4 RAR returned home from Vietnam to take over the rear lines in Lavarack Barracks and went on a much earned rest. (These days those lines have since been rebuilt and are currently occupied by 3rd Combat Signals Regiment). After returning to work, the Battalion (4 RAR) continued training on exercises around Mount Spec, Tropical Trials Establishment at Cowley Beach and High Range Training Area.
It was during this period that the 4th Battalion was looked after by Maj E.H. Stevenson, (Administering Command) from 6 Apr 72 until 7 Jul 72, who in turn handed over to the new Commanding Officer Lt Col L.D. Johnson on 8 Jul 72, holding that position until the linking with 2 RAR.
During the same lead up period 2 RAR was commanded by LTCOL J.A. Sheldrick with RSM 2 RAR being WO1 C.H. Swinbourn.
After the War in South Vietnam ended and the cessation of National Service the Army underwent a major reorganisation. 2 RAR and 4 RAR were linked on the 15 August 1973 to form 2nd / 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (2/4 RAR).
4 RAR was formed up on the their parade ground by the RSM WO1 W.T.C. (Wally) Thompson. Members leaving the Battalion for other postings fell out and marched off the parade. WO1 Thompson marched the remaining soldiers to the 2 RAR parade ground and handed them over to WO1 K.A.Hall, RSM 2/4 RAR.
Whilst they were away from the old 4 RAR lines the unit signs were changed to 2/4 RAR. The combined soldiers from 2 Battalion and 4 Battalion were marched back to their new lines where 4 RAR had previously resided under the direction of WO1 Ken Hall the new 2/4 RAR RSM.
The 2/4 RAR battalion march later became a combination of both 2 RAR and 4 RAR unit tunes titled “Ringobrackie“*.
One of the favourite tunes of the RAR (Regiment) was also “Black Bear“*.
The new Battalion was charged with the task of preserving the traditions, associations and museums of the two Battalions from which it was formed.
* The tunes Inverbrackie, Ringo, Ringobrackie, Black Bear and Back In Black below are from a music CD put out by the RAR Foundation. The CD titled “The Royal Australian Regiment, 1948 – 2008 Celebrating 60 Years” is available for purchase from the RAR Foundation – Click here for further Information and how to purchase.
Between 1977 and 1979 the Battalion concentrated on conventional warfare including night and mechanised operations. In 1980 the unit was reorganised on light scales and trained as part of the Operational Deployment Force (ODF) in close country and conventional warfare operations.
Zimbabwe and Rhodesia
From December 1979 to March 1980, 3 soldiers from the 2/4 RAR were deployed to Zimbabwe & Rhodesia as part of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force . They were LT Paul Martin, LT Don Thompson and CPL Bones Brady. Click here for more information.
Overseas deployments and Operational Deployment Force (ODF) or Ready Battalion Group (RBG)
Rifle Company Butterworth
Rifle Company Butterworth is an Australian Army infantry company based at RMAF Base Butterworth in Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia. Rifle Company Butterworth was established in 1973 to provide a protective and quick-reaction force for RAAF Base Butterworth during a resurgence of the Communist insurgency in Malaysia.
While RAAF Base Butterworth was handed to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in 1988 and the insurgency officially ended in 1989, Rifle Company Butterworth has been maintained as a means of providing Australian soldiers with training in jungle warfare and cross-training with the Malaysian Army.
The Battalion was placed on operational readiness, though not deployed, in 1987 and 1990. On each occasion the Battalion was prepared to evacuate Australian citizens from Pacific regional countries experiencing civil disturbance.
OP GEMINI (Cambodia)
From 1990 to 1993 many individual soldiers from the Battalion served with the United Nations in Cambodia.
Mid 1992 saw the first deployment of Australian soldiers to the United Nations multi-national force in Cambodia as part of the Force Communications Unit (FCU).
Thirteen soldiers from the 2nd / 4th Battalion deployed for 12 months as part of Australia’s contingent.
Click here for the names
In May 1993, 2/4 RAR was tasked to provide a Rifle Platoon for Operation Gemini in Cambodia.12 Platoon Delta Company, deployed to Cambodia tasked with providing local security for Australian Army Aviation Assets.
Australia Day 2014 saw the Force Communications Unit awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation.
