34TH BATTALION AIF. "Maitland's Own"
The 34th Battalion was raised in January 1916 at Maitland Showground in South Wales. It was planned that the bulk of the battalion's recruits be drawn from the Maitland area and thus dubbed "Maitland's Own". The First recruits for the 34th, however, hailed from the far northwest of the state and arrived at Maitland after joining a recruiting march that began at Walgett. These men were known as the "Wallabies".
The 34th Battalion became a part of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division. On the 1st of May the Battalion left by train from Farley Station for the Showground in Sydney. Equipped with kit bags and necessary clothing, and was reviewed in Moore Park by General: Gustave Mario RAMACIOTTI. . On the following morning of the 2nd of May 1916 the men embarked on the transport HMAT A20 "Hororata" and sailed at 4:00 pm. Arriving in England in early July, the Battalion spent the next five months in training. It crossed into France on the 22nd November, and moved into the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on the 27th of November, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17.
The 34th Battalion had to wait until the emphasis of British and Dominion operations switched to the Ypres Section of Belgium in mid-1917 to take part in its first major battle; this was the battle of Messines, launched on the 7th June. After several stints in the trenches, and a period of rest and training, the 34th Battalion entered battle again on the 12th October around Passchendaele. The battlefield, though, had been deluged with rain, and thick mud tugged at the advancing troops and fouled their weapons. The battle ended in a disastrous defeat, and over 50 per cent casualties for the 34th.
For the next five months the 34th alternated between periods of rest, training, labouring, and service in the line. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in the spring of 1918, the battalion was part of the force deployed to defend the approaches to Amiens around Villers-Brentonneux. It took part in a counter-attack at Hangard Wood on the 30th March, and helped to defeat a major drive on Villers-Bretonneux on the 4th April.
Later in 1918, the 34th also played a role in the Allies own offensive. It took part in the battle of Amiens on the 8th August, during the rapid advance that followed, and in the battle of St Quentin Canal- the operation that breached the Hindenburg Line at the end of September, thus sealing Germany’s defeat. The 34th Battalion disbanded in March 1919.
(Extracts from the Australian War Memorial)
WALLABIES RECRUITING MARCH.
MARCH ROUTE: Walgett, Burren Junction, Wee Waa, Narrabri, Merehula, Turrawan, Baan Baa, Boggabri, Dubledah, Gunnedah, Curlewis, Breeza, Werris Creek, Quirindi, Willow Tree, Murrurundi, Wingen, Scone, Aberdeen, Muswellbrook, Liddell, Ravensworth, Camberwell, Glennies Creek, Singleton, Branxton, Cessnock, Abermain, Weston, Kurri Kurri, East Greta, Maitland, Morpeth, Minmi, West Wallsend, Wallsend, Lambton, Waratah, arriving at Newcastle on 8 January 1916.
3rd January 1916. WESTON, NEW SOUTH WALES.Weston people had always done well in public movements, but for the "Wallabies" they excelled all their previous efforts. They were received at the town boundary by a large crowd, and marched through crowded streets to the Olympia Hall, where afternoon tea awaited them. The interior of the hall presented a bright and attractive appearance, with its tables artistically decorated, tables laden with all that the soldier dearly loves when tired after a weary march. The streets, too, were gay with flags and streamers waving their welcome. The function in the hall was quite informal, but a few speeches were made. The King was toasted at the call of Councillor Morgan, who presided. Our Guests were eulogized by Messrs. Charlton and Kearsley, and Sergeant-Major Lee again responded with another appeal, which brought four recruits. The Rev. Varcoe Cock proposed The Ladies for whom Mr. T. Hadfield responded. A number of children, trained by Mesdames Davies and Malcolm, gave two delightfully rendered patriotic songs, which, with the pretty Allies? costumes of the children, were much appreciated. The arrangements were carried out by a committee of ladies and gentlemen, with Councillor Morgan, Chairman, Mr. T. W. Hancock, Treasurer, and Mr. W. Williams, Secretary, but to the ladies for their untiring zeal and splendid work, a special need of praise was due, for upon them rested the responsibility of making the visit a success, and it was a success in every sense. The Hebburn Colliery Band, which assisted at Cessnock on Sunday, was again in service and did much towards the success of the day. Highland pipes also gave a helping hand.'
Plans to continue the march to Sydney were cancelled by military authorities who wished to use the marchers as the basis of a new locally-raised battalion. This was formed in February as the 34th Infantry Battalion, known, ironically, as Maitland?s Own.
A sad and unexpected epitaph to the march was the death of the Reverend: John WILKINSON Methodist Minister, who had joined the march at Narrabri. He was killed by a lightning strike in West Maitland camp on 3 February.
A SHORT HISTORY of the 34th BATTALION A.I.F.
FORMATION and TRAINING
MAITLAND ENLISTMENT CAMP 1916. Tuesday 18th January 1916.
Private: 427 Martin James FARRELL. 3rd from Left. Private: Sam ALTHORPE. 2nd from Right.
MAITLAND DISTRICT. MAITLAND CAMP.
(4) It was expected that the encampment on the Maitland Show Ground would have been opened yesterday by the marching in of the Wallabies, but on account of the necessary equipment not having arrived the opening of the camp must be delayed. An inspection of the ground was made yesterday by Captain Waddell, Camp Commandant, with Captain Clarke, medical officer, and Lieutenant Stewart, adjutant, when sites for the kitchens were selected. A couple of dry wells for waste water will probably be dug, and provision will have to be made for more shower baths. These are matters which are now receiving attention. In the meantime it is hoped supplies from ordnance will come to hand in time to permit of the camp being opened on Wednesday. Major Molloy arrived from Newcastle this afternoon to take over the instructional staff work. An advance party of the Wallabies also arrived to do some preliminary work of preparation. In consequence of the delay in the arrival of supplies, it has also been found necessary to further postpone the going into camp of recruits passed at the local depot, who are due to report. It was intended that they should go into camp, but owing to the non-arrival of the camp equipment, the earliest possible date that can now be fixed upon is Thursday.
The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner's Advocate.
(1) "Until the 10th of March, early training and formation of the Battalion was in progress. On that day the Battalion marched to the newly pitched camp at Rutherford and was completed with the exception of the Transport. These joined later and came from the Army Service Corps camp near Sydney. Here strenuous training was carried out. The men were very keen and fit, whilst their comfort and health were made a special study. Food was good and ample and sports and recreation were not overlooked.
MAITLAND CAMP RUTHERFORD N.S.W. 1916.
A Girl's League was formed to cater for the comforts of the Battalion, under the supervision of Miss Violet MACKAY, who took a keen interest from the beginning, having, with the Mayor of Maitland met the men of the Wallaby March at East Greta and prepared dinner for them on their arrival. On 1st May 1916, the Battalion left by Train from Farley Station for the Showground in Sydney, equipped with kit bags and necessary clothing, and was reviewed in Moore Park by General: Gustave Mario RAMACCOTTI. On the following morning, 2nd May 1916 the men embarked on the transport HMAT A20 "HORORATA" and sailed at 4:00 pm".
H.M.A.T. A20 "HORORATA
"The voyage to England was without any unusual incidents and a good passage throughout. The first port of call was Albany, where three days were spent. Columbo was reached on Empire Day, 24th May. Here two days were taken up coaling and taking on provisions, etc. During the stay the Battalion carried out a route march through the town. Suez was reached on 8th June, where a party of Light Horse and some details were disembarked. Arriving at Port Said on 9th, the ship coaled and proceeded to Alexandria which was reached on 11th June 1916.
Here the Battalion transferred to S.S."Aragon", E867. Some Australian Details were on board, also a number of Tommie's going to England on Furlough. Devonport was reached on the 23rd June, the Battalion disembarked at Plymouth at 1:00 pm and en trained during the afternoon for Amesbury, arriving at midnight and marching to hutments at No: 1 Camp, Larkhill. Here the Battalion settled down to hard training, which included Route Marching, Trench Digging, Bomb Practice, Musketry and general Camp Routine. Later the Battalion moved to the No: 25 Camp and finished off their training, which included six days' battle practice and field work at the Bastard Trenches.
34th Battalion marching through Amesbury
Four days' disembarkation leave was given from 6th to 10th July and later King's Leave from November 5th to 9th. Whilst here the Official Colours were issued. Purple over Green (Oval), these replacing the Colours presented to the Battalion (Old Gold on Shoulder Straps) by the Ladies of West Maitland. A Signal Section was formed at Lark hill under Lieutenant: Harold Henry McMINN. The weather in England was mostly fine until the latter part of training, when a good deal of rain and snow caused inconvenience. In October the 34th Battalion was reviewed at a Divisional Parade by His Majesty King George V at Bulford.
The 34th Battalion left Lark hill on the 21st November and en trained at Amesbury for Southampton, embarking on the S.S "Arundel". The transport section left by S.S. "Princess Victoria". The Battalion arrived at Le Harve, France on the 22nd November 1916. Disembarkation commenced at 8:00 am and the Battalion marched to No;1 camp on the Hill, arriving at 2:00 pm. The men carried heavy loads, in some cases amounting to miniature Q.M.' Stores. The march over cobblestones was very tiring, notwithstanding the many route marches which had been carried out at Larkhill. However, after bathing their feet and receiving treatment, as well partaking of a good meal, some spent a comfortable night.
The following morning the Battalion moved to Le Harve Railway Station, leaving D Company behind. On arrival at the Station en training commenced at 8:00 am and the train left at 11:15 am. The journey was slow and occupied until 4:30 pm on the 24th. On arrival at Bailleul the men de trained and marched to Outtersteene. D Company arrived at 4:00 pm the following day. The Battalion rested here in billets for two days previous to taking over garrison duties in the Line at Armenties. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel. Malcolm St John LAMB. with the Adjutant, Company Commanders, N.C.O's and Specialists went into the Line to inspect Trenches, Stores, Plans and to arrange for the taking over this Section of the line on the following day.
The specialists and N.C.O's remained in the Line. On 27th November the Battalion went into the Line in the L'Epinette Sector. The men were taken up by motor lorries as far as the Square near Houplines Station, and marched via Butterne Avenue and Willow Walk to the Line, carrying their packs and blankets into the trenches. Lewis Gun ammunition was taken into the Line with the tin cases. The going was difficult owing to the conditions of the Trenches and the heavy and bulky loads. Later the blankets were dumped near Tussage Dump, from which most of them disappeared. This was the main incident of our relief in the Line.
The Sector taken over had been held by the NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILLIERS whom the 34th Battalion relieved. Specialists of this Regiment remained for a couple of days to arrange and assist in the routine. We were greeted with a display of Verey Lights and, apparently anxious to see the newcomers, the enemy searched our Sector with his searchlights throughout the night, which was misty and dark. Our Artillery and Trench Mortars put over a heavy barrage, either to let Fritz know we had arrived or to cover the change over; this was the signal for increased activity of enemy Machine Gun and Rifle fire to which the Battalion energetically replied.
During the night Patrols were sent out, Listening Posts established and wiring was commenced. Dawn broke with a thick mist hanging over the Sector and our men could get very little idea of the new frontage. Our Artillery and Trench Mortars were busy registering on the enemy positions throughout the day and Fritz retaliated with Machine Gun and Rifle fire. The first day passed with no special incidents. Our first Casualty occurred on the following morning at sunrise when Private: 148 William PECK was sniped with an explosive bullet through the forehead. Counter battery work, Machine Gun firing and sniping were fairly active during our first term in the Line. The first Casualty occurred on the morning of the 3rd of December at sunrise when Private: 148 William PECK was sniped with an explosive bullet through the forehead. Counter battery work, Machine Gun firing and sniping were fairly active during our first term in the Line.
Considerable damage was done to our Trenches and parapets and one of our Listening Posts was destroyed. Some enemy Patrols were dispersed by our snipers. Enemy working parties were fairly active on our front and his patrols were strong. Considerable road and rail transport was noticeable behind the enemy lines. The Battalion livened things up generally in the Sector which of late had been fairly quiet and Fritz did not appreciate the change. Just before being relieved we presented them with an issue of Gas. The Trenches were in a very wet and muddy condition. The water in the bottom of them being frequently frozen, the ice had to be broken to provide sufficient cover for the men, as the parapets were not high enough to allow walking on the ice. Thus the men had to stand in the freezing water and mud, with the result that the constant wet and cold caused many evacuations with trench feet.
The 33rd Battalion was on our left and the New Zealanders were on our flank during this period. After six days in the Line we were relieved and marched to Billets in Armentieres. The Battalion Headquarters were at No: 6 Rue de Strasburg, the Quarter Master's Store at No: 28. Billet routine from the 4th to 10th December 1916 consisted of a general clean up and Bath Parades to Erquinghem.
On the 11th December 1916 the 34th Battalion went into the Line again. "B" Company occupying the Subsidiary line instead of "D" Company, as in the first period. The weather was still cold and misty. The usual counter battery work was carried out by the Artillery and Trench Mortars. Some shells from our own "Heavies" dropped short and fell into our front Line. Sniping on both sides was again active. Extra Patrols were sent out to engage the strong fighting enemy Patrols in No Man's Land. The enemy was busy with his Working Parties and good work was also done by the wiring parties. Two extra Lewis Guns were added to the Front Line for the purpose of sweeping the enemy parapets and wire, in retaliation for enemy sniping which had become most active and causing trouble.
This was the beginning of continuous sweeping of parapets on both sides during the whole period of holding this Sector of the Line. The 34th Battalion Patrols were contesting No Man's Land, which up to this time Fritz considered belonged to him. Heavy bombardments were carried out which caused considerable damage to the Trenches and Supports on both sides. quite a number of Men were being evacuated with trench feet through standing in the cold and wet, notwithstanding that dry socks were issued every day to the troops. during this period there were a number of casualties, including 6 K.I.A.and Lieutenant: Stephen Matthew HARRIS was the first the Officer wounded. Captain: Walter Hedland Valentine BAKER. and Lieutenant: Frederick Llewllyn EAST. and a number of men were also evacuated sick.
The 34th Battalion was relieved on the 18th of December 1916 and marched to billets in Armentieres. Captain: Edmund BEAVER injured by shell fire, and several other ranks sick, were evacuated from here. On the 23rd December 1916 the 34th Battalion moved to Reserve Billets at La Blanc Masion, where the buildings of hutments and stables for mules was carried out. The roads were flooded two or three feet deep and Carrying Parties of men erecting the hutments had to wade through this, in many cases waist deep. While here the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel. Malcolm St John LAMB. left for Army School. Christmas Day, the first and what proved to be the worst in France, was spent in Billets, only in the course of erection. The rations for Christmas Dinner were plentiful, but the cooking facilities were poor and the troops were somewhat "fed up" with the environment and bad weather.
