Australian Matilda tank at Wewak

Australian Matilda tank at Wewak

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Australian Matilda tank at Wewak

This picture shows Australian troops advancing down a jungle trail during the fighting at Wewak on New Guinea. The infantry is being supported by a Matilda Tank, obsolete against the Germans but still useful against the Japanese.


The development of the design by Sir John Carden at Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd began in 1935. The General Staff specification required a cheap tank, requiring the use of already commercially available components. It resulted in a small two-man vehicle with a low hull and a small cast turret. The turret was fitted with a single heavy machine gun, either a .303 Vickers machine gun or a larger, Vickers .50 machine gun. Designed for quick delivery as well as low cost, the A11 used many stock parts from other vehicles: a Ford V8 engine, a Fordson gearbox, a steering mechanism similar to the one used in Vickers light tanks and suspension adapted from the Mk IV Dragon artillery tractor, that was based on the Vickers 6-Ton Tank Model E.

The hull and turret were well protected against contemporary anti-tank weapons but the tracks and running gear were exposed and more vulnerable than on tanks that had protected tracks. The lack of a gun with anti-tank capability severely limited its utility on the battlefield. Besides operating the machine gun, the commander had to direct the driver and operate the radio. There being no room in the turret for the radio, it was placed in the hull the commander had to duck down inside and lie almost prone to operate it. The driver's position was equally cramped and the turret could not be traversed forward while the driver's hatch was open. The top speed of 8 mph (13 km/h) was thought to be sufficient for supporting an infantry advance. [5]

Essentially, the tank was a First World War tank designed twenty years after its conclusion. [3] Those who designed the tank were influenced by the mistaken belief that combat in a new war would be the same as in World War I, in which tanks were utilised for breaking through strong, static defensive positions. [3] As a result, the tank was obsolete both in design and in its intended purpose. [3]

General Hugh Elles, the Master-General of the Ordnance, is credited with giving the tank the name Matilda "due to the vehicle's diminutive size and duck-like shape and gait." [6] However, the codename "Matilda" for the project was created for Vickers at the time of drawing up the specification in 1935. [7] [8] The "Tank, Infantry, Mark I" name was an Army Council decision of June 1940.

The first order of sixty Matilda tanks was placed in April 1937, followed by an order for a further sixty ten days later and another 19 were ordered in January 1939. [9] The tank remained in production until August 1940, with a total of one hundred and forty produced, including the prototype. Some were equipped with the heavier .50 inch Vickers machine gun instead of the .303 inch Vickers machine gun.

Matilda I tanks equipped the 4th Battalion and 7th Battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR). In September 1939, upon the outbreak of the Second World War, the 4th RTR deployed to France with the British Expeditionary Force. They were joined at the start of May 1940 by 7th RTR and together formed the 1st Army Tank Brigade. [10] Apart from light tanks assigned to the various British infantry divisions, this was the only British armoured force on the Continent at the start of the Battle of France on 10 May 1940. The 58 Matilda Is and 16 Matilda IIs spearheaded the counter-attack in the Battle of Arras on 21 May, temporarily discomfiting the 7th Panzer Division under Rommel. [11] The heavy armour of both types of British tank proved to be resistant to the standard German 37 mm anti-tank gun and the attack was only halted by a gun line hastily formed from 105 mm howitzers and 88 mm anti-aircraft guns, personally directed by Rommel. [12] On the following day, only 26 Matilda Is and two Matilda II tanks were still serviceable. [13]

On 23 May, tanks from 7 RTR fought a rearguard action at Souchez before joining the general withdrawal towards Dunkirk. The surviving tanks of both battalions were formed into a composite unit, which fought another counter-attack at La Bassée. Only two tanks reached Dunkirk in the closing stages of Operation Dynamo. [14]

Further south in France, five Matilda Is and a few other tanks which had been in various depots or had arrived as late reinforcements, formed the Divisional Tank Company of the Beauman Division, an improvised formation which had been hastily put together to defend the British logistic bases at Rouen and Dieppe. [15] On 8 June, the tanks supported the force, which was mainly infantry, in their unsuccessful defence of the rivers Andelle and Béthune. [16] The division was subsequently evacuated from Cherbourg during Operation Ariel although 22 tanks of various types were brought back during these evacuations, there were no infantry tanks among them. [17] A Matilda I was selected by the German Army for evaluation and it was destroyed in the process. [18] After most of the Matilda I tanks were abandoned in France, the Matilda Is left in the United Kingdom were withdrawn for training purposes. [4]

Some recent evidence suggests that Matilda I's captured by the Germans may have seen use as internal security vehicles, probably in Poland. [19]


On the 14th of May 1945, soldiers of the 2/4th Battalion with support from a troop of Matilda tanks from the 2/4th Armoured Regiment were ordered to capture Wirui Mission, a former Lutheran mission station built on top of a 91 metre-high hill, which dominated Wewak airstrip in northern New Guinea.

Following an artillery bombardment, C Company attacked just after 2 pm. The tall kunai grass on the hill made the going slow and the Japanese bunkers hard to locate, but the company secured its objective about half-way up the north-east slope within half an hour. A Company then passed through C and, encountering little opposition, carried the assault on to the mission, which it secured just after 3 pm. A Company then continued on towards "the Bump", a small knoll on the western end of the feature, but made little headway against well-sited bunkers before the attack was called off at nightfall.

Resumed the next morning, A Company's attack against the bunkers on "the Bump" continued to make slow progress. An artillery barrage was called down on the bunkers, and then a platoon was sent forward to renew the attack. It was pinned down by machine-gun fire, but Private Edward Kenna, a member of a section providing fire support, stood up in full view of the enemy position and engaged the gunners with both Bren gun and rifle fire. Kenna killed the Japanese gunners, providing the attacking troops with the advantage they needed to take the position, completing the capture of the Wirui Mission feature. Kenna was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.

