In the 296 weeks the unit existed it spent 23 weeks aboard ships. The 12,000-mile (20,000 kms) six-week voyage from Scotland to Egypt on the Greek Ship Nea Hellas in 1940,when they were fed endless meals of salted kippers, was by far rated the worst. The battalion spent nearly four weeks on troop trains and more than 16 weeks digging defence earthworks or working on roads.

It spent 280 days in battle zones, 106 of them in close contact – that is within small arms or grenade range. This was more than most Australian battalions. Only six others were exposed to close fi re for more days. The highest was only 22 days ahead of the 2/33rd.

In The Footsoldiers, William Crooks wrote it had justified its existence. The battalion’s kill of the enemy by body count was more than 400, although the actual kill was much higher. Many bodies weren’t seen, often having been buried by the enemy.

Crooks rated the hardest protracted battle as that of the C Company attack on the “Little Pimple” in Syria and the most forlorn 16 Platoon’s attack on The Knoll in the Valley of the Surinam.

Overall, for the results gained, the best achievement was pushing the Japanese from the ridges above Myola, in Papua, in the grim days of 1942, followed by B Company’s night attack on the 4100 feature in New Guinea in 1943.

Crooks considered by far the most spectacular actions were B Company’s defence at Ferdisse when Lieutenant Copp’s 11 Platoon shot down 50 attacking Frenchmen with no losses to the platoon and a week later B Company’s spirited ambush-attack on the attacking French Cavalry below Rachaya El Fokhar, again with no losses. That battle is depicted on the dust jacket of The Footsoldiers.

The battalion lost 76 men killed in action and 31 mortally wounded. The number wounded in action was 323. Eight were killed accidentally in battle and 70 out of battle. Ten men were acidentally injured in battle and 105 out of battle. A total of 2,208 men fell ill with disease and were evacuated for treatment.