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2/28th Battalion Park

The History of the 2/28th Battalion Park

Formation of the 2/28th Battalion

The nucleus of this battalion assembled in Melville Camp, near Fremantle on the 17th JULY 1940. It was essential that standard training methods and a common tactical doctrine should prevail. In September, the cadre moved to Northam to absorb the main body of troops. The Battalion had no trouble rising to full strength plus its first line reinforcements. Volunteers were flocking to the recruiting booths in all parts of Western Australia and the supply of troops exceeded the demand.

Northam Camp was in the process of being expanded to meet wartime demands. The first task confronting the 2/28th was to cut its parade ground out of the Virgin Bush followed by Admin and preparation leaving little time for PT and training. Nevertheless, after the battalion had paraded through Perth on its embankment march, the General Officer Commanding publicly stated this was the best unit to leave WA.

They, the 2/28th had rejected the fallacy that Australian Soldiers can afford to fight as rabble instead of as a team.

The History Reveals

All the infantry battalions of the famous 9th Australian Division experienced action packed campaigns in the desert and the jungle, but the 2/28th seemed to have been singled out by fate for an especially dramatic History. It was the 2/28th which on the first day of the siege of TOBRUK used the Bush Artillery to bluff Rommel into halting an attack which could otherwise have proven unstoppable. It was the 2/28th which lost the battle of Sugar Seven because of a stray bullet prevented the firing of a successful signal. It was the 2/28th which suffered the great disaster of Ruin Ridge in the El Alamein Desert.

It was a reformed but untried 2/28th which exactly 3 months later avenged itself during one of the most critical days in the battle of  Alamein, it was the 2/28th which performed the epic crossing of BUSU River in New Guinea.

The 2/28th Battalion fought in the Middle East, in New Guinea and in Borneo. It fought against the Germans and Italians in the greatest historical battles of TOBRUK and El Alamein and the Japanese in New Guinea and Borneo. Except when captured by the German Armour in the Desert Fighting in the El Alamein Region, it proved more than a match for the enemies.

The 2/28th met and defeated the first onslaught of the Germans on TOBRUK when their victorious advance took them to Mersa Brega (well south of Benghazi) to the Egyptian frontier. As a result of this action, Rommel became convinced that TOBRUK was held in Strength and with ample supporting weapons.

In July of that year, fighting in the El Alamein position, the 2/28th suffered the grim fate of falling prey to the German Armour on Ruin Ridge. The only Battalion to capture its objective should itself be captured the following morning was a bitter twist of fate. Although the 2/28th Battalion was one of the famous battalions of the 9th Australian Division its path was not one of steady progress and continuing successes which fill the records of some of the A.I.F battalions of WWII.

Rommel’s frustrations continued in November of that year and he made a final push to break through the Northern flack to no avail. From this period onwards came a succession of successes in New Guinea and Borneo. The battalion’s greatest success being at BUSU River leading up to the capture of LAE some four months later after the African Campaign.

A band of Gallant, Skilled, Courageous and well-disciplined fighting men.

The Battle Honours for World War II were promulgated in 1961. Those awarded to the 2/28 Infantry Battalion were emblazoned on the Queens Colours of the 2/28 Infantry Battalion CMF.

Battle Honours awarded are as follows:

NORTH AFRICA 1941 – 1942

Defence of TOBRUK, Defence of El Alamein line, Qattara Track, El Alamein (twice).


Lae Nabzab, Busu River, Finschaven, Siki Cove, Borneo and Labuan

Department of Vet affairs have identified 80 Volunteers during WWI have come from the town of Kellerberrin.

Link: Items listing ( Keyword Kellerberrin WA – Years 1900 -1918

DVA has also identifies 199 Volunteers enlisted during WWII from the town of Kellerberrin.

There are 464 members whom were Born or enlisted from Kellerberrin during WWII

Link: Items listing ( keyword Kellerberrin WA – Years 1939 – 1945

A large number of personnel within the 2/28th Battalion came from either Kellerberrin or the surrounding districts. This includes Beacon from the North to Katanning in the South. These members (it is believed) came to Kellerberrin to join the troop train in Kellerberrin before rolling out to Melville Camp near Fremantle WA.

Rats of Tobruk Victoria Cross Recipients

Currently there are Six (6) Victoria Cross Recipients on my National ROT Database.

WX11519 STARCEVICH, Leslie Thomas, 2/43 Bn BORNEO
NX15705 EDMONDSON, John Hurst, 2/17 Bn.
WX9858 GURNEY, Arthur Stanley, 2/48 Bn.
QX1071 FRENCH, John Alexander, 2/9 Bn.
WX10426 GRATWICK, Percival Eric, 2/48 Bn.
NX24405 CHOWNE, Albert, 2/13 Bn.
 SX7964 DERRICK, Thomas Currie, 2/48 Bn

The concept of the park was to create coves within the garden that are the home of the Soldiers. 

Within the gardens is a dog exercise compound constructed with two pens. The dog exercise area is 40 metres long and 24.5 metres deep.

This Park is to reflect the service and dedication of the Men of the 2/28th and women of the Nursing Corp of which came from this area and most from WA. War memorials are dedicated to elevate the dead for their sacrifice. 

Information provided by Richard Marek