Image: Private Arthur Willett of the 2/8th Battalion uses a flame-thrower against the Japanese at Wewak Point on 10 May 1945. The 2/8th Battalion's flame-throwers were detached to the 2/4th Battalion, which needed them in clearing the well-defended caves at the Point. One flame-thrower operator was badly wounded in this battle. The first use of a flame-thrower in action by Australian troops appears to have been in this campaign, on 2 May. AWM 091749
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On This Day - Australian Military History

End of Japanese Resistance at Tarakan

On the 22nd of June 1945, Japanese resistance at the Battle of Tarakan ended. The battle marked the first stage of the Australian amphibious landing of the East Indies during the Borneo Campaign.

The primary objective of the landing was to secure and develop the island’s airstrip, so that the it could be used to provide air cover for subsequent landings in Brunei, Labuan and Balikpapan. The island was also of strategic significance to Japan as it provided them with a significant amount of oil from the island’s two oilfields.

After almost two months of intense warfare against a well-entrenched and determined enemy, the Japanese finally were forced to capitulate. The battle emphasised the importance of combined arms warfare, particularly during the jungle phase of the fighting.

However, the Australian victory was a costly one – 233 Australians were killed, 644 wounded and 1434 had been evacuated due to sickness. Japanese casualties on the other hand, were estimated to be 1,540. Worse yet, the airfield which had been the primary objective of the battle proved to be inoperable due to the pre-invasion bombing. By the time it was rendered usable, it was too late for it to play any role in the landings in Brunei, Labuan or Balikpapan.

Despite the cost, the Australian “fought with skill and professionalism” against a well defended enemy. Some historians still argue today that the results did not justify the cost of the overall operation.

Image: Australians raising the flag at Tarakan

233 Australian lives lost and many more destroyed in the aftermath.

We are overtly and collectively owing these brave men of war. Casulties dead and .over all constenation.wo n our country.

On This Day - Australian Military History

# OTD : Corporal Cameron Baird, VC, MG
Today we pause to remember the life and service of Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird, who was killed in action on the 22nd of June 2013 whilst serving in Afghanistan in an action that would see him posthumously awarded Australia’s highest award for valour in the face of the enemy, the Victoria Cross.

Corporal Cameron Baird enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 2000, was discharged in 2004, and re-enlisted in 2006. In both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). His operational service includes Operations TANAGER, FALCONER, BASTILLE and five tours on Operation SLIPPER. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan in 2007-08 as a Lance Corporal.

On 22 June 2013, a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory. Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird's team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions. Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.

Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support. En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team. On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank.

Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position. With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him. Displaying great valour, he drew the fire, moved to cover, and suppressed the enemy machine gun position. This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.

On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound. On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member. Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building. Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function.

On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire. He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload.

For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway. Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.

Corporal Baird's acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Lest we forget.

Infantry Tank Mk II Matilda (A12)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/19/2019 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

No other tank in the British Army inventory was as important as the Matilda II during the early years of World War 2. The German blitzkrieg laid claim to much of Europe and Allied forces barely escaped slaughter at Dunkirk, leaving behind countless small arms, artillery and tanks. The Matilda II came at such a time when there proved little hope in stopping the German war machine. Throughout fighting in the Desert Campaign, the system acquitted herself quite well, leaving behind a reputation as a robust mobile unit worthy of the British tanker. While outmoded towards the middle and end years of the war, the Matilda II no doubt served the Empire well through her many exploits in the field. Amazingly, the Matilda II became the only British tank to have served throughout the whole course of war (beginning with the British and ending with the Australians).

By the time of World War 2, the British Army had adopted tank doctrine centered around lightly-armed, fast "cruiser" tanks complemented by slower-moving, better armored and armed "infantry tanks". The former would be used to exploit weaknesses in the enemy's defense while the latter would serve in the infantry support role. To this end, the British Army laid down a requirement for an new infantry tank to add to its existing inventory in response to the growing threat of war in mainland Europe. The resulting design became the "Infantry Tank Mk I Matilda (A11)" (not to be confused with the "Infantry Tank Mk II Matilda A12").

The (original) Matilda was a two-man tracked vehicle with the primary armament of machine gun fitted to a traversing turret. The type more or less became an interim "stop-gap" design to be built at speed until a more formal development could be achieved. As such, expedients in its design was such that the type was never wholly suitable for modern warfare as dictated for the period. Its heavily armored front - at 60mm thick - was its only saving grace though the type served with some distinction nonetheless. The Matilda (A11) proved pitifully slow on roads (top speed of just 8mph), had unprotected track sides with exposed running gear and utilized machine gun-only armament - overall lacking the qualities of a "true" combat tank even for its time. Additionally, the tank commander was expected to manage virtually all facets of the vehicle: in-the-field by communications with his driver, firing and reload the machine gun (as well as traversing the turret) and managing the radio set that was fitted in the hull, not within easy reach. If anything, the original Matilda was nothing more than a "light support vehicle", more comparable to the light tanks of the time, which justified production at only 139 examples in all.

Even as the Matilda legacy was taking shape, work began on a more purpose-built infantry tank in 1936 under the project designation of "A12". Design work was undertaken at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich to which a prototype vehicle was constructed at the Vulcan Foundry due to the use of cast steel construction. The construction process required use of heavy industrial foundries which slowed manufacture considerably. The pilot vehicle appeared in 1937 and the design proved sufficient enough to adopt it as the "Infantry Tank Mark II". The tank carried over the "Matilda" name of the A11 though it was an entirely new design all its own. As the two served concurrently, the A11 became the "Matilda I" while the A12 became the "Matilda II". It was only once the Matilda I was retired from frontline service that the Matilda II went on to be known simply as "Matilda" or "Matilda Senior". Like the A11 before it, the A12 was also classified as an "Infantry Tank" in British Army nomenclature and intended for support of infantry-minded actions. The Mk II series entered service in 1938-1939 and established itself as the standard British Army infantry combat tank within time. At the time of the German invasion of Poland, there were only two Matilda IIs completed.