Click here to read the citation.
OP SOLACE (Somalia)
In 1993, 54 soldiers from the 2/4 RAR Battalion were detached to 1 RAR for operational service in Somalia as part of Operation Solace.
The Mission. In December 1992, a UN peacekeeping force led by 2,000 United States Marines were sent to Somalia to restore order after months of Clan Fighting which had left thousands of people dying of starvation. This was the start of Operation Restore Hope, an operation that was designed to distribute food and other humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia. This intervention was unique in that, not only was it the first time the United Nations had ever intervened without permission in the affairs of an independent nation it was also the first time that a Battalion Group (Bn Gp) of Australian soldiers had deployed on active service since 4 RAR/NZ had commenced its tour of South Vietnam in 1971. The Australian operation was called Operation Solace and involved the deployment of a Battalion Group (Bn Gp) of some 900 personnel, the majority from 1 RAR. Their mission was to provide a secure environment for the distribution of humanitarian aid, within the Humanitarian Relief sector (HRS), Baidoa, a total area of some 17000 square kilometres.
The Baidoa HRS was hot, dry and unrepenting land. Stories abound of the trips that the Bn Gp took to get to Somalia. The plane trip and the long boat journey by members of Alpha Company on Christmas Eve. Delta Company and attachments disembarked from their civilian charter plane to the sounds of gunfire. How could this be, when you are alighting from an Australian owned aircraft with a kangaroo on the tail and your weapons are still in bubble wrap in the hold of the aircraft? The drive to Baidoa proved to be without incident, although the soldiers were probably looking in awe at the destruction and the open display of poverty and malnutrition that greeted them for over 150 kilometres.
The Commanding Officer of the 1 RAR Bn Gp took command of HRS Baidoa on the 19 January 1993, from 3/9 Battalion United States Marine Corps (USMC). The Battalion Group had all arrived in the HRS safely and soon found that life for the civilians was a battle to stay alive. By the time the Bn Gp had arrived many people had perished beyond help, their bodies withered, so that even children looked like old men. This took the young soldiers by surprise; no briefing could prepare them for what they would see over the next 5 months. The Bn Gp got on with the job and was soon escorting food and humanitarian aid convoys, local township security, patrolling in depth and the protection of the Australian assets at the airfield.
OP TAMAR – UNAMIR II (Rwanda)
August 1994 – August 1995)
During the period August 1994 – August 1995, Australia deployed two contingents (each of six months), as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Each contingent comprised a headquarters, a medical team and a rifle company.
In August 1994 A Company 2/4 RAR (appx 114 members) deployed to Rwanda as part of the Australian Medical Support Force. A Company was tasked to provide security of the base at Kigali and escort protection for the medical teams. Other 2/4 RAR personnel were employed in the Contingent Headquarters, as medical assistants and in logistical support functions.
In February 1995 B Coy (now 2 RAR) replaced the A Coy 2/4 RAR members as part of UNAMIR. In April 1995 soldiers from 5 Platoon B Company witnessed the massacre of an estimated 4 000, native Hutu refugees by soldiers from the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPS).
Outnumbered and because of their mandate of protection and unable to take offensive action, they were forced into a passive role. During the event, the Australian medics and infantrymen were often under fire as they attempted to assist the wounded and dying refugees.
On the 25 July 2019 those who deployed on this operation were awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation – “For sustained outstanding service in warlike operations as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission in RWANDA II on Operation TAMAR over the period July 1994 to March 1996.”
“The End Of An Era”
The 1994 Defence White Paper directed the raising of an additional Infantry battalion to redress a perceived shortfall in the Army’s capability to conduct land operations in accordance with strategic guidance.
This additional battalion was formed on 1 February 1995 (the birthday of 4 RAR) by delinking 2/4 RAR to reform 2 RAR and 4 RAR. The existing 2/4 RAR, complete, was re-titled 2 RAR while 4 RAR was formed incrementally over the period to 1998.
Three separate parades were conducted; In Townsville for BHQ, Support Company, Admin Company, Bravo Company and Charlie Company; In Butterworth, Malaysia for Delta Company who were deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) and; In Kigali, Rwanda for Alpha Company who were deployed as part of UNAMIR II.
