The 2/10th Battalion was the first South Australian battalion formed for the Second AIF. It formally came into being with the appointment of its first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Verrier, on 13 October 1939 but over a week would elapse before the battalion began to take shape at Adelaide’s Wayville Showgrounds. It trained first at Woodside in the Adelaide hills, and then at Greta and Ingleburn in New South Wales. The 2/10th embarked for the Middle East on 5 May 1940 as part of the 18th Brigade, of the 6th Australian Division.
En route to the Middle East, the 18th Brigade was diverted to the United Kingdom to bolster its defences following the fall of France. The 2/10th disembarked at Gourock in Scotland on 18 June and was subsequently based at Lopcombe Corner, near Salisbury, in England. On 8 July the 2/10th suffered the Second AIF’s first casualty due to enemy action – Private Albert Webb, who was wounded in a strafing attack by a German aircraft. The battalion relocated to Colchester in October and left the United Kingdom on 17 November.
The 2/10th arrived in Egypt on 31 December 1940. In the United Kingdom the 18th Brigade had become part of the newly-formed 9th Australian Division, but in Egypt, in February 1941, it was transferred to the 7th Division. D Company of the 2/10th reinforced the 2/9th Battalion for its attack on Giarabub on 21 March 1941, but the whole battalion was not committed to active operations until it moved, with the rest of the brigade, to Tobruk in the first week of April. The 18th Brigade took part in the defence of Tobruk until it was withdrawn at the end of August. After Tobruk, the 2/10th trained in Palestine and between late September 1941 and early January 1942 formed part of the force garrisoning Syria. It sailed for Australia on 11 February, disembarking in Adelaide on 29 March.
Papua was the 2/10th’s next battleground and the battles it fought there were its most bitter and costly. It arrived at Milne Bay on 12 August and on the night of 27 August was overwhelmed by Japanese marines in a confused battle. The battalion fared even worse in its next engagement – Buna. Between 23 December and 2 January the 2/10th lost 113 men killed and 205 wounded in often ill-conceived attacks against Japanese bunkers around the old airstrip. The 2/10th’s final engagement in Papua was at Sanananda between 9 and 24 January 1943. It returned home on 12 March 1943.
The 2/10th returned to Papua in early August 1943. It trained around Port Moresby until deployed to the Finisterre Mountains in New Guinea on 31 December, where it participated in the operations to secure Shaggy Ridge between 4 January and 1 February 1944. Arriving back in Australia on 8 May, the 2/10th spent a year training before undertaking its final operation of the war. On 1 July 1945 the battalion landed at Balikpapan in Borneo and stormed the heights of Parramatta Ridge. In ensuing days it cleared the Japanese from in and around Balikpapan town, and was withdrawn into reserve on 6 July. It did not carry out another active role before the war ended on 15 August 1945. 2/10th personnel were progressively returned to Australia for discharge and with a cadre of only 42 remaining, the battalion disbanded at Balikpapan on 29 December 1945.
Source: Australian War Memorial – for more information please visit http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11261.asp
From 2/10th to United > United to Norwood
Source: Laurie Simons, 10th Bn newsletter June 2005, via Keith Harrison RSL SA, National Library of Australia, Digitised Newspapers, http://trove.nla.gov.au/
Many of the men of the 2/10th discovered basketball during their time in the army, with the Battalion diary showing that it was one of the recreational pursuits the men had in Borneo in the time from after the war ended in 1945 until they were finally sent home.
The team shown in the photograph below was effectively the first Norwood team. They were one of two teams of 2/10th returned servicemen who entered teams of that name into the re-formed SA Men’s Basketball Association in 1946. They changed name to United in 1947, and set about being promoted and building a club.
As “United” they competed in the A Grade competition in 1948, and by 1950 had 3 teams in various grades. At the end of 1950, the Association mandated that teams take on the name of the league football clubs in their area. “United” was renamed “Norwood”, and the majority of the players shown below were still playing A Grade basketball when “Norwood” competed for the first time in 1951. In 1954, the club was the first “Association” side promoted to the recently formed “League” competition, and in that same year it fielded its first women’s team.
Of note is that the player in the middle of the front row, Alan McDougall had won a Military Cross for bravery under fire 12 months prior to this photograph being taken.
Rear: LA Simons, CP Roach, B McCrue
Front: RL Evans, AF McDougall, KR Knevitt
2/10th Battalion – 1946 B Grade Premiers – SA Men’s Basketball Association