Outwardly the Mk II certainly looked more the part of a "fighting tank" than the Mk I Matilda before it. For starters the vehicle's track running gear was protected along the sides by thick armor skirts fitting five noticeable mud chutes - a characteristic common to World War 1 tanks. The vehicle's arrangement was highly conventional with the driver seated in the hull at front center, the turret atop the fighting compartment (with a crew of three - commander, gunner and loader) and the engine to the rear. There were eleven small road wheels (ten set as pairs) to a track side with coil spring suspension being used to offer cross-country service. There was a short and shallow glacis plate leading up to a short hull superstructure though many panels were vertical in their placement - presenting many opportunities for shot "trap". Atop the superstructure was the turret fitting a 2-pounder L/50 (40mm) main gun. Traversal was a full 360-degrees and a 7.92mm Besa machine gun was added in a coaxial mounting for anti-infantry defense. 93 x 40mm armor-piercing projectiles were carried for the main gun as were 2,925 x 7.92mm ammunition for the machine gun. The Mk II also provided internal space for a four man crew unlike the two required of the Mk I. There was one main hatch atop the turret roof with the other point of entry being the driver's hatch. Overall, the vehicle weighed 25 tons and was protection with a strong armor configuration that was up to 78mm thick in parts.

Power was initially served through a pair of AEC 6-cylinder diesel engines supplying up to combined 94 horsepower. The vehicle could manage a top speed of 16 miles per hour on roads (twice that of the Matilda I) and ranges out to 160 miles. The engine was mated to a Wilson epicyclic pre-selector gearbox which allowed for six speeds through a Rackham clutch installation.

Initially, the Matilda II proved an excellent tank for she was very well protected and gave good service through her 40mm main gun. Only 24 Matilda IIs were available in France during the 1940 invasion but these were enough to cause noticeable headaches among the ranks of the German commanders. The Matilda IIs enjoyed good range with their 2-pounder main guns and could, in turn, absorb greater damage levels than that of competing Panzer light tanks. During the Battle of Arras (alongside 58 of the preceding Matilda I tanks), 16 Matilda IIs decimated German General Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division. The tide turned when it was discovered that the German 88mm anti-aircraft gun proved suitable as a tank destroying weapon with deadly efficiency.

The type went on to see extensive fighting primarily across the North Africa Campaign and managed the light Italian tanks with relative ease (earning the name of "Queen of the Desert"). It was not until the arrival of the Afrika Korps and their 88mm anti-tank guns that the Matilda IIs met their match. Even so, some Matildas were able to withstand several direct hits from these formidable weapons and continue fighting. During Operation Battleaxe in June of 1941, Matilda IIs fared rather poorly in the Axis victory - some 64 units lost to action despite strength in numbers. The British Army counted half of their combat tanks lost in just the first day of fighting through their mildly successful three-pronged assault. On the other hand, over half of the 15th Panzer Division fell to Matildas in fighting at Capuzzo.

The Maltida IIs existence continued as such between these back-and-forth pitched battles. She proved a reliable battlefield implement and was the best British tank of the early war years until replaced by improved, more competent types in time. Ultimately she was herself outmoded on the battlefield by the newer, more powerful enemy types being fielded in addition to improved anti-tank weaponry - as such, her best fighting days fell quickly behind her. Instead of building new Matilda IIs to replaced felled ones, the British Army began introducing the newer "Valentine Infantry Tank" in greater numbers with these beginning service in 1940. Last notable combat actions of Matilda IIs occurred at the 2nd Battle of El Alamein.

In all, 2,987 Matilda IIs were produced with manufacture spanning from 1937 to 1943. Since production of the cast steel body was complex for the selected British heavy industry - they having experience in building locomotives and not combat vehicles - production levels were always lower than expected. The vehicle managed its way into the inventories of the Australian Army fighting in the Pacific Campaign (the 4th Australian Armored Brigade in New Guinea and Borneo) as well as the Soviet Army through the valuable Lend-Lease initiative. The Soviets received between 1,000 and 3,000 Matilda IIs and these set right to work in the 1941 Winter Offensive. Like other adaptable platforms in existence, the Matilda also served well through her various conversions designed to undertake various battlefield and non-combat roles as required.

Production of Matilda IIs began with the initial Mk II series and these were followed by the Mk II.A which did nothing more than replace the original Vickers-brand coaxial machine gun with that of the Besa. The Mk II.A* noted the installation of the new Leyland diesel engine over the original's AEC brand. The Mk.IV was an improved Matilda II with better engine performance while the Mk.V was given a new transmission system for improved reliability.

Non-combat tank variants went on to include the Matilda II CS (Close Support) mark which was given a QF 3-inch (76mm) howitzer. The Matilda "Scorpion" was a mine flail vehicle while the "Baron" I, II, III and IIIA marks were experimental flail types of similar scope. The Matilda II "CDL" (Canal Defense Light) fitted a powerful searchlight for spearheading night attacks and the Matilda "Black Prince" became a developmental heavy version fitting the British 6-pounder main gun in the turret assembly of the Centaur tank. However this effort was ultimately abandoned due to differences in turret rings.

Australians forces were a bit more "revolutionary" in their Matilda II variant treatments though this was more a case of experience and requirements for the particular fighting environment of the Pacific. Additionally, the Japanese armor threat was relatively light when compared to that of the Germans and Italians in Europe. The Matilda "Frog" was a flame-projecting tank fitted (appropriately) with a flamethrower and useful in clearing out fortifications or swathes of jungle coverage. Another fire projecting form were the "Murray" and "Murray FT" types. Still another Australian Matilda modification became a dedicated engineering vehicle fitting a dozer blade. The Matilda "Hedgehog" was a sort of heavy rocket projector atop a modified Matilda II chassis.

As was common practice within the German Army, captured Matilda IIs were set back into service under new ownership. Some were fitted improved anti-tank guns.

Australian Matilda tank at Wewak - History

On 3 November the Australians accounted for their first Japanese in the Aitape area. It was found that the Japanese were in poor condition and that he was carrying out foraging patrols near the coast. Otherparties had left the coastal area and had moved up into the foothills of the Torricelli mountains. Patrols extended to the Suain plantation, Luain and as far east as the Danmap River. Continuous contact quickly brought Japanese casualties to sixty-four killed and seven captured at a loss of one killed and one wounded. The Japanese were not anxious to stay and fight, and when he did was hopelessly outclassed.

