History of the 13th Brigade

Boer War
Boer War Soldiers
Origins
The history of the Army and the Army Reserve in Australia pre-dates Federation. As part of the British Empire, the Australian colonies offered troops for the Boer War in South Africa. At least 12,000 Australians served in contingents raised by the six colonies or from 1901 by the new Australian Commonwealth (about a third of men enlisting twice), and many more joined British or South African colonial units in South Africa. At least 600 Australians died in the war, about half from disease and half in action. Five Australians received the VC in South Africa and many others received other decorations.

The Defence Act of 1903 was amended in 1909 to allow the introduction in 1911 of a system of Universal Military Training. Under the Act all young men were required to register for a form of military training ranging from school cadets for the youth to Citizen Military Forces (CMF) training for young adults.The system was restricted to the more populated areas of the Australian States, from Townsville in Queensland to Perth in Western Australia.

Colour Patch 13 Brigade ww1
Colour Patch WW1
13th Brigade (AIF) - World War One
On completion of the successful evacuation from Gallipoli in December 1915, the Australian Forces returned to Egypt to reorganise and retrain. A decision was made to create three new Australian Divisions. It was decided that half of each of the battalions of the first four Brigades would be used as the nucleus of the new battalions to be formed. The 3rd Infantry Brigade was divided in late February 1916 as follows to form the 13th Infantry Brigade, 4th Australian Division:

3rd Brigade 13th Brigade
9th Battalion formed 49th Battalion on 27th February 1916
10th Battalion formed 50th Battalion on 27th February 1916
11th Battalion formed 51st Battalion on 1st March 1916
12th Battalion formed 52nd Battalion on 1st march 1916

The 13th Infantry Brigade sailed from Alexandria, Egypt for France on 30 March 1916 and by 20 May 1916, was established in a sector of the line at Petillon, France.

50th Battalion
Villers-Bretonneux
On 4 Apr 1918, following heavy bombardment, 15 enemy divisions attacked the allied front. Gallant efforts by the 36th Battalion AIF halted the enemy advance resulting in the entire front between Albert and Villers-Bretonneux, approximately 25kms, being held by Australian Forces. The Germans reacted to the allied resistance by saturating the area around Villers-Bretonneux with mustard gas. The town was subsequently captured by the Germans.

Diggers in France
13th Brigade Soldiers in France

Lt Sadlier VC
The capture of the town allowed the Germans to break through the British line. As a result of this the Australia 13th, 14th and 15th Brigades were rushed into battle. The 13th Brigade was tasked to retake Monument Wood and did so successfully with LT Sadlier of 51st Battalion being awarded a Victoria Cross for his gallant actions. By 27 April 1918, the Australian Forces, largely due to the deeds of the 13th Brigade, had recaptured Villers-Bretonneux.

Australian War Correspondent Charles Bean referred to "the Magnificent 13th Brigade" in his reports of the retaking of Villers-Bretonneux.


On the cessation of hostilities on 11 November 1918 the battalions of the 13th Brigade were returned home and the Brigade, along with all the other AIF units, was disbanded.

Map
New Britain
War Service 1939 - 1945
On 2nd September 1939, the Governor General, by proclamation called out the Militia Forces for war service. At the outbreak of war with Germany the Australian Government was to again raise a military force.

Colonel E.G.H. McKenzie D.S.O., M.C was appointed to command the 13th Infantry Brigade on 9 May 1940. McKenzie was to remain as Commander through the Brigade's tour of duty in Western Australia, the Darwin Fortress Area and the move to New Britain in late 1944.

13th Brigade arrived in New Britain on 26 November 1944. The Brigades task was to protect the Jacquinot Bay area and attend to any Japanese resistance. On 15 September 1945 the Brigade moved to Rabaul to assist with the assembly and interment of the Japanese who had not formally offered up their arms. The battalions of the Brigade were disbanded and returned to Australia in March/April 1946.

Post World War Two

Government decreed that as from 1948 a new Australian Regular Army (ARA) would be raised. Members of the Army were volunteered and were prepared to serve overseas as required. A large proportion of the Interim Army, the title given to the small army which continued to exist at the end of the war, transferred into the new service. A new CMF was also raised in 1948. Its members included many that had seen service in both the 2nd IAF and the pre-war Militia Forces.

The CMF in Western Australia
In Western Australia two infantry battalions were raised bearing the Territorial Titles of previous units as follows:
a. 11th / 44th Battalion (The City of Perth Regiment); and
b. 16th / 28th Battalion (The Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia).

Headquarters 13th Brigade (CMF)
HQ 13th Brigade was again re-raised to command the newly reformed units. The following officers commanded the Brigade up until its disbandment in 1960:
a. Brigadier R.I. Ainslie, D.S.O. - 2 Feb 1948 until 23 Feb 1953;
b. Brigadier A.W. Buttrose, D.S.O., E.D. - 24 Feb 1953 until 23Feb 1956;
c. Brigadier J.C. Newbery C.B.E., E.D. - 24 Feb 1956 until 19 Jan 1959; and
d. Brigadier P. Masel - 20 Jan 1959 until 30 Jun 1960.
The Brigade was disbanded on 30 June 1960 and was reformed as the Royal Western Australia Regiment.

The 13th Brigade was most recently reformed on 1 February 1988.

Brigade Commanders:
Brigadier A. Bartsch, AM, RFD, ED - 1 February 1988 until December 1990;
Colonel K.C. Ashman - December 1990 until December 1993;
Brigadier D.R Warren, RFD, ADC - January 1994 until December 1997
Brigadier R.A Lawler - January 1998 until December 2000
Brigadier F.R Edwards, CSC, - January 2001 until December 2003;
Brigadier G.W Hand, RFD - January 2004 until December 2006;
Brigadier P.T. White, AM, RFD - Current Commander

Conclusion
The 13th Brigade currently enjoys arguably the highest profile of all the General Reserve Brigades in the Army. It has a real and identifiable task.