The 16th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment (16 RWAR) is an Australian Army reserve infantry battalion located in Western Australia and one of the two battalions of the Royal Western Australia Regiment. The battalion was first formed during the First World War, during which it fought during the Gallipoli Campaign and on the Western Front in France and Belgium as part of the Australian Imperial Force. It was re-formed as a part-time unit in Western Australia during the inter-war years, and served in the New Britain Campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War. In the post war years, the battalion became part of the Royal Western Australia Regiment and currently forms part of the 13th Brigade.
The 16th Battalion was originally raised in September 1914 as part of the all volunteer Australian Imperial Force (AIF), which was raised for overseas service during the First World War. Assigned to the 4th Brigade, the battalion drew the majority of its personnel from the state of Western Australia, while the remainder came from South Australia. After completing rudimentary training in Victoria, the battalion embarked for Egypt. Upon arrival, the 4th Brigade was assigned to the New Zealand and Australian Division, with whom it subsequently participated in the Gallipoli Campaign between April and December 1915.
After returning to Egypt, in early 1916 the AIF underwent a period of expansion and reorganisation, during which the 16th Battalion was split to provide an experienced cadre of personnel to the newly formed 48th Battalion. At the same time, the 4th Brigade was reassigned to the 4th Division and in mid-1916 the AIF's infantry divisions were transferred to Europe to take part in the fighting on the Western Front. For the next two-and-a-half years, the 16th Battalion was involved in several significant battles, including the Battle of Pozières, Battle of Bullecourt, the German Spring Offensive, the Battle of Hamel and the Allied Hundred Days Offensive. During the war, the battalion's casualties amounted to 1,127 killed and 1,955 wounded. Three of its members received the Victoria Cross for their actions: Martin O'Meara, Thomas Axford and Dominic McCarthy.
The battalion was disbanded at the end of the war, then re-raised as a Citizens Force unit after a reorganisation of Australia's part-time military forces in 1921 to perpetuate the numerical designations of the AIF, forming part of the 13th Brigade and based in Western Australia. It was amalgamated with the 11th Battalion in 1930, after the suspension of the compulsory training scheme reduced the size of the part-time military force. A new 16th Battalion was raised in 1936 as the "Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia", as part of an expansion of the Militia following concerns about the strategic situation in Europe.
During the Second World War, this battalion was mobilised for war service and gazetted as an AIF battalion. Throughout the early war years, it formed part of the garrison of Western Australia, before moving north to Darwin in 1943. In late 1944, the 13th Brigade was reassigned to the 5th Division and subsequently took part in the New Britain Campaign from November 1944 until the end of the war. The campaign was limited to containing the larger Japanese force, and the battalion's involvement was focused primarily around undertaking long range patrols. Only limited combat occurred before the end of the war, and the battalion's casualties were light, amounting to 10 killed and 14 wounded.
After undertaking further garrison duties at Rabaul, the 16th Battalion returned to Australia in early 1946 and was disbanded at Puckapunyal, Victoria, in February. The part-time military forces were re-formed in 1948 following the conclusion of the demobilisation process, at which time the battalion was re-raised as an amalgamated unit with the 28th Battalion. The two units remained linked until 1952 when they were split and re-raised in their own right as full battalions. This state of affairs continued until 1960 when a reorganisation saw the raising of larger State-based regiments that subsumed the old regionally-based regiments, at which point the battalion was reduced to a company-level formation within the Pentropic 1st Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment (1 RWAR), forming 'B' Company. In 1965, the Pentropic divisional structure was abolished and 1 RWAR was split to form two new battalions: 1 RWAR and 2 RWAR; the following year 1 RWAR was redesignated 16 RWAR.
16 RWAR currently forms part of the 13th Brigade, and maintains the battle honours of all the previous 16th Battalions, including the 16th Battalion, AIF, which served in the First World War, and the 16th Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia) and 2/16th Battalion, both of which served in the Second World War. The battalion has provided personnel to provide reinforcements for Regular Army units deploying to various conflicts or operations including those in East Timor, Malaysia, Bougainville, Afghanistan and Iraq.First World War: Somme, 1916, '18; Pozières; Bullecourt; Messines, 1917; Ypres, 1917; Menin Road; Polygon Wood; Passchendaele; Arras, 1918; Ancre, 1918; Hamel; Amiens; Albert, 1918; Hindenburg Line; Epéhy; France and Flanders, 1916–18; Anzac; Landing at Anzac; Defence of Anzac; Suvla; Sari Bair; Gallipoli, 1915; and Egypt, 1915–16.
Second World War: Liberation of Australian New Guinea; Waitavolo; North Africa; Syria 1941; Syrian Frontier; The Litani; Wadi Zeini; Damour; South-West Pacific 1942–1945; Kokoda Trail; Isurava; Eora Creek–Templeton's Crossing I; Efogi–Menari; Ioribaiwa; Buna–Gona; Gona; Ramu Valley; Shaggy Ridge; Borneo 1945; and Balikpapan.