Structure of an Australian Independent Company, 1942

The Australian Independent Company

The Australian Independent Companies were based on the British commando formation and the first units given this deceptive name were trained by British officers of No.104 British Military Mission, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood, in the art of survival field craft, rig explosives, set demolitions, practice various weapons drill, learn how to kill the enemy silently and dabble in wireless-radio expertise at the Tidal River Camp situated in the wilderness of Wilsons Promontary in Victoria. The concept of commando operations were first formally introduced by the Boer, farming land owners, during the South African War with Great Britain and Empire at the turn of the Twentieth century and although the military operation of hit-and-run has been used in warfare for centuries, even by indigenous populations against settling intruders, the industrial manufactured firearm had given the few the power of many. Between July 1941 and February 1942 four Independent Companies had completed the rigourous training and were deployed to operational areas, a further four more Companies were formed during 1942, which meant personnel were hand selected as each soldier was highly trained to possess individual initiative, physical fitness and accept responsibilities beyond those of his normal duties and rank. The role of the Australian Commando formations at this time were guerilla and irregular warfare, special and paramilitary operations, organise and supply stay behind parties, set up observation posts for intelligence collection and reporting, encourage and gather local resistence movements and sabotage enemy efforts by all means at hand facing greatly outnumbering odds under the harshest conditions of terrain and enviroment without normal rations. Then as the many islands to Australia's north were envisaged to be overrun by the intended Imperial Japanese onslaught the Independent Companies were deployed as outpost early warning forces, eventually to be shock troops for full scale co-ordinated raids supported by wireless radio contacted air and sea elements, to live off the land and be provisioned with military supplies by intermittant clandestine airdrops, be a proverbial thorn in the side to the occupying enemy and conduct guerilla type raids on vital points inflicting major damage then disappear into the enviroment before hostile retailitory action causes unnecessary and cumbersome friendly casualties.


Independent Company
one Major, five Captains, eleven Lieutenants and approximately 256 Other Ranks, total 273.

Company Headquarters
Commanding Officer (CO) – Major
Second in Command (2iC) – Captain
Company Sergeant Major (CSM)
Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS)
Other Ranks, 9 men

A-Platoon (approx. 60 men) – OC Captain, Platoon Sergeant
No. 1 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 2 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 3 Section (19 men ) – L ieutenant, 2 Corporals and other Ranks

B-Platoon (approx. 60 men) – OC Captain, Platoon Sergeant
No. 4 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 5 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 6 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks

C-Platoon (approx. 60 men) – OC Captain, Platoon Sergeant
No. 7 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 8 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks
No. 9 Section (19 men) – Lieutenant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks

Engineers Section – (20 men) Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal and 17 Other Ranks

Signals Section – (34 men) Lieutenant, Sergeant, 2 Corporals and Other Ranks

Medical Section, Australian Army Medical Corps - (6 men) Captain (Medical Officer), Sergeant and Other Ranks

Transport Section – (4 men) Corporal and Drivers


See Admiralty Islands in 1942 for No.1 Independent Company and
The fighting on Portuguese East Timor, 1942 for No.2 & No.4 Independent Companies.

Admiralty Islands Index . Bibliography . Article List

Copyright Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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