This Week in History | Week 48By The Cove November 23, 2020
Week 48 | 23 - 29 November
23 November 1948 | Formation of the Australian Regiment
Formation of the Australian Regiment, which became the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) in March 1949. The Royal Australian Regiment has taken a prominent role in Australia's wars and peacekeeping operations since its formation.
24 November 1899 | Battle of Graspan, South Africa
Members of the New South Wales Lancers involved in the battle of Graspan, South Africa. This is one of the series of defeats suffered by the British in the opening months of the Boer War. It involved 29 members of the NSW Lancers, the first Australian troops to reach South Africa.
26 November 1943 | End of fighting at Pabu Hill (The Battle of Wareo), PNG
Shortly after the Australians had landed at Scarlet Beach in late September, they began to patrol the area north of there towards Bonga and Gusika. Several key tracks and junctions were located by troops from the 2/43rd Infantry Battalion, through the use of aerial reconnaissance, evidence was found that the Japanese were using these tracks to traverse the area and to move supplies west towards Sattelberg. Observation posts were established and it became apparent to the Australians that one hill in particular, a feature later dubbed “Pabu” by the Australians after one of their native scouts, was the key terrain in the area.
Part of an area that later became known as “Horace the Horse” to the Australians due to its shape as viewed from the air, it was within artillery range of the Australian forward positions at North Hill and as such could be occupied and held by a small party who could then disrupt the Japanese supply line.
Three companies from the 2/32nd Infantry Battalion under Major Bill Mollard, were sent to occupy it in mid-November, and after striking north of the Song River from North Hill, with the help of native scouts, they moved between the Japanese positions as “Exchange” and “Pino Hill”. Following a heavy bombardment from the field guns of the 2/12th Field Regiment firing from Heldsbach Plantation, they captured the position. Over the next few days, the Australians established themselves, and began patrolling operations. After bringing up mortars and Vickers medium machine guns, they began to attack the Japanese resupply parties moving through the area, inflicting heavy casualties.
As a result of the occupation of Pabu, and the general movement of Australian forces towards Wareo–Bonga, the Japanese infantry were threatened with being trapped. In response, the Japanese commander, Katagiri, diverted some of the effort away from the recapture of Finschhafen, and resolved to recapture the North Hill–Pabu area.
A strong force of Japanese subsequently advanced south along the coastal track from Bonga, attempting to retake North Hill and the ground north of the Song River. Commencing on 22 November, the Japanese made heavy assaults around North Hill, on positions which were defended by Australians from the 2/43rd Infantry Battalion and the 2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion.
The 2/32nd, with two companies isolated to the north around Pabu, was also in the thick of the fighting, and over the space of 10 days it was subjected to repeated attacks. Despite being short of food and receiving repeated mortar fire, the 2/32nd held its ground with the assistance of strong artillery support, and in doing so inflicted heavy casualties upon the Japanese.
At least 195 bodies were found around the 2/32nd’s position; their own losses amounted to 25 killed and 51 wounded. The Japanese commanding General, Hatazo Adachi, later pinpointed the Australian capture of Pabu Hill as one of the main reasons for the defeat of his force during the Huon Peninsula campaign.
29 November 1950 | Teadong River crossing secured
The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, secures the Teadong River ferry crossing, Korea. This was one of only two north-south roads available for the US Eighth Army's retreat in the face of Chinese forces. 3RAR secured the crossing and protected it from Chinese and North Korean infiltrators.