|Branch Australian Army|
Size Two brigades
|Active 15 April – 27 August 1942|
Garrison/HQ Newcastle, New South Wales
The 10th Division was a division of the Australian Army, which served briefly during World War II. It was initially formed on 15 April 1942 from the Militia units of the Newcastle Covering Force. However, personnel shortages led to the division being disbanded in August that year.
In 1945, as plans were being made for an invasion of the Japanese home islands, the name 10th Division was revived for a proposed Australian contingent. It was to use personnel drawn from existing units of the Australian Imperial Force. The war ended before the invasion took place and the division was not formally re-raised.
Formation and disbandment
Following the start of the Pacific War, the Newcastle Covering Force, a Militia formation composed of the 1st and 32nd Brigades under the command of Major General John Murray, was renamed the 10th Division on 15 April 1942 following a complete re-organisation of the higher command of the Australian Army. However, on 27 August 1942, personnel shortages caused the division to be disbanded. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin referred to this in a letter to Winston Churchill in October 1942, saying:
The Army's minimum need for replacement of wastage is 7,000 to 8,000 a month, against an estimated monthly intake in the coming year of 1,100 (youths turning 18). This does not enable existing army formations to be maintained. Eight infantry battalions have already been disbanded and absorbed into other units. This has involved the disbandment of the 10th Division and the absorption of its units into other formations. A further decrease in the number of battalions up to a total decrease of eleven battalions is contemplated.
Plans to re-raise
Much later in the war, as Allied forces approached the Japanese home islands, planning began for a Commonwealth Corps, including an Australian Imperial Force (AIF) division, to be the re-raised 10th Division. The division was to be made up of experienced personnel from the existing divisions. The corps would have included British and Canadian divisions, and was to be part of a landing on Honshū in 1946. Regardless, the planned landing would have been dominated by US forces, and was known as Operation Coronet.
However, the introduction of nuclear weapons, and their use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused Japan to surrender before the invasion took place. As a result, the 10th Division was never re-raised. Instead, the decision was made to raise the 34th Brigade for occupation duties in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. This formation consisted of men drawn from the three remaining AIF divisions—the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions.