17th Anti Tank Battery aka 23rd Anti Tank Company, "Lark Force" Rabaul - 23rd Infantry Brigade, 8th Division, 2nd AIF

About This Unit

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Originally formed as the 23rd Anti-Tank Company in July 1940, the unit was assigned to the 23rd Infantry Brigade as part of its Brigade Troops. Training commenced in Australia at Seymour Camp, Australia but was later moved to Bonegilla, Victoria and then to Bathurst, New South Wales on 26 April 1941. Aftering finishing training the unit embarked on the Zealandia on 9 September 1941 and disembarked at Rabaul on 29/30 September 1941, forming part of Lark Force.

Whilst still in Australia, the 23rd Anti-Tank Company learnt that they were to be allocated to Lark Force which was to serve in Rabaul along with the 2nd/22nd Infantry Battalion. Consequently, since no longer part of a brigade on 9 August 1941 (the day of embarkation) the unit was redesignated as the 17th Anti-Tank Battery. Equipped with three Troops: A, B and C Troop, A and B Troop were transported to Rabaul, while C Troop stayed in Australia. Thus in Rabaul, the 17th Anti-Tank Battery had a total of 110 Officers and Other Ranks.

After arriving in Rabaul, Lark Force would set about making the region defendable against Japanese attack. However, when the Japanese did attack Rabaul in early 1942, Lark Force could not withstand the onslaught and was captured and taken as prisoners of war. Luckly, around 150 members of Lark Force, including several from the 17th Anti Tank Battery were able to be evacuated at Palmalmal on the South Coast just before being captured. For the men who were not rescued, however, the rest of the war would lived on in PoW Camps throughout the Japanese Empire.