Title: Battalion into Battle - The History of the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939 - 1945
Author: Olson, Wes
Edition: 2nd Edition (Revised)
Publication Date: 2012
Cover: Hard Cover without Dust Jacket - 509 pages
Comments: The detailed history of the 2/11th Battalion during it's World War 2 service in North Africa, Middle East, Greece, Crete and in the Pacific. This is an amended edition.
Battalion into Battle is the first full history of the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, to be published. The battalion was formed at Northam Camp in November 1939, and was the first infantry battalion to be raised in Western Australia for overseas service in the Second World War.
The book begins with a brief biography of the unit’s first commanding officer, Thomas Louch, then covers the formation of 2/11th Battalion at Northam Camp, its initial training in Australia, and its subsequent deployment to the Middle East in April 1940 as part of the 6th Australian Division.
Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tom Louch MC, the battalion took part in the Western Desert Campaign and was involved in the capture of the Italian strongholds of Bardia and Tobruk in January 1941. The unit was then tasked with the capture of the Derna aerodrome and town, during which the first of many individual gallantry awards were earned. Derna was the battalion’s first real test against determined opposition and an entire chapter, interwoven with first-hand accounts, is dedicated to this benchmark action.
From the highs of the Western Desert Campaign the reader follows the battalion to Greece and its first sobering clash with the Luftwaffe and the German army. Two chapters are dedicated to Greek Campaign and the battalion’s important rear-guard action at Brallos Pass. The bulk of the battalion was then evacuated to the island of Crete, which in May 1941 was under threat of German invasion. It was here that a very dejected Bouff Ryan penned his famous poem ‘The Isle of Doom’, which is reproduced in full.
On Crete, the 2/11th Battalion (together with the 2/1st Battalion and supporting Australian and Greek troops), was tasked with defending the Retimo airstrip. Its greatest test came on 20 May 1941 when the Germans launched their airborne assault on the island. The 2/11th Battalion, now under the command of Major Ray Sandover, fought until overwhelmed on 30 May. Three chapters are dedicated to the Battle for Retimo, with an appendix of all known casualties.
Nearly 600 of the battalion’s officers and men were killed or captured on Crete. A nominal roll lists all those who were captured in Greece and on Crete whilst serving with the 2/11th Battalion, as well as those men who became prisoners of war after transfer to other units.
A small number of officers and men managed to escape from Crete and their story, including the remarkable 350-mile solo voyage of Stan ‘Tich’ Carroll in a small fishing boat, is told in the following chapter.
The battalion was subsequently rebuilt for service in Syria, but after the entry of Japan into the war was brought home to help defend Australia. The 2/11th Battalion formed the nucleus of the infantry defences in Western Australia from May 1942 until July 1943, when it was transferred to Queensland for jungle training. During this period sport played an important role in maintaining sagging morale.
In November 1944 the 2/11th Battalion sailed for New Guinea and took part in the hard-fought Aitape-Wewak Campaign. Over the next four chapters the reader will see how the men lived, laughed, fought and died in this bloody campaign, and how respect for a civilized enemy was quickly replaced by utter hatred for the seemingly uncivilized Japanese.
The final chapter is dedicated to the POW experience of the men captured in Greece and on Crete.
Battalion into Battle is a 519-page hard-back book and contains seventeen maps, 175 photographs, campaign casualty lists, award recipient list, honour roll and nominal roll of the 2,962 personnel known to have been taken on strength by the battalion.
Includes Nominal Roll
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 29 August, 2012.