Part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division, the 2/7th Battalion opened its headquarters at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds on 25 October 1939. It relocated to the newly-established camp at Puckapunyal on 3 November to carry out its basic training, and departed Melbourne for service overseas on 15 April 1940.
Arriving in the Middle East on 17 May 1940, the 2/7th conducted further training in Palestine and Egypt, before embarking on its first campaign – the advance against the Italians in eastern Libya – just before Christmas. It fought in the battles for Bardia (3-5 January 1941) and Tobruk (21-22 January 1941) and ended its activities in Libya manning defensive positions at Marsa Brega – the western extent of the advance.
In early April 1941, the 2/7th, with the rest of the 6th Division, deployed to Greece to resist the anticipated German invasion. For the 2/7th, the Greek campaign was essentially one long withdrawal through a series of rearguard positions, beginning on 16 April. The majority of the 2/6th were evacuated from Kalamata aboard the “Costa Rica” on the night of 26 April. On the afternoon of 27 April, however, the “Costa Rica” was crippled by German aircraft. The men of the 2/7th were rescued by a pair of British destroyers and landed on Crete.
On Crete, the 2/7th were initially deployed to defend the coastline around Georgioupolis but, after the German airborne landings on 20 May, were soon moved up to join the fighting around Canea. On 27 May the battalion took part in a wild bayonet charge at 42nd Street that temporarily rebuffed the German advance. The 2/7th subsequently played a critical rearguard role as the Allied forces retreated across the island to Sphakia. As a result, the battalion was left behind and taken prisoner after the withdrawal of the last evacuation vessels from Sphakia on 1 June.
Rebuilt in Palestine, the 2/7th formed part of the garrison in Syria between October and February 1941, before leaving the Middle East on 12 March 1942. Between mid-March and mid-July it formed part of a force defending Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) from possible Japanese attack, and did not disembark in Australia until 4 August 1942.
The 2/7th, as a whole, first met the Japanese in battle in the mid-January 1943 as part of the force defending Wau in New Guinea, although its carrier platoon had already been involved in fighting at Buna in Papua. Once Wau was made secure in early February, the 2/7th subsequently participated in the drive towards Salamaua. After arriving back in Australia on 6 October 1943, the battalion spent most of 1944 training in northern Queensland.
On 16 November 1944, the 2/7th disembarked at Aitape in New Guinea for its final campaign. Between January and June 1944, it was engaged mainly in arduous patrolling to clear the Torricelli Range, and in August it carried out a similar role in the Prince Alexander Range. The battalion returned to Australia on 18 December 1945 and disbanded at Puckapunyal in February 1946.
North Africa 12 June 1940 – 12 May 1943
A campaign honour awarded for participation in operations in North Africa (Egypt, Libya and Tunisia) against the Axis forces. The beginning and end dates of the individual honour are amended to denote the period of service of the unit concerned.
Bardia 1941 03 January 1941 – 05 January 1941
Awarded for participation in the capture of Bardia in the Libyan province of Cyrenacia.
Capture of Tobruk 21 January 1941 – 22 January 1941
Awarded for participation in the capture of the port of Tobruk in the Libyan province of Cyrenacia.
Greece 1941 10 April 1941 – 29 April 1941
A campaign honour awarded for involvement in the operations to defend Greece in 1941. A separate honour was awarded for the liberation of Greece in 1944-1945.
Middle East 1941-1944 20 May 1941 – 21
November 1944 A campaign honour awarded to units that served on operations in various parts of the Middle East, which was deemed to include Crete, Madagascar, the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, and the Dodecanese islands. The beginning and end dates of the individual honour are amended to denote the period of service of the unit concerned.
Crete 20 May 1941 – 01 June 1941
Campaign honour awarded for participation in the defence of and withdrawal from Crete.
Canea 20 May 1941 – 27 May 1941
Awarded for participation in operations against German troops in the vicinity of Canea and Suda Bay on Crete.
42nd Street 27 May 1941 – 27 May 1941
Awarded for participation in the counter-attack made against German forces in the vicinity of the road known as 42nd Street, south-east of Canea, on the island of Crete.
Withdrawal to Sphakia 28 May 1941 – 01 June 1941
Awarded for participation in the withdrawal from the vicinity of Canea, across the mountainous region of central Crete, to the south coast town of Sphakia. Sphakia was the main point of evacuation for British Commonwealth forces on Crete.
South-West Pacific 1942-1945 20 February 1942 – 22 July 1945
A campaign honour awarded to units for participation in operations in the geographic, and command, area known as the South-West Pacific. It included the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, Papua, New Britain, New Ireland and the northern Solomon Islands. The beginning and end dates of the individual honour are amended to denote the period of service of the unit concerned.
Wau 08 March 1942 – 26 February 1943
Awarded for participation in operations in the vicinity of the mining town of Wau in New Guinea. The honour encompasses both the harassment of the Japanese advancing from Salamaua to Mubo in early 1942, and the subsequent successful defence of Wau in early 1943.
Mubo I 22 April 1943 – 29 May 1943
>Awarded for participation in the follow-up operations along the Bitoi River subsequent to the Japanese withdrawal from Wau.
Bobdubi II 30 June 1943 – 19 August 1943
Awarded for participation in the operations to capture Bobdubi Ridge, to the south west of Salamaua, in eastern New Guinea. This honour is distinct from ‘Bobdubi I’, awarded for earlier harassing and reconnaissance operations around Bobdubi Ridge, and encompasses the operations that resulted in the capture of the Japanese strong points at Old Vickers, Timbered Knoll, and the Coconuts.
Komiatum 16 August 1943 – 21 August 1943
Awarded for participation in the operations that resulted in the capture of Komiatum Ridge, to the south west of Salamua, in eastern New Guinea.
Liberation of Australian New Guinea 18 September 1943 – 08 August 1945
Campaign honour awarded for participation in the operations to clear the Japanese from the Australian-mandated territory of New Guinea. For no apparent reason, the honour does not encompass the Wau-Salamaua or Nadzab-Lae operations and there appears no consistency in the manner it was awarded to the units that participated in the Huon Peninsula operations. Units involved: 1st Armoured Regiment 2/4th Armoured Regiment 6th Division Cavalry Regiment
Maprik 08 March 1945 – 24 April 1945
Awarded for participation in the operations resulting in the capture of the village of Maprik, in the Torrcelli Mountains in northern New Guinea.
Yamil-Ulupu 03 May 1945 – 14 July 1945
Awarded for participation in patrol operations to clear Japanese forces from the Yamil-Ulupu area in the Prince Alexander Mountains in northern New Guinea. Both Yamil, a cluster of villages around an airfield, and Ulupu were heavily defended Japanese strongpoints.
Kaboibus-Kiarivu 15 July 1945 – 08 August 1945
Awarded for participation in patrol operations mounted to clear the area around the villages of Kaboibus and Kairivu in the Prince Alexander mountains, south of But in northern New Guinea. The operations culminated with the capture of the Kiarivu emergency landing ground on 8 August 1945.