RAAF bombers of 71 Wing were flying long hours on army co-operation strikes. Daily raids were made on the main supply bases of Wewak, Kairiru and Dagua, and soon the Japanese were unable to use transport in daylight. With increased activity on the coastal area, the Japanese began to move into the foothills, and it was obvious that an offensive would have to be launched to drive him out.

In the middle of November the arrival in the coastal area of the 2/4th Battalion of the 19th Brigade,commanded by Brigadier J E G Martin) released the 2/7th Commando Squadron to move up the newly established line of communication from Nialu to Tong. The natives in this area were friendly and provided the long supply trains needed to get equipment and food to the troops. With a base established at Tong, the 2/7th Commando patrols moved into the villages and soon cleared a large area of the Japanese who were then forced to move farther into the mountains. The villages of Yambes were captured, and the patrol base moved forward. The Japanese launched a number of unsuccessful day and night attacks on Middle Yambes in an attempt to regain the village, which was one of the vital outposts of the main Japanese force in the Maprik area.

Having cleared the Danmap area on the coast, and as far as Idakaibul, the 2/4th Battalion crossed the Danmap River on 17 December and began to drive the Japanese towards the main positions on the Anumb River. The battalion pushed down the coast as far as Rocky Point, but a large party of the Japanese were found in the rear. They occupied a position on high ground about 800 yards from the east bank of the Danmap River, menacing Australian supply line. An air strike was made and the Japanese, vacating the positions, ran into a standing patrol and were annihilated.

As the supply position presented difficulties in the central sector, so it did on the coastal strip. The only road in the area was an old German one in a bad state of disrepair. The divisional engineers were faced with the difficult task of establishing an efficient line of communication down the coast. The monsoon rains had started and the creeks and rivers were rising rapidly, making bridge-building a hazardous business. A road had to be made and widened to carry the heavy vehicles of the supply units. In a very short time a usable road was constructed. Temporary bridges to be replaced by permanent ones when time and opportunity permitted were built. Extensive damage was done to these temporary structures when the rivers and creeks rose after heavy rain in the mountains. The sappers were often working in floodwaters up to their necks repairing the damage.

The remainder of the 19th Brigade had arrived in the Aitape area while 2/4th Battalion was pushing down the coast to the Danmap River and had reached the Driniumor River. Patrols of the 2/8th Battalion moved up the last named as far as Afua. Owing to bad weather the activity on the coast was limited to patrolling but, in the central sector, the 2/7th Commando Squadron was increasing its tally of Japanese killed. Two companies with support detachments from the 2/5th Battalion, known as Piperforce) moved up from the coast on the 16 November and established a headquarters in the Yambes villages. They relieved the 2/7th on 21 December.

In the latter half of December, the relief of 2/4th Battalion by the 2/11th was begun and the 2/8th moved forward from its base on the Driniumor River to Suain plantation. From its headquarters at Rocky Point the 2/11th Battalion sent strong fighting patrols as far as Matapau and on 1 January this feature was secured. A squadron of the 2/4th Armoured Regiment had moved up the coast from the Aitape area and was in reserve at Rocky Point. The country was not well suited for tanks but they proved useful for clearing small bodies of Japanese snipers from the escarpment overlooking the beach.

The 25 pounders of 2/3rd Field Regiment were in position to give covering fire from the Rocky Point area. In the early hours of 2 January they were called on to support the infantry at Matapau. A small party of Japanese had attempted to infiltrate the positions held by the 2/11th Battalion, and, when this had been proved impossible, launched a full-scale attack. Artillery and concentrated small-arms fire broke up the Japanese attack. The Australians, quickly following up their advantage, pursued the fleeing Japanese and drove them from their positions.

In the Yambes area Piperforce was carrying out long-range patrols and, assisted by Beauforts of 71 Wing, had cleared a number of villages, driving the main body of the Japanese to the Perembil group, where heavy bombing and strafing attacks were being made daily. The remainder of the 2/5th Battalion had moved up and the force was able to carry out a larger patrol programme. Clearing of the villages continued, but the farther the Japanese were driven into the Torricellis, the harder the terrain and the more tenuous the lines of supply became. The Douglas transports carrying out the air dropping were working overtime, making five or six flights a day. Large parties of refugee natives as well as troops and the natives working on the supply lines had to be provided with food.

To have easier access to the native gardens the Japanese were keeping to the villages, which were mostly situated on the ridge-tops. This made the task of the infantry a little easier, for while there were passable tracks on the ridges, the tangled undergrowth of the val1cys was almost impenetrable.

On the coast patrols had penetrated as far as Niap, Malin and Walum, some miles in land on the Danmap River. These patrols were forming a link-up between the 19th Brigade troops on the coast, the 2/7th Commando Squadron which had moved to Lambuain and had begun patrolling east to Walum, and the 2/5th Battalion of the 17th Brigade,under the command of Brigadier M J Moten) in the Yambes area.

In that area the Japanese were holding the Perembil villages in strength. The RAAF continued their softening up and on the 3 January, following a heavy air strike and mortaring, the infantry moved into Perembil. The Japanese fled after a brief encounter. The equipment left in the village was in excellent order, and the dead Japanese were found to be in good physical condition--a contrast to the troops on the coast. The Australians were consolidating when the Japanese launched the first of a number of heavy counter-attacks. This was successfully beaten off and the Japanese withdrew leaving a number of dead. During the night three more counter-attacks were repulsed and the Japanese finally withdrew from the vicinity of Perembil having lost another of the outpost villages.

The 2/11th Battalion captured Cape Djueran on the 6 January and, supported by accurate artillery fire and Matilda tanks of "C" Squadron, 2/4th Armoured Regiment, pushed on to attack a strongly defended position forward of the cape. Again the Japanese were driven back. Patrolling continued from the bases at Walum and Idakaibul and a strong line of communication was established between these points and the Yambes area. Captured documents revealed that this line was to be denied to the 6th Division, but the Japanese were not sufficiently strong to fulfil his intention.

In the mountains the 2/5th Battalion had pushed forward their patrols. Two more of the Japanese strong points had been overcome and the garrisons forced to withdraw from positions at Asiling and Selni to Selnaua, where they were digging in. The evacuation of wounded from the Walum area was proving more difficult than expected. The main patrol route was a two-day march over steep mountains and the alternative route was a four-day carry.

