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1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
|1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment|
|Active||12 October 1945 – present|
|Part of||3rd Brigade|
|Nickname(s)||Big Blue One|
|March||Waltzing Matilda (Band)|
|Mascot(s)||Shetland Pony "Septimus"|
War in Afghanistan
|Decorations||Unit Citation for Gallantry
Meritorious Unit Commendation (United States)
|Colonel-in-Chief||HM The Queen (Australian Infantry Corps)|
|Unit Colour Patch|
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) is a regular motorised infantry battalion of the Australian Army. 1 RAR was first formed as the 65th Australian Infantry Battalion in 1945 and since then has been deployed on active service during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War and more recently in Somalia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the battalion has deployed on peacekeeping operations to a number of countries including Japan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. In 2006, 1 RAR was one of the Australian Army's most heavily deployed units sending detachments to Iraq as part of SECDET, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The battalion is currently based at Townsville, Queensland, where it forms part of the 3rd Brigade.
With the conclusion of the war in the Pacific in 1945, Australia was committed to provide troops for occupation duties in Japan. This commitment led to the formation of the 34th Australian Infantry Brigade. The brigade was made up of three battalions: the 65th, 66th and 67th Australian Infantry Battalions. On 12 October 1945 the 65th Battalion, later the 1st Battalion was formed out of 7th Division at Balikpapan and quickly sailed to Morotai from where they undertook training prior to being sent to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
In line with the formative plan to raise an Interim Army, the battalions were re-designated as of the Australian Regiment in 1948 and the 65th Battalion became the 1st Battalion, Australian Regiment. On 31 March 1949 the regiment received the prefix "Royal", becoming the Royal Australian Regiment. 1 RAR was initially based at Ingleburn, but later moved to Enoggera and Holsworthy and is now based at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville.
Occupation of Japan
Under an agreement signed between the Allied nations, Australia would contribute troops towards the occupation of Japan. The Australian contribution was a brigade element, the 34th Brigade, consisting of three infantry battalions each with their own area of responsibility. By the middle of June 1946 the Australian brigade was in place, with the 65th Battalion located at Fukuyama–Onomichi, 150 kilometres (93 mi) south of Osaka. The battalion was charged with enforcing the directives of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, which involved various tasks such as ceremonial duties, escorting displaced persons, restoring law and order and overseeing the disarmament process. During this time they participated in the search and destruction of wartime materials. The operation was a dangerous one, the area was honeycombed with caves and tunnels and large quantities of explosives, ammunition and poison gas were discovered.
In April 1946 the battalion took part in the surveillance of Japanese elections. The battalion also kept a close watch on a number of repatriation centres in the area. At the end of 1948, the 1st Battalion left Japan, while all Australian troops had left Japan by 1951 with the signing of the San Francisco Treaty.
1RAR was in Australia when the Korean War began in 1950; however, the battalion was not deployed immediately as Australia's initial commitment consisted of 3RAR. In 1951, in anticipation of deployment to Korea, 1RAR was brought up to strength with volunteers from 2RAR and new enlistments from the 'K' Force recruiting campaign which brought a large number of men with experience from World War II into the battalion. In September 1951 the battalion received orders to move to Korea and after a farewell march through Sydney 1RAR departed for Japan on 18 March 1952 onboard HMAS Devonshire. After a period of training in Japan, 1RAR arrived in South Korea on 6 April 1952, joining the 28th Brigade on 1 June. On 19 June 1952 1 RAR moved into the line taking over from the 1st Battalion, Royal Leicesters.
In July 1952 1RAR was detached to the 29th Brigade, relieving other battalions on Hills 159, 210 and 355. It took part in general patrolling along the Jamestown Line, which involved securing defences, repairing minefield fences, and undertaking reconnaissance of enemy positions to gather information on them. Other major operations that 1RAR took part in usually aimed at capturing a prisoner or destroying enemy defences. Operation Blaze was 1RAR's first major action, which involved an attack on Hill 227 in order to capture a prisoner. The attack failed in its objective and the battalion suffered four killed and 33 wounded in action.
On the night of 13–14 September the battalion captured its first prisoner as it continued to conduct patrolling operations. By the end of the month 1 RAR was relieved and whilst one company was detached to 1st Battalion, Welsh Regiment to occupy the Yong Dong hill feature the rest of the battalion was placed into the brigade reserve. This lasted until November when as part of Operation Nescala, 1RAR relieved the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment on Hill 355. The position had been poorly maintained and over the course of the next ten days 1 RAR had to regain control of the approaches and re-establish security in the area, suffering 50 casualties in the process. At the same time, the battalion also supported the Royal Fusiliers in Operation Beat Up by launching a diversionary attack on Hill 227 on 25–26 November 1952.