Each man had 1lb of Pudding and a quart of Beer if he wished. The Pudding was supplied by the Comforts Fund and the Beer from the Regimental Funds. Working Parties had to be provided both on Christmas and New Year's Day. On the 31st of December 1916 Lieutenant Colonel. Malcolm St John LAMB. returned to the 34th Battalion and on the 4th January 1917 Headquarters and "A" Company moved to Jesus Farm and joined the remained of the 34th Battalion in hutments, which were now finished. The following day Major: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. left for the Training Battalion at Larkhill. A few men were evacuated sick and one, Private: A LEACH of the Australian Medical Corps Staff, died.
On the 24th January 1917 the Specialists went into the Line in the Houplines Sector. The following day the 34th Battalion took over from the 36th Battalion, who's Commanding Officer:Lieutenant Colonel: James William Albert SIMPSON. had been killed the previous day. On the 29th January 1917 Major: Ernest Edward MARTIN. temporarily transferred to command the 36th Battalion until the 20th February when Lieutenant Colonel: John Alexander MILNE. became Commanding Officer. The Front Line here was very similar to last Sector. During this period a good deal of shelling was carried out on both sides enemy sending over "Pineapples" freely. Aerial activity increased and many fights took place. The Patrols were now gaining mastery of No Man's Land and Fritz was getting the "Wind up". Very Light displays, constant use of his Searchlights and bombing of his own wire were common occurrences during the night time.
On the 26th of January 1917 2nd Lieutenant: Gordon Thomas WOOD was the first Officer Killed in Action who was killed by shell fire. Also during this period the first Non Commissioned Officer killed in Action was Sergeant: 165 William James "Bully" RICHMOND. The 34th Battalion was relieved on the 31st of January 1917 and moved to Billets in Armentieres. Whilst here a number of the men were evacuated suffering from trench feet and trench fever, caused by the appalling conditions in the Trenches, No Man's Land and a Listening Post. Working Parties were supplied, a general cleaning up carried out and Bath Parades held.
On the 6th February the 34th Battalion relieved the 36th Battalion in the Houplines Sector. Patrols only occupied Listening Posts as the nights were very bright and moonlit. The Battalion's Trench Mortars put over a large quantity of shells, to which Fritz replied vigorously with "Minnies" and "Pineapples" but very little damage was done. Enemy planes were active over our Lines, but the Australian Aircraft drove him back. Air fights were frequent now. Also there was quite a lot of Anti-Aircraft firing, but no planes were brought down. Enemy Planes dropped bombs on our Sector and Working Parties, while his Working Parties were dispersed by the Brigades 18 Pounders. "Minnies an "Pineapples" caused damage to our Trenches and Brigades Artillery did likewise to the enemy placements.
Lieutenant: William Henry SALVATORI. and Lieutenant: Ray WOLSTENHOLME. and a number of men sick were evacuated here. The 34th Battalion relieved on the 12th February and until the 17th February, the usual routine of supplying Working Parties, general cleaning up, was carried out. The 34th Battalion went into the Line again from the 18th to 25th February and Patrols were busy exploring No Man's Land. The enemy Patrols and Working Parties, which were strong, were dispersed by Lewis Gunners. Snipers were very active and the enemy Machine Gun fire greatly increased. From the 25th of February the 34th Battalion was in Billets.
From the 13th to the 17th of March 1917 the 34th battalion were again in Billets. Lieutenant: Henry Cecil BENNETT was evacuated here. The 34th Battalion occupied to Line from 17th to 25th March 1917. The enemy persistently bombarded Hobb and Edmonds' Arc with 7.7's, 5.9's and 4.2's and had arial observation throughout. Later quite a number of Gas Shells came over and a powerful enemy searchlight was constantly playing over Japan Road. On the 17th/18th March 1917 we released a quantity of Gas which brought a retaliation of Machine Gun fire.
During the night of 19th March 1917 the enemy set up red lights and the Brigades Artillery up in the vicinity of the S.O.S. Signal. Several craters and also gaps were made in the enemy wire. Patrols saw a large party leave the enemy trenches and advance to shell holes where they left bombs, etc, a number of which were connected by tape. The enemy had apparently been surprised when making a silent raid. On the 20th of March, Fritz put down a heavy bombardment on our Front Line, doing some damage. On the night of 20th/21st March, the enemy attempted a false S.O.S. by sending up Red Lights, which was the Battalions S.O.S. Signal. The Brigade's Artillery opened up, narrowly missing one of our Patrols which was just about to go into No Man's Land. Having obtained the mastery of No Man's Land with our Fighting Patrols, Fritz apparently hoped to get the Battalions Artillery to open up on No Man's Land when Patrols were out.
However it did not succeed as a number of enemy dead were found by Scouts, lying in No Man's Land. Owing to the snow-clad ground Scouts were greatly hampered in their work. Fritz was holding Posts every twenty yards on our Front, which were strongly manned, and was very active digging communication Trenches.
On the 12th May 1917. Le Toquet. 10:15 am German Plane shot down just near Battalion Headquarters, one occupant dead other occupant captured by Lieutenant: William Walter MATTHEWS and escorted to Brigade. Plenty of aerial activity, things otherwise quiet.
(3) On the 17th of May 1917 the Germans tried to raid the 34th Battalion at Le Touquet. The enemy this time employed the British method of a very short, though heavy, preliminary bombardment. The preliminary registration however had been observed and the Australian counter-barrage came down within 10 seconds of the S.O.S signal fired by Lieutenant: 4559 Frederick Murchison WAUGH. M.C. 34th Battalion. A party of Bavarians attempted to enter by a gap in the front line. One climbed the parapet and said "Hands Oop!" He was at once shot, and fell dead into the trench. Lewis Guns, in particular that of Private: 1416 Joseph Edward KIRK. M.M 34th Battalion, drove the enemy off.
On the 18th of May the previous night's attempt against the 34th Battalion was repeated after a short heave bombardment. On the S.O.S. being fired by Lieutenant: 1118 William Wright EDMONDS. M.C. 34th Battalion, the protecting barrage again came down instantly, but the enemy entered a gap near a sector in which cylinders had been installed for an impending release of gas. Working alone the line, they bombed a Lewis Gun Team, wounding three. The remaining men, Lance Corporal: 1530 James HAM D.C.M. 34th Battalion and Private 1248 Bertram Guy TAYLOR M.M. 34th Battalion, continued to fire, and killed all five intruders.
Lieutenant: Benjamin Greenup BRODIE and the scouts afterwards went out, driving back the German covering party and stretcher-bearers, brought in a wounded Baverian Pioneer, and evidence and identification from 11 Germans who had been killed.
( History of World War 1. Vol IV. Bean) Charles Edwin Woodrow BEAN
Private: 418 William EAGLES. M.M. B Company 34th Battalion was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal This man showed Great Courage and Devotion to Duty on the night of 17th under a severe enemy Bombardment, he carried Messages overland from right to left Centre Companies and back to Battalion Headquarters, accomplishing a journey over a mile and a half while the whole area on which he traveled was being subjected to heavy H.E and shrapnel fire.
1st June 1917.
(2) PLOGSTERT WOOD 2:30 am. Small silent Raid with a strength of 2 Officers, 2 NCO's and 22 men was put over from "B" Coy's Sector against the enemy's front line. Object to gain identification Kill Bosches and destroy dugouts. The Raiders were divided into two parties. Lieutenant: Ernest SHANNON with 12 men to enter the enemy trench from the right Lieutenant: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE. and 12 men to enter from the left. Both parties to work towards the center. The enterprise was entirely successful and was only mared by the death of Lieutenant: SHANNON a very gallant and efficient Officer.
The Right party entered enemy's trench without opposition but after bombing the first dugout, were attacked by a number of the enemy who issued from the rear of a second dugout. Lieutenant: Ernest SHANNON was killed by a bomb thrown by one of his own party. Our men immediately attacked the enemy and forced them back to the dugout, where they destroyed them by throwing in bombs.
The left party Lieutenant BRODIES met considerable opposition in passing through the enemy wire, but succeeded in entering the trench and destroying two dugouts and the enemy who occupied them. As it was now broad daylight and the enemy opposition increased, the parties withdrew to our own front line. The men of Lieutenant: SHANNON's party displayed great determination and bravery in bringing back his body in broad daylight under heavy fire from the enemy trenches. The original time set down for this enterprise was 1:30 am but by order of higher authority it was postponed to 2:30 am to coincide with other enterprises which were supported by artillery fire on ur right flank.
As our own enterprise was a silent one, and it was in broad daylight at 3:00 am this only allowed 30 minutes for the crossing of "No Mans Land". The negotiation of the enemy's wire and the cleaning up of his trenches. This restriction of time was a great handicap to the enterprise. Enemy artillery active battery work on our batteries in rear of Ploegsteert Wood. 5:00 pm Headquarters partially destroyed by enemy artillery fire. Lieutenant: SHANNON buried in Military Cemetery in rear of the wood.
2nd June 1917.
11:00am. Relieved from Ploegsteert Wood by 11th Brigade, relief completed by 12:30 pm marched to Billets in Nieppe.
(34th Battalion War Diary)
6th June 1917.
BATTLE OF MESSINES
(1) At 10 pm on the 6th June 1917, the Battalion left its billets fully equipped for the assembly Trenches. The order of march being "D", "A", "C" and "B" Companies. All went well until just before reaching Gunners Farm, where the enemy was putting a number of Gas Shells over and Masks had to be put on. Ploegsteert Wood and the back area were receiving particular attention. All Companies were greatly delayed of the amount of Gas in the Wood, which resulted in a number of men being gassed on the way up and many others were completely exhausted. A number of men lost there way in the darkness and smoke. Many could not see at all and had to be led back by there comrades. I many cases it was the blind leading the blind. After a grueling March, the first arrivals reached the Assembly Points 30 minutes before Zero Hour, while the last company arrived only 10 minutes before Zero.
On the 7th June, seven seconds before Zero Hour, which was 3.10 am, four Miles on our front were fired. There was a violent swaying as if an earthquake had taken place and the men in many instances were thrown together. The sky was brilliantly illuminated by the explosives and terrific Artillery fire, the sound of which could not be heard over the intense Machine Gun Barrage. The men left the Trenches immediately and there were a number of casualties on the parapet owing to the heavy enemy Barrage. The supports were also being shelled and the Reserve Company ("D") suffered considerable losses. The weather was hot and sultry and every one felt the tiring march.
The Battalion passed through the 35th Battalion in the vicinity of the enemy's original Front Line, near Ulsters Switch. The enemy fire had been very severe up to this point and many men were lying here. A halt in our Barrage gave the Company Commanders an opportunity of Checking their Compass Bearings, defining their limits, and getting into position for the next advance. At the left of the Barrage a fine assault in complete waves was made. The men gained their objective in fine style behind a perfect Barrage and commenced consolidating their position. The mopping up of the Trench System was soon accomplished and many of the enemy were killed in their Dugouts. By 5.30 am fair cover had been obtained on the Consolidation Line. At 6.30 am Enemy Machine Guns were located in a rebout in "Uncertain Trench" and heavy Artillery was brought to bear on them with good results. By 7.30 am the Black Line was down to two thirds of its depth and linking up by Companies and Platoons were in progress. The enemy was seen moving along "Uncertain Trench" and also reports were received from the 33rd Battalion that the enemy was massing 1,000 yards in front. Reports of enemy movement continued throughout the early part of the morning, but Artillery co-operation helped to disperse the tendency and during the day no organised counter attack was attempted.
At 8.30 am the Line was well dug along the Front and affording excellent protection for the men. By 9.30 am only one gap remained between "A" and "B" Companies in the full length of the consolidation of the "Black Line" to the River La Douve. The Trenches being now well down, widening and sandbagging were now in progress and at 11.30 am showed very plainly in an Arial Photo as a good defensive Trench. There were repeated enquiries for water from the Front Line. Carrying Parties were suffering heavy casualties and were completely knocked up with the long distance.
At 1.40 pm Captain: Arthur Sidney WHITLOCK with "D" Company advanced to the Green Line, without Artillery support, owing to an alteration in the Zero Hour not reaching him. At 2.45 pm he reported by Runner that, having waited 30 minutes and no Artillery Barrage as arranged have been put down, he had advanced to the Green Line and was consolidating. by 7.30 pm all Companies reported that their positions were well consolidated. Just before midnight Captain: Arthur Sidney WHITLOCK was killed between the Green and Black Lines, and Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART took command of "D" Company. Patrols under the Scout Officers were sent out during the night and encountered enemy Patrols which were dispersed. A number of enemy patrols were also killed by our Machine Gun and Lewis Gun fire earlier in the night. At 5.00 am on the 8th June an enemy Plane over, flying low and inspecting our new position.
Our casualties to date had been 8 Officers and 236 other ranks. Captain: Arthur Sidney WHITLOCK and Lieutenant: 584 Leslie William Roy WARNER K.I.A. Lieutenant's Lieutenant: William Walter MATTHEWS Lieutenant: Hector Reginald McLEOD, Lieutenant: Bruce Gray McKENZIE, Lieutenant: Benjamin Greenup BRODIE, Lieutenant: Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY and Lieutenant: Frederick Winn WALKER wounded.
During the morning the enemy put over a heavy Barrage of 7.7's and 4.5's. Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART sent a message by pigeon that our own Heavies were dropping a few Shells short and doing some damage to our own Trenches and causing a few casualties. Several messages were sent back but it was some time before the matter was rectified. At midday enemy Machine Gun Fire from the vicinity of Potterie Farm, about 300 yards from our Front, was very troublesome. At 4.00 pm our Artillery opened up a heavy bombardment which continued for four hours. This was replied to by the enemy at 8.30 pm and was particularly heavy north of La Douve. Ten minutes after this opened all communication lines were cut and messages were sent on the Power Buzzer. By 10.40 pm everything had become normal and the night was fairly quiet.
On 9th June 1917, Lieutenant: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES. with a Patrol of 50 Other Ranks left our Trenches at 4.00 pm with the object of reconnoitering Potterie Farm. This Patrol came under heavy Machine Gun fire and on returning reported the position was fairly strongly held. Lieutenant: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES. was wounded, 2 Other Ranks killed and 3 wounded.
Private: 192 Edward Rolfe "Robert" SPINKS. Killed in Action.
Private: 2640 Clive William QUINN. Killed in Action.
On the night of 12th June the Battalion moved out to Vauxhall Camp and here reinforced by reserve men from Morbecque. The whole operation had been most successful, in spite of the difficult approach March, caused by the wearing of Gas Masks and the darkness of the night. About 3.30 am an unusual occurrence happened when one of our Planes, flying low for observation, was struck by one of our Shells and was cut in halves. During the whole period rations were taken up as usual, the limbers and Carriers being constantly under heavy fire. Many brave deeds were performed and a number of Officers and men were recommended for decorations which were in many cases awarded later. Total casualties were 10 Officers and 399 Other Ranks.