Tanks and artillery fire aided the 2/11th Battalion in the capture of Niap on the western extremity of Dogreto Bay. This bay was later to play a big part in the push down the coast towards Wewak. Although the Japanese were contesting the ground fiercely they was gradually being forced back to bases on the Anumb River. These bases were receiving constant attention from the Beauforts, and their store dumps were being systematically destroyed. In the Torricellis the 2/5th Battalion captured Samisa. The battalion, based on Perembil, now had its companies and platoons disposed in a number of the villages surrounding the headquarters, and in this manner a large area was subjected to daily patrolling. The villages were yielding a considerable amount of food to the Japanese, but the natives, being deprived of their food, were seeking the protection of the Australians.

By 16 January the division had killed more than a thousand Japanese, while a large number of others had wandered off into the jungle to die. Australian casualties had been remarkably light, and the rate of sickness from tropical diseases was low. On the coast the 2/11th Battalion pushed on and the Japanese strong point of Abau fell after heavy fighting. In the Malin area patrols of the 2/9th Commando Squadron pushed east to cut the Japanese lines of communication from the Anumb River through Mipel to Maprik, the main base in the Torricelli mountains.

Units of the 16th Brigade,commanded by Brigadier R King) were now moving down the coast to relieve the 19th Brigade, which had been fighting for nearly ten weeks. The battalions were moving into position when heavy rain set in, and on 26 January, when the relief was almost completed, the Danmap River rose to an alarming degree and changed its course. The river was running at twenty knots and a wall of water about two feet high swept through a defended area of the 2/3rd Battalion leaving men struggling for life in the water. This was the worst blow the elements had inflicted and the loss of life and equipment was heavy. Great damage had been done to the bridges and roads and the lines of communication down the coast were completely disrupted.

The supply problem was acute. The two Douglas transports allotted could not be expected to keep the supplies up to the brigades, as they were already fully occupied in dropping to the 2/5th Battalion and the commando squadrons as well as to scattered standing patrols. Consequently the LCTs which were being used to off load shipping at Aitape were called on to do the job. These craft could carry l00 tons on each trip and made two or three trips weekly. This interfered considerably with the port working and they were withdrawn and the smaller LCMs were called forward, with the LCTs running only emergency supplies.

In view of the uncertainty of the supply position, the coastal campaign was restricted to patrol activity and no further advances were made until the engineers opened a road. On 29 January the 16th Brigade relieved the 19th in the coastal area 2/3rd Battalion took over the patrol bases of the 2/8th and 2/lst from the 2/11th.

As the 2/1st Battalion moved down the coast resistance stiffened and they were held down on the west side of Nimbum Creek by Japanese in positions on the forward slopes of Nambut Hill, or Hill 800. The Japanese launched a number of unsuccessful attacks, but finally withdrew to the hill. Attacks failed to dislodge the Japanese, and it was decided to take the ridge with two companies. One was to move along Nimbum Creek taking the Japanese in the rear, and the other to move up the slopes of the feature in a frontal attack. Unfortunately the company moving along the creek was held up by heavy fire and forced to withdraw. More air strikes were made, and artillery and mortar fire brought down. Following the heavy barrage the infantry moved forward and drove the Japanese back on to his second line of defence on the feature. Australian troops consolidated their gains. A fierce counter-attack was repulsed with losses to the Japanese. Australian casualties were negligible.

The Japanese withdrew down a gully and up another steep feature which became known as Japanese Knoll. It was slightly lower than Nambut Hill, but was covered with heavy scrub. It was subjected to a number of air strikes, and again the infantry drove the Japanese out. He withdrew again, this time to a feature known as Bunker Hill. One side was fairly steep with a track which could be covered easily by fire from the Japanese positions which overlooked it. The other side was considered by the Japanese to be unassailable, as it was a fifty to sixty foot rock-face dropping away sheer. The Japanese did not even worry to site weapons to cover it, but concentrated on the only logical line of approach - the track. A platoon of the 2/lst Battalion was sent around the base of the hill to the foot of the cliff and then began a perilous climb up the cliff-face using trailing vines as assault ladders. Reaching the top they attacked the Japanese from the rear and completely wiped out the holding force. To distract attention during the ascent, covering fire was brought to bear from in front of the position. The clearing of Nambut Ridge and satellite features had taken three weeks. With this important feature clear, the 2/2nd Battalion pushed forward on to the high ground around the Anumb River.

After the fall of Samisa the headquarters of 2/5th Battalion moved to this village and long-range patrols to the outlying villages continued. The advance was slow in the thick country, mainly because supplies could not be kept up to the forward troops in sufficient quantity. It was impossible to provide sufficient native carriers to bring the supplies up from the coast, and the two transport planes were insufficient to meet the requirements of the units working away from the coastal roads. As the Japanese were forced back resistance. became stiffer and better organised. The smaller bodies of troops were amalgamating into one command, and new troops had arrived, contesting Australian advance to a much greater extent than previously. The general trend of Japanese movement was towards Luwaite and Selnaua. Much information was being received from the natives who were coming to the Australians for food and help. There were other factors which contributed to this swing to Australian side.

Reports from patrols and natives stated that the Japanese had withdrawn in the direction of Balif and preparing defences there. On the 15 January a party of between eighty and one hundred Japanese had been forced out of the village of Maharinga by heavy air attacks and mortaring, and one platoon of 2/5th Battalion occupied the village. It was only on rare occasions that forces larger than one platoon were used to take a village.

A detachment of Far Eastern Liaison Office, which had been operating in the area for some time, prepared surrender leaflets and these were dropped on the Japanese around Balif. These told the Japanese that they had been deserted by their commanders and that it was useless to continue the resistance. Surrender and propaganda leaflets were also fired from mortars. The 2/7th Commando Squadron which had been operating in the Walum area for some time moved to Amam and contact patrols were sent out to link up with the 2/5th Battalion. More villages were cleared of the Japanese, Bullamita, Alumi and Hambini, and again the Japanese line of withdrawal was in the direction of the Balif group of villages.

