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Duty First - A History of the Royal Australian Regiment

By: David Horner & Jean Bou (503.2/35761)
Publisher: Allen & Unwin ISBN: 978-1-74175-374-5

Duty First is the complete history of the Royal Australian Regiment, which has been the mainstay of the Australian Regular Army for over sixty years. With the formation of the regular army, including the Royal Australian Regiment, for the first time Australia had a permanent professional army, available in peacetime and in war for any task the government might direct. The Royal Australian Regiment is the key fighting force of the army and has carried the main burden of active service since the Second World War. Its history throws important light on the development of Australia's defence.

In late 1945, three battalions were formed to serve with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. Active service began with a 'baptism of fire'-fierce combat in the Korean War. This was followed by counter-guerrilla service in Malaya during the Confrontation, including the to secret 'Claret' operations into Indonesian territory, and active service in Vietnam.

The book examines how the regiment adapted after the Vietnam War to the demands of peacetime soldiering, including the pressures of peacekeeping. Finally it reveals how the regiment's traditions of flexibility and readiness have stood it in good stead in recent operations in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Duty First concludes with a series of short pieces in which former members of the regiment, from general to soldier, present a fascinating accounts of their personal experiences in a range of different operational and peacetime circumstances.

This is a story of humour and courage, of professionalism, and above all dedication to duty. The royal Australian Regiment's motto, 'Duty First', continues to reflect its ethos and spirit today, over sixty years since its foundation.

March 2008

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