Timeline 1944

1st January   - B Company occupied the Pines and Bert's Post. C Com­pany and Battalion Headquarters occupied Brian's Hill and Conley's Post. D Company occupied Herald Hill. A Company from the Canning's Saddle area guarded main line of communication to Shaggy Ridge and protected Brigade Headquarters. Duties included track maintenance, cutting steps, occupying weapon pits and normal defense. Eight men from C Company under Lieutenant H. J. Conley sent up Mene River to Canning's Saddle then patrolled for seven days including examination of Japanese held Mt. Prothero (named after Acting Lance Sergeant R. P. Protheroe of 2/106 General Transport Company who accidentally drowned in the Watut River near Shaggy Ridge, New Guinea on 04/07/1943). Lieutenant D. R. Williamson also patrolled Mene valley. Ration carrying party of 20 men under Lieutenant S. A. Coles sent to Canning's Saddle. Captain A. J. McInnes with another 20 men also reconnoitred the route. Communica­tion cable laid down the spur leading from Brian's Hill to a creek junction at the bottom known as Lang's Junction (named after the C.O., Lieutenant Colonel J. T. Lang who transferred to Buna Base Sub-Area). Command of the Battalion passed to Major E. F. Aitken.

5th January   - Sick moved by train to Tamarkan and Kanburi.

6th January   - Lieutenant H. J. Conley pursued two Japanese in the area he was patrolling. Lieutenant B. L. Canning and Lieutenant F. D. Ray both searched for enemy. 11 platoon under Sergeant "Curley" Smith's dug in at Bert's Post with a Japanese mountain gun shelling the lower slopes.

9th January   - Battalion visited by Lieutenant General Sir Leslie Morshead, Major General G. A. Vasey and Brigadier F. O. Chilton (Commander of 18th Infantry Brigade). The party lunched with B Company at the Pines. Patrols used in reconnoitring Canning's Saddle, dumping rations or laying cable.

12th January   - Returned to Hintock River Camp and then moved to Tarso.

12th January   - Lieutenant D. O. Smith and four men set out to reconnoitre Geyton's (cone-shaped hill between Mene River and Shaggy Ridge) where with five additional men including wireless operators they remained in position for 16 days carrying out observation. Visit by Major General Vasey and Major General E. Milford.

13th January   - Patrol with an officer from both 2/9th and 2/12th Infantry Battalions and including a party from C Company under Warrant Officer (II) Stafford sent to Canning's Saddle for reconnaissance of Mt. Prothero.

15th January   - Warrant Officer (II) Stafford and his party returned. Lang's Junction secured by Lieutenant P. H. Scholz and 22 men from D Com­pany and rations dumped in area.

17th January   - A Company under Captain H. S. Huggard and two mortars and a medium machine-gun moved to John's Knoll, Faria Valley. 7 Platoon sent to occupy Tom's Post. Headquarter Company took over A Company's vacated position at the saddle. 5 Platoon defended Brigade Headquarters. D Company vacated Herald Hill and moved to Lang's Junction overnight. B Company also under orders to move with many other duties falling to C Company. Lieutenant H. J. Conley's platoon with mortar and machine gun support took over defence of The Pines and dump on Herald Hill.

19th January   - D Company under Captain F. G. Bell­maine moved out of Lang's Junction to Canning's Saddle. 17 Platoon sited 100 yards from the enemy.

20th January   - B Company under Captain T. L. James met 2/12 Infantry Battalion 1000 hours and took the entire day to move 4 miles up deep ravines and scaling cliff-faces with the aid of ropes and lawyer vines to Canning's Saddle. Torrential rain during the previous night had deluged the area. Rivers changed course and caused several landslides.

21st January   - D Company rigged lawyer vines between trees to act as a handrail so that troops could pull themselves up a steep sided cliff. B Company under Captain T. L. James climbed as fourth company in line. Enemy contact 200 yards below crest where the defenders had laid a demolition charge which didn't blow as they fled. Gunfire started with heavy machine gun and rifle fire increasing as troops neared crest lip. 75mm field gun which had been shelling 2/9 Infantry Battalion now turned around to fire point blank at this local attack. Position grim for an hour with no protection while the gun position could not be pinpointed. Lieutenant Colonel Bourne severely wounded by shell burst over­head. Three companies now on crest of Mt. Prothero. B Company ordered north of Mt. Prothero to position on right of B Company, 2/12 Infantry Battalion. One minor casualty during move. At 1800 hours the mountain gun reopened fire. B Company suffered two casualties in next half hour. Sixteen gun crew killed in hand to hand fighting with mountain gun captured intact. 12 Platoon under Sergeant G. R. Colcott guarded communication right flank. Six men protected Regimental Aid Post. 10 killed and 47 wounded (including Lieutenant Colonel Bourne). Nearly all casualties were stretcher cases needing to be lowered down cliff faces before reaching aid post 4 hours later. Enemy party infiltrated B Company's position at 2000 hours with hand to hand fighting throughout the night. One man wounded.