4 RAR as taken of the ORBAT (Order of Battle) and is currently known as 2nd Commando Regiment.
Throughout its existence 2/4 RAR was based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville and formed part of the 3rd Brigade.
Pipe Major WO2 Ian Brockenbrow wrote the music “Back in Black“* for the de-linking parade.
* See above for further details about the embedded music Back in Black.
15 Aug 1973 would have been a sad and emotional day for those who served in 2 RAR and 4 RAR; who then became 2/4 RAR.
Matched only by those who served in 2/4 RAR at that time, and previously; 1 Feb 1995 was a very sad day indeed.
For a chronological history 1945 – 2016 (incl 2 RAR) – click here
Delinking Parade Colour Party (incl CO and RSM)
Customs and traditions from 2 RAR and 4 RAR entrusted to 2/4 RAR
4 RAR Pioneer Sergeant
When Lord De L’Isle presented 4 RAR with the Colours he suggested to the CO that the Pioneer Sergeant wear a beard and was the only bearded member of the Australian Army. This tradition was also upheld and the pioneer sergeant of 2/4 RAR became the only bearded serving member in the Australian Army.
It used to be the tradition that on the changeover of the pioneer sergeants, the outgoing would be shaved clean whilst the incoming watched on, dressed in his apron and carrying his chrome plated axe. After delinking this tradition was taken back by 4 RAR.
SSGT Frank N. Stein
SSGT Frank N. Stein or Frankie was constructed by the then SGT Noel Huish from kit form in 1964 at Woodside S.A. for presentation to the 4 RAR Sergeants Mess after their inauguration.
On presenting Frankie to the Mess and to the then PMC WO1 Paddy Brennan, both Frank Galvin and Noel Huish carried Frankie into the mess in a box shaped like a coffin, filled with dry ice. The lights in the mess were dimmed and he was placed on the bar with the ice vapours rising from the coffin.
When Frankie was built he originally had a ball and chain around his right ankle, but over the years it disappeared through moving him on various 4 RAR postings.
It was decided at a formal dinner by the first CO, LTCOL D Thompson MC, that he should be promoted to Sergeant, which was duly done. It was also decided that he should be dressed accordingly, 4 RAR main dress then was battle dress, so a set was made for him together with a set of Mess Dress(Blues).
Frankie became the Mess mascot and he attended all Mess functions. At Regimental Dinners he had his own seat, place card and is served all meals (small portions), wines and ports. He sits at the end of the table and is hosted by the junior infantry sergeant.
He accompanied 4 RAR to Malaya in 1965. It was there a set of Summer Dress and Planters Dress was tailored for him. It was decided in Malaya that he should only reach the rank of SSGT.
He was promoted to SSGT in 1973/74 (after 2RAR and 4 RAR were amalgamated) by the CO, LTCOL J.P.A. Deighton MC.
SSGT Stein was officially presented to the 2/4 RAR SGT’s Mess by WO1 G.N. Huish in February 1982.
The tradition of Frankie at dinners continued throughout the amalgamation of 2/4 RAR. During this time additional uniforms were made and the carer of Frankie was responsible for having him in the correct Dress of the Day, including parades and dinners.
Frankie’s original slouch hat has a bit of a tale behind it as well. SGT Kevin Rideout and his wife Isabella attended a hobo night in the early 1970’s at the SGTS Mess. Kevin was dressed on the night as drunken WW2 soldier with a miniature slouch hat which belonged to his son John. On seeing the hat, RSM WO1 Wally Thompson took the hat and said that it was now SSGT Frank’s.
On the delinking of 2/4 RAR Frankie was once again returned home to the care 4 RAR.
SSgt Frank N. Stein has since become a qualified parachutist and commando having passed all the qualifying tests as undertaken by his nominated sponsor. SSgt Frank N. Stein wears the medals of all 4RAR campaigns.
For some further information and pictures of SSGT F.N. Stein – Click Here
2 RAR Battalion Colour – Black
The original 2 RAR identifying colour was scarlet. 2 RAR took delivery of a set of drums on 6 Feb 52, the day of the death of HM King George VI, and in his memory the original black colour of the drums was retained instead of painting them scarlet.