On the night of 11–12 December 1952 1RAR was involved in Operation Fauna, which was only a partial success as the Australians failed to capture a prisoner, although they did manage to destroy an enemy position. The battalion suffered 22 wounded and three missing as a result of this action. Operation Fauna turned out to be 1RAR's last action of the war was they were relieved by 3RAR on 29 December 1952. On 21 March 1953, 1RAR was relieved by 2RAR at Camp Casey, near Tongduchon, and returned to Australia later that month on the MV New Australia. The battalion suffered 42 killed and 107 wounded during the nine months that they served on combat operations in Korea, however, 1RAR members also received the following decorations: two Distinguished Service Orders, two Officers of the Order of the British Empire, three Members of the Order of the British Empire, seven Military Crosses, one British Empire Medal, 21 Mentions in Despatches and three Commander-in-Chief Commendations.
In April 1954, 1RAR returned to Korea as part of the UN forces stationed in the country after the armistice, and was involved in training and border patrols. It would remain there until March 1956.
In response to the Malayan Communist Party's push to convert Malaya into a Communist state and increasing civil unrest the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve was established, with Australia contributing a rotating battalion group. On 20 September 1959, the battalion embarked on MV Flaminia for Malaya. After arriving at Singapore the battalion trained at Kota Tinggi and moved to base camps at Kuala Kangsar, Sungei Siput, Lasah, Lintang and Grik where they undertook a month of acclimatisation. The battalion began Operation Bamboo on 16 November 1959 in the Thai/Malay border area in Perak, relieving the 1st Battalion, The Loyal Regiment. For the next 18 months 1RAR operated in 210 square miles (540 km2) area of dense jungle searching for the elusive Communist terrorists (CTs).
The area was largely inaccessible except by helicopter, boat or on foot. Platoon sized patrols would be sent for three week long search operations before returning to the base camps for ten days rest. Even though there were 117 official 'finds' during these operations, no kills were recorded by the battalion at this time as the CTs began to negate the Australian patrols by crossing the border into Thailand where they could not be followed. In April 1960 1RAR took part in Operation Magnet, which involved FESR units crossing the border for the first time in the conflict in an attempt to drive the CTs back into Malaya where other units were ready to carry out ambushes upon them. Later in June, Operation Jackforce was launched, using similar tactics and during this 1RAR finally was involved in one contact.
In July 1960, the Malayan Emergency was officially declared over, although 1RAR remained on operations until the following year when it was withdrawn and began a period of intensive training as part of the FESR, including a number of brigade level exercises. On 29 October 1961, the battalion left Penang for Sydney on the MV Flaminia, having suffered two men killed in action. The battalion returned to Malaysia in early 1969, after two major exercises, 'Jumping Wallaby' and 'Sheer Hell', the unit withdrew from Malaysia, joining the Selarang garrison in Singapore in December 1969. The unit remained in Singapore until July 1971 when it returned to Lavarack Barracks in Townsville.
Two tours of Vietnam were completed by 1 RAR during the Vietnam War, the first one being between March 1965 and June 1966 and the second between April 1968 and February 1969. In March 1965 advanced elements of 1 RAR deployed for Vietnam by charter aircraft, whilst the rest of the battalion followed later on HMAS Sydney. The battalion arrived at Bien Hoa Air Base in June and was placed under command of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, becoming the first Australian unit to serve in a US formation. Initially, the Australian contingent was restricted only to providing security to the airbase, however, these limitations were later removed by the Australian government and in September 1965 began conducting offensive operations against the Viet Cong (VC) including search and destroy missions, security operations and conducting fighting patrols around the Bien Hoa area of operations.
Throughout the remainder of 1965 the battalion conducted a number of operations along with the rest of the 173rd Brigade in areas such as 'Ben Cat', 'War Zone D', and 'The Iron Triangle'. In January 1966 1 RAR took part in Operation Crimp, a search and destroy mission in the Ho Bo Woods, north of Saigon, during which the battalion conducted an air assault and uncovered the Cu Chi tunnel complex which was serving as the underground hideaway for a VC higher command element. A large stockpile of weapons and a large number of documents were found in the tunnel complex which was the deepest and most elaborate system that had been found up to that time.
