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Portal:Military history of Australia

The Military history of Australia Portal

The RAN Ensign
The flag of Australia
The RAAF Ensign

The military history of Australia spans the nation's 230-year modern history, from the early Australian frontier wars between Aboriginals and Europeans to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Although this history is short when compared to that of many other nations, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars, and war and military service have been significant influences on Australian society and national identity, including the Anzac spirit. The relationship between war and Australian society has also been shaped by the enduring themes of Australian strategic culture and its unique security dilemma.

As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts. Read more...

Selected article

Australian 53rd Bn Fromelles 19 July 1916.jpg

The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of World War I, with more than one million casualties. The British and French forces attempted to break through the German lines along a 25 mile (40 km) front north and south of the River Somme in northern France. One purpose of the battle was to draw German forces away from the battle of Verdun; however, by its end the losses on the Somme had exceeded those at Verdun. The battle is best remembered for its first day, July 1, 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, making it the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. As horrific as the battle of the Somme is in British memory, it also had a staggering impact on the German army; one officer famously describing it as "the muddy grave of the German field army." By the end of the battle the British had learnt many lessons in modern warfare while the Germans had suffered irreparable losses. Four divisions of the Australian Imperial Force saw action during the Somme: the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th. In total they suffered around 23,000 casualties.

Selected picture

Han river (AWM P01813-555).jpg

Photo credit: Australian War Memorial collection database
A member of 3 RAR stares into the frozen waters of the Han River in early 1951.

Selected quote

"My men are being unmercifully shelled. They cannot hold out if an attack is launched. The firing line and my headquarters are being plastered with heavy guns and the town is being swept by shrapnel. I myself am O.K. but the front line is being buried."
Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennett, 26 July 1916.

Selected anniversaries

Did you know

Australian troops disembarking from American Landing Ships, Tank (LST), including LST-456, at Red Beach

New articles


28 May 2019 – Australia–China relations, South China Sea dispute
Australian helicopters, from the Royal Australian Navy flagship HMAS Canberra, are forced to make an emergency landing after being targeted by lasers from fishing boats in the South China Sea. The Canberra was being trailed by a Chinese warship. (AP via

Selected biography

Alfred John Shout at Quinns Post.jpg

Alfred John Shout VC, MC born in Trentham, New Zealand (7 August 1881 – 11 August 1915). Following service in the Second Boer War, Shout emigrated to Australia in 1907, joined the 29th Infantry Regiment and was commissioned as second lieutenant on 16 June 1914. Shout was the most highly decorated Australian of the Gallipoli Campaign, 1915, being awarded the Military Cross during the landing at Anzac Cove in April and receiving the Victoria Cross posthumously during the Battle of Lone Pine in August. He was also Mentioned in Despatches twice.

Daily unit

3 RAR soldiers during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2005.jpg

The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) is an Australian infantry battalion based in Townsville, Queensland, as part of the 3rd Brigade. 3 RAR was initially formed in 1945 as the Australian 67th Battalion and has seen active service in Japan, Korea, Malaya, South Vietnam, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. For many years, the battalion was assigned to the parachute role and was based in Sydney, but was converted to a light infantry battalion in 2011 and subsequently relocated from Holsworthy Barracks, Townsville.

Selected equipment

US Navy 040823-N-3019M-003 The Australian Collins-class submarine, HMAS Rankin (SSK 78), enters Pearl Harbor for a port visit after completing exercises in the Pacific region.jpg

The Collins class submarine are the newest class of Australian submarines, built in Australia for the Royal Australian Navy. They were built by the Australian Submarine Corporation at Osborne, South Australia. They replace much older Oberon class submarines in the Australian fleet. In total 6 vessels have been constructed and all have been named after a distinguished former member of the RAN, some of whom have died for their country. The submarines are based at HMAS Stirling in Rockingham, Western Australia.


Major topics

RAN • History
Admiral of the Fleet, Bases, Cadets, Clearance Divers, Current Ships, Fleet Air Arm, Future, Historic ships, HMAS, Memorial, Patrol Boat Group, Persian Gulf Operations, RANVR, Reserve, Ship classes, Silent Service, WRANS

Army • History
Armoured Units, Army Aviation, Corps, First Australian Imperial Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, Brigades, Cadets, Royal Military College, Enlisted Ranks, Memorial, Officer Ranks, RAR, Regiments, Senior Officers, Regional Surveillance Units, Structure, VC Recipients, Weapons

RAAF • History
Aircraft, Airfield Defence Guards, Bases, Chief of Air Force, Flights, First Tactical Air Force, Ranks, Roulettes, Squadrons, Structure

Special Forces
1st Commando Regiment, 2nd Commando Regiment, 171st Squadron, 200 Flight, Coastwatchers, Special Operations Engineer Regiment, SASR, SOCOMD, Tactical Assault Group, WWII Commando companies, Z Special Unit, M Special Unit