Tactical reconnaissance by aircraft revealed Japanese in almost every village as far as Maprik. It was estimated that there were about 2000 in the Balif-Maprik area. Heavy air strikes were carried out on these villages daily, and in many cases the Japanese evacuated them afterwards, leaving numbers of dead. The RAAF bombers of 71 Wing were receiving help from the Combat Replacement Training Centre,American) at Nadzab, whose aircraft were bombing targets daily along the coast from Wewak and in the Balif area.

On the 10 February a platoon of 2/5th Battalion occupied the village of Balaga. Malahum, to the south-east of Balif, was also captured and held despite heavy counterattacks. The Japanese employed about fifty troops in this series of counter-attacks. After Balif had fallen the main pocket of resistance moved in an easterly direction towards Maprik, but small parties were still to be found in almost every village. With Nambut Hill clear of the Japanese, the Australians began a drive along the coast towards the Anumb River. On the 26 February the 2/2nd Battalion crossed the river without opposition and, after patrolling the area, reported the west bank clear for some 1500 yards from the coast. Shortly after the crossing a Japanese 75-mm. opened up on the patrols at point-blank range from near the Sowom villages. With this exception Japanese opposition was negligible. A large ammunition dump was captured on the east bank of the river. It appeared that the Japanese had withdrawn to the Sowom villages to reorganise his defences.

Patrols of 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, which had been operating for some time as infantry, reported that the Japanese -named village of Arohemi,former headquarters of Major-General Aozu, the infantry group commander of 41st Division) was clear of the Japanese. Its evacuation indicated the intention of the Japanese to fall back on his defences to the east of the Anumb River. On the 25 February HMAS Swan bombarded Japanese positions in the Sowom area, and on the night of 26/27 February shelled targets around But. During the latter shoot Swan moved in close to the shoreline and used her secondary armament, and the Japanese replied with 75-mm. fire without effect. On the morning of the 27 February Swan engaged targets in the Kauk area, and Beauforts of 71 Wing dealt with the 75-mm. gun.

In the period 3 November I944 to 27 February I945, the 6th Division had killed 1776 Japanese and captured thirty-seven. Allowing for wounded, total Japanese casualties could be set down at about 2500.

On 21 February the 2/5th Battalion was relieved by the 2/7th Battalion which immediately took over the extensive patrolling programme, and within a few days cleared out a large pocket in the Malahum-Ilahop area, where between two and three hundred obstinate and well-armed Japanese had been holding up Australian advance. Natives stated that the Japanese were occupying and fortifying villages to the west of Maprik. This indicated an intention to oppose the Australian advance to the south where there were a number of well-stocked native gardens. Food had become the chief Japanese consideration as it was now impossible for supplies to be brought into the area owing to the patrolling of the infantry and the 2/7th Commando Squadron. These patrols were rapidly raising the total number of Japanese casualties. In four patrol clashes in two days, fifty-three Japanese were killed of seventy-three encountered.

The advance down the coast from the Anumb River continued. The 2/2nd Battalion captured the Sowom villages and moved forward to Simbi Creek, where some opposition was encountered. The clearing of this obstacle left only one large waterway--the Ninahau River--before But. A patrol moving towards the coast from the south passed through the But-Ninahau River area and encountered only a few small parties of Japanese. It appeared that the Japanese were evacuating the But positions and was retiring towards Dagua.

The main body of the 2/2nd Battalion moved forward and concentrated in the Sowom villages patrols pushed across the Ninahau River and as far east as Gilagmar Creek. Crossing the flooded river was hazardous. After a number of heavy patrol clashes over the river the battalion fought its way through to But, captured the jetty, the airstrip and the mission. The position was secured on the 17 March. The capture of this important area yielded a large amount of equipment, artillery pieces, arms and stores, and a large dump of oil and petrol. With the capture of the But jetty LCMs came ashore and unloaded stores. The beach at But was ideal for landing barges, and the supply dump grew rapidly.

In the inland sector the 2/7th Commando Squadron which had moved back into the hills after a brief spell on the coast, was in position at House Copp, against which the Japanese launched a number of counter-attacks. One company of the 2/6th Battalion took over on 16 March. The 2/10th Commando Squadron had arrived in the Milak villages and ran into heavy opposition. Strong attacks were thrown against them and, although these were repulsed, they sustained a number of casualties. This squadron was also relieved towards the end of March by a company of 2/6th Battalion. Heavy fighting continued in the area for some time before the Japanese were driven back into the Kuminibus group due north of Mapnk.

The 2/7th Battalion continued its patrolling in the Balif-Suanambe-Ami area. Tactical reconnaissance planes of the RAAF reported large bodies of Japanese troops on the Sepik River. The RAAF carried out a successful attack on an unusual target on the Sepik: a canoe-building yard. The Maprik area was still the scene of intense patrol activity and a number of heavy clashes occurred, but the Japanese still held many closely linked villages in the Kuminibus group and around Maprik itself. Activity around Milak increased and the Japanese threw fresh troops into his fierce counterattacks with no result except the whittling down of his strength. By 20 March the number of Japanese killed had reached 2,200 with forty-two prisoners.

Second World War Matilda Tank

This a fully restored Matilda Tank called 'ACE'. ACE was the first tank off the landing craft on 1 July 1945 at Australia's largest ever armoured assault at Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. The assault was mounted by the 1st Australian Armoured Regiment (A.I.F.)(Royal NSW Lancers), now known as the 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers.

There are only three Balikpapan Matildas left in the world today, the other two will never be restored to full mobility. However, after six years work, spending $100,000 and 60,000 volunteer hours, Lancers Regimental Museum volunteers have done what was once considered impossible. ACE made its first public appearance in 70 years when it returned 'home' under its own power to its wartime Regiment at Lancer Barracks, Parramatta in 2017. The restoration has been awarded a coveted National Trust Conservation award and has been described by a leading expert as 'world leading work'. ACE is probabaly the only British or Commonwealth armoured fighting vehicle to have seen action in the Second World War to have been fully restored and returned to its Second World War fighting regiment, let alone restored by retired members of that same regiment.

