The 2/26th Battalion was formed at Grovely Camp, Brisbane, in November 1940. Lieutenant Colonel A. H.Boyes, a Duntroon graduate, was appointed Commanding Officer.
The vast majority of the Officers, N.C.O s and other ranks were Queenslanders who had volunteered to serve in the A.I.F. Many enlisted around the time of the Fall of France about 1940 and were, in many instances, men who had considered carefully before enlisting in the A.I.F. They were, to a big degree, different in nature to the young Australians who enlisted from "Day One" and soon after when the War started in September 1939.
After training at Redbank, Queensland from January 1941, the Battalion moved to Bathurst Camp, New South Wales in February 1941 for Brigade training with their sister Battalions, the 2/30th from New South Wales and the 2/29th from Victoria. The 2/15th Field Artillery which completed the Brigade was also from New South Wales. The cold of Bathurst was a hell of a shock to the boys from sunny Queensland. Earlier in their training days, they were given the name 'The Gallopers', and the name stuck like glue.
There are many theories as to how the name was given, but whatever the truth, all ranks accepted the name with pride.
The Brigade sailed for Singapore in July 1941 where training continued, firstly in Singapore and later in Malacca. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941 and at the same time, invaded Malaya. Despite the valiant efforts of the 2/26th Battalion, which fought well, suffering many casualties, plus the determined efforts of all the other Allied Forces, the Island of Singapore was captured. Thus, their war ended on 15th February 1942. The Allied Forces, with no air or naval support, had no chance to repel the foe and thus they were taken Prisoner of War. It was a sad day for all indeed.
This was the start of three and a half years as Prisoners of War, which resulted in enormous loss of life for the Battalion. Many died on the Thailand-Burma Railway, also in Borneo, when all other ranks were sacrificed. Many loss of life occurred in Japan in the coal mines, plus many others were lost at sea on their way to Japan.
When the Allied Forces were victorious on 15th August 1945, the majority of the Battalion survivors were on Singapore Island with smaller number in Japan and other areas.
The 2/26th Battalion fought well in the Malayan Campaign and retained good spirits and discipline during the extremely difficult periods when they were Prisoners of War.
Those who are alive today are extremely proud of their Battalion and keep in close touch by half-yearly luncheons in Brisbane, plus contact with those living outside of Brisbane as well as those in other states.
The 2/26th Battalion, 'the Gallopers' are in every sense of the word proud Australians who stood tall and were counted when the going got hot more than 60 years ago