Featured, A-Class and Good content

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Featured articles: 1940 Brocklesby mid-air collisionAdmiralty Islands campaignAdrian Cole (RAAF officer)AHS CentaurAlan McNicollAlfred ShoutAlister MurdochAllan WaltersArthur Henry CobbyAttack on Sydney HarbourAustralian Air CorpsAustralian contribution to the Battle of NormandyAustralian Defence ForceAvenue Range Station massacreAxis naval activity in Australian watersBattle of AraweBattle of Arras (1917)Battle of BardiaBattle of the Bismarck SeaBattle of Cape EsperanceBattle of GreeceBattle of Milne BayBattle of KaiapitBattle of MorotaiBattle of Rennell IslandBattle of Savo IslandBattle of SioBattle of TassafarongaBattle of Tulagi and Gavutu-TanambogoBattle of the Eastern SolomonsBill DennyBill McCannBlack Friday (1945)Blair Anderson WarkBobby GibbesBoeing C-17 Globemaster III in Australian serviceBrian EatonBruce KingsburyCedric HowellCharles Eaton (RAAF officer)Clare StevensonColin HannahConvoy GP55David Evans (RAAF officer)Dick CresswellDonald HardmanEastern Area Command (RAAF)Edgar TownerEdmund HerringEllis WackettElwyn Roy KingFirst Battle of DernancourtFrank BerrymanFrank BladinFrank HeadlamFrank Hubert McNamaraFrederick SchergerGarnet MalleyGeorge Jones (RAAF officer)Guadalcanal CampaignHarry ChauvelHarry MurrayHector WallerHenry Burrell (admiral)Henry PetreHenry Wells (general)Henry WrigleyHMAS Melbourne (R21)HMS Nairana (1917)Ian Dougald McLachlanInvasion of Tulagi (May 1942)Issy SmithIven MackayJames NewlandJames Park WoodsJames Rowland (RAAF officer)James Whiteside McCayJerry PentlandJoe Hewitt (RAAF officer)John BalmerJohn Francis JacksonJohn LerewJohn Lloyd WaddyJohn McCauleyJohn Treloar (museum administrator)John Wilton (general)John WhittleJørgen Jensen (soldier)Landing at NadzabLawrence WeathersLes HoldenLester BrainList of Australian George Cross recipientsList of Australian Victoria Cross recipientsLockheed C-130 Hercules in Australian serviceLou SpenceMaurice Wilder-NeliganMcDonnell Douglas A-4G SkyhawkMcDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet in Australian serviceMcDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in Australian serviceMichael WoodruffMilitary history of Australia during World War IIMorotai MutinyNaval Battle of GuadalcanalNeil Hamilton FairleyNicky BarrNo. 1 Aircraft Depot RAAFNo. 1 Flying Training School RAAFNo. 1 Squadron RAAFNo. 1 Wing RAAFNo. 2 Operational Conversion Unit RAAFNo. 33 Squadron RAAFNo. 34 Squadron RAAFNo. 36 Squadron RAAFNo. 37 Squadron RAAFNo. 38 Squadron RAAFNo. 450 Squadron RAAFNo. 77 Squadron RAAFNo. 79 Squadron RAAFNo. 90 Wing RAAFNo. 91 Wing RAAFNorth-Eastern Area Command (RAAF)North-Western Area Command (RAAF)Operation KitaOswald WattOtto BecherPaterson Clarence HughesPeter Drummond (RAF officer)Peter Jeffrey (RAAF officer)Phillip DaveyRAAF area commandsRagnar GarrettRaymond BrownellRaymond LeaneReg Pollard (general)Reg SaundersRichard Williams (RAAF officer)Roderic DallasRoy DowlingRoy InwoodRoy PhillippsSingapore strategyShrine of RemembranceStanley GobleStanley Price WeirStanley SavigeThomas Baker (aviator)Thomas BlameyTom DerrickValston HancockVance DrummondVictoria Cross for AustraliaWalter PeelerWaterloo Bay massacreWestern Area Command (RAAF)William BostockWilliam BrillWilliam Ellis NewtonWilliam Hely

