The 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion was raised in Adelaide in June 1940. Each of the four companies came from a different state, and the entire battalion would not come together until they were sailing to the Middle East in April 1941.
The 2/3rd served in the Middle East until Japan entered the war. In 1942, three of its four companies began to return to Australia before being swept up in the Japanese push through South East Asia. The 2/3rd landed on Java in late February 1942 with the intention of defending the island. They joined other Australian, American and Dutch units to form Blackforce, and waited for the Japanese to land.
Blackforce went into action on 4 March, but were ordered to surrender only five days later. Those who survived spent the next three years as prisoners of war. 139 men from the 2/3rd would die in prison camps or working on the Thai-Burma railway.
The remaining B Company returned to Australia in March 1942 and became the core of a new 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. They spent 1942 and most of 1943 stationed in Australia, including at Cowra's prisoner of war camp. They went on to support the 6th Division in the Aitape-Wewak campaign, fighting as individual infantry companies rather than a machine gun battalion.
This service is held close to the date when A, C and D Companies surrendered to the Japanese, and remembers the service and sacrifice of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. The Association is supported by students and staff of St. Bernard's College at the service.
- Shrine Governor Colonel Jason Cooke
Watch the live stream:
Reviewed 06 March 2023