On 14th June the Battalion moved to billets near Vieux Berquin for rest and training. The next day the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General: Sir Alexander John GODLEY inspected the Battalion at Doulieu. Captain: Charles Edwin Woodrow BEAN Australian War Correspondent, was also present. The following day General: Herbert Charles Onslow PLUMER, Army Commander, interviewed the Officers and addressed them. The weather was fine and the men had a good time bathing, writing letters and resting, while reorganization and training was carried out.
On the 21st June the Battalion moved back to Vauxhall Camp and the following day went into tents at Neuve Eglise and relieved 1st Wiltshire Regiment. Training, sports and other competitions were carried out. The weather was fine and enemy planes were very busy strafing our Observation Balloons and the Artillery on several occasions shelling Neuve Eglise. Whilst Here the DUKE of CONNAUGHT held an inspection at Bailleul, the Battalion being represented by Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART Company Sergeant Major: 225 Thomas Brown NORMAN. and 3 Other Ranks.
On 27th June a Sports Day was held and the enemy livened up the proceedings by setting fire to four of our balloons at the one time. During the evening the Cooee's gave a concert. At 9.00 pm the same evening the Battalion marched to the rear of Middle Farm and relieved the 36th Battalion in reserve. From here the Battalion supplied Working Parties during the night time. The enemy shelled continuously and there were a number of casualties. The Transport had a very difficult time taking up the Rations along the track which was being continuously shelled, especially in the gully near Railway Line.
On the 1st July about 4.30 am the Transport came under heavy shell fire and Sergeant: 1482 Timothy "Tim" Daniel MALONE who was in charge, called a halt for a time. When things appeared a little quieter he decided to make a dash for the Ration Dump. When about 300 yards from it a heavy shell struck the Transport, killing Sergeant: 1482 Timothy "Tim" Daniel MALONE and a store man and wounding three others. The Limber was upset into a hole and the Mules killed. The wounded having been taken back, the Rations were delivered to the Battalion, good work being done by Private: A J TAYLOR. The weather was fine but the ground was a mass of Shell Holes. Continual trouble was experienced in transporting Rations, as the enemy appeared to have good observation and always seemed to open fire on any movement. Carrying Parties had long trips to make and heavy loads to carry and were under constant Shell fire. Tracks were charged but conditions did not improve and numerous casualties were sustained nightly. Lieutenant: Henry Cecil Llewellyn BENNETT. who had charge of the Carrying Parties, did good work under trying circumstances and by his coolness set the men a fine example.
On the night of 3rd July the Battalion relieved the 33rd Battalion at Middle Farm. Lieutenant: Harold Wydham LILJA joined here with a number of reinforcements. The enemy was raining Shells on this position, but it was very noticeable that a large representation were "duds", as many 15 in succession. The Battalion was relieved by the 36th Battalion on 6th July, and on 7th July during the afternoon Lieutenant General: Sir Alexander John GODLEY held a review at Hillside Camp. Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART and Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY were decorated with the Military Cross, While 1 Distinguished Conduct Medal and 11 Military Medals were presented to Other Ranks.
Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY Military Cross
Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART Military Cross
Lance Sergeant: 1070 Donald Francis BERMAN. Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Rain and Heavy Shelling made the conditions bad, but the weather cleared later and Air Fights became more Frequent, with sometimes as many as 30 enemy Planes in one formation. On 12th July the Battalion relieved the 44th Battalion in the Front Line. This was carried out with great difficulty owing to the heavy enemy Artillery Fire. On the night of 13th July the enemy opened up a heavy bombardment on our Front Line. Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART M.C "A" Coy, sent up the S.O.S. Signal and a good response was made by our Guns, but enemy movement followed. However, early in the morning many Bombs were thrown into "A" Company's Trenches from a Strong Point opposite "Gapaard Avenue".
The Trenches were very wet and muddy, with water in some places two feet deep. Ration Carriers had considerable difficulty in getting through. Duckboards were floating about in the Trenches. Rain continued to fall and conditions became worse, making the Trenches miniature canals. Heavy shelling was put over by the enemy, day and night, around "Gapaard" and "Wellington" Avenues, also "Owl" Trench, causing great damage to our Trenches.
Our 4.5 Howitzers put up a four hour Barrage to destroy three enemy Strong Points, which were causing trouble to "A" Company by throwing Bombs and small calibre "Minnies" into our Trenches, with resulting casualties. A Raid was planned for the night, but as the Howitzer Barrage failed to destroy the Strong Posts, Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART M.C sent a message asking that it be postponed. However at 9.15 pm. instructions were received from Brigade to go on with the enterprise. At 10 pm. Lieutenant: 777 George Edward HODGES. and 45 Other Ranks with two Lewis Guns attacked the Strong Posts. Immediately the party left the Trench they were met with a Barrage of Machine Gun Fire, Bombs and Grenades, from these points. The men pressed on with great determination until Cinema Road was reached.
Here enfilade Machine Gun Fire was brought to bear on them by the enemy who, it was discovered, were standing shoulder to shoulder under good cover waiting to attack. Lieutenant: 777 George Edward HODGES. successfully arranged the withdrawal of his Party under difficult circumstances. At 1o:58 the enemy heavily bombarded our Front and support Lines and gave every indication of an immediate attack. Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART M.C fired the S.O.S. and the answering Barrage prevented the development of the attack. Our casualties in this operation were 2 killed and 10 wounded. the Stretcher Bearers did some good work under heavy fire and succeeded in bringing in our wounded.
Private: 2333 William HUNT. Killed in Action 13th July 1917.
Private: 486 John Victor LODGE. Wounded in Action 13th July Died of Wounds 14th July 1917 .
The Battalion was relieved by the 36th Battalion on 17th July and moved to a position of support in "Huns Walk" and the Subsidiary Lines in from of Messines. During the process of the relief the enemy sent over a great quantity of Mustard Gas, which made the change over both difficult and most unpleasant. There were no serious casualties, but a number of men were slightly gassed. Shelling of this area continued during the night of 18th/19th July, with large quantities of both H.E. and Gas Shells. Also large formations of enemy Aircraft were constantly flying overhead.
Private: 1528 Edward BRYANT Killed in Action 17th July 1917.
From here Working Parties were supplied for the Front Line and Jumping Off Trenches. While holding this Sector, all "B" Company Cooks were killed. The Cook Houses were constantly under fire, as apparently the enemy eas able to see the smoke issuing from them. Gapaard Avenue was also under constant Shell Fire, which caused many casualties. The whole of the Support area was under heavy fire from 5.9's and 4.2's also Gas Shells. "C" Company at Zareete was subjected to an intense Barrage for two hours and sustained a number of casualties. Owing to the continuous Shelling some of the men were beginning to suffer from Shell Shock.
On the night of the 23rd July the Battalion relieved the 36th Battalion in the Front Line Trenches, which were in a very bad state, from Staquart Farm to Bloumepuortbeck. It rained heavily most of the time, whilst the Shelling and Gas Barrages continued by night and day. On 26th July the Battalion moved back to "Huns Walk", where Working Parties were supplied for the Front Line. On 28th July the enemy put over a heavy Barrage from 10 p.m., along the whole of our Front and gave every appearance of a massed attack. The S.O.S. was called for and the Battalion stood in readiness for three hours, but the enemy did not follow up with an attack.
On 29th July the Battalion withdrew to Hillside Camp, near Waterloo Road. Heavy rain was still falling and making things generally unpleasant. The period of holding the Line at Messines was a very trying one. the enemy was in a good position and kept up a continual heavy bombardment of H.E. and Gas Shells. The Trenches, which were in very bad condition owing to the heavy rain, were under observation the whole time and special attention, by way of Shelling, was paid to the Cook Houses. The men were very tired after the strenuous period in the Trenches and were glad of a rest. While at Hillside Camp Working Parties were supplied and a general cleaning and refitting was carried out.
On 3rd August the Battalion marched out to billets at Bleue via Bailleul Road. The billets were comfortable in old farms, but the rain continued and the roads were mostly under water. On the 5th a Brigade Church Parade was held and General: William Riddell BIRDWOOD informally inspected the men. On the 6th August the Battalion marched to Aldershot Camp. Whilst here Working Parties were supplied to dig a Corps Line in front of Messines. This entailed a long march to and from work, mostly under Shell Fire.
The Battalion left Aldershot Camp on the 15th August and marched to Bailleul Station to entrain for Wizernes. From here a lone march was carried out to Vaudringhem. this was a quite village and with its peaceful farms and green fields was a very pleasant change from the chaos of the Battle Area. The Billets were in old farm houses and the men trained with zest and Sports were held twice weekly. New formations were practiced and everyone was made ready and fit to again meet the enemy and defeat him.
on the 27th August Brigadier-General: Charles ROSENTHAL took over the Brigade from Brigadier-General: Alexander JOBSON. Brigade and Divisional Sports and also Cooking Competitions were held. Leave was granted to Boulogne and the men were able to have a swim in the sea. A picnic by motor lorry to Boulogne was arranged and the men waited two hours with towels, when the word came through that it had been cancelled owing to shortage of lorries. Much to their disappointment, as other Battalions had made the trip.
On 26th September the Battalion left Vaudringhem at 6 a.m. and proceeded via St Pierre, Elnes, lumbre, Wizernes, Blendecques, Heuringhen to Coubronne. The Billets were very scattered over the villages of Coubronne, Islinghem, Le Rons, Blamart and La Sablon. It was a long march of 21 miles and the men were very tired, but fortunately the weather was fine and warm. The following day the Starting Point at 4 a.m. the March was continued at via Quiestede, Wardrecques, Eddlinghem, Staples, Oxlaere, St Marie Cappel, St Slyvestre, Eecke to Godewaesvelde, arriving at 7.30 p.m. The men were done up after covering 23 miles, and glad to spend the night resting. On the 28th September at about 8 a.m. a large barn near "B" Company Headquarters and the Q.M. Store caught fire and a considerable amount of straw and the roof were burnt, what caused the fire was never discovered but eventually the Battalion paid for the damage. Later that day the March continued to Winnezeele via Steenvoorde, a distance of 8 miles, in lovely weather.
On 29th September the Battalion left for Zonnebeke. According to arrangements the C.O. and Adjutant went forward to the Line followed by specialists who were taken by motor bus to vlamertinghe and then marched to the Line via Menin Gate, Ypres and Railway Wood, where guides were met. The remainder of the Battalion went by motor bus via Abeele, Poperinghe, Dickebusche to Vlamertinghe and then marched into the Line. Our Front was from Brick Kiln south of Zonnebeke Station to Vanisackers Farm. The 35th Battalion being on the right and the 36th on the left. The Units relieved were what remained of the NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS GORDON HIGHLANDERS, ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS and KINGS OWN REGIMENT. The Q.M. Store and Transport proceeded to Brandhock and the "B" Teams to Morbecque.
The Battalion Headquarters was at Low Farm. Aircraft was very active and the enemy heavily bombarded to Ypres-Zonnebeke Road apparently searching for our Artillery position. A quantity of Mustard Gas Shells were fired into Railway Wood and the Frezenberg Ridge. The enemy bombing Planes were constantly dropping bombs on all camps and roads, taking advantage of the clear moonlight nights. On 30th September our Support Line was subjected to heavy shelling by 7.7's, 5.9's and 4.2's at 9.30 p.m., which gave a cable burying party an intense strafing, resulting in 51 casualties.
On 1st October the enemy put down a heavy barrage of 5.9's and 4.2's on "A" Company from 7 a.m. to 9.30 a.m badly knocking about our half made Trenches. 2nd Lieutenant: 11921 Stanley Robert CALLAGHAN. was killed and there 53 casualties among the Other Ranks. Enemy Planes were flying low over our Lines and Machine Gunning the Trenches.
Sergeant: 1530 James HAM. D.C.M.
On 3rd October at 8.30 a.m. the enemy shot up Potsdam, Bowry Farm, Low Farm and Frost House with H.E., but no material damage was done to the Battalion. Relief by the 10 Brigade took place that night and the Battalion marched back to the Ramparts of Ypres, after having had a strenuous time in the Line. However the enemy Planes were busy bombing Camps, Roads and Transport and many casualties were suffered. On 4th October at 10.30 a.m. the Battalion marched from the Ramparts to No:16 Central Camp, south of Ypres, a tent camp, arriving at noon. The move was made after a successful attack had been carried out at 6 a.m. by the 10th and 11th Brigades. A working Party of 100 men which had been sent to prepare an Artillery Road to Seine House, was badly shot up at 4.30 p.m. and had to cease work. The enemy Planes that night, again active over our Camp, dropping their quota of Bombs.
On 5th October the Troops were moved by Motor Bus to Winnezeele and reached Camp at 7.30 p.m. The Transport and Q.M Stores marched in at midnight from Brandhoek. The motor lorrt conveying the Packs capsized in a ditch, but they arrived during the early morning. The "B' Teams marched in from Morbecque. Cleaning up and organising for the 3rd Battle of Ypes was carried out during the four days spent at this Camp which consisted of Tents. On 10th October the Battalion moved by Motor Bus to the Camp Area at Calvry Farm, East of Ypres, arriving at 9 p.m. and spent the night in the open as no arrangements had been made for Billets. Some difficulty was experienced in getting to the allotted area, as the night was dark and each party arriving would make for the nearest flame of a Cooker. However by 11 p.m. the men had been fed and were doing their best to settle down in the open in spite of the heavy rain and cold as well as enemy Bombs. The enemy on the crest of the hill ahead of Passchendaele must have plainly seen the fires in the Cookers and anticipated activity in this area, as early the next morning Planes were over taking in the general situation.
On 11th October the Second in Command an other Officers reconnoitered the ground of attack for the following day. The weather was still showery and misty and the men rested while the Band played selections during the day. Lieutenant: 4 Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY, Scout Officer, and Company Officers went up during the afternoon to lay tape and were heavily shelled. The men were given a good tea, after which the various equipment for the operation was issued to them.
BATTLE OF YPRES
The Approach March commenced at 6 p.m. from Cavalry Camp to the jumping off Line, the assembly Point being the Junction of Zonnebeke-Roulers Railway Line and Cemetery to the South West corner of Augustus Wood, thence to assembly Road along Roulers-Ypres Railway Line. The march was carried out without loss for about 7 Kilos, although the going was extremely difficult due to the rain and shell-holed state of the track, until Zonnenbeke Station was reached. From here to the Assembly tape the Battalion was subjected to heavy shell fire, principally 7.7's and 4.2's in many places the track had been blown up and the tape had disappeared. however in spite of this and casualties sustained, the Assembly Point was reached by 2.45 a.m. on 12th October, but some of the men were still arriving at Zero Hour. The heavy shelling of 7.7's and 4.2's continued during the Assembly and right up to Zero Hour, the greater part of which appeared to come from the South and South end of Passchendaele. Our casualties were very heavy, principally on the right flank near the cemetery and mostly occurred in "A" and "B" Companies.