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A Class: 1st Armoured Brigade (Australia)2/1st Machine Gun Battalion (Australia)2/2nd Machine Gun Battalion (Australia)2/3rd Battalion (Australia)2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion (Australia)2/4th Machine Gun Battalion (Australia)2/5th Battalion (Australia)2/7th Battalion (Australia)2/9th Battalion (Australia)10th Battalion (Australia)2/10th Battalion (Australia)12th Light Horse Regiment (Australia)2/14th Battalion (Australia)15th Battalion (Australia)2/15th Battalion (Australia)2/17th Battalion (Australia)2/18th Battalion (Australia)2/43rd Battalion (Australia)2/48th Battalion (Australia)4th Armoured Brigade (Australia)Admiralty Islands campaignAir Board (Australia)Air Combat Group RAAFAlan CharlesworthAlan RawlinsonAustralian Army during World War IIAustralian light destroyer projectBattle of Bita PakaBattle of Goodenough IslandBattle of the Hongorai RiverBattle of IsuravaBattle of KaiapitBattle of KapyongBattle of Porton PlantationBattle of Slater's KnollBattle of Tsimba RidgeBattle of WauBill KibbyCentral Flying School RAAFClarence Smith JeffriesEric Harrison (RAAF officer)First Battle of Maryang SanFrank BerrymanFrank LukisGeorge Alan VaseyGeorge Julian HowellGeorge IngramGeorge MackinoltyGordon SteegeHippolyte De La RueHorace RobertsonJohn LeakJohn NorthcottJoseph MaxwellLanding at Jacquinot BayLanding at SaidorLeslie MorsheadLewis McGeeLionel MatthewsMary Bell (aviator)New Britain campaignNo. 78 Wing RAAFNo. 81 Wing RAAFNo. 82 Wing RAAFNo. 84 Wing RAAFNo. 86 Wing RAAFOperation BrevityOperation CoburgOperation CrimpOrdnance QF 25-pounder ShortPercy Herbert CherryPercy StattonPeter BadcoeRoy BurstonRupert DownesSamuel BurstonSouth Australian Mounted RiflesSouth West Pacific Area (command)Sydney RowellTeddy SheeanTet OffensiveThomas White (Australian politician)Vernon SturdeeWilbur DartnellWilfred ArthurWilliam Anderson (RAAF officer)William McAloney

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Good articles: 1st Armoured Brigade (Australia)1st Armoured Regiment (Australia)1st Parachute Battalion (Australia)2nd Armoured Brigade (Australia)2nd Battalion (Australia)3rd Division (Australia)6th Battalion (Australia)2/6th Battalion (Australia)6th Division (Australia)7th Battalion (Australia)2/9th Battalion (Australia)2/10th Battalion (Australia)12th Light Horse Regiment (Australia)2/14th Battalion (Australia)14th/32nd Battalion (Australia)2/18th Battalion (Australia)23rd Battalion (Australia)27th Battalion (Australia)29th Battalion (Australia)2/31st Battalion (Australia)31st/51st Battalion (Australia)2/33rd Battalion (Australia)2/48th Battalion (Australia)61st Battalion (Australia)Arthur BlackburnArthur Sullivan (Australian soldier)Arthur William MurphyAustralian Army ReserveAustralian Army ship Crusader (AV 2767)Battle of AmiensBattle of Chongju (1950)Battle of Coral–BalmoralBattle of FranceBattle of Gang ToiBattle of the Hongorai RiverBattle of KranjiBattle of KujinBattle of Lone PineBattle of Long KhanhBattle of PakchonBattle of Porton PlantationBattle of RatsuaBattle of the Samichon RiverBattle of SattelbergBattle of Sungei KoembaBattle of Suoi Bong TrangBattle of Suoi Chau PhaBattle of YongjuBritish nuclear tests at MaralingaCharles CrombieCharles Read (RAAF officer)Charles ScherfDave ShannonDemobilisation of the Australian military after World War IIErnest Albert CoreyFirst Australian Imperial ForceFrederick BirksGeneral Dynamics F-111CGeorge GosseGerman attacks on NauruHistory of the Royal Australian NavyHMAS Sydney (1934)Hobart coastal defencesHughie EdwardsHuon Peninsula campaignIvor McIntyreJohn Hines (Australian soldier)Len WatersLes ClisbyLeslie Douglas JacksonMilitary history of AustraliaMilitary history of Australia during World War INeville McNamaraNew Guinea Volunteer RiflesNew Zealand and Australian DivisionNigel CullenNo. 1 Basic Flying Training School RAAFNo. 1 Long Range Flight RAAFNo. 1 Operational Conversion Unit RAAFNo. 2 Service Flying Training School RAAFNo. 285 Squadron RAAFNo. 4 Operational Training Unit RAAFNo. 457 Squadron RAAFNo. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAFNo. 6 Squadron RAAFNo. 71 Wing RAAFNo. 72 Wing RAAFNo. 73 Wing RAAFNo. 75 Squadron RAAFNo. 75 Wing RAAFNo. 76 Wing RAAFNo. 77 Wing RAAFNo. 78 Squadron RAAFNo. 79 Wing RAAFNo. 8 Service Flying Training School RAAFNo. 80 Wing RAAFNorthern Command (RAAF)Operation BribiePeter Edwards (historian)Peter IsaacsonPeter RawPeter Turnbull (RAAF officer)RAAF Transport Flight (Japan)Richard MinifieRobert A. LittleRussell FoskettSecond Battle of PasschendaeleSelarang Barracks IncidentStuart Clarence GrahamVirgil BrennanWilfrid Kent HughesAustralian contribution to the Allied Intervention in Russia 1918–1919


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