1RAR continued operations until April 1966, taking part in a number of joint operations with US troops until the arrival of the 1st Australian Task Force. On Anzac Day, as the battalion was preparing to return to Australia, they were visited by Prime Minister Harold Holt. They were finally relieved in June and they returned to Australia that same month.
The battalion's second tour came two years later when it returned to Vietnam, arriving at Nui Dat on 9 April 1968 to relieve 7 RAR. Operating out of Phuoc Tuy Province the battalion was mainly involved in patrols, searches, reconnaissance and security operations before being redeployed in May to an area north of Saigon where throughout April it carried out Operation Toan Thang, which was aimed at cutting off the withdrawal of enemy forces following the Tet Offensive. After conducting two small operations in Long Khanh Province, 1 RAR moved to Fire Support Base Coral. Whilst they were there, the base was attacked twice. The first attack which on the night of 15 May was only a probing attack by a battalion sized element, whilst the second attack came on the night of 16 May 1966, when the base was attacked by a force later identified as the 141st NVA Regiment. After fierce fighting with the help of accurate artillery fire from the 102nd Field Battery the attack was beaten off and on 6 June 1966 the fire base was closed and 1 RAR returned to Nui Dat. Later it was estimated that 162 enemy were killed as a result of Operation Toan Thang.
Between July and September several more operations were carried out including a follow up mission called Operation Toan Thang II that saw the battalion move to the Bien Hoa–Long Khanh border and conduct sweeps through the Hat Dich, Tua Tich and Ba Ria areas. Between 28 September and 12 October, 1 RAR was once again sent into the Hat Dich area when they undertook Operation Windsor. This operation was later followed by a sweep mission through the north-western areas of Phuoc Tuy Province, before 1 RAR participated on Operation Goodwood, rotating on this operation with 9 RAR and 4 RAR until the battalion's tour of duty finally ended in February 1969. In between these operations the battalion continued to carry out the normal duties of an infantry battalion in Vietnam, conducting cordon and search missions, escorting convoys, patrolling and security operations.
1 RAR was officially relieved by 5 RAR on 15 February 1969 and it departed Vietnam the following day. Total 1 RAR casualties for both tours were 50 killed and 411 wounded.[Note 1] Balanced against this, the battalion was credited with having killed 404 VC. Members of the battalion also received the following decorations: three Distinguished Service Orders, three Members of the Order of the British Empire, six Military Crosses, three Distinguished Conduct Medals, 10 Military Medals, four British Empire Medals and 21 Mentions in Despatches.
On 21 May 1987, after a military coup in Fiji, 1RAR received orders to deploy a rifle company from the Operational Deployment Force as part of Operation Morris Dance. In the end the force was not deployed on the ground, however, a large naval task force was established off the Fijian coast to intervene if necessary and 'B' Company was flown to Norfolk Island where it embarked upon HMAS Tobruk. From there elements of the company were spread across the task force to assist in the evacuation of Australian nationals and expatriates from the island before returning to Townsville on 3 June 1987, after the Australian government decided against taking more active measures to intervene.
The Bougainville Copper Mine during 1988–89 was causing enough attention in Australia that the Australian Government placed 2/4 RAR on standby for a short notice deployment to the fractured isle. A significant number of soldiers from 1 RAR bolstered 2/4 RAR for the possible deployment. This deployment did not occur, however.
In 1991, the sub-Saharan African nation of Somalia was gripped by a deadly civil war, which coupled with widespread famine, that threatened a humanitarian disaster on a massive scale. Initially the global response was slow, but in late 1992 the United Nations requested assistance in securing the nation as it went about the task of reconstructing the shattered nation's infrastructure and delivering humanitarian assistance. In response Australia pledged to deploy a 937-strong battalion group in Operation Solace under the auspices of the wider US-led Operation Restore Hope as part of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) in Somalia.
1RAR, as part of the Operational Deployment Force, was chosen as the main unit upon which the Australian battalion group would be based and on 17 December 1992 was warned out for deployment.[Note 2] Deploying onboard HMAS Tobruk, HMAS Jervis Bay and charter aircraft, the battalion group was committed for a finite period between January and May 1993, and was given responsibility for a 17,000 square kilometres (6,600 sq mi) area centred upon Baidoa, which was a provincial town in the south-western area of Somalia.