The Brigade was formed up on the jumping off tape in the following order- 34th,35th and 36th Battalions. The 35th and 36th Battalions suffered heavily and were badly shot up, as the shells were passing over the 34th Battalion and were falling the the rear of the Battalions. At 5.25 a.m. our Barrage came down, but was so weak that in many cases was difficult to determine which was our Barrage and which was the enemy's. This made it hard for the men to keep up with Barrage, however the greatest obstacle met in the advance was the condition of the ground, particularly on the left flank of "C" and "D" Companies. There were many men lost altogether in the mire. The pace of the advance was slowed up owing to the assistance it was necessary to give men who had sunk into shell holes and could not extricate themselves without assistance.
(3) The action of the 9th Division advance to the starting line to commence the dawn attack at Passchendaele I on 12th October 1917, through the German gas barrage called "Moondnacht", in pouring rain and pitch darkness, only to find the line was not secured. Captain: 1263 Telford Graham GILDER and Captain: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES commanding the leading companies of the 34th Battalion, halted their companies ?at the entrance to the Broodseinde railway cutting, and themselves went forward to make sure that their column might not run into the enemy.?
(1) In a number of cases the helpers became engulfed in the awful morass and many of the wounded had to be left where they fell. The first organised opposition met with was two concrete Pill Boxes, East of Augustus Wood and North East of Seine House. These help up the centre of the advance until Captain: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES. organised a Bombing Party and succeeded in rushing and capturing the Strong Point, taking 35 Prisoners and Four Machine Guns, 150 yards in the rear of this Dugout was a small Trench, about 50 yards long, in which were 20 or 3o of the enemy, who were accounted for as the Wave passed on. Throughout the advance to the Red Line heavy Machine Gun Fire was encountered from the direction of Belle Vue and Meetchiele on the left flank, and from Tiber and Tiber Copes on the right flank in the Railway Embankment. The position was also mopped up as the Wave went forward. On reaching the Red Line the Battalion began to dig in, but was greatly harassed by fire from Machine Guns situated on the right flank, about 200 yards from Railway Embankment. Captain: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES. again organised a Party of 2 N.C.O's Sergeant: 21 James BRUCE Corporal: 2036 Vere "Vic" Cumming STEVENSON. and 10 men to capture this Post. Unfortunately this brave Officer was killed in the attempt. For this action we was posthumously awarded the VICTORIA CROSS
The N.C.O's Sergeant: 21 James BRUCE and Corporal: 2036 Vere "Vic" Cumming STEVENSON. carried on and captured the Post in a gallant fight, taking two Machine Guns and 40 Prisoners. Casualties all along had been very heavy and the 35th and 36th Battalions had also suffered severely. It was decided to send all the men of the 34th Battalion to assist in the capture of the Blue and Green Lines. Captain: John William RICHARDSON. of "D" Company succeeded in reorganizing the Battalion and took them forward to the Blue Line, where he was killed. Tiber Copse caused considerable trouble, but was taken by organised Parties of the 35th and 36th Battalion, augmented by the 34th Battalion. On reaching the Blue Line, the Parties commenced to dig in and were subjected the whole time to heavy Machine Gun Fire from Belle Vue and Meetchiele, in addition to heavy Barrage Fire from the enemy Artillery.
At 3 p.m. the word was received that owing to the severity of hostile Shelling and Machine Gun Fire the Line was withdrawing. Instructions were immediately sent to hold the Line at all costs and to endeavor to refuse the left flank. Under murderous fire and vilest conditions a new Line was constructed from Deine Crossing on the Ypres-Roulers Railway, north to the direction of Waterfields. In advance to the Red Line all the Officers of the Battalion had been killed or wounded with the exception of three, who became casualties before reaching the Blue Line. Therefore the bulk of the organisation fell on the shoulders of the N.C.O's, who, although suffered heavy casualties, did remarkable fine work. The Trench Mortars took no active part in the Battle. One Mortar was blown out before reaching the Assembly Line and owing to the difficulties of the ground the Ammunition Carriers of the other did not arrive.
The Machine Gunners found it impossible to carry their Guns forward and they did not arrive at the Assembly Point until some hours after Zero. The general condition of the ground over which the men had to travel and attack was one of the two primary causes for non-success of the operation. Never before had the men been called upon to fight under such awful conditions. It was simply a mass of mud and water across the entire Front. A succession of water-filled Shell holes, which not only reduced the rate of advance but bunched the men together in their attempt to find a track around the shell holes. This gave the enemy a splendid opportunity to use his Machine Gun. The barrage throughout was very weak, no doubt caused by the extreme difficulty experienced in getting the Guns and Ammunition forward owing to the terrible state of the ground. Thus many enemy Strong Points which otherwise would have been put out of action, were left to take active participation in the fight. Belle Vue on the left flank gave the enemy a magnificent field of Fire across the whole Brigade Front. Failure may have been turned to success if the Reserve Battalion (33rd Battalion) had been brought up and used to reinforce the other Battalions. Undoubtedly this would have been of great assistance on the Blue Line, in refusing the left flank and may have saved a withdrawal.
During the initial attack Battalion Headquarters were established at Seine House. An arrangement which worked well proved economical for Signalers and Runners throughout. the following day, 13th October, the enemy kept up a heavy concentrated Artillery Fire over the whole area, apparently having no idea of the actual position of our troops. Seine House and the Regimental Aid Post at the Railway Line were subjected to particular heavy fire and many casualties occurred at both places. Major: Gother Robert Carlisie CLARKE. M.I.D(Regimental Medical Officer), was killed by a shell which fell right among the wounded who were being dressed in the open. Major: Gother Robert Carlisie CLARKE. M.I.D fell dead across an Officer of the 37th Battalion, whose wounds he was dressing. A number of Ambulance Medical Corps staff were also killed and wounded by the same Shell.
Captain: Norbert Henry BRIDGE. later took over as (Regimental Medical Officer). The Battalion was sadly depleted and all the Officer had become casualties. The "B" Team, consisting of 3 Officers and 135 Other Ranks, was sent forward as reinforcements. The Lewis Guns and Rifles were in a very bad state, as the liquid mud had gradually worked into the parts and put them out of action. The heavy Shelling continued, especially in the vicinity of the Railway and Seine Mule track. Great difficulty was experienced in getting the Rations up, as many of the Mules were being bogged and in some cases had to be abandoned. Enemy Planes were coming over in Large formations, flying low and Machine Gunning both Troops and Transport thus inflicting many casualties.
At 6:00 pm on 14th October, being relieved by the 43rd Battalion, the men in a very exhausted condition withdrew to the reverse side of Abraham Heights, as close support, whist Headquarters remained at Seine House. Squadron after Squadron of enemy Planes continued to come over during the day and night, bombing and Machine Gunning with impunity, as our Planes were missing.
On the night of 15th October the Battalion relieved the 41st Battalion in the Front Line, from Augustus Wood to Waterfields, Battalion Headquarters being at Otto Farm. The 33rd Battalion was on our right and the OTAGO MOUNTED RIFLES (N.Z.) on our left.. The weather was bitterly cold and raining. About 100 Gas Shells came over but did little damage owing to the rain. Very heavy Shelling by 5.9's and 4.2's was systematically carried out as well as bombing by Planes. Everyone was having a very trying time, including the Q.M. Store and Transport at Caralong Farm. The Battalion was relieved on the 19th October by the 4th York and Lancers and marched to the Camp South Ypres. The Central Camp had been removed from Caralong Farm owing to the severity of Shelling. The men (a small number) arrived at Camp completely exhausted and done up. After a hot meal, rum and a complete change of clothing, the men settled down for a rest. However very little rest was obtainable, as Bombing Planes were freely dropping the cargoes on the Camp and surrounding area, day and night.
The total number who took part in this operation, as far as the 34th Battalion was concerned was 19 Officers and 509 Other Ranks. Of these 16 Officers and 250 Other Ranks were either killed or wounded. The Officers killed in action were:- Major: Gother Robert Carlisie CLARKE. (R.M.O.) Captain: Clarence Smith JEFFRIES. V.C. and Captain: John William RICHARDSON. Lieutenant: John Abbott LONGWORTH. Lieutenant: 160 Bruce Gray McKENZIE. Lieutenant: James Clement BURGES. Lieutenant: 1291 Albert Leslie WATSON. The Officers wounded were:- Captain: Telford Graham GILDER. Lieutenants:- Lieutenant: 1291 Albert Leslie WATSON. Lieutenant: 4 Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY. Lieutenant: 61 Cryil Osman EDWARDS. Lieutenant: Harold Wydham LILJA. Lieutenant: Eric Charles EDWARDS. Lieutenant: 1410 Oliver Provan DAVIDSON. Lieutenant: W C PULVIS. Lieutenent: 159 George Duncan MAITLAND.
At 11:00 am on 21st October half the Battalion en trained at Ypres and proceeded to Wizernes. Having de trained, marched via Lumbres and St Pierre to Vaudringhem. The remainder em-bused at Hell Fire Corner, after having waited three hours for the buses. During the wait two enemy Planes came over and having apparently spotting the concentration of Troops, within an hour opened up fire with his H.V. Rubber Gun. The last bus had just crossed the Railway Line when a Shell burst right on top of a Staff Car and one burst on the road between the line of Buses. Having debussed about 3 Kilos from Vaudringhem, the men marched into the village. This was the second term there and the men settled down into a fairly good Billets. From 22nd October until 9th November the Battalion remained at Vaudringhem, carrying out training and reorganization for the next Offensive. The weather was mostly wet and windy.
On 9th November the Battalion marched to Drionville Cross Road and proceeded by bus to the Billeting Area at Blue. At this state the Division was attached to the 1st Anzac Corps. On the 15th November the Battalion marched via La Verrier, Steenmerck, Rabot to la Rossicuol Camp, North West of Nieppe. Whist here cleaning up and training for Raids were carried out. At 4:30pm on 21st November the Battalion left the Camp and marched via Ploegsteert to Keepers Hut and relieved the 36th Battalion in the Front Line. The Trenches were in very bad condition, with mud waist high in places. the Front Line from Posts 21 to 17 was practically impassable, whilst the same applied to Posts 16 to 15. Some 220 yards of Unpere Drive South was also impassable and it was necessary to go overland. In this Sector the enemy had many Observation Balloons and his Planes frequently flew over. Heavy Artillery and Minnie Barrages did constant damage to our Trenches and Ration Dumps, whilst working Parties in Unpere Drive South sustained many casaulties. Gas Shells were continually falling during the night, particularly on Convent Lane, Ayr Street and Una Avenue. Shelling was also heavy in the vicinity of Le Bizet and Ploegsteert Wood. During the night No Man's Land and Pont Rouge were patrolled by our Battle Patrols.
At 7:55 pm on 27th November a Party of the enemy about 30 strong en devoured to silently raid our Trenches at 21 Post. The Lewis Gunners caught them in the wire and, firing on them, forced them to retire. A Party under Lieutenant: 1790A Russell Stanley BROWN went out to clear up the situation, but was bombed by a second Party of the enemy from an old Trench in front of 21 Post. As this Party of the enemy retired through Pont Rouge, it was engaged by Lieutenant: Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY and four Scouts, but there were too many of them to be cut off. He called on Lieutenant: Harry Hurlston RICHARDSON, who had 20 men and a Lewis Gun on the right flank of Pont Rouge as a standing Patrol. This Patrol came into action and the enemy Patrol rapidly retired over the Pont Rouge Bridge, leaving one dead and several Riffles.
Being relieved by the 36th BATTALION AIF on the 29th November, the Battalion returned to Le Rossicoul Camp, with the exception of 168 who remained behind as Working Parties in Fusiliers Terrace. On 5th December small circular enemy Balloons came over our Line and pamphlets in English and French were dropped from them, apparently by means of some mechanical contrivance. These pamphlets purported to be from French inhabitants in occupied areas, giving casualties suffered by the civil population as a result of our Bombing and Artillery Fire; and (b) accounts of German successes and pointing out the helpless position of the Allies.
The Battalion remained here in support to the Point Rouge Sector until 7th December, when the 36th BATTALION AIF was relieved by it in the Front Line. At dawn the enemy opened up a heavy strafe, which fell thickly on our Sector, as well as the Ration Dump and Ethelwood Hall. During the night 300 rounds of Gas Shells fell in the area. Our Patrols worked No Man's Land without sight of the enemy. On the night of 9th December our Front Line from Dolls House to Wicart Farm was swept with Machine Gun Fire and at 2:00 am the enemy heavily shelled "A" Company Headquarters and did considerable damage to the Trenches. Three large Shells struck the Cook House and blew up most of the gear.
During the morning General: William Riddell BIRDWOOD visited the Sector. In the afternoon visibility improved and the enemy put up 12 Observation Balloons. A Squadron of Planes flew over and dropped Bombs on the Camp and Transport Lines at Le Rossicuol and Romarin. On 11th December "C" and "D" Companies changed over from the Support to the Front Line, relieving "A" and "B" Companies. Just after noon next day a Squadron of enemy Planes flew over again bombed the Camps at Le Rossicuol and Romarin. Five of our Planes attacked and brought down on of their Planes in flames in No Man's Land, on our Front to the right of Ida Post.
On 13th December the enemy put down a Box Barrage of H.E. extending from Ida Post, Una Avenue and convent Lane to the 33rd Battalion AIF on our right. No real damage resulted and an expected enemy Raid did not follow. On the following days enemy Planes were very active, and many Air Flights took place, one enemy Plane being brought down near Le Touquet Station. Being relieved by the 18th Battalion on 15th December, the Battalion marched to Billets at Nieppe. After spending a night and day there, the Battalion marched to the Hutmen Camp at de Seule and settled down to equipment cleaning. The following day was intensely cold and later snow fell. The Referendum on Conscription was held. On the 19th December the Battalion marched from de Seule Camp to Laundries Erquinghem and billeted there, relieving the ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS, as Reserved to Armentieres Defences. The weather was cold and frosty, which gave some troops an opportunity of trying their skills at skating.
Christmas Day 1917 was celebrated in good style and was made realistic by a snow fall. Food was ample and all Ranks enjoyed a traditional meal, accompanied by a plentiful supply of Beer. Fuel was in good supply and fires were kept going during the long evening. Whilst here Captain: James FLORANCE took over as Quartermaster from Lieutenant: 6 Frank William BAULCH who became Quartermaster of Brigade School. On 1st January 1918, New Years Day, the battalion was relieved by the 171st Brigade and proceeded to de Seule hutmen Camp. Owing to a hard frost the marching was difficult. on the following day the march was continued via Bailleul to Meteron Billeting Area, where the Billets were very scattered. While here the frost broke, making the road very muddy and unpleasant for marching and transport. General Training was carried out, interspersed with Sports and Football Matches. During this period, Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART left the Battalion to take up special duty in England. Captain: Telford Graham GILDER. took over command of "A" Company and Lieutenant: 19583 Donald GRANTER became Transport Officer.
