Military History

This Week in History | Week 7

By The Cove February 10, 2020

10 - 16 February
11 February 1995: Advance party of the Australian Service Contingent 2 (ASC2) arrived in Rwanda (Operation Tamar)

On 11th February 1995 the headquarters of the Australian Service Contingent 2 arrived in Rwanda. The Australian force in Rwanda served under the command of the United Nations.

12 February 1900: The Battle of Pink Hill, Cape Colony, South Africa

The Battle of Pink Hill, a famous action during the Second South African War, was fought between Australian and British troops and a Boer force on 12 February 1900, some thirteen kilometres north-west of Colesberg in central Cape Colony. The engagement occurred after the Boers, realising the weakness of the column of 6,600 men under Major General R.A.P. Clements which opposed them about Colesberg, moved to drive in the British flanks and force a retreat back down the railway line towards Naauwpoort. Clements' left flank rested on a low rocky ridge known as Pink Hill, which was held by 75 men of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, 20 South Australians and 100 British regulars (50 Inniskilling Dragoons and an equal number of infantry of the Wiltshire Regiment). 

When the enemy assault began shortly before noon, carried out by the bulk of General E.R. Grobler's force of 1,000-2,000 men, the post was commanded by Major G.A. Eddy of the Victorians who had just taken over from an Imperial officer that morning. Soon the defenders were being lashed by close-range fire from three pom-pom quick-fire weapons and a field-gun, as well as innumerable Mauser rifles. Throughout the battle Eddy moved among his men, giving encouragement and directing their fire. After two hours, however, it was obvious that the position must eventually fall. Eddy accordingly instructed the Wiltshires to retire while the mounted troops continued to provide covering fire. Once the infantry were safely away, he then gave the order for the rest to follow, but no sooner had he done so than he was killed by an enemy bullet through the head. The action ultimately cost six Australians killed (one of whom died of' wounds the following day) and 22 wounded; two of the wounded and one other man were taken prisoner, although one of these (a wounded officer) was released the following day.

The gallant defence maintained on the hill ultimately proved to be a futile gesture. By 3 p.m. Pink Hill was in Boer hands.

13 February 1946: Main Australian contingent of British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) sailed for Japan from Morotai

Australian personnel played a prominent role in the BCOF in Japan at the conclusion of the Second World War in the Pacific. They were allotted the devastated Hiroshima Prefecture on the island of Honshu. The first Australian Army unit to deploy to the Korean War, 3 RAR, deployed from BCOF in Japan.

14 February 1951: Battle of Chuam-Ni, Korea involving the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR)

The 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, was awarded its second battle honour for its part in the Battle of Chuam-Ni, a defensive battle fought against Chinese soldiers from the People's Volunteer Army.

15 February 1942: The Fall of Singapore

The Fall of Singapore was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II when the Empire of Japan invaded the British stronghold of Singapore—nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East". Singapore was the major British military base in South-East Asia and was the key to British imperial interwar defence planning for South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. The battle of Singapore commenced following a two-month advance by the Japanese down the Malayan Peninsular and lasted from 8 to 15 February 1942.

The campaign, including the final battle, was a decisive Japanese victory, resulting in the Japanese capture of Singapore and the largest British surrender in history. About 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops in Singapore became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the earlier Malayan Campaign. The British prime minister, Winston Churchill, called it the "worst disaster" in British military history.



16 February 1942: Banka Island Massacre

The Bangka Island massacre was committed on 16 February 1942, when Imperial Japanese soldiers machine-gunned 22 Australian Army nurses and 60 Australian and British soldiers and crew members who had initially survived the sinking of their two ships. Vivian Bullwinkel was the sole surviving nurse; two soldiers also survived.




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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