18th Anti-Tank Battery

Lieut. John Carrick

Battery members in civvies

Battery members in uniform

2-pdr anti-tank

The 18th Anti-Tank Battery was formed in Sydney after the outbreak of the war with Germany, many members transferring from militia units to the regular forces. Troops of the 18th Anti-Tank Battery were issued with the then new 2-pdr. anti-tank gun. The 2-pounder was designed in Britain as a tank gun then adapted for an anti-tank role on a special carriage that permitted rapid 360 degree traverse. The transport wheels folded down when the gun was deployed and set up.   

Comprising of three troops, each troop was supplied with four guns. The guns were usually operated in pairs. Special tractors were intended for towing the low profile artillery pieces but on Timor, they were towed behind regular 30 hundredweight general service trucks. This made them difficult to conceal in off-road positions. The 2-pdr. anti-tank guns rolled off the production line at GMH Holden in South Australia from March in 1941.


Lieutenant John Carrick, later Sir John Carrick, Federal Minister for Education and Leader in the Senate, was the officer commanding B Troop on Dutch West Timor. Carrick was studying at Sydney University when war broke out, a member of the university regiment. Sir John also wrote a manual for operation of the 2-pdr. anti-tank gun and the original is reported to have been preserved in the library at the Australian War Memorial.   

The 18th Anti-Tank Battery was transported by rail from Sydney, across the Blue Mountains to Broken Hill, and thence to Adelaide. Like the other units headed for the Top End, they changed to the narrow gauge 'Ghan' at Terowie and continued on to Alice Springs. Without any rail line after the Alice, the men and their guns were taken by the Darwin Overland Maintenance Force trucks to Birdum. This terminus is adjacent to Larrimah, where the men again boarded trains for the journey to the outskirts of Darwin.


The three troops would appear to have been ensconced together outside Darwin and two of the troops were allocated to the 'bird' forces defending airfields to the north of Australia. 
          A Troop - not known, to be updated later
          B Troop - Lieut. John Carrick - Sparrow Force to West Timor
          C Troop - Gull Force to Ambon

The 18th Anti-Tank gunners were stationed at Darwin awaiting a posting. B Troop was allocated to Sparrow Force which sailed from Darwin on the HMAS Westralia on 10th December while C Troop left for Ambon on 14th of December 1941. After landing oat Usapa Besar on West Timor, one gun was sited as part of beach defences at Usapa Besar with A Company of the 2/40th, two guns were not far away at Klapalima with B Company and the fourth gun with the mobile reserve, D Company, at Babao. It was unfortunate that the guns were only provided with armour-piercing ammunition, which was not satisfactory for the three days of fighting during 20th - 22nd February 1942.  The 2-pdr. A-T guns from Ambon is reported to be on display at the Australian War Memorial.


With the exception of one gunner who was at Champlong when Col. Leggatt surrendered the column at Airkom on 23rd February 1942, all the members of B Troop, 18th Anti-Tank Battery, became prisoners of war.

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