From left to right; Back Row. 2nd Lieutenant: 1973 Reuben PARKES Lieutenant: Leslie Gordon CLARK Lieutenent: 377 Thomas Henry BRITTON. Lieutenant: Stanley Herbert DELVES. Lieutenant: Sydney Rodgers NICKLIN. Lieutenant: 1422 James SNEDDEN. Lieutenant: 777 George Edward HODGES. Lieutenant: 714 Thomas BELLAMY. Lieutenant: Russell Stanley BROWN. Lieutenant: 1063 Arthur BAILLIE. Lieutenant: Francis Henry Samuel LEE. Lieutenant: 927 Vincent Charles CALLEN. Lieutenant: 2181 Rex Bernard YORK. COLMAN. Lieutenant: 373 Albert "Dad" DOWDING
From left to right; Front Row. Captain: Telford Graham GILDER. Lieutenant. Jeffrey MONFRIES. Captain: Alexander Warren MACDONALD. Captain: Norman Sydney CAIRNS. Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN. Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART. Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY. Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE. COLEMAN Lieutenant: 1516 Frank William GIFFORD. Captain: Chaplain 3rd Class: John CALDER.
18th January 1918 the Battalion at one hour's notice was turned out for a practice "Defense of Meteren" and all Ranks gave a good account of themselves. During the stay here Picquets were supplied and also a Working Party to salvage dead timber from Ploegsteert Wood. A number of Lectures were given and N.C.O's attended a demonstration at Wisques Bridge School. On the 26th January the Battalion proceeded by route march to Bulford Lines and the following day took over Strong Points on the Corps Line. Battalion Headquarters and Details moving to Romarin Camp.
on the 3rd February General: William Riddell BIRDWOOD. presented Ribbons and Medals to the men of the Battalion. The 33rd BATTALION having relieved the men in the Strong Points, they rejoined the balance at Romarin Camp. Lieutenant Colonel. Ernest Edward MARTIN. having gone to England, Major: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. assumed Command. Working Parties were supplied for the strengthening of the Corps Line, Cable Laying and timber getting in Ploegsteert Wood.
On 25th February the Battalion moved out and was conveyed by light rail to Racine Dump, and then marched to the Sector south of la douve River at Bas Warneton, to relieve to 40th Battalion in the Front Line. A Raiding Party was lest at the Camp for the purpose of training. The Front Line consisted of a series of Strong Posts, the two on our Front bring Furze Cottage, known as "Victory", and La Potterie Farm, known as "Watchful". The Battalion was a 2 Company Front. With 2 companies in the Front Line, 1 in Support and 1 in Reserve. Standing Patrols were supplied and the Gaps patrolled, as well as No Man's Land each night. Wiring and general improvement of the defenses were carried out. The weather was intensely cold with some snow. The enemy shelled our Sector, causing several casualties, including Lieutenant: 2181 Rex Bernard YORK wounded.
3rd March 1918.
(2) 9:00 am. Weather dull and very cold. Our Artillery fairly active throughout the day, Enemy Artillery quiet. 11:45 am. 9th Infantry Brigade Raiding Party of 300 strong racked enemy trenches opposite 33rd Battalion Sector on our right. Raid very successful 1 Officer 11 other ranks being brought back prisoners. 34th Battalion casualties in the raid were 1 other ranks Killed 3 other ranks Wounded. There was no Artillery retaliation on our Sector.
(1) At 11.45 pm on the 3rd March a combined 9th Brigade Raid took place, which proved most successful. One Officer and 11 Other Ranks were brought back as prisoners. Our casualties were 3 wounded. The following night the brigade Raiders again entered the enemy Trenches ans succeeded in killing 40 of the enemy. Strength of Raiding Party - 15 Officers 300 other ranks.
Private: 7533 Walter Godfrey SMITH. 34th Bn AIF. Killed in Action 05/03/1918 France.
This Raid however was not so successful as the previous night. The Battalion losing one of its efficient Officers Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE. These Raids were well organised and the men, who had been especially trained, were well equipped. On the second night 100 men of the Battalion took part. The object of the Raid was to blow up Dug Outs and Tunnels. The Assembly Point was in the front of the 33rd Battalion Outpost near No: 7 Post in the front of the Sugar Refinery. Our men were in "C"Company of the Raiders, with Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE in charge. Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander MILNE, 36th Battalion was in charge of the Brigade Raid. Each man carried three of four Bombs. Some were Rifle Grenadiers, others Lewis Gunners, some Bombers and also Bayonet Men. Most were dressed in Tommy Uniforms. The Demolition Party carried special charges and detonators. It rained heavily during march to the Assembly Point and the men enjoyed the hot Cocoa and Coffee supplied by the Y.M.C.A on the way up.
The Barrage opened at 12:50 am 1 Officer and 4 Other Ranks went forward to lay the tape for direction. Seven minutes later the Covering Party went out and laid in the enemy wire, 45 yards from his Trenches. This Party was armed with Lewis Guns, Bombs and grenades and was in charge of Sergeant: 841 William Samuel MUDFORD. The Main Raiding Party followed the tape and passing through the gaps cut the wire, entering the Trenches. Some strong opposition was encountered from the enemy, with Grenades and Machine Gun fire. Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE while standing on the parapet, directing operations, was hit in the chest and side by Machine Gun Bullets. Lieutenant: 64 Alfred James FELL. and his Party proceeded up the Communication Trench, while Sergeant: 145 Charles Henry NUNN worked along the Front Line to the left. Much opposition was met, as the enemy was apparently waiting in strong force. After six minutes they withdrew, bringing Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE out, who died on the way back. Lieutenant: 12944 Mervyn REES who was in charge of another Party, also returned after doing good work. Shortly afterwards the Covering Party under Sergeant: 841 William Samuel MUDFORD. returned and the 33rd Battalion again took over the Post. Later the enemy retaliated with heavy Shell Fire.
(4) On the 4th March 1918; 34th Battalion Company Commander summoned Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE to his dugout. Warning order, Ben. We've got a man oeuvre on tonight and our company's drawn the short straw. Make all preparations, will you? And by the way, you'll be leading the push. BRODIE passed on the information to his platoon commanders and then settled into his dugout to get some rest. Too stimulated to sleep, he reached into his pack and extracted his writing pad to start a letter to his wife. Later, the Commanding Officer conducted the briefing on the plan of attack for the night's raid, which was to be the same strength as the night before. Sergeant: 841 William Samuel MUDFORD. you'll take the covering party on the left flank. You'll have the Lewis guns, the bombers and plenty of bombs. The right flank will be handled by the 33rd. Lieutenant: 64 Alfred James FELL. you'll have the taping party and support with the demolition charges. Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE you'll be leading our blokes about a hundred in all. Your mission is to blow up the tunnels and the dugouts, capture whoever you can and get the hell out. And don't worry, we'll have artillery support. The barrage starts at 0050 hours. Any questions?
The men checked their weapons again. Most carried pistols, some carried clubs studded with nails and each of the raiders carried three or four bombs stuffed into the pockets of their tunics. As they waited till it was time to make their way to the assembly point, the heavens opened up, soaking the Diggers to the skin and creating a sea of viscous mud that clogged the soles of their boots. Volunteers of the YMCA and Salvation Army mingled with the troops, handing out cups of hot cocoa and coffee until it was time to go. As the 18-pounders commenced firing, signalling the start of the raid, Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE dispatched the officer and four Diggers to lay the forming-up tape. Seven minutes later, he sent out Sergeant: 841 William Samuel MUDFORD'S. covering party.3 Using the tape as a guide in the dark, they took up positions in the German wire emplacements a mere 45 meters from the enemy.
The main raiding party moved out, passing through the gaps that had been cut in the wire. Suddenly, a flare burst above them, creating pandemonium as the pale light illuminated the battlefield. Go! Go! Go! Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE yelled, waving his troops forward. The enemy attacked relentlessly with grenades and machine-guns. Captain: 717 Benjamin Greenup BRODIE stormed up to the parapet, urging the Diggers into the trench. As he directed his men towards shelter, a burst from a machine-gun hit him in the side and chest. He dropped to his knees, but continued to yell commands. The stretcher-bearers grabbed their fallen captain and frantically pushed shell dressings into his gaping wounds.
BRODIE'S second in command, Lieutenant: 64 Alfred James FELL., went about setting the explosives, while Sergeant: 145 Charles Henry NUNN led a party along the trench to the left. Reconnoitering around a bend in the trench, NUNN saw a large enemy force moving toward them. The Germans had anticipated the incursion and planned on trapping the raiders before they could withdraw. NUNN sent a runner to Fell with a message, 'Germans coming, lots of them!? Lieutenant: 64 Alfred James FELL. immediately gave the order to withdraw. He then hurriedly made his way back to BRODIE and knelt down beside the badly wounded officer, who by now had been placed on a stretcher with a knapsack supporting his head. BRODIE grabbed FELL by the uniform, pulling him closer. Make sure you account for everyone before we leave, FELL, he muttered. As they made their way back to their lines, Brodie repeatedly questioned his stretcher-bearer, Private: 2861 Arthur FREW. (Australian Field Ambulance), on the state of his men.5 FREW reassured his patient that all was well, realising that although BRODIE was gravely wounded, the officer's concern was not for himself but for the safety of his men. As they reached the protection of the parapet, a relieved FREW leaned nearer the officer's head. We've made it, Sir, we've. But it was too late, BRODIE was dead.
(1) During the afternoon enemy Planes were very active and a squadron flew over. One of the Planes released a paper balloon carrying pamphlets. These were collected and sent to Divisional Headquarters. At 2.40 pm on 6th March Warneton Tower was brought down by the 5th shot of a 15 inch Gun, much to the delight of the Troops who heartily cheered its downfall. On 7th March the Battalion, on being relieved by the 24th Battalion marched to Hyde Park Corner and were conveyed by light railway to Romarin Camp. The following day the men marched to Steenwereck and en trained for Desures. Having de trained, the Battalion marched to Billets at Le Wast, arriving at 11.00 pm on 9th March. The Billets were comfortable but somewhat scattered. The weather was fine and mild.
The Transport traveled by road from Romarin Camp, arriving in grand condition and were complimented on their smartness. Training was carried out in the mornings, while the afternoons were devoted to sports. The men were given leave to boulogne and St Omer. A Brigade School was formed under Major: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. and Major: Harry Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER. became Commanding Officer of the Battalion.
20th March 1918. (4)
Presentation of Medals For courageous service and devotion to duty on night of 3rd/4th March 1918 during raid on enemy trenches in vicinity of WARNETON.
Lance Corporal: 1995 George SHEARWOOD. Military Medal.
Private: 3119 Sydney SMITH. Military Medal.
Private: 2663 Donald Alexander STEWART. Military Medal.
On 22nd March the Battalion left Le Mast and after marching to Lottinghem, en trained for Abeele, where it arrived the next day and marched to Waton. That evening Orders were received to be prepared to move and that all surplus baggage, including Officers' valises, was to be dumped. Leaving Waton on 24th March the Battalion marched to near Abeele and embused for Wallon-Cappel in the Sercus area. On arriving at Hazebrouck the men de bused and marched to Le Belle Hotesse, and were under Orders to be ready to move at any moment.
ON THE SOMME
On the 26th March the Battalion and Transport marched to Steenbecque Station and entrained for Doullens, where on arrival proceeded by route march via Arras main road to Henn and billeted. The train journey was most uncomfortable, as the men were packed into trucks like sheep. Four Strong Points were garrisoned near the village by "A" Company, in addition to Strong Points by the ROYAL SCOTS FUSILLIERS. The morning of 27th March broke fine and cold at 4:00 am the Battalion marched to Thienes where it was met at 7:00 am by the Brigade Omnibus Train and conveyed to Franvillers, arriving at 2:00 pm. The enemy was sending over a few Shells and most of the civilians had left the village. Many of them were met hurrying along the roads with whatever things they could carry. some had wagons, others carts, barrows and perambulators. Many were very aged and a lot of young children were with them. Quite a number of these people returned to the village when they saw the Australians arriving and others who had not left called out "It will be all well now, the Hun will not come any further.
An hour later the Battalion marched to within a Kilometer of Heilly and rested in a gully near the Brickwork's whilst awaiting Orders and the men had a hurried meal. Two enemy Planes flew over and dropped what appeared to be messages, but some of the men who were nearby ran to pick them up discovered they were Bombs. The Planes, which had our markings, opened with Machine guns and wounded two English soldiers. One hour later the men were moved through Heilly and occupied Trenches in the Corps Line. The enemy were shelling heavily now and there were some casualties. A few English Troops who were digging Trenches on the crest and had only one Machine gun, were relieved. a Party of Scouts under Sergeant: 2336 George Ross JOHNSTON went out and worked from the Sugar Mills at Ribemont to the left for a distance of 400 yards, but no enemy was encountered. The men occupied this line until 11:00 pm, during which time they had a hot meal and proceeded to Bonnay where they arrived at 4:00 am on 28th March, very tired and rested all day. Local reports were that the enemy had passed through this village during the day, in armored cars.food and drink were plentiful and the troops enjoyed themselves whilst they had the opportunity.
On 29th March the C.O. and Officers reconnoitered the Aubigny-Vaux Line held by the 33rd Battalion and at 8:00 pm the Battalion marched to Cachy. As the enemy was expected to attack early in the morning, the men stood in readiness until after daylight. Some heavy Shells were coming over and Aircraft were frequently having air fights. English Troops were coming back in some disorder, with remarks that Jerry was coming over the hill in mass formation. After stand down some of the men went into Villers-Bretonneux and when returning to the Unit were stopped by British Cavalry. On 30th March the Battalion marched from Cachy to Bois d'Abbe and bivouacked in readiness to go forward as Counter Attack Troops.
Rain was falling and the men got what improvised shelter they could. "B" Teams were sent to Blangy Tronville, where the Quartermaster's Store and Transport were also stationed. At 9:30 am the Battalion moved up to a position to support the 33rd Battalion who were attacking on the North side of Bois de Hangard and Lancers Wood. The men moved in Artillery Formation with the C.O. Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN, leading on his favorite grey horse. Everyone was subjected to heavy Shell Fire from the enemy, who were also shelling Hangard Wood with his Heavies. Here a number of English and Scottish Troops were met. "A" Company was sent forward to report to the 33rd Battalion. The O.C. Captain: Telford Graham GILDER reconnoitered and found that "B" Company of the Battalion had suffered casualties and that the enemy was still holding the ridge, and it was decided to attack the enemy's position. At 8:00 pm "A" Company moved in two waves and then having formed one wave the whole Company attacked the ridge, driving the enemy out of what was apparently his Picquet Line.
The advance continued and the enemy was driven out of his continuous Line at the point of the bayonet. At this point several prisoners were taken and about 60 of the enemy killed or wounded. Several of our wounded had to be left, as the demand on the Stretcher Bearers had been heavy, but were brought in later during the night. Enemy Machine Gun Fire was heavy on the left and caused the death of 2nd Lieutenant: 1973 Rueben PARKES. This system was held for about two hours. In the meantime Patrols were sent out on the right flank to establish communications the the 33rd Battalion. These encountered heavy fire from the enemy Posts behind our Line on this flank. Touch was eventually being made, it was decided to move back about 250 yards and dig in to conform to the Line held by the 33rd Battalion thus filling the gap of about 600 yards. At 1:30 am the enemy appeared on the skyline advancing in extended order. This apparent Counter Attack was completely broken up by our Machine Gun Fire. "B" Company had also occupied position in the Line but had no actual fighting. At 3:00 am these were relieved by a SURREY REGIMENT.
On 31st March the men rested in Cachy until the enemy Shelling caused casualties and the Battalion moved out and occupied a position in Bois d'Abbe, in readiness as counter attack Troops. Whilst here Orders were received to dig a succession of Posts East of the Wood. The enemy was now shelling the whole area very heavily and even the Food had to be served under Shell Fire. At 3:00 pm on 2nd April Orders were received to stand to for a Counter attack from Dormart to Hangard Wood, but the Cavalry having cleaned up the situation, the attack was cancelled. Rain was falling and, with the continuous Shelling, conditions were most uncomfortable.
At 10:30 am 4th April the Battalion moved forward to a position of readiness to defend Villers-Bretonneux on the North. Moving off again in Artillery Formation, "A" Company on the right, "B" Company on the left, "C" Company in Support and "D" Company in Reserve. The enemy was shelling the Railway line and the Main Villers-Bretonneux Armiens Road. to avoid this the Battalion worked around the low ground and took up position behind terraces. At 1:10 pm the locality was heavily shelled, during which Lieutenant Colonel. Ernest Edward MARTIN., the Adjutant, Lieutenant: Augustus Gibson FARLEIGH. and Major: Harry Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER, also several Runners and Signalers, became casualties.
The bombardment continued for over an hour, during which time the men suffered heavily. The Regimental Aid Post was also heavily shelled and many of the casualties, being Stretcher Cases, could not be moved. Captain: Charles Eric WATSON. Medical Officer, and his Staff performed gallant work in attending to the wounded under extreme difficulty, thereby saving many dangerously wounded cases. At 3:00 pm Major: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. took command of the Battalion. A request was received from the 12th and 17th Lancers to supply Troops to stiffen up the Line in the vicinity. This could not be acceded to, as our role was counter attack. At 4:30 pm an Order was received from Brigade to withdraw to high ground in rear of the village, which gave a good field of Fire North and North West of Villers Brettonneux. Whilst moving to this position, a second Order was received to withdraw to the village, South of the Railway Line. At 5:10 pm instruction was received to establish a Line connecting 33rd Battalion on our left and the Cavalry on our right. This was completed by 9:00 pm.
The enemy had established a Line on high ground West of the Railway Bridge with strong Machine Gun Posts, from which he could enfilade our Line North of the Railway and also command the approaches to the village. The position had to be cleared up and the Battalion was detailed to do so, by attacking and capturing the Railway Bridge and consolidating a new Line 250 yards in front. Zero was at 1:00 am on the 5th April and the operation was entirely successful. "D" Company experienced very little opposition until the Bridge was reached, when the enemy endeavored to outflank our right. However this Party was dealt with and the Bridge was taken. "C" Company experienced strong opposition along the Railway Line, but succeeded in mopping up the enemy. In the advance the Lewis Gunners fired from their hips and the rapid Fire seemed to completely demoralize the enemy. 12 Machine Guns, 1 Officer and 22 Other Ranks were captured. The Line was consolidated and the rest of the night passed quietly, the 33rd, 35th and 36th Battalion moving their Line forward to conform with ours. During the afternoon the enemy put over a heavy Barrage of "Wiz Bangs" and 5.9's. The Trenches which had been dug during the night were narrow and placed in Platoon Posts, were difficult to hit and only a few casualties resulted. The ground was extremely flat and it was impossible to have any communication with the front Line during daylight.
Whist here the Battalion was congratulated on its grand work in the attack on 4th April, by Major Gerenal: Sir John MONASH and Brigadier General: Charles ROSENTHAL. In addition to those already mentioned the following Officers, who were either gassed or wounded, were evacuated during April. Lieutenants:- Lieutenant: 4 Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY Lieutenant: 777 George Edward HODGES Lieutenant: Thomas BELLAMY. Lieutenant: Edgar Ernest BRUNKER. Lieutenant: Percy Warrick BEAUCHAMP Lieutenant: Francis Henry Samuel LEE and Lieutenant: 1514 Frank William GIFFORD.
On the night 5th/6th April the Battalion was relieved by the 17th Battalion and marched to Bois d'Aquenne and dug in the side of a ridge for cover, the night being very cold and wet. The morning of 6th April was bright and clear and there was great activity in the air. Fights were frequent, with as many as 30 Planes on each side fighting it out. The Transport coming up with the rations was getting a particularly warm time from the heavy shelling. Whilst here dry socks and underclothing were obtained for the men from Villers Brettonneux. Despite the bad weather and heavy fighting during the last 12 days, the men were in fine fettle and their moral was excellent. On the 7th April the men moved into Villers Brettonneux and billeted in cellars in the vicinity of the Cross Roads.
The enemy continued to shell the town during the afternoon and night and rain again began to fall. About noon on 8th April the enemy put over an exceptionally heavy Barrage, but the men being housed in cellars, very little damage was done. On the night of the 9th April the Battalion relieved the 19th battalion in the Front Line, in the vicinity of Bois d'Hangard. The enemy had Strong Posts out in front, which was protected by barb wire in the stubble. The ground in front was absolutely flat, giving a good Field of Fire. During the next day our area, as well as Cachy and Hangard Villages, was heavily shelled. The following three days, except for some Machine gun Fire, were normally quiet. On 13th April, being relieved by the 17th Battalion, the Battalion moved to Support in Bois de Hangard and bivouacked there until 15th April, when it relieved the 10th London Regiment in Reserve in Bois d'Abbe.
On the 17th April about 600 rounds of Gas Shells came over the Sector, but although things were most unpleasant, no great damage was done. On the 18th another 1,000 Gas Shells Fell. This time there were some casualties, whilst nearly all the them were more or less affected. Whilst here the improvements of the defenses were continued by the digging of trenches and wiring. On 20th April the Battalion was relieved at 2:00 pm and marched to Billets in Franvillers and settled down fairly comfortably. This gave the men a much needed rest and the opportunity to clean up equipment and clothing. The enemy sent over a few Long Range Shells during the day and night. On 24th April a heavy Bombardment and Attack by the enemy on Villers Bretonneux took place and the Battalion was ordered to stand to in readiness to move at a moment's notice. However nothing eventuated. Working Parties were supplied for the improvements of Heilly Defenses.
On 30th April the 36th Battalion AIF was disbanded and 2 Platoons were attached to our Battalion.
36th Battalion's last Parade before being disbanded. 30th April 1918.
Whist here the Battalion was congratulated on its grand work in the attack on 4th April, by Major General: Sir John MONASH and Brigadier General: Charles ROSENTHAL. In addition to those already mentioned the following Officers, who were either gassed or wounded, were evacuated during April. Lieutenants:- Lieutenant: 4 Thomas Clifton PITTAWAY Lieutenant: 777 George Edward HODGES Lieutenant: Thomas BELLAMY. Lieutenant: Edgar Ernest BRUNKER. Lieutenant: 377 Percy Warwick BEAUCHAMP Lieutenant: Francis Henry Samuel LEE and Lieutenant: G CLIFFORD.
On 1st May the Battalion relieved the 41st Battalion in the Front Line, North of Sailly Le Sec, in front of Morlancourt. "D" Company in the Picquet Line. "B" and "C" Companies in the Main Line and "A" Company in Reserve. During the night of the 4th, the Picquet Line was advanced about 500 yards and eight Posts were dug. Brigadier General: Charles ROSENTHAL and Lieutenant Colonel. Harold Fletcher WHITE, who had come forward to inspect the operation, encountered an enemy Ration Party of 6, whom they captured after wounding two of them. The nights were very dark and our Ration Parties had great difficulty in locating the isolated Posts.
On 5th May "D" Company plus 2 Platoons of "A" Company and "B" Company plus 2 Platoons of "A" Company in conjunction with the 35th Battalion again advanced the Picquet Line, capturing about 100 Prisoners and Machine Guns. The success of the operation was greatly assisted by the bravery of the signal Officer, Lieutenant. 932 Hector Reginald McLEOD, who after members of his Signal Staff had become casualties, in over 1,000 yards of line repaired 62 breaks. At 9:00 pm on 6th May "C" Company moved forward to occupy a new line of Posts. Owing to the darkness touch was lost between Platoons and No: 9 and 10 were unable to advance due to wire obstacles and enemy Strong Posts. No: 11 Platoon came into contact with a cluster of Strong Points and suffered a number of casualties without being able to eject the enemy from their position.
The Platoon Commander, Lieutenant: 1790 Stanley Harold HUBBARD. collected his men and moved in a North Easterly direction and on reaching the Bray-Corbie Road, made contact with "B" Company, at 1:30 am. As there were no Trenches and the men were only occupying pot holes, he placed his Platoon in drainage holes beside the road, in order to cover "B" Company's flank with Lewis Guns. At 2:00 pm on 7th May this platoon and one from "B" Company under Lieutenant: Sydney Rodgers NICKLIN attacked the enemy Pot Hole Line extending 150 yards South of the road. Captain: Norman Sydney CAIRNS ably assisted from his position on the road with Lewis guns and Rifle Grenades fired by Lieutenant: Harold Wydham LILJA on anything holding up the advance. A Stokes Mortar Barrage helped clear the enemy from his position, with the result that the operation was entirely successful.
At 11:00 pm on the same day, "C" Company with 2 Platoons of "A" Company on the right and "D" Company with 2 Platoons of "A" Company on the left were to be the first wave in an attack on the enemy position which had been the objective on the previous night. The second wave was "C" Company of the 33rd Battalion. The 2 Platoons of "A" Company which were to assist "C" Company got lost in the dark and did not arrive. "D" Company reached their objective, but Captain: Edmund BEAVER. finding his right flank exposed and not being able to gain touch with "C" Company, dropped his right flank back to the existing Picquet Line. "C" Company having reached their objective, but finding their flanks exposed, Captain: Harold Henry McMINN. decided to drop back, but in doing so, owing to the intense darkness, lost direction and the Company found themselves behind the enemy line. At dawn, realizing it was useless to attempt to force their way back, they surrendered. Lieutenant: Russell Stanley BROWN was mortally wounded during the the advance, whilst Lieutenant: 64 Alfred James FELL. and Lieutenant: Laurence Sylvester McMAHON were also taken prisoner.
At 11:00 pm On the 8th May the "B" Teams relieved "D" and "A" Companies in the Picquet Line. Lieutenant Colonel: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY was evacuated to hospital with gas burns and Lieutenant Colonel: Harold Fletcher WHITE took over command. On 9th May the weather was fine and clear, with the enemy's Snipers fairly active along the Front. Our Snipers, however, were getting in some good work also. During the night of the 10th Listening Posts were pushed forward to cover the relief of the Battalion by the 17th Battalion AIF. The men marched to a terrace in Lahoussoye, where they bivouaced for the night, after having a hot meal which was more than acceptable after the very strenuous time in the Line. The next the Battalion marched to Rivery near Amiens, and went into Billets at Ecole Commudle. On the 13th May, Major: Francis George GRANT took over as Commander of the Battalion, and on the 14th General: William Riddell BIRDWOOD paid a visit during which he talked to the men and complimented the Transport on their smart appearance.
A most enjoyable time was spent in their Billets, which were ideal for a rest, in glorious hot and dry weather. Parades were held in the mornings, whilst the afternoons were devoted to various kinds of sport, boating, fishing and swimming. In the evening concerts were given by the "Cooees". A Swimming carnival was held at the Armiens Baths and altogether a most enjoyable time was spent by all. On 20th May Brigadier General: Charles ROSENTHAL, who was to become G.O.C. 2nd Division, attended a Brigade Parade and in addressing the men handed over command of the Brigade to Lieutenant Colonel: Henry Arthur GODDARD
Leaving Rivery on 21st May the Battalion marched to terraces at Villers-Bretonneux, where the 48th Battalion AIF was relieved, in a Reserve position. Next day the enemy shelled the position heavily, especially around Battalion Headquarters, but little damage was done. The weather continued to be fine and warm. The following day two French 6-inch Guns took up position below our Cookers to carry out a special shoot on two Bridges opposite the French Sector. They moved out at 6:00 pm on 25th and within an hour the enemy replied with 5.9's, 4.2's and Gas Shells. During the bombardment Lieutenant. Jeffrey MONFRIES and Lieutenant: 811 Thomas Norman LEARMONT were badly wounded.
On 27th about 1,500 rounds of Gas Shells were sent over by the enemy, which drenched the whole area with Gas which remained strong for 12 hours, owing to the lack of wind. The next day the enemy Planes showed remarkable activity over our Lines. and were apparently screening some operation behind their own Lines. They attempted to stop out Planes going over there Lines, but without success. On 29th May the Battalion relieved the 35th Battalion in Support, and almost immediately came under heavy Shell Fire, resulting in the death of Lieutenant: 509 Peter McFARLANE and a number of other casualties. The weather continued fine and warm and our Working Parties, which were repairing Trenches, were at times badly shot up. On 31st Lieutenant: 373 Albert DOWDING who was in charge of one of these Parties, was mortally wounded (4) as was his Sergeant T/Sergeant: 178 Frederick SETH who later had his Left Leg Amputated.
(1) On 1st June the enemy continued to drench our position with Gas Shells, when from 2.00 am to 4.15 am 6,000 rounds fell in the area. The following morning from 3.30 am to 4.30 am another 5,000 rounds fell in the same area, making nearly all the dugouts untenable owing to the Gas vapor. At 1.45 pm the enemy put over a number of Heavy Shells which wounded two American Soldiers who were attached to us for experience, and also Lieutenant: 377 Thomas Henry BRITTON who later died of his wounds. For the next two or three days heavy Shelling conditions continued, with Black Shrapnel bursting high in the air, but doing very little damage.
On 7th June the 35th Battalion was relieved in the Front Line. The first few days were fairly quiet, but heavy Shelling on the back area was continuous. Our Transport coming up from Blangy Tronville had some exciting times under Shell Fire. At 2.30 am on 8th June in the intense darkness, one of our Patrols encountered a Patrol of the 14th Battalion A.I.F., who were on the left of our Sector. Rifles an Bombs were used, resulting in two of the 14th Battalion and one of our own being wounded. The enemy continued to heavily shell the gully behind our Support Line but did no material damage, although the Cookers in the sunken road has several narrow escapes.