ACE is now on permanent display as part of the Regimental Museum's heritage listed collection at Lancer Barracks and, as part of the Museum's mobile display, available to appear at military and community events throughout the Sydney metropoloitan area. It provides the only chance for the public to experience an Australian Second World War tank with battle experience in exactly the same condition as its wartime Lancer crew would have fought in.

This Matilda Tank Mark 111 called "ACE" is dedicated in memory of those members of the Regiment who died in training and active service during WWII. ACE srved with 1 Troop, A Squadron, 1st Australian Armoured Regiment (AIF) (Royal New South Wales Lancers) and landed at Balikpapan, Borneo on 1st July 1945 in amphibious operations against the Japanese.

The crew memebers of ACE in the Balikpapan operations were:

Sergeant H. G. J. Britten (Crew Commander), Trooper L. K. Betts (Driver), Trooper D. Mc. Breadmore (Loader), Trooper W. R. Lewis (Gunner).

It was one of the few Matilda Tanks that was returned to Australia after the war, it was located in 2011 in NSW and restored by members of the Regimental Museum and Lancer Association.

This plaque was unveiled by

Lt. Col. J. B. Arnott RFD ED on 5th November 2017 on behalf of the Linden House Memorial Museum and Lancers Association.

Matildas began arriving in Australia from the United Kingdom during March and April 1942, and continued to be delivered until the second half of 1943. In all, 409 Matildas were delivered to Australia. The Australian forces modified many of Matilda II for other purposes, like the flamethrowers named "Matilda Frog". In total, 25 Australians Matilda II tanks were converted to flame tanks in late 1944.

They served in the Australian 4th Armoured Brigade, in the South West Pacific Area. The "Matilda Frog" was used operationally on Borneo, where it was judged to have been a success. Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank, with heavy armour, but with somewhat limited speed and armament. Thanks to its participation in Pacific Campaing, the Matilda was the only British tank to remain in service throughout the war.

Borneo: Balikpapan Area. Members of A Company, 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion, behind a Matilda 'frog' flamethrower tank from 2/1 Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of 4th Australian Armoured Brigade Group, moving from the Tank Plateau feature towards the town area during Operation Oboe 2 (Via Wikimedia - AWM - 111056)

The "Matilda Frog" carried the flame projector and eighty gallons of fuel within the turret, along with a single crew member. The flame projector used Geletrol, a thickened flame fuel. The weapon had a range of 80 to100 metres.

More fuel was carried in tanks scattered around the vehicle - 100 gallons on an external tank on the back of the tank, capable of being jettisoned, 30 gallons in the space normally used by tool lockers and 32 gallons in four tanks on the side of the tank, for a total of 242 gallons.

Each burst used 10 gallons of fuel, and fuel had to be transferred in to the turret tank once it was empty. One problem was that it used a gas pressure system to power the flame jet, and it took 20 seconds to pump the system up between shots.

As the seller says, this "Matilda Frog" is ideal for Museum or collector. It has been sandblasted inside and out and re-sprayed. It needs a power pack and a transmission to make it run. It would be ideal for a static display. It still has most of the flame thrower equipment inside the turret though the flame gun is a replica.

As per UK practice, in wartime, each vehicle was given a name starting with the same letter as the squadron to which the tank belonged. This Matilda named "Charcoal" could be attached to "C" Sqn.

This "Matilda Frog" is offered for sale, for just $220K (AU). Contact the seller

The Queen of the Desert – The British Matilda II Tank in 26 Photos

Officially called the Infantry Tank Mark II, the Matilda II was a British tank from the Second World War. Also known as Matilda Senior or Waltzing Matilda, it was famous for the havoc it wreaked among Italian forces in the North African Campaign of 1940.

Although it had limited speed, the Matilda was an excellent infantry support tank. It served from the outset of the World War and continued till the end—the only tank to accomplish this feat.

The first suggestion for the Matilda was made in 1936. It was designated A1 and its design was assigned to Royal Arsenal. After its design, Vulcan Foundry would manufacture it.

Matilda II A12E1 prototype

Although it was heavier and had far more powerful armor, its mechanical layout was based on the A7, a medium tank that was built in the 1930s in limited numbers.

The first set of Matilda II tanks were produced in 1937. However, only two were in service when the Second World War broke out.

British Matilda Tank Assembly Line In Factory England 1941

The outbreak of the war forced the British military to order a rapid production of the tanks. By 1943, about 2,987 tanks were delivered by Vulcan Foundry and other companies such as Ruston & Hornsby, John Fowler and Co., North British Locomotive Company, and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) Company.

A captured Matilda put into use by the German forces, is recaptured and its crew taken prisoner by New Zealand troops, 3 December 1941 during the battle to open the corridor to Tobruk, Operation Crusader.

The Matilda had a weight of 27 tons, with space for a four-man crew—the commander, loader, driver, and gunner. It was armed with a 40 mm Ordnance QF 2 Pounder gun in a three-man turret which could traverse through 360 degrees using a hydraulic motor or manual energy. A high explosive shell was designed for the Matilda II, but it was for reasons untold, never implemented. This was one of Matilda’s major weaknesses.

An Australian, howitzer-equipped Matilda in combat at the Battle of Tarakan (May 1945)

Its secondary armament comprised a 7.92 mm Besa machine gun.

It was powered by 2, AEC straight-six water-cooled diesel engines generating about 87 hp each. Its power-to-weight ratio was 7.5 bhp, and it used a coil spring suspension.

A British Matilda tank on its way into Tobruk, displaying an Italian flag, 24 January 1941.

Like other British Infantry tanks, it was heavily armored, with a thickness of 78 mm at the front, 75 mm at the turret, 70 mm at the hull side, and 55 mm at the rear.

7th Australian Division Matilda Tank in Action at Balikpapan 1945, 3 July 1945

The Matilda II was first used in France 1940 by the 7th Royal Tank Regiment. Due to its thickness, it was almost impenetrable to German tanks and anti-tank guns at the time.

During the counter-attack of Arras in May 1940, Matilda IIs were briefly effective in keeping the Germans disrupted, but with 88 mm anti-aircraft guns changed for use against tanks, the Germans sufficiently engaged the Matildas with devastating results.

