Part 4 - Nominal Roll All AIF POW "Evades" in Switzerland
Chapter 4 - The Ninth Australian Division AIF
After the 6th Australian Division had been formed and sent to the Middle East together with part of the 7th Division, one Brigade of that 7th Division, still on the water, was diverted to England.
There were now two AIF Brigades in England which were to form the basis of a new Division, the 9th, whose commanding officer was to have been Major-General H.D. Wynter. But Wynter fell ill and Brigadier Leslie Morshead of the 18th Brigade, Sixth Australian Division, was promoted to succeed him. But the re-organisation was to become more complicated than it was first thought.
The 18th and 25th Brigades, instead of becoming the nucleus of the 9th Division were transferred to the 7th Division, whilst the 20th and 26th Brigades were transferred from the 7th to the 9th. The newly formed 9th Division then relieved the 6th Division in Cyrenaica, freeing the 6th Division to withdraw from Tobruk to go to Greece.
The infantry of the 9th Division would thus comprise the 20th, 24th and 26th Brigades.
The 20th Brigade - 2/13th, 2/15th, and 2/17th
The 24th Brigade - 2/28th, 2/32nd, and 2/43rd
The 26th Brigade - 2/23rd, 2/24th, and 2/48th
POW of these 9 infantry battalions were later to account for over 70% of all AIF POW in Italy, since the POW of the 6th Division captured in Greece and Crete had almost entirely been sent to Germany as German POW as, unlike Cyrenaica, Greece was a German theatre of war.
Thus those of the 9th Division captured by Germans in North Africa were handed over to the Italians as their prisoners as it was regarded by them as an Italian theatre of war.
Nevertheless, some members of the 6th Division escaped from Greece and Crete back to Allied Lines in Egypt, many via neutral Turkey. Some of these, were intercepted and captured by Italian patrol boats in attempting to cross the Mediterranean, subsequently became Italian POW. Others escaped from trains taking them to prison camps in Germany or its satellites and managed to avoid re-capture in Yugoslavia or Italy. Thus, among those escapers who subsequently reached Switzerland, there were quite a few from the Sixth Division.
General Leslie Moreshead was placed in command of the 9th Division. His nick-name was "Ming the Merciless". Under him, the Australian 9th Division became one of the greatest fighting Divisions in the AIF, overcoming the practical difficulties and personnel problems caused by the re-organisation forced on General Blamey by General Wavell.
Field Marshall Montgomery later went on record to say that the Australian Ninth Division were the best fighting troops he had ever had under his command.
To view each Brigade, please use the following links: