Part of the Australian 6th Division, it was established on 13th October 1939 in Northam, Western Australia. This formation was unique within the 6th Division as it was the only infantry battalion raised outside New South Wales or Victoria, drawing the majority of its recruits from Western Australia. The unit adopted the brown over light blue color scheme of the 11th Battalion from World War I for its Unit Colour Patch, adding a gray border to differentiate it from its Militia counterpart.

Comprising about 900 personnel, the battalion was organized into four rifle companies, ‘A’ to ‘D’, each containing three platoons. Initial training was conducted in Northam before the unit moved to Greta, New South Wales, to join the 18th Brigade. In March, the battalion relocated back west before embarking from Fremantle to the Middle East.

In Egypt and Palestine, the 2/11th Battalion received further training before being reassigned to the 19th Brigade as part of a reorganization into three-battalion formations. The battalion’s combat debut came in January 1941 during the Battle of Bardia in Libya, followed by engagements in Tobruk, Derna, and Benghazi. This was followed by action in Greece, where the battalion fought in several successful delaying actions, including at Brallos Pass. The battalion fought tenaciously to prevent German paratroopers capturing the Rethimno airfield on Crete, holding out for over 10 days, only being forced to surrender when the Allied defenders further west were overcome.

After these devastating campaigns, the battalion was rebuilt in Palestine before joining the Allied forces in Syria post the Syria–Lebanon Campaign. The escalating threat from Japanese advances in the Pacific prompted the Australian government to recall its forces, including the 2/11th, back to Australia in early 1942. Upon return, the battalion was stationed in Western Australia for defensive operations before moving to Queensland in July 1943 as part of the 19th Brigade once more.

The battalion’s final major engagement was the Aitape–Wewak campaign in New Guinea, which began in January 1945. This operation involved patrolling and advancing through challenging terrain, including the Prince Alexander Mountains, and continued until the war’s end in August 1945. Following the conclusion of hostilities, the battalion’s personnel were demobilized and returned to Australia in stages, leading to the disbandment of the 2/11th on 7 December 1945.

Throughout the war, 2,939 men served with the 2/11th Battalion, which suffered 489 casualties, including 182 deaths. Members of the battalion were awarded numerous decorations for their service, including two Distinguished Service Orders, six Military Crosses, four Distinguished Conduct Medals, 20 Military Medals, and 66 Mentions in Despatches. Additionally, one member was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and three were made Members of the Order of the British Empire, marking the battalion’s distinguished contribution to the war effort.