During its deployment, 1RAR took part in seven major operations and on 17 February 1993, they had the first of 11 contacts with Somali gunmen. Approximately 1,100 foot patrols were undertaken whilst the battalion group was deployed, ensuring the safe delivery of 8,311 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies. Additionally, 935 weapons including 544 rifles and 145 machine guns were seized. Seven Somali gunmen were killed, four were wounded and 70 were detained and turned over to the Auxiliary Security Forces. On 14 May 1993, the battalion handed responsibility for the Humanitarian Relief Sector to the French element of the United Nations Force. 1RAR returned to Australia on 22 May 1993 and marched through the streets of Townsville, Queensland.
Operation Solace was the first active service deployment of Australian soldiers since the Vietnam War. Members returning to Australia were awarded the Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) and Infantry Combat Badge (ICB).
During a battalion defensive exercise at High Range Training Area in 2000, elements of 1 RAR (CO Tac and C Coy) were recalled back to Coral Lines to assist with evacuation operations out of the Solomon Islands. Operation Plumbob ensued but the battalion group did not leave HMAS Manoora.
On Christmas Eve 2004, following the shooting death of Australian Protective Services Officer Adam Dunning, 1 RAR was ordered to deploy the Ready Company Group (RCG), based on Battalion HQ (Tac) and 'A' Company to the Solomon Islands. This was achieved within 18 hours of being ordered to deploy. Calm was quickly restored to the Solomon Islands, and the RCG returned to Australia in late January 2005.
In April 2006, riots flared in the capital Honiara after a non-favourable Prime Minister was appointed. The headquarters from 1 RAR and 'D' Company were deployed to assist the RAMSI to control the violence. 'D' Company spent a majority of their time providing stability to the China Town region which was almost completely destroyed during the riots. Once the security situation had improved in the capital, the Task Force began sending patrols to the regional areas of the country. Some of the more remote communities had not seen an Australian patrol for almost two years.
On 25 October 2000 a battlegroup based upon 1 RAR took over the role of the Australian Battalion of UNTAET from 6 RAR. 1 RAR assumed control over 1500 km² of East Timor. The battalion's mission was to provide security to the people of East Timor so that civil infrastructure and government systems could be re-established under the guidance of the UN in order to help the East Timorese transition to an independent nation. Actions taken by the battalion resulted in one militia killed and one friendly wounded. In April 2001, 1 RAR was relieved by 4 RAR. The battalion deployed on its second tour of East Timor in May 2003, taking over from 5/7 RAR.
In May 2006, Australian forces returned to East Timor following a resurgence in violence and an increase in civil unrest. 'A' Company 1 RAR deployed from Townsville in mid-May on HMAS Manoora, flying into Dili by Blackhawk on 27 May. 'A' Company conducted sustained security, stability and public order operations in Dili for approximately two months. Operation Chindit saw the company conduct airmobile operations to Manatuto and Baucau to conduct further security operations, before returning to Australia in August.
In September 2006, further violence flared in Dili which resulted in the deployment of 'B' Company 1 RAR to East Timor to reinforce the efforts of the Battle Group already in country. 'B' Company took up a blocking position in the hills behind Dili, operating mostly in and around Gleno. The platoons of 'B' Company were often required to conduct Air Mobile Operations to other parts of the country. Early in 2007, a battlegroup consisting of 1 RAR's Battalion Headquarters and two rifle companies ('B' and 'C') deployed to Timor Leste (as East Timor has since become).
Iraq and Afghanistan
In 2006, a detachment of 109 soldiers from 'B' Company, 1 RAR, were deployed on the eighth rotation of SECDET, during which they were tasked to provide protection and escort for Australian government personnel working in the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. Early in 2007, 'A' Company, 1 RAR, deployed to Iraq as part of SECDET 11 and conducted operations throughout the capital city of Baghdad. 'D' Company, 1 RAR deployed to Afghanistan. During the deployment, the company provided force protection for Australian and coalition forces as part of the Security Task Group assigned to Reconstruction Task Force 2. They worked closely with engineers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, undertook vital asset protection and several long range patrols during which they encountered numerous improvised explosive devices and experienced several engagements with Taliban forces.
In 2009, 1 RAR was deployed to Afghanistan as a part of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force 2 (MRTF2). MRTF-2 was engaged in reconstruction, mentoring and security operations in Uruzgan Province.
