The 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion had an outstanding record during the
course of the Second World War, both in the Middle Eastern theatre during 1941
and then the South-West Pacific from 1942 until 1945.
The unit first saw service during the Syrian Campaign of mid-1941, when it
fought a series of engagements at Litani River, Sidon and Damour, thus removing
Vichy French forces from Middle East.
Early in 1942 the battalion returned home to man the so-called 'Brisbane
Line' but in August, with sister battalions in the 21st Brigade, they were
hurried to Papua and sent into the Owen Stanley Ranges to repel the Japanese
drive towards the vital Port Moresby airfields.
What followed was weeks of fighting withdrawal along the Kokoda Track that
were vital in delaying and finally turning back the Japanese advance.
After being withdrawn from the action and rested, the unit was again inserted
into fierce battle at Gona Beech in December where, again, they suffered heavy
In late 1943 the 2/16th was sent into the Ramu/Markham Valley Campaign
against Japanese forces. The audacious heroism of the Battle for Shaggy Ridge
and the Battalion's part in that series of actions, has since become legend in
Australian military history.
In the final phases of the war, in 1945 they were part of the major invasion
of the oil town of Balikpapan on Borneo island.
Originally raised from Western Australian volunteers, the battalion suffered
heavy casualties and, through reinforcements, came to represent an
Australia-wide cross-section of the typical citizen-soldier.
The exploits of small units fighting a personal kind of war and the
recollections of the surviving soldiers, form the heart of this book. To tell
this story, the author combined the personal memories of many of the survivors
of the Battalion with accounts from official sources. Uren's emphasis, however,
was on the individual rather than on grand strategy.
First published in 1959, this book can still educate younger generations
about the sacrifices of their forbears, bringing to life what the 2/16th lived
through in those dark years of 1939-1945.
Book 1. To the Middle East
1. Formation and Tradition
2. Recruits Become Soldiers
3. Northern Camp and Embarkation
4. To India and Palestine
5. Palestine and the Western Desert
Book 2. The Syrian Campaign
6. The Advance to Tyre
7. The Battle of Litani
8. "Black Friday" and Sidon
9. The Advance on Damour
10. Winkling Out the Enemy
11. The Armistice and After
12. Back to Australia
Book 3. The Own Stanleys and Beyond
13. To the Defence of Port Moresby
14. Into Green Hell
15. Forced Back at Abuari
16. The Japanese Held at Last
17. Men Against the Jungle
18. Chaforce Returns to Kokoda
19. The Battle of Gona Beach
Book 4. Back to New Guinea
20. The Markham Valley
21. Ramu: "The Valley of Death"
22. Shaggy Ridge and the Pimples
Book 5. Combine Operations in Borneo
23. Fourth Journey to War
24. F-Day at Balikpapan
25. Last Brush with the Enemy
Wounded in Action and Rolls of Honour
Honours and Awards
Mentioned in Despatches
16th Marching Song
Reinforcements - other States