AAOC colour patch

Colour patch on KFF

Armourer's badge

Practice on Darwin range

Armourer's work table

This was a support unit for Sparrow Force, to service and repair firearms and equipment. Members of the Australian Army Ordnance Corps, they wore the same colour patch as Lines of Communications personnel. Some rolls list some of these men as being Electrical and Mechanical Engineers however they were AAOC members.

At Darwin, the 104th LAD was originally to accompany Sparrow Force to Timor however their rifle shooting was not up to standard and they were taken to the rifle range with 2/40th instructors to improve their shooting over a period of weeks. This would not seem to have improved their marksmanship sufficiently because in November 1941, the 75 LAD was attached to Sparrow Force and eventually accompanied them to Dutch West Timor on the HMAS Westralia.


Initially the 75th LAD was stationed at Penfui near the airstrip but after a rear supply depot was established at Babao for transport, maintenance, fuel reserves and a first aid dressing station, the Ordnance Corps men were moved to Babao on 9th January 1942. D Company of the 2/40th was stationed there as a mobile reserve from 7th January 1942.


75 LAD Personnel...
     Capt. Reginald C. Neave - officer in command
     L/Cpl. Leslie V. Osborne
     plus privates Esson, Cusack, Herd, Hullick, Leviston, McKenzie, Robertson and Trentgrove.

1 officer and 9 other ranks, plus 2 men listed as AAOC on the 2/40th nominal rolls (craftsman Dean & pte. Mears) so these were likely unit armourers. Both have NX prefix regimental numbers so they were not from Tasmania or Victoria, likely seconded in Darwin before Sparrow Force left for Timor.


The 75th LAD contingent was not captured at Airkom (Irekum) on 23rd like most of Sparrow Force, but they were at Champlong with the new HQ group there. So they joined up with the 2nd Independent Company (Commando) on East Timor and eventually returned to Australia. The two AAOC men Dean and Mears returned to Australia early, likely with the Brigadier Veale group.


There was only one casualty of the 75th LAD on West Timor, pte. John Esson, missing and believed killed in action on 20th Feb. 1942. As the ordnance men were stationed at rear depot at Babao which was attacked and captured by the SNLF paratroops on 20th, it is likely that Esson was killed in that vicinity. Some hastily organised patrols of cooks and rear echelon personnel were hastily assembled to meet the paratroops coming from the rear. A number of these men were killed before the 2/40th infantry companies retook Babao.

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