At 1.00 am on 14th June a minor operation was carried out by Sergeant: 784 Percy Clifton MUDFORD D.C.M. M.M. The stokes Mortars put over a heavy Barrage of 300 rounds, and at a given signal switched to the flank. The Party entered the Trench, killing one and taking two prisoners. The raid only occupied seven minutes, the only casualty, unfortunately, being Corporal: 2078 Arthur HARPER, killed. "Harper was not killed only wounded" The enemy Trenches were found to be in good condition, about 6 feet deep, with a series of Posts joined by tunnels which served as Dugouts. There was no wire in front of the Trenches.
On the 17th June the Battalion being relieved by the 33rd Battalion, took over from the 35th Battalion in Reserve. Black Shrapnel was now coming over fairly frequently, but bursting high in the air did practically no damage. However a few Shells did burst low, causing one or two casualties, the first of this kind in the area. On 23rd June Lieutenant Colonel. Ernest Edward MARTIN joined the Battalion and took over command from Major: Francis George GRANT who remained as 2nd in command. Air fights were now frequent over the Lines with sometimes two Planes coming down in flames at the same time.
On the 27th Lieutenant: Frank Dixon THOMAS was evacuated wounded. Being relieved on 28th June by the 20th Battalion A.I.F., the Battalion was conveyed by motor lorry to the Rivery Area and settled in billets which were terraced banks, covered with shelters. The weather was fine and warm. The men were kept busy cleaning up equipment and clothing, whilst swimming and Sports were carried out, as well as boating and fishing. A Picquet of 2 Officers and 50 Other Ranks were supplied daily for duty in Amiens.
On 1st July 1918 Lieutenant Colonel. Ernest Edward MARTIN. D.S.O. the Commanding Officer addressed the Battalion on its work during its sojourn in France and oresented Parchments, with the 4th Army Commander's compliments and congratulation to the recipients of Decorations. Captain: Charles Eric WATSON. M.C. and Lieutenant: 21 James BRUCE. D.C.M. M.C.
The Green Diamond Concert Party gave concerts daily in the Hospital Street Victor River. Cricket Matches, Swimming Carnival and Transport Competition were held and the Troops generally were having a good time. Tactical Training Schemes were practiced. Lewis Gun instruction was carried out at the Citadel, Amienes, and practice attack with Tanks was held.
The Green Diamond Concert Party (aka 5th Australian Infantry Brigade Concert Party - Green Diamonds program 1917-1919. With its line-up including professional vaudevillian Bruce Drysdale (previously with Stanley McKay) and female impersonator "Tiki" Carpenter, the Green Diamonds presented a variety entertainment of songs, dances, comedy routines and farces in France around the end of the war. The concert party was formed from within the 5th Brigade, which itself comprised the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th infantry Battalions)
Whilst here a redistribution of Headquarters and Company Officer's took place:-
|2nd in Command||Major: Francis George GRANT.|
|Adjudgent||Captain: Henry Thomas HICKS.|
|Signal Officer||Lieutenant. 932 Hector Reginald McLEOD.|
|Scout Officer||Lieutenant: 561 Stanley Arthur SMITH|
|Lewis Gun Officer||Lieutenant: James SNEDDEN.|
|Intelligence Officer||Lieutenant:917 Thomas WILLIAMS.|
|Transport Officer||Lieutenant: Eric Charles EDWARDS.|
|Quarter Master||Captain: James Egbert Arthur FLORANCE.|
|Regimental Sergeant Major||Warrant Officer I: 43 John James CROSS.|
|Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant||H.H. BEVAN|
|Transport Sergeant||Temporary Sergeant: 1912a Robert FOX.|
|Officer Commanding||Captain: Telford Graham GILDER.|
|2nd in Command||Lieutenant: William Henry SALVATORI.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 9152 Alexander John GRUNSELL.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 225 Thomas Brown NORMAN.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 11334 Leslie John Bentley HARTSHORN.|
|Officer Commanding||Captain: Norman Sydney CAIRNS.|
|2nd in Command||Captain: Alexander Warren MACDONALD.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: Sydney Rodgers NICKLIN.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 1410 Oliver Provan DAVIDSON.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 12391 John Murray ROHAN.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: J.R. STAHLE.|
|Officer Commanding||Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY.|
|2nd in Command||Lieutenant: 1514 Frank William GIFFORD.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 21 James BRUCE.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 1790 Stanley Harold HUBBARD.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: 7245 Frank Furneaux HEBBARD.|
|Officer Commanding||Captain: Edmund BEAVER.|
|2nd in Command||Captain: Henry Cecil Llewellyn BENNETT.|
|Lieutenant||Harry Hurlston RICHARDSON.|
|Lieutenant||Lieutenant: R.C. BLANCH.|
|Lieutenant||2nd Lieutenant: 2036 Vere "Vic" Cumming STEVENSON.|
Rain commenced to fall when the Battalion moved out on 9th July 1918 to Querrieu, where the Companies settled down in settled down in shelters and dugouts on the north side of the village, whilst Battalion Headquarters were in the village. On 11th July 1918 Advance Parties left by motor lorry for Vaux and marched into the Trenches at Sailly Le Sec. The following day the Battalion marched to La Neuville and after resting until dark marched to sailly Le Sec and relieved the 46th Battalion. Out Front Line consisted of 14 Posts, which were manned by "B" and "D" Companies. "C" Company was in Support and "A" in Reserve. No Man's Land was thoroughly patrolled during the night, whilst enemy Machine Gun Fire was most active from a series of Strong Posts which he was holding. This resulted in the death of 2nd Lieutenant: 2036 Vere "Vic" Cumming STEVENSON and several Other Ranks. The enemy was Continually shelling Sally Le Sec and the Back Areas, which gave the Ration Carriers a very rough time.
On the 14th the Battalion "B" Team was cancelled and all the men were utilized in the Line, including the Bandsmen. Major: Harry Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER. rejoined the Battalion whist here. The Front Line Posts were gradually being connected and dugouts built, but the ground having a bed of chalk and stone, the digging was very strenuous. On the 17th the enemy shelling increased, causing several casualties, including Lieutenant: 21 James BRUCE, killed in action and Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY wounded. On the 18th July a Patrol of 1 Officer and 3 men encountered a Party of 12 of the enemy who were establishing a Machine gun Post in No Man's Land, which was immediately bombed by our men and retired on the run. At 2:30 am the following morning Lieutenant: 561 Stanley Arthur SMITH, Scout Officer, and 15 Other Ranks raided two enemy Posts which had been occupied the previous night. However both these Posts were found to be unoccupied.
Aerial activity was general over this sector. An enemy Plane was driven down and the Pilot was seen to descend by parachute and land safely. On the 20 July the Battalion was relieved by the 33rd Battalion and marched to the reserve Area at Vaire sous Corbie. Whilst here Working Parties were supplied for the digging of new Communication Trenches in the Forward Area and the men also had the opportunity of obtaining baths. On the 24th the 35th Battalion was relieved in this Sector North of Hamel, with "A" and "C" Companies in the Front Line, "D" in Support and "B" in Reserve. Shell were falling fairly heavily on our Support Lines and Cookers, whilst the Ration Carriers were continually being strafed. One of our Planes at night dropped six Bombs on our Sector, apparently by mistake, but no damage resulted.
On the 27th July Lieutenant: William Henry SALVATORI. walked out into No Man's Land and did not return. Search Parties failed to find him and he was recorded "Missing", apparently a Prisoner of War. On the night of 29th July Lieutenant:561 Stanley Arthur SMITH with a Patrol attacked and enemy Strong Post and after a fight with bombs and Rifle Fire, captured one wounded prisoner. The following day the enemy Artillery was quiet during the day but at 9:30 pm opened up a severe Bombardment on the Front and Support Lines. On the 31st of July having been relieved by the 42nd Battalion, the men marched to bivouac at Daours. The weather was wet and the ground muddy. The day was spent in reorganizing the Battalion and visiting the Baths.
THE "GREAT PUSH" OF AUGUST
1918. The Battalion moved on 2nd August to La Neuville, where Lieutenant Colonel. Ernest Edward MARTIN., Major: Francis George GRANT., and Lieutenant: Arthur Francis COOLAHAN. Adjutant, attended a Brigade Conference. Later the Company Commanders attended a conference on the coming Operation. The next few days were spent in reconnaissance, preparation of Maps and Conferences to the Attack on 8th August. On 6th full details of the operation were received, indicating the Battalion's role as follows:- "C" and "A" Companies to be in support of the 33rd Battalion. "D" and "B" in support to the 35th Battalion. In the event of serious opposition occurring from Accroche Wood, "C" and "D" Companies to move around the North and South fringe of the Wood and then mop up from the Eastern side. On arrival at 1st Objective (Green Line) the Battalion to reorganize a Support Line.
Operations 8-12 August 1918.That evening a farewell dinner was given to the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN. D.S.O. who was leaving the Battalion to return to Australia. The Company and Platoon Commanders, having made a reconnaissance of the ground to attack in the Accroche Wood Sector and also the route of the Approach March, fully explained the operation to every member of the Battalion, who were in wonderful spirit and confident of success.
Commanding Officer of the 34th Battalion. Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN. D.S.O.
Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN. visited all the Companies and addressed the men, wishing them farewell and success and handing over command to Major: Francis George GRANT. The Colonel felt the parting from his men, as there was a genuine attachment between them and him, more especially as having passed through trying times with them, he was now leaving when they appeared to be entering the final sphere of operations.
On the 7th August 1918 the weather cleared and a strong wind dried the ground considerably, much to the relief of all. That night after the men had been given a special hot meal, the Battalion commenced the march to the Assembly Point, at 10:20 pm. "A" and "B" Companies taking "A" Track, "C" and "D" Taking "C" Track. The assembly Point was reached and the Battalion was in position by 3:20 am without suffering any casualties. at about 4:00 am on 8th August a dense for arose, which made it impossible to see more than a few yards ahead.
When the barrage opened at 4:20 am the men went to the assault with great dash, notwithstanding the great difficulty in keeping direction in the fog and smoke. The tanks, which were to assist in the attack also had great difficulty in finding their way in the fog. Very little resistance was offered by the enemy, even in Accroche Wood, and a large number of prisoners were captured. The objective was reached with very light casualties and at 8:20 am the 12th Brigade passed through to commence the second stage of the operation. By 10:15 am the Battalion was on its Objective Line and consolidation was being completed. The cookers were brought up and a hot meal was provided at midday. The total number of prisoners taken by the Battalion was 7 Officers and 200 Other Ranks. In addition to 21 Machine Guns and large quantities of stores, many valuable documents were captured.
As the enemy shelled the position, after the meal, the men moved down to old dugouts and shelters in the gully. The next day was spent repairing roads and collecting large quantities of material. Enemy Planes were bombing very heavily but only one casualty resulted. The morning of 10th August broke fine and clear and advance parties were sent to the area held by the 46th Battalion, which was relieved by the Battalion that night, amidst a rain of bombs but without casualties.
At 3:30 am on 11th August the Battalion was to attack and capture Proyart. This operation was dependent upon the success of a silent operation by the 10th Brigade, timed to commence some hours earlier. At 4:15 am word was received from Brigade cancelling the operation, owing to the failure of the 10th Brigade attack. Fortunately, our Companies had not become involved and were recalled to their former positions. Enemy Planes continued their heavy bombing during the night, wounding Lieutenant: Stanley Herbert DELVES. and several Other Ranks.
On the 12th of August the Battalion was relieved by the 12th Manchester Regiment and was marched to Vaire sous Corbie. The enemy was busy dropping bombs but the march was accomplished without loss. The weather was fine and hot and the men spent the time resting and swimming in the River Somme. On the 14th, information was received that the Battalion would move to the Wiencourt area on the following day and advance parties proceeded to that area. However, Orders were received later cancelling the move. As the enemy planes were now heavily bombing the village, the men were moved out into the fields where shelters were provided.
On the 16th August the 49th Battalion in the Liason Force was relieved on the north of the River Somme. There were numbers of enemy dead still on the Bray-Corbie Road. The march was carried out under heavy shelling and there were some casualties. A London Regiment was on our left and the 131st U.S.A. Regiment on our right. On the 17th the Line was advanced during the night, resulting in Lieutenant: 10480 Robert WIGHT. and 7 Other Ranks being wounded. On 19th the enemy kept up a harassing shell fire most of the day, and that night the Scouts carried out a small raid. Identification was required for Brigade information and Lieutenant: 561 Stanley Arthur SMITH and his men captured a Machine Gun, compass and rifle and brought back the required information.
During the heavy bombardment Captain: Edmund BEAVER. was wounded but remained on duty. On 20th our fighting patrols were very busy over the whole area. The enemy machine gun fire and shelling however, was very severe. Our casualties were Lieutenant: 927 Vincent Charles CALLEN. M.M. and 20 Other Ranks killed in action, and Lieutenant: 7 George BARCLAY. and 14 Other Ranks wounded. On 22nd August the Battalion less one Company "B" became Brigade Reserve to the 35th and 33rd Battalions plus our "B" Company who were to advance the Line. The enemy now commenced to shell our area with guns of every calibre, Battalion Headquarters and the Regimental Aid Post getting their full share as well as the Transport bringing up the ammunition.
At 7:10 pm the Battalion was orders to move forward, as the Imperial Troops were reported to be retiring on the left flank, under pressure of an enemy counter attack. The 33rd Battalion which was holding the Front Line, sent back for further assistance and "C" Company was sent up, the other two Companies remaining in support. In the meantime Captain: Norman Sydney CAIRNS., O.C. "B" Company, who had been doing good work by organising a number of the Imperial Troops and reinforcing the left flank, repulsed the counter attack, inflicting very heavy losses on the enemy. Later "C" and "D" Companies made a contact with "B" Company.
The position at this point was obscure and the men were badly in need of a meal after their strenuous work. At midnight the Ration Limbers arrived at Battalion Headquarters with a hot meal which was sent forward to where the men were holding the line. With Sergeant: 841 William Samuel MUDFORD. acting as guide, this was delivered, in spite of heavy shell and machine gun fire, to the men, who had a hot meal whilst actually holding the enemy at bay. The Limbers had a rough trip going back to their quarters through a heavy barrage directed on the road. Later all objectives were gained and the Companies linked up and formed a Front Line. In the operation 2 Officers and 40 Other Ranks of the enemy were taken prisoner. These were used as stretcher bearers to assist our own in their heavy work.
Being relieved on the 23rd August by the 39th Battalion, the Companies marched out independently to a reserve position in the vicinity of Sailly le Sac. A hot meal was waiting for the men on arrival, who rested the next day. Next day Orders were received to move forward the following day at short notice. Two days were spent standing by awaiting the movement Order. On 27th August the 44th Battalion was relieved in the vicinity of Vaux Wood, where the men were subjected to heavy shell fire and an intense machine gun barrage from the enemy. The 28th opened with drizzling rain, but it cleared later on. Orders were received to move through the 35th Battalion who were attacking at Curlu. These however were later countermanded, as the Imperial Troops on the left were failing to keep up with the advance.
