A Thousand Men at War: A History of the 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF

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Media: BOOK - hardcover, 364 pages
Author: M. Uren
Year: (1959) 2009
ISBN: 9781876439361
Other: b&w photos, maps, appendixes, indexes
Publisher: Australian Military History Publications

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After being withdrawn from the action and rested, the unit was again inserted into fierce battle at Gona Beech in December where, again, they suffered heavy losses.

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.

Author's Note

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

The Celebes
Wounded in Action and Rolls of Honour
Battle Honours
Honours and Awards
Mentioned in Despatches
16th Marching Song
Portrait Photographs
Advance Party
Nominal Roll
Reinforcements - other States

1 Review
  • Delivered before Christmas

    Posted by Mark O'Brien on 29th Dec 2016

    When i ordered this book on the 15 Dec i didn't think it would arrive before Christmas but it did. Fantastic. wrapped perfectly for protection it is in Mint condition. I just have to keep it that way!

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A Thousand Men at War: A History of the 2/16th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF


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