THE 2/7 AUSTRALIAN FIELD REGIMENT
The 2/7 Australian Field Regiment came into being in April 1940 and comprised Regimental Headquarters and 13 Battery from South Australia and 14 Battery from West Australia. The Regiment wrote its own small slice of history in Palestine, Egypt and North Africa, Syria, Lebanon and Borneo before disbanding in January 1946. Now, in 2005, its remaining members are of seriously thinning ranks. Of the West Australian 14 Battery only 12 members attend the monthly meetings, many of our survivors while still taking an interest in the Ex‑members Association are either too sick or otherwise incapacitated to attend. It is clear that, before long we must merge into the "umbrella' body, the RAA Association as so many who served the Regiment from W.A. have passed on.
The personalities such as Arthur Damell, Bill Holder, Stan West and Harry Poole, to mention but a few, left an indelible imprint on our activities. Perhaps to mention anyone in particular, as I have done, is unfair because, on recollection, every man who served in the Battery ranks has left his own particular imprint.
It is easy to recall the various groups whom formed our original ranks. There were those who came from the Fortress Artillery; permanent forces who were already well trained in Artillery practices. Another group came to us from Kalgoorlie; hard‑rock miners teaching us how to dig, to run 2‑up, to control the betting ring and rig races at sporting events. Members of the Militia who signed up for the "real" army provided the core of the officers and NCOs in the new Battery.
Our members respond well to current military style functions such as Anzac Day, Remembrance and Gunners' Day.
In 1992 a group of about 50 members and spouses from both W.A. and S.A. paid a visit to El Alamein to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that famous battle in which the Regiment took a significant part. And in 2002 Ken Beamish, one of our members was selected in a party of 20 from all Australian ex‑service men and women, to visit El Alamein for the 60th anniversary. Members are awaiting advice of a selection of 15 to 18 to visit France for a VE Anniversary service in May of this year.
The local Association is thankful for the efforts of Jim Quilliam of Adelaide who keeps us informed of the activities of all the remaining Regimental members throughout Australia by producing a quarterly publication "Dial Sight". Jim and his wife came over West recently and, at one of our meetings, produced a list of the attendees at a Battery Dinner 45 years ago. 160 members were listed. Our last Annual luncheon had 7members plus spouses and friends ‑ a total of 18. TENTUS FUGIT.
P. StJ Kennedy
From the 2/7th
– by Alf Richards
OCTOBER IS A SPECIAL MONTH FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE 9TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION, AND THAT INCLUDES OUR OWN 2/7 AUST FD REGT. ON 23 OCTOBER 1942 AT 20 MINUTES TO 10.00hrs OVER 850 FIELD AND 52 MEDIUM GUNS LAID DOWN A BARRAGE ALONG THE 40MILE EL ALAMEIN FRONT FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN COAST IN THE NORTH TO THE IMPASSABLE QATTARA DEPRESSION IN THE SOUTH. FROM THAT MONSTROUS SOUL-SHATTERING (FOR THE AXIS POWERS, AT LEAST) EXPERIENCE TO THE FINAL BREAKTHROUGH ON 5TH NOVEMBER THE BATTLE RAGED BACK AND FORTH WITH THE 9TH DIV PLAYING A PIVOTAL ROLE.
THE AUSTRALIANS DID NOT TAKE PART IN THE PURSUIT. IT WAS BACK TO PALESTINE AND PREPARE FOR THE RETURN HOME AS THE JAPS WERE, BY THIS TIME, PUSHING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO AUSTRALIA.
TO COMMEMORATE THIS MOST SIGNIFICANT BATTLE AND VICTORY THE 2/7 AUST FD (W.A.) EX-MEMBERS` ASSN HOLD A LUNCHEON EACH YEAR ON 23 OCTOBER. AT ONE TIME MEMBERS AND WIVES WITH FRIENDS AND GUESTS NUMBERED AROUND 150. NOW WE HAVE AROUND 20 ATTENDING. SUCH IS THE RAVAGE OF TIME!!.
THE OCTOBER BATTLE, ALSO REFERRED TO AS THE "OFFENSIVE" BATTLE RIGHTLY STANDS OUT AS ONE OF THE MAJOR EVENTS - A TURNING POINT, IN THE WAR - AS CHURCHILL SAID "BEFORE EL ALAMEIN WE HAD NEVER WON A BATTLE; AFTER EL ALAMEIN WE NEVER LOST A BATTLE"
WHILE THIS IS TRUE OF THE OFFENSE, THE PERIOD FROM THE BEGINNING OF JULY, ALSO REFERRED TO AS THE "DEFENSIVE" BATTLE SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN. ROMMEL HAD DRIVEN THE BRITISH 8TH ARMY OUT OF LIBYA AND WAS STORMING WITHIN 70 MILES OF ALEXANDRIA. THE 8TH ARMY WAS IN FULL RETREAT AND IT SEEMED NOTHING COULD STOP HIM FROM TAKING OVER CAIRO AND THE SUEZ CANAL. AS IT WAS GENERAL SIR CLAUDE AUCHINLECK COMMANDER OF THE 8TH ARMY DECIDED TO MAKE A STAND AT EL ALAMEIN, SOME 70 MILES FROM ALEXANDRIA. IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT ROMMEL`S SUPPLY LINES WERE STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT AND HIS TROOPS WERE NEAR EXHAUSTION FROM THE FURY OF THE RACE ACROSS NORTH AFRICA. IN ADDITION THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE LAND AT THIS POINT GAVE AUCHINLECK AN ADVANTAGE. IN THE NORTH WAS THE MEDITERRANEAN AND JUST 40 MILES SOUTH WAS THE QATTARA DEPRESSION, AN EXTENSIVE IMPENETRABLE EXTENSIVE MARSHY AREA THAT COULD NOT BE CROSSED BY "ANYTHING MORE MECHANICAL THAN A CAMEL". AS A FURTHER ADVANTAGE WE HAD AIR SUPERIORITY WITH AIRFIELDS IN CLOSE VICINITY AS COMPARED WITH THE AXIS FORCES. IT WAS AT THIS STAGE THAT THE AUSTRALIAN 9TH DIVISION AND 2ND NEW ZEALAND DIVISION CAME ON THE SCENE.
THE FIRST ATTACK TOOK PLACE ON THE NIGHT OF 9/10 JULY AND INVOLVED MOVES TO TAKE A COUPLE OF POINTS OF HIGH GROUND ALONG THE COAST. THE ACTION WAS A SUCCESS, THE OBJECTIVES WERE REACHED ON TIME, 600 PRISONERS WERE CAPTURED, 90 OF THEM GERMAN, AND 18 TANKS WERE DESTROYED. OUR 2/7TH CASUALTIES; 2 KILLED 4 WOUNDED.
VARIOUS OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE ACTIONS CONTINUED UP TO THE END OF JULY BY WHICH TIME WE MOVED INTO WHAT WAS DESCRIBED AS THE "STATIC" PERIOD. CLEARLY BOTH SIDES WERE REGROUPING AND REBUILDING FOR THE FINAL OFFENSIVE WHICH WAS SURE TO COME..