HISTORY of 105 Battery RAA
Following the withdrawal of the ANZAC troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula, the doubling of the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt spawned the 105th Howitzer Battery on 8 March 1916. Less than five weeks later, the 105th was in action near Armentieres, France.
Becoming part of the 5th Australian Field Artillery Brigade (5 AFAB) in the artillery reorganisation of 11 May 1916 began a long association with this unit. The Battery served with distinction for the next three years from Passchendaele and Ypres in Belgium to Amiens and Villers Bretonneux in France, concluding its time at Thuin, Belgium after the Armistice. The unit was disbanded on 30 March 1919.
The 105th Howitzer Battery was reraised as part of 5 AFAB at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane in the Militia remodelling of 1921. It survived all the reorganisations between the wars and the hardships of the Great Depression and continued its camps and live firings at Fort Lytton, Cominya, Mt Walker and Caloundra. Mechanisation farewelled horses in 1939, and the Battery went on full time duty in 1940. Sadly, it was disbanded in the Second World War reorganisation which formed field regiments of artillery in December 1940.
Australia’s commitment to the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve led to the re-emergence of 105th Field Battery on 1 July 1955. It sailed for Malaya on 6 October 1955 to become the first unit of the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) to fire a shot in anger since World War 2. With its headquarters in Butterworth and gun troops in Perak and Kedah states, the Battery supported British, Malay and Australian battalions till its return to Australia in October 1957.
The 105th came under command of 1st then 4th Field Regiments till it was again called upon as the first RAA unit to serve—this time in the Vietnam War. Arriving on 28 September 1965, the Battery came under operational control of the 173d Airborne Brigade (Sep) US Army, served with the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) Group, and was awarded the US Meritorious Unit Commendation. Joining 1st Field Regiment RAA at Nui Dat in June 1966, it supported 6 RAR’s D Company at the Battle of Long Tan before returning to Australia in September.
The 105th Field Battery commenced its second tour in Vietnam on 4 February 1969 in support of 5 RAR. Though ‘home’ was at Nui Dat, in 12 months it built 31 fire support bases between Long Binh near Saigon and the south coast of Phuoc Tuy Province, fired over 76 000 rounds and returned home on 4 February 1970 without loss of life.
Since then the 105th has remained under the command of 1st Field Regiment RAA in Brisbane, witnessing the many changes of doctrine and reorganisations of peacetime soldiering. Australia’s entry into peacemaking in East Timor saw 47 members of the Battery on active service again, primarily in Civil Military Liaison Teams with 6 RAR. Second and third tours have now been completed.
The 105th became a medium battery equipped with 155-mm M198 Howitzers on 1 July 2005 with the new role of direct support to a motorised 6 RAR Group.
Subsequently, the 105th Medium Battery supported Australia’s commitment to Iraq by providing individual members on six-month detachments to the Security Detachment in Baghdad, and the Australian Army Training Team, up to the end of Australia’s commitment in July 2009. Also in January 2009, the Battery was redesignated “105th Battery RAA” with removal of the ‘Medium’ on introduction of the M777 155mm Howitzer to the Battery.
In early 2009, a 105th Battery Troop of the 105th Battery RAA mobilised to join its British counterparts of 7 Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery for a six-month tour of Afghanistan where the Tiger Troop manned the British 105mm L118 Light Gun in operations in the Helmund Province. The first Tiger round was fired on operations on 9 April 2009. The final contingent of the 105th Battery Troop returned to Australia in April 2011.
Since 2011, several 105th Battery RAA Officers, NCOs, and gunners have been attached to units serving in training posts in Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 2018 and into 2019, 105th Battery personnel were deployed in Iraq as ‘G’ (Golf) Company Task Training Unit.
105th Battery RAA remains equipped with M777 Howitzer guns, is supported by an extensive array of digital devices, and is a unit of 1st Regiment RAA based at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Brisbane Qld.
By Arthur Burke OAM (Dec’d), Honorary Historian, 105th Battery RAA
(updated) July 2020