In January 2014 soldiers from 'C' Company 1RAR and 3/4 Cav deployed to Kandahar and Kabul as part of FPE-1, they returned July 2014.
In 2014–15, soldiers from 'A' Company, 1 RAR and B Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment made up Force Protection Element Two (FPE 2) deployed to Afghanistan to provide security to mentors working with the Afghan National Army in Kabul and in Kandahar. They returned home in February 2015.
On 18 November 2006, a platoon from 'A' Company was deployed to Tonga as a result of violence and a break down of law and order in the capital city, Nuku Alofa. The platoon conducted security operations in conjunction with the Tongan Defence Services for three weeks prior to returning to Australia.
Current role & composition
1 RAR currently consists of:
- Battalion Headquarters
- 3 Rifle Companies – 'A', 'B', 'C'
- Support Company
- Administration Company
|22 October 1945||25 April 1948||LTCOL||R.H. Marson||65 Aust Inf Bn|
|26 April 1948||5 May 1949||MAJ||T.E. Archer||65 Aust Inf Bn (administering Command)|
|6 May 1949||3 January 1951||LTCOL||J.L.A. Kelly||1AR/1 RAR|
|4 January 1951||1 April 1951||LTCOL||D.L.B. Goslett||1RAR|
|2 April 1951||6 July 1951||LTCOL||Frank Hassett||1RAR|
|7 July 1951||1 November 1951||LTCOL||Ian Ferguson||1RAR|
|2 November 1951||20 October 1952||LTCOL||Ian Hutchison||1RAR|
|21 October 1952||1 October 1953||LTCOL||Maurice Austin||1RAR|
|2 October 1953||24 January 1955||LTCOL||N.A.M. Nicholls||1RAR|
|25 January 1955||21 January 1956||LTCOL||G.B. Combes OBE||1RAR|
|21 January 1956||26 March 1957||LTCOL||Oliver David Jackson||1RAR|
|27 March 1957||4 December 1958||LTCOL||W.J. Finlayson||1RAR|
|5 December 1958||28 June 1960||LTCOL||W.J. Morrow||1RAR|
|28 June 1960||29 October 1961||LTCOL||Stuart Paul Weir||1RAR|
|12 November 1961||25 July 1962||COL||K.R.G. Coleman||1RAR|
|26 July 1962||15 May 1964||COL||Sandy Pearson||1RAR|
|16 May 1964||28 February 1965||COL||Donald Dunstan||1RAR|
|1 March 1965||3 December 1965||LTCOL||I.R.W. Brumfield||1RAR|
|3 December 1965||10 June 1966||LTCOL||A.V. Preece||1RAR|
|11 June 1966||14 July 1967||LTCOL||K.P. Outridge||1RAR|
|15 July 1967||1 March 1969||LTCOL||Phillip Bennett||1RAR|
|1 March 1969||15 July 1971||LTCOL||J.B.M. Trenerry||1RAR|
|16 July 1971||21 January 1973||LTCOL||I.R.J. Hodgkinson||1RAR|
|22 January 1973||3 December 1974||LTCOL||Peter White||1RAR|
|4 December 1974||10 January 1977||LTCOL||K.A. Patterson||1RAR|
|10 January 1977||16 December 1978||LTCOL||I.J.C. Hearn||1RAR|
|17 December 1978||9 December 1980||LTCOL||P.W. Beale||1RAR|
|10 December 1980||14 January 1983||LTCOL||Barry Caligari||1RAR|
|15 January 1983||13 August 1984||LTCOL||Peter Cosgrove||1RAR|
|14 August 1984||14 December 1986||LTCOL||John McAloney||1RAR|
|15 December 1986||14 December 1988||LTCOL||J.P Salter||1RAR|
|15 December 1988||14 December 1991||LTCOL||J.D. Petrie||1RAR|
|15 December 1991||14 December 1993||LTCOL||David Hurley||1RAR|
|15 December 1993||14 December 1995||LTCOL||R.J. Martin||1RAR|
|14 December 1995||14 December 1997||LTCOL||Mark Kelly||1RAR|
|14 December 1997||14 December 1999||LTCOL||M.D. Bornholt||1RAR|
|14 December 1999||14 December 2001||LTCOL||John Caligari||1RAR|
|14 December 2001||3 December 2003||LTCOL||Stuart Smith||1RAR|
|4 December 2003||December 2005||LTCOL||Chris Field||1RAR|
|December 2005||LTCOL||A.D. Gallaway||1RAR|
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