The Matilda II recorded successes in the North-African Campaign. During Operation Compass, it wreaked havoc among Italian forces in Egypt.

Destroyed Matilda tank in North Africa

The Italian L3 tankettes and M11/39 medium tanks stood no chance against the heavily armored Matilda, which bullied them out of Egypt. It earned the nickname: The Queen of The Desert.

Despite its outstanding armor, the Matilda had its faults. Its low speed was a major problem in the rapid maneuver attack held in the open desert of North Africa. Lack of a high-explosive shell was another hitch.

During Operation Battleaxe, the German Afrikan Korps, although on the defensive, used their 88 mm anti-aircraft gun along with the 50mm Pak 38 and 75mm Pak 40 anti-tank guns against the Matildas, and again, they inflicted heavy losses on the British tanks. 64 Matildas were lost. Seized Matildas were used by the Germans in subsequent fights.

However, the Matilda II was very crucial in the break out from Tobruk and the seizure of the Axis fortress of Bardia.

The arrival of a faster tank, the Valentine saw the beginning of the end of Matilda’s era.

Before its retirement, the Matilda II fought some minor battles namely: the Battle of Keren, and the German Invasion, and was used by other nations such as Australia, the Soviet Union, and Egypt, in several variants.

Matilda Scorpion in North Africa, 1942

Matilda tanks North Africa

Wehrmacht soldiers and British infantry tank Matilda II

one of the Lend-Lease program, Matilda II tanks in Russia 1942

Captured Matilda II tank of Afrika Korps DAK

Russian Matilda tank number 25

Infantry tank Matilda A12 Mk II

German Matilda A12 Mk II tank 8

German Matilda A12 Mk II tank named Dreadnought

Captured Infantry Tank Matilda II

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen Mk.II 748(e) Matilda II, rear view

Matilda Mk II tank in German service North Africa

Destroyed Matilda tank T18934 – North Africa

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen Mk.II 748(e) Matilda II and Panzer I of the Afrika Korps

Matilda tank turret

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen Mk.II 748(e) Matilda II of the Afrika Korps 8

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen Mk.II 748(e) Matilda II 9

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen Mk.II 748(e) Matilda II of the Afrika Korps

Australian Matilda Tank Landed At Toko Beach 1945

Matilda Tank Loaded for Transport North Africa Desert 1942

Preserving rusty relics

Mr McMahon now has around a dozen ex-military machines, including five Matilda tanks, a Centurion and three Bren Gun Carriers as well as several jeeps.

He and a group of like-minded enthusiasts gather most weekends to work on the historical hulks to bring them back to working condition.

"The group here is a loose association of friends and acquaintances called BATRAC International that's the Busted Arse Tank Repairs and Co."

When they are not tinkering in the shed, welding and bashing the rust buckets into shape, BATRAC members take the tanks out for a run on the farm.

Often half a dozen or more adults and some children climb aboard and the vehicles power through the paddocks, only slowing so someone can hop down and open the gates.

ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce

2/4 Armoured Regiment

Although it was one of the last armoured units to be raised during the Second World War, the 2/4th Armoured Regiment arguably saw the most action in the Pacific theatre its tanks participated in two long and difficult campaigns, fighting in New Guinea and Bougainville during 1945. Only the record of the 1st Tank Battalion (AIF), later the 1st Armoured Regiment (AIF), with its participation in New Guinea and Balikpapan, would be comparable.

The 2/4th Armoured Regiment was formed in November 1942 at Wee Waa, New South Wales, in order to replace a 1st Armoured Division regiment that had been sent to New Guinea. The 2/4th was constitiuted from an amalgamation of other armoured units - D Squadron from the 2/11th Armoured Car Regiment became the 2/4th's A Squadron the 2nd Armoured Brigade Reconnaissance Squadron became the 2/4th's B Squadron the 1st Armoured Brigade Reconnaissance Squadron became the 2/4th's C Squadron and the 2/4th became part of the 2nd Armoured Brigade.

The regiment trained on M3 Grant medium tanks and some M3 Stuart light tanks, and in early 1943 the 2nd Armoured Brigade moved to Queensland, where it joined the 3rd Armoured Division, based at Manumbah. In October the 3rd Armoured Division was disbanded and the 2/4th became part of the independent 4th Armoured Brigade.

Unlike most Australian armoured formations that served only in Australia, the 4th had been organised for "tropical" service and its regiments were equipped with Matilda tanks. Matilda tanks were ideal for supporting the infantry's operations in the Pacific. In June the brigade moved to Southport, on the Gold Coast, but two months later was transferred to Madang, New Guinea, where it replaced the 1st Tank Battalion.

While at Madang, the regiment was reorganised to be self-sufficient and to cope with the different locations in coming campaigns. "Squadron groups" were formed, with each squadron having its own workshop, field park, and signals element.

In November C Squadron moved from Madang to Aitape, where it subsequently supported the 6th Division's campaign in the advance towards Wewak. In December B Squadron was sent to Bougainville to support the II Australian Corps. In June 1945 the rest of the regiment, except C Squadron, moved to Bougainville, where it served in the Southern Sector supporting the 3rd Division's advance towards the main Japanese base at Buin.

On Bougainville B Squadron first went into action at the end of March 1945, when a troop of its tanks was rushed to Slater's Knoll, where the 25th Battalion had been surrounded by a much larger Japanese force. The arrival of the tanks turned the tide against the Japanese and saved the Australians from being overrun. Moving down the Buin and the Commando roads, engineers and infantry worked closely with the tanks, engaging Japanese bunkers, searching for mines, and patrolling through the jungle. In July, meanwhile, a troop of tanks were sent to Northern Sector to support the 23rd Brigade, in the Bonis Peninsula.

Following the end of the war and Japan's surrender, a tank troop from A Squadron was sent to Rabual in mid-September to help the Australians guard the Japanese. In October it was joined by B Squadron, which would man Japanese tanks in case of an emergency.

Over time, the regiment thinned, as men were discharged or transferred. In May 1946 the regiment left Rabaul for Australia, and its affairs were wound up in Sydney. The last remaining member of the regiment was discharged on 4 September.