Australian Militia Forces

Photograph of Australian militia after the Kokoda campaign

Australian War Memorial #013289

Australia conscripted some 691,400 men into its militia forces, known formally as the Citizens' Military Forces or CMF, during the Pacific War. By law, these troops could be used only within Australian territory. Some militia units acquitted themselves well, particularly 7 Brigade, which fought at Milne Bay, and 39 Battalion, which fought the initial battles along the Kokoda Trail.

In January 1943, legislation was passed authorizing the use of militia forces throughout the southwest Pacific. However, MacArthur had no faith in the Australian militia, and most militia forces either languished at home or were assigned to pointless "mopping up" operations that contributed little to winning the war. As a result, the troops' morale plummeted, discipline was poor, and there were instances of mutiny. The volunteers of 2 Australian Imperial Force sometimes derided the militia as "chockos", chocolate soldiers who would melt away in a real battle. Blamey earned the emnity of many veterans by insisting that Australian troops engage in active offensive operations against isolated Japanese units rather than minimize casualties by simply containing them.

Order of battle, 7 December 1941:

Northern Command (at Brisbane)

2 Cavalry Regiment

1 Brigade

7 Brigade One of the better militia brigades.  Saw service at Milne Bay.

11 Brigade (at Townsville)

51 Battalion (at Cairns)

29 Brigade (at Rockhampton)
Eastern Command (at Sydney)

1 Cavalry Division

1 Division

1 Brigade (at Newcastle)      

2 Division (at Newcastle)

3 ATC (at Sydney) Tank training unit

53 Battalion Embarking for New Guinea
Southern Command (at Melbourne)

13 Light Horse  (at Sale)

19 MG Battalion (at Warrnambool)

39 Battalion (at Darly Camp) Embarking for New Guinea.  Would form the core of the initial defense along the Kokoda Trail.

2 Cavalry Division

3 Division

4 Division

6 Cavalry Regiment (at Adelaide)

3 Brigade (at Adelaide)

12 Brigade (at Launceston)
Western Command (at Perth)

13 Brigade

10 Cavalry Squadron

25 MG Battalion

44 Battalion
7 Military District (at Darwin)

19 Battalion

Darwin Mobile Force
8 Military District (at Rabaul)

New Guinea Volunteer Rifles

Papuan Infantry Battalion (at Port Moresby)

49 Battalion (at Port Moresby)


Bradley et al. (1992)

Collie and Marutani (2009)

Hastings (2007)

Willmott (1982) (accessed 2002; now defunct)

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