2020

Week 39 | 21 September - 27 September


21 September 1971 | Battle of Nui Le

Soldiers of B Company and D Company, 4RAR/NZ, fought an intense battle against a large enemy force from 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment in the north of Phuoc Tuy province. The enemy defended their well constructed bunker systems and then attacked D Company for several hours.

Five Australians were killed in action and 24 were wounded in this battle, which was part of Operation Ivanhoe. This was the last battle fought by Australians in South Vietnam before the final withdrawal of the task force in early December 1971.


23 September 1942 |  General Blamey appointed Commander in Chief of Allied Land Forces in New Guinea

This period in Australian Defence Force leadership is a very interesting one. US General Douglas MacArthur was the Supreme Commander in the South West Pacific and had the ear of the Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin. This relationship was resented by many senior Australian military leaders. There was known conflict between Gen Blamey and Gen MacArthur, particularly as a result of the successive victories by the Japanese in New Guinea. Some historians surmise that Gen Blamey was sent to New Guinea as the Commander in Chief of Allied Land Forces in New Guinea as a scapegoat should Port Moresby fall into the hands of the Japanese.  


26 September 1943 | Operation Jaywick destroys Japanese shipping 

Operation Jaywick was a raid on shipping in Japanese-occupied Singapore harbour between September and October 1943. The raid was carried out by members of Special Operations Australia (SOA) from Z Special Unit. The team comprised of four British soldiers and 11 AIF and Royal Australian Navy personnel, commanded by a British officer, Major Ivan Lyon.

Disguised as Malay fishermen, Lyon’s team travelled from Exmouth in Western Australia to Subor Island, 11 kilometres from Singapore, in a captured boat renamed the MV Krait. The Krait was a slow-moving, wooden-hulled vessel about twenty metres long and sporadically suffered engine trouble for the duration of the voyage.

On reaching the island three-and-a-half weeks after leaving Australia, the team launched three two-man collapsible canoes (folboats). Lyon and five others then paddled into Singapore harbour. Arriving at night they split up and slipped from ship to ship attaching limpet mines, paddling another 80 kilometres to rendezvous with Krait six days later on 2 October.

When the mines exploded, seven ships were sank or badly damaged. The Krait recovered its intrepid but exhausted canoeists and travelled back to Australia, arriving at Exmouth on 19 October 1943.


27 September 1918 | Battle of St. Quentin Canal (Battle of the Hindenberg Line)

The Battle of St. Quentin Canal was a pivotal battle during the battle for the Hindenberg Line that began on 27 September 1918 and involved British, Australian and American forces operating as part of the British Fourth Army. Further north, part of the British Third Army also supported the attack. South of the Fourth Army's 19 km front, the French First Army launched a coordinated attack on a 9.5 km front.

The objective was to break through one of the most heavily defended stretches of the Hindenburg Line (Siegfriedstellung), which in this sector utilised the St Quentin Canal as part of its defences. The assault achieved its objectives (though not according to the planned timetable), resulting in the first full breach of the Hindenburg Line despite heavy German resistance. 

Want to know more about the Hindenberg Line and the commander of the Australian forces, General John Monash? Check out this article on the ASPI website, The Strategist.



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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