Later in 1952 it had become the custom with 2 RAR to blacken gaiters (as opposed to scrubbing or blanching adopted by the two other battalions at the time). It was requested that the Battalion’s colour be changed and during the tour in Malaya (1955-57), approval was received for the Battalion’s flag to be black. Since that time the colour for all ‘second’ battalions in RAInf has been designated ‘black’.
The Linked Battalions
The linking of 2 RAR and 4 RAR to form 2/4 RAR was the first such linking in The Royal Australian Regiment.
2/4 RAR was, on linking the first RAR Battalion to possess two sets of Colours. It was also the first RAR Battalion to have two sets of Colours on parade. The parade was held on 15 Aug 73 – the day of the linking of 2 RAR and 4 RAR.
During much of it’s time 2/4 RAR held in trust the Freedom of Entry to the City of Townsville for 2 RAR granted to 2 RAR on 15 Oct 71. This Freedom was exercised on 15 Aug 74, the linked Battalion’s first birthday and other occasions. Significantly, in Jul 88, Townsville City Council approved 2/4 RAR be granted the Freedom of Entry to the City of Townsville in its own right. 2/4 RAR exercised Freed of Entry to the City on 30 Jul 88.
2/4 RAR also held in trust and maintained the alliances of 2 RAR and 4 RAR. The Allied Regiment of 2 RAR is the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, and the Allied Regiment of 4 RAR is the Irish Regiment of Foot Guards. 2 RAR is also a life member of the Old Coldstream Association in Australia, and 4 RAR maintains a close liaison with the Association of the 4th Infantry Battalions.
8/9 RAR was formed by linking 8 RAR and 9 RAR on 31 Oct 1973 but was in later years removed from the Order of Battle (ORBAT) on 30 Jun 1997. Through necessity, once again 8/9 RAR arose from the ashes and the “Rams” were placed back on the ORBAT in January 2008.
8/9 RAR when reformed was under command of LTCOL Simon A. Stuart and the unit consisted initially of 68 all ranks.
From one linked battalion to another we (Ex 2/4 RAR) say to the members of 8/9 RAR “Welcome Back.”
A link to the 8/9 RAR Association can be found on our “Links” Page.
5/7 RAR was formed by linking 5 RAR and 7 RAR on 3 Dec 1973. 5/7 RAR then subsequently unlinked to once again form 5 RAR and 7 RAR on 3 Dec 2006.
A link to the 5/7 RAR Association can be found on our “Links” Page.
Association Plaque ANZAC Park
Townsville 1 Feb 2020
New plaque to honour troops at ANZAC Memorial Park
Townsville City Council’s Infrastructure Committee has endorsed the installation of a commemorative plaque for the 2nd/4th Battalion Association in ANZAC Memorial Park.
The 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2/4 RAR) was based at Lavarack Barracks from 1973 to 1995 and the plaque will join other memorials in ANZAC Memorial Park.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said 2/4 RAR has a proud history which continues to be remembered by 2nd/4th Battalion Association.
“Townsville is a proud garrison city and the Association has strong ties to the city,” Cr Hill said.
“2/4 RAR was formed when 2nd Battalion and 4th Battalion joined together in 1973 – 2/4 RAR made a significant contribution to the community and was honoured with Freedom of Entry to the City of Townsville in 1988.”
“Culturally and socially it has strong links to Townsville, especially as we have a history as a proud garrison city.”
Infrastructure Services Committee Chair Cr Mark Molachino said the plaque is a welcome addition to ANZAC Memorial Park.
“The 2/4 RAR plaque and stand will be built to match the style of the existing memorials,” Cr Molachino said.
“2/4 RAR had a strong presence at Lavarack Barracks and this memorial marks its strong civic and cultural significance.”
Local Councillor Ann-Maree Greaney said it will draw more people to the area.
“2/4 RAR was based in Townsville for 22 years so there are strong ties to the new memorial,” Cr Greaney said.
“It will be a focal point for commemorative activities and it will give members of 2/4 RAR, their partners, families and widows a place to reflect on their time in the Army.”
Townsville City Council has applied for and been granted approval from the Department of Environment and Science to install the commemorative plaque in this heritage listed site.
The plaque was dedicated at a ceremony held on Saturday 1 Feb 2020.