22nd January   - Advance resumed to Prothero 2 about 600 yards further along crest. Two centres of resistance overcome. B Company and 2/12th Battalion strung out along ridge for 1000 yards by dusk. In the valley below D Company guarded Canning's Saddle area and recovered and carried forward supplies dropped by parachute. Brian's Hill could look down on supply aircraft as they flew up the valley hundreds of feet below. Lieutenant J. Drummond and Lieutenant H. L. Liston and their platoons carried rations from Lang's Junction to Canning's Saddle and evacuated casualties on the return to an advanced dressing station near Geyton's Hill. Captain I. Chenoweth evacuated to hospital. 2/9th Battalion on the other end of Shaggy Ridge was also advancing. Enemy attempted breakout overnight failed.

23rd January   - Shaggy Ridge captured. Platoon under Lieutenant S. A. Coles assessed strength and dispositions of the remaining enemy at Kankiryo Saddle. B Company of 2/12 Battalion mopped up by evening from information gained. D Company withdrawn to Dumpu air­strip. Lieutenant D. O. Smith manning the observation post at Geyton's relieved by Lieutenant Drummond and a party of nine men.

25th January   - Remainder of force moved from 131 Kilo to 114 Kilo.

25th January   - Battalion concentrated and moved to Dumpu for air transport to Port Moresby. B Company remained in defence on the newly captured position furnishing patrols and providing carrying parties. Patrol under Lieutenant S. A. Coles with an artillery observation post party moved out on 25th January to reconnoitre the Paipa multi track. Enemy patrol attacked (one enemy killed and one wounded). Another enemy soldier at dump wounded but committed suicide with a grenade to his head.

26th January   - Sergeant G. R. Colcott and his platoon moved to Canning's Saddle to relieve D Company.

31st January   - Most of Battalion at Port Moresby. A Company with elements of Battalion Headquarters and other attachments were bivouacked near the airstrip at Dumpu waiting for aircraft, while C platoon (No. 13) was on Lake Hill, with Battalion rear details under Staff Sergeant E. Sinclair at Guy's Post (foreground; view from Shaggy Ridge). Hand cut track between Shaggy Ridge and Guy's Post (bottom) shows typical terrain portaged.

2nd Feb­ruary   - C Company relieved.

3rd Feb­ruary   - C Company emplaned for Port Moresby.

4th February   - Remainder of force marched from 114 Kilo to 105 Kilo and used to cut wood for locomotive fuel.

8th February   - Embarked H.M.A.S. Kanimbla at Port Moresby for Australia.

10th February   - Battalion disembarked at Townsville, Queensland and moved to Julago Staging Camp.

11th February   - Battalion moved by three troop trains to Brisbane Showgrounds. Total re-issue of clothing made at Kalinga Park Camp. New South Wales personnel sent on 24 days leave aboard another train.

12th February   - Victorian enlisted personnel departed on 24 days leave.

16th March   - Leave expired. New South Wales personnel leave was extended by a few days. Victorian members had leave first extended by a few days, and later by varying periods to a total of 33 days.

21st March   - New South Wales personnel entrained at Sydney. Battalion commander now Lieutenant Colonel C. E. Davis, D.S.O., M.C. Draft arrived in Townsville and left the same day for the Reception Camp at Wongabel. Before long a small party under Lieutenant R. Harris moved to a new camp Deadman's Gully 15 miles north of Cairns, Queensland.

22nd March   - Two B24 Liberators machine gunned 105 Kilo. 1 Dutch P.O.W. killed.

25th March  - Remainder of Australians under Williams moved to Kanburi.

10th April   - Main body of the Battalion vacated Wongabel Camp and moved by road to Deadman's Gully via Kalanda. Victorian members reported to the Leave and Transit Depot, Royal Park, Victoria and were drafted to Watsonia, Victoria. Local leave granted until 16th April.

26th April   - Concentration of Battalion complete to begin amphibious training.

28th April  - All troops moved to Tamuan Base Camp.

2nd May   - Parade conducted to explain the role of the Beach Group and amphibious training. A battle course designed by Captain T. L. James was constructed in heavy jungle at Saddle Mountain, five miles south of camp. Mortar bomb accident with Captain T. L. James not seriously injured but Private M. J. Elliott in hospital for six months.

8th May   - A.L.C.M. (Assault Landing Craft, Medium) instruction began. Troops practised in embarking and disembarking and handling stores off craft and on sandy beaches, erection of beach obstacles, preparation and laying of swamp matting, and rolling of 44-gallon fuel drums.

19th May   - Combined exercise (a wet-shod landing with troops wading ashore). C Company detailed for field engineer training in corduroy roads, underwater obstacles and bridging. B Company also received partial training as reserve engineer company.

30th May   - Exercise "Heron," an assault landing by the Beach Group on San Remo Beach and the setting up of a Beach Maintenance Area. A and D Companies provided labour for unloading.

21st June   - Private S. Maynard dies in training accident.

23rd August   - Battalion less a small security guard under Lieutenant W. A. Hood and Lieutenant I. Dalley moved out to Trinity Beach to take part in Exercise "Galah" with 24th Infantry Brigade.

Early October   - L.S.T. training at Trinity Beach. Each company practised loading and stowing stores.

Mid November   - Two companies started training with L.S.I.s. These ships transported L.C.V.Ps to invasion beaches. Two L.S.Is made available were Empire Spearhead and Glenearn and all ranks were exercised in embarking, living on, and disembarking from the ships.

December   - Exercise "Mowbray," during which the Battalion traversed Macalister Range and advanced 50 miles through Black Mount area to Mowbray Pass, then to the sea. This exercise and Beach Group Exercise "Schnapper" concluded training for the year.