On 29th August the Battalion relieved the 35th Battalion in the Front Line and at 5:00 am pushed out strong Patrols to gain contact with the enemy, from whom slight opposition was met. The 10th London Regiment was still lagging behind in the attack and a defensive left flank had to be established. The Australian Light Horse having reconnoited the position during the afternoon, another advance was made at 4:00 pm under a light barrage, with slight casualties. This operation resulted in an advance on a front of 1500 yards to a depth of 5000 yards. Again the London Regiment failed to keep up with the advance and defensive flanks had to be established in order to cover the gap. About 30 or 40 of the enemy were killed and 75 prisoners and machine guns captured. At 10:00 pm instructions were received to again attack the enemy position, two objectives being give.
The attack was made before dawn, without a barrage. The first objective was reached with few casualties, in spite of heavy machine gun fire. The advance was continued but owing to the intensity of machine gun fire and the fact that the troops on either flank were held up, it was not possible to completely take the objective. The Battalion consolidated its position and on the left flank, owing to the extremely gallant conduct of Lieutenant: 9152 Alexander John GRUNSELL. M.M who was later killed in action, a strong point was established which played havoc with the enemy in Marriere Wood. At 7:00 am a request was made for a barrage to assist in the complete capture of the position, but it was decided to postpone the operation until the following morning.
The troops subjected to intense machine gun fire and severe shelling throughout the day and during the afternoon, about 50 rounds from our own 4.5 Howitzers fell 1500 yards behind our own Front Line. The enemy troops holding this portion of their Line were from their Second Guards Division and the intensity of machine gun fire may be gauged from the fact that the 33rd Battalion renewed the attack the next morning 100 machine guns were captured on that Sector. During the operation, which gained 1500 yards on a 100 yard frontage, Captain: Alexander Warren MACDONALD. Lieutenant: 9152 Alexander John GRUNSELL. and 15 Other Ranks killed in action whilst Captain: Edmund BEAVER. Lieutenant: 11334 Leslie John Bentley HARTSHORN. and 45 Other Ranks were wounded.
On 31st August the 33rd Battalion having passed through to the attack, our Battalion was relieved by the 11th Brigade. From 1st to 5th September the men spent resting and going to the baths, and also to a Concert at Suzanne, in spite of active bombing by enemy planes. Whilst here the Battalion was standing by awaiting orders for a further move forward. Heavy rain set in on the 8th and continued until the 10th.
Brigadier General: Henry Arthur GODDARD.
Brigadier General: Henry Arthur GODDARD. inspected the Transport on this day and during the evening the "Blue Gum" Party gave a concert.
On 12th September the Battalion moved up to a position north-west of Halle, where the men were given their packs and blankets and made comfortable. The men were kept busy improving Dugouts, cleaning equipment, training and holding bath parades at Peronne. Enemy planes were very active during the night dropping bombs. On one occasion two were brought down in flames by one of our fighters.
On 15th September the Prime Minister of Australia Mr William M HUGHES, attended a Church Parade and gave a short address. Late in the evening of 17th a heavy thunderstorm broke over our area, accompanied by strong winds, which un roofed some of the Dugouts and wrecked the Cookhouse shelters. On 18th the men attended a performance by the 1st Division "Sentimental Blokes", which was highly appreciated by all. During this period a cricked and football match were played near Mt St. Quentin and also against to 33rd near Peronne. On 21st a Battalion Sports Programme was carried out and the men generally were having a good time. On 27th the Battalion paraded in Battle Order and the men were informed of the coming operation, after which they moved to Capron Corpse and bivouac ed for the night.
During the march bombs were frequently dropped along the line, the Transport and Quarter Master's Store receiving special attention at the rear of the column. Whilst proceeding up the gully in the Copse, planes came over flying low and dropping parachute lights over the moving column, enabling them to drop their bombs and use machine guns freely. The following day the Battalion moved across to Ronssoy Road, where it rested and received orders to move the next day. On the morning of 29th September a move was made to Z Copse, where the Transport and Quarter Master's Stores remained. The Battalion moved forward to follow in support of the American Battalions which were to make their first stage of attack on the Hindenburg Line.
After the capture of this by them, our Battalion was to leap frog through them to the Le Catelet Line. Th Americans got through the the opposition after a hard fight but failed to mop up the area, with the result that our Battalion, following in support, came under very severe machine gun fire in the vicinity of Gillemont Farm, where there were a number of casualties, including the C.O. Lieutenant Colonel: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. Major: Francis George GRANT. then assumed command. The Battalion pushed forward and occupied a position on the knoll just behind and to the left of Bony, where the whole situation remained very obscure.
During the advance rain fell very heavily making the going extremely difficult. Our casualties were 27, including Lieutenant: 1422 James SNEDDEN. who was wounded.
On 30th September the Battalion moved to Potts Lane and Duncan /avenue to carry out operations in rear of the 11th Brigade which moved forward at 6:00 am. Headquarters were at Cat Post. Lieutenant: Sydney Rodgers NICKLIN. with "B" company joined the 42nd Battalion to assist mopping up in the vicinity of Bony Avenue. This being completed "B" Company remained at Stave Trench. Owing to the rain and intense darkness, difficulty was experienced in getting the rations forward during the advance. They were taken up by pack mules over shell-torn ground with wire lying in all directions, making the track circuitous. The men, however were given hot meals in the trenches and shell holes which they were holding.
THE "END of HOSTILITIES"
On 1st October the weather cleared and the Battalion moved into reserve at Benjamin Post, with the exception of "B" Company, which was still patrolling Bony Avenue and stave Trench. During the day a number of H.E. and gas shells came over, but only one casualty resulted. On 2nd the Battalion moved back to Capron Copse, where it was rejoined by "B" Company and bivouac-ed for the night. The next day the men marched back to Cat Copse and bivouac-ed for two days, where the c.O. held an Inspection.
at 1:30 pm on the 5th the Battalion moved out by light railway and arrived at Peronne at 6:00 pm, where hot coco and biscuits were served out to the troops by the Y.M.C.A. When leaving Cat Copse four men were wounded by an explosion of cartridges in a fire around which they were standing on the road. At 10:00 pm the same evening the troops en trained for Armiens and arrived there at 6:00 am on 6th October. Having de trained they marched to billets in Frucourt. The Transport and Quarter Master's Store came by road. The village and billets were comfortable compared with the conditions of recent months.
Whilst here training was carried out in the morning and sports were held during the afternoon. Lectures on all subjects in connection with the A.I.F. Education Scheme were given. Schools were opened up where men could experience which would help them in various trades, and occupations on return to civil life. Many went to Farm Schools in the Divisional Area. Organised sports with Companies, Battalions and Brigades were carried out. Debating classes were held and some pleasant and interesting evening events.
Soon after settling down, Brigadier General: Henry Arthur GODDARD. inspected the billets and complimented the Transport on their smart appearance. A Battalion Parade was held and the Brigadier spoke of the past eight months' operations on the Somme and of the gallant part the 9th Brigade had played. He urged the men to guard their good name whilst they remained overseas and take it back to Australia. The weather for the first two weeks was stormy, with the usual amount of mud in evidence, but everything was done for the comfort of the men. Picture shows were provided and concerts were given by Battalion and visiting concert parties, which were greatly appreciated.
Church Parades were held by Padre Captain: Chaplain 3rd Class: John CALDER. Whilst here Lieutenant Colonel. Arthur Raft WOOLCOCK. D.S.O. of the 11th Brigade, assumed command of the Battalion. In the course of his remarks during an address to the Officers of the Battalion, he said that in donning the Colours of the 34th Battalion he intended also to absorb the spirit of the Battalion and to continually study the welfare and comfort of the men, which he eventually did in no uncertain manner.
Lieutenant Colonel: Arthur Raft WOOLCOCK. D.S.O. Commanding Officer 34th Battalion AIF.
On the 11th November 1918, news was received that Armistice terms had been signed. However, there was very little demonstration on receipt of the news as the men could hardly relies that the War was for at least some time, actually over.
We could now tell by the news in the papers that the war was practically over although we (The Third Division) was told to hold ourselves in readiness to proceed to the line again, the 1st, 4th, and 5th Australian Divisions being already on their way back to the line. On Monday 11th November 1918 (the day the Armistice was signed) we marched to Alleray for a hot steam bath and on passing through Airaines found all the houses decorated with tricolours and the church bells pealing and the Frenchies running about like madmen. We wondered what was wrong and halted in the main street for a rest. The Captain then told us (he had interviewed the Mayor who had received a telegram saying that the Armistice was to be signed) that the Armistice was to be signed at 11 a.m. that morning it was then about 10 a.m. We gave three cheers and could scarcely realize that the war was over. When we arrived back at Warlus the news had already reached there and the town was decorated &c. Next day we had a holiday from drill to celebrate Peace. The bells of the old French church chimed day and night for several days. Most of us attended the Victory Mass at the Roman Catholic Church and we also had a great Thanksgiving service out on the parade ground. Some of the men broke camp and went to the neighboring cities and some got as far as Paris. Many were "pinched" and put in clink (gaol) as they had no leave passes, others were caught and sent back to the Battalion.
On 9th December the Battalion marched out of Frucourt to billets at Buigney, which were not very satisfactory and neither was the weather. After a week here a new Billeting Area was found at Miannay and the Battalion moved into this town on 17th December, where the men made themselves quieter at home; some enjoying the luxury and comfortable beds. The local people were very friendly, which contributed to a very merry time being spent on the first "Peace" Christmas Day.
Whilst awaiting demobilization training was very limited. Short Parades being held and Lectures given in connection with the A.I.F. Education Scheme to assist the men on their return to civil life. Books were supplied and classes held covering almost every profession and trade. Quite a number availed themselves of the opportunity of obtaining practical instruction at depots in England and France, whilst a few went to workshops in Belgium.
Sports, football matches and recreation of every kind were carried out and everything possible was done for the comfort of their men. Lieutenant: 7245 Frank Furneaux HEBBARD. had charge of the Educational Lectures. Whilst here, Major: Harry Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER. left the Battalion for Le Havre.
Major: Harry Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER.
Captains; Captain: Herbert Henry PERCY. , Captain: Henry Thomas HICKS. "Harry", Captain: Henry Cecil Llewellyn BENNETT., Lieutenants; Lieutenant: Augustus Gibson FARLEIGH., Lieutenant: Patrick FLANNIGAN., rejoined the Battalion.
The first draft of demobilization consisted mostly of original members and early reinforcements of the Battalion, left Miannay for Gamaches on 12th March 1919. After being addressed by the C.O. in the square, the men moved off for home to the accompaniment of cheers from the remainder of the Battalion, which left on 17th March for Gamaches, where the second draft went into camp on the hill, leaving the balance of the Battalion in the town. The second left for Le Harve on 16th April, followed early in May by the final draft.
So ended the War and the 34th Battalion A.I.F.
(1) A Short History of the 34th Battalion, Illawarra Press; 1957.
(2) 34th Battalion War Diary
(3) BEAN; History of World War 1 : Charles Edwin Woodrow BEAN
(4) Research Notes; David Harrower
I have made a number corrections regarding the correct names recorded in this Short History of the 34th Battalion. I have referenced official war records to confirm these minor corrections to provide an accurate reference to the Officer mentioned. I will continue to add further information as it comes to hand to honor these men. I was greatly inspired and honored to compile and write this piece whilst working and living in the Old Homestead at "Glenelg Station" near Brewarrina N.S.W. which was the home and residence of Sergeant: 2631 Arthur Charles HALL.V.C. before and after World War 1.
Messiness 1917; Ypres 1917; Polygon Wood; Broodseinde; Poelcappele; Passchendaele; Somme 1918; Ancre 1918; Amiens; Albert 1918; Mont St Quentin; Hindenburg Line; St Quentin Canal; France and Flanders 1916-1918
Lieutenant Colonel: Malcolm St John LAMB. 10th February 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel: Ernest Edward MARTIN. D.S.O. V.D 16th July 1917.
Lieutenant Colonel: Walter Arnold LeRoy FRY. O.B.E. V.D. 1918.
T/Lieutenant Colonel: Francis George GRANT. D.S.O. 10th May 1918-23rd of June 1918.
Lieutenant Colonel: Arthur Raft WOOLCOCK. D.S.O. 19th November 1918.
VICTORIA CROSS: 1.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER: 3.
MEMBER of the ORDER of the BRITISH EMPIRE: 2.
Captain: Mortimer Charles BLACKETT. M.B.E. M.I.D
Lieutenant: 14 Edwin Mayhew BRISSENDEN. M.B.E. M.I.D
ORDER of the BRITISH EMPIRE: 1.
MILITARY CROSS: 20-1 Bar.
Captain. Norman Sydney CAINS. M.C. & Bar M.I.D
Captain: Kenneth Arthur McLEAN. M.C (Regimental Medical Officer)
Captain: Robert Joseph STEWART. M.C. M.I.D
Captain: C.E. WATSON. M.C.
Lieutenant: 21 James BRUCE. M.C. D.C.M.
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL: 10.
Lieutenant: 21 James BRUCE. M.C. D.C.M.
Lieutenant: Albert William HARTLAND. D.C.M.
Sergeant: 1530 James HAM. D.C.M.
Sergeant: 784 Percy Clifton MUDFORD. D.C.M. M.M @ Bar
Private: 77 Matthew GRAY. D.C.M.
MILITARY MEDAL: 74-3 Bars.
Lieutenant: 9152 Alexander John GRUNSELL. + M.M (Awarded M.M whilst Corporal)
Lieutenant: 1994a Leo Thomas SMEDLEY. M.M (Awarded M.M whilst Sergeant)
2nd Lieutenant: 2036 Vere "Vic" Cumming STEVENSON. + M.M. (Awarded M.M whilst Corporal)
Sergeant: 784 Percy Clifton MUDFORD. D.C.M. M.M & Bar
Lance Corporal: 2291 Peter George COPPOCK. M.M. & Bar
Lance Corporal: 1492 John Edward SIMS. M.M.
Private: 1445 Joseph KING. M.M. @ Harold Stewart KIRBY.
Private: 7542 Arthur James WILLARD. M.M. & Bar
MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL: 5.
Sergeant: 1073 John BAILLIE. M.S.M.
MENTIONED IN DISPATCHES: 31.
Lieutenant Colonel: Walter Arnold Le R FRY. O.B.E. V.D.
Major: Gother Robert Carlisie CLARKE.+ (Regimental Medical Officer)
Captain. Norman Sydney CAINS. M.C. & Bar
Captain: Chaplain 3rd Class: John CALDER. (Chaplain)
FRENCH Order of MERITE, AGRICOLE CHEVALIER: 1
FRENCH MEDAL of HONOUR-Bronze: 1
ITