Name Robert Bair Rank: Private
Battalion 2/14th Infantry Battalion
Place of Birth Leongatha on 26 March 1925
Next of Kin Arthur Bair, his father. His mother was Agnes Madeline Bair.
Date and place of enlistment 5 May 1943 at Royal Park
Location on enlistment Leongatha
Date and place of death 6 July 1945 near Balikpapan in present day Indonesia
Location of grave or memorial
He is buried in Labuan War Cemetery East Malaysia and remembered on the Leongatha Memorial
Relationship to Woorayl Shire
He was a member of the Bair family. This family were pioneers of Leongatha in 1890 and Robert lived in the town
By the time Robert enlisted the Australian Government had recalled the 2/14th Battalion from the Middle East and they were trained in jungle warfare in Australia before going to New Guinea to fight the Japanese. The battalion served in actions in New Guinea then returned to Australia
In late January 1943, the 2/14th was rebuilt and retrained before returning to Papua in early August. Robert joined the battalion at this point. It spent a month conducting advanced training near Port Moresby before moving into New Guinea to play a minor role in the operation to capture Lae in mid-September. The battalion’s main area of operations for 1943, however, was the Ramu Valley and the Finisterre Mountains. It led the 21st Brigade’s advance along the valley, from Kiapit to Dumpu, between 29 September and 5 October. Then they spent the next five months engaged in patrol actions in the upper reaches of the valley and into the Finsterres. The battalion returned to Australia on 8 March 1944.
The 2/14th’s last operation of the war was the Balikpapan landings. It left Australia on 2 June 1945, landed at Balikpapan on 1 July and fought its major action of the campaign around Manggaar Airfield between 4 and 10 July. Robert was killed in action during this action.