23 Garrison Battalion (VIC) Prisoner of War Camp - "Murchison Prisoner-of-War Group"

About This Unit

23rd Garrison Battalion

23rd Garrison Battalion provided security at the Murchison PoW Camp near Tatura in Victoria, where there were a series of Internment and PoW camps during WW2.  

Approximately 4,000 Prisoners of War, mainly Italians and Germans were detained at Camp 13 Murchison POW Camp in the Tatura District of Victoria during World War 2. Some Japanese POW's were moved to Camp 13 after the Cowra Breakout in 1944.

Garrison Battalions were part of the Australian 'Army Reserve' within the CMF Militia structure for Homeland Defence with the role of manning fixed defences and vulnerable points. The personnel were Class B men, those between 48 and 55 who had seen war service before September 1939, therefore mostly WW1 veterans.

The first seven Garrison battalions were raised in October 1939, rising to 33 battalions plus around four individual companies by the end of the war. 

A total of 33 were raised across the States numbered 1-33 and where more than three battalions were raised, they were grouped in State-based Brigades, numbered in accordance with the relevant Military District Headquarters in which they were embedded; 1 Garrison Brigade in Queensland, 2 in New South Wales, 3 in Victoria, 4 in South Australia and 5 in Western Australia.

Prisoner-of-War and Internment Camp units were part of the Garrison Battalion organisation but were on a special establishment where the need for prior war service was waived. AWAS (female) personnel were subsequently often posted in for clerical and administrative roles.

From early on some battalions had adopted a secondary title indicating their specific role, such as (Internal Security). In 1942 this was formalised and most battalions were given an appropriate secondary title.

Initially, all Garrison Battalions wore the same shoulder patch, a black square on a green square. Numerous requests were made by battalions to individualise their patches and in late 1942 the system was adopted of geometric shapes, green on black in a reversal of the original design, approval for which was dated 11 December 1942.

The 23rd Garrison Battalion was re-designated later in the War as the 'Murchison POW Group' and had incorporated some of the men of the 50th and 51st Garrison Companies, which had been created when the 24th Battalion had been disbanded.