Title: The Broken Eighth – A history of the 2/14th Australian Field Regiment
Author: Jackson, Ron
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 1997
Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket – 305 pages
Comments: The detailed history of the 2/14th Australian Field Regiment – now out of print and scarce.
The second of the 8th Division’s field regiments, the 2/14th Field Regiment was raised on 17 October 1940 and its headquarters were initially headquartered at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. The recruits for the regimental headquarters and 27 Battery came from Victoria, while the regiment’s 28 Battery came from South Australia. By the end of the year the regiment’s headquarters and 27 Battery was located at Puckapunyal, while 28 Battery was at Woodside. 28 Battery moved from South Australia to Puckapunyal in the third week of February 1941. The regiment trained with 18-pounder guns and 4.5 inch howitzers. A third battery, 64 Battery, was later raised in April 1942 while the regiment was in Darwin.
In July 1941 the regiment moved to Winnellie Camp, Darwin, which most thought would only be temporary move to “acclimatize” themselves with the tropics as most of the 8th Division had already gone overseas. Indeed, two of the division’s infantry brigades and its other artillery regiments, the 2/10th and the 2/15th, were serving in Malaya and Singapore. The division’s 23rd Brigade had its headquarters in Darwin and its battalions were later sent to garrison the islands to Australia’s north – the 2/21st went to Ambon, the 2/22nd to Rabaul, and the 2/40th to Timor.
Following Japan’s entry into the war and rapid advance through south east Asia and the Pacific, the 8th Division was captured and those who survived the fighting, then had to endure three and a half years as prisoners of war of the Japanese.
The 2/14th Field Regiment was the only major combat unit of the 8th Division that was not captured. The regiment’s colour patch was later changed in part to acknowledge this, as a perpendicular “break” was inserted into the colour patch. The break signified the “Broken Eight” Division. The intention was to remove the break when the prisoners were liberated and the division reformed.
Just days after the fall of Singapore, on 19 February Darwin was bombed for the first time. Darwin and its nearby airfields were raided another more than 60 times, and during this time the regiment remained in the Darwin area.
From the June to December the 2/14th’s activities remained the same, tactical training, calibration shoots, and regimental shoots. The regiment’s headquarters and 27 Battery remained in the Darwin “fortress” area, while 28 Battery moved to Bagot and 64 Battery moved to 38 Mile – Coomalie Creek.
After 18 months in Darwin, in January 1943 the regiment returned south and went into camp at Loftus, adjacent to the Audley National Park, south of Sydney, in February. It was while the regiment was at Loftus that it received is allotment of 25-pounders. The gunners carried out exercises in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands, and in November moved north to Brisbane where it prepared to embark for overseas service.
In December a detachment from the regiment’s headquarters and 64 Battery travelled to Lae, in New Guinea, which was being developed into a major base for the Australian operations in New Guinea. At the start of 1944 64 Battery moved to Massewang, which was north of Finschhafen, on the Huon Peninsula. Some personnel were also attached to the headquarters of the 9th Division. By the third week of January the rest of the regiment had arrived in Finschhafen were they had relieved the 2/12th Field Regiment. The 2/14th was to support the 5th Division’s advance to clear the Huon Peninsula. Gunners from the regiment went into action the following month. The regiment remained in New Guinea for the rest of the year, providing necessary artillery support for the infantry and training. The guns of the regiment were located between Madang and Alexishafen.
At the end of the year the 5th Division, including the 2/14th, began moved to New Britain. Taken by troopship, the regiment left Alexishafen and arrived at Jacquinot Bay, the main Allied base on New Britain in early January 1945. American troops had major a large amphibious landing at Jacquinot Bay earlier in the war, and they were now being relieved by Australian troops.
The Australian campaign on New Britain was a limited offensive, one that contained the Japanese to Rabual and the northern area of the Gazelle Peninsula. This was done with a series of limited offensives to clear the Open and Wide Bays, and with extensive patrolling regime between the two. As the only field regiment supporting the division, the 2/14th frequent provided support and was heavily engaged in the fighting around Waitavalo, shelling the Japanese positions in March 1945.
While most of the regiment was located on the east coast of the island at Wide Bay, A Troop was located on the east coast, at Open Bay, with the 4th Brigade. A Troop mostly supported infantry patrolling, but in June it began engaging Japanese targets in the Matanakunai Bay and Matalaili River.
Following the end of the war in August and the surrender of Japanese forces, in September the regiment moved to Rabual, where it and the 11th Division formed the garrisoning force. The 2/14th remained in Rabual for the rest of the year. Over time the regiment’s ranks thinned as men were discharged or posted to other units. In January 1946 the unit returned to Australia, where up on the 2/14th Field Regiment was disbanded.
Includes Nominal Roll, Honour Roll, Decorations and Awards.