Platoon of C Company, North Head, c1943-4 Roy MacIntosh, Steve Byrne and Fred Byrne marked.
During WWII the 7th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps, also
known as “The Green Hornets”, provided forces to protect the home front. It took over key defence positions from
younger men required for front line service.
The first members of the 7th Battalion were enrolled on 18
June 1940, and within a fortnight, it was 10,000 strong, under the command of
Major-General H Gordon Bennett. The Northern side of Sydney Harbour was the
responsibility of 17th Battalion area and 18th Battalion
Volunteers had to be physically fit, and service was expected at night
or weekend parades or lectures pending a state of emergency, at which time all
members would be expected to take their place in their units and devote their
whole time to it.
Initial training for 17 Battalion area took place at Frenchs Forest
A&H Society Showground. Rifles were
loaned by the Shore School Cadet unit. A
review of the whole Corps was held at Centennial Park on 17 November 1940, when
the men were inspected by the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie. Companies were: A North Sydney, B Mosman, C
Manly and D Warringah, with a platoon at Northbridge.
Camouflaged 9.2" gun at North Head, c1943
By July 1941 the 17 Battalion area had become 7th Battalion,
and command of the Battalion was assumed by Captain N F Bremner, DSO. The Battalion provided continuous guard at
key vulnerable points on a roster basis.
Uniforms, arms and equipment were provided. The men wore a green uniform. Members undertook attestation in March 1942,
when the Corps became an official body.
In the latter part of 1943, 7 Battalion personnel were posted to various
units of coastal defence and anti-aircraft batteries. Men from Manly were trained to take on the
role of gunners at North Head. They
referred to the 9.2 inch guns as ‘Big Bertha’.
They also laid barbed wire along the beaches, and guarded the Balmain
Power Station and coal area.
Training at times consisted of route marches through Frenchs Forest,
night manouevres in all weathers, erecting barbed wire defences, filling
sandbags and clearing roads. There were occasional
mock assaults on the Bantry water tower, one side attacking, one side repelling,
with heated arguments as to who had been killed and wouldn’t lie down.
At the end of the war, the Manly contingent
formed a branch of the Volunteer Defence Corps Association, which met regularly
Their wartime service, and that of many others, is commemorated at the Defence of Sydney Monument 1939-45 at
North Head, unveiled by Rear-Admiral Peter Sinclair AC in 1995.
Labels: Artillery, North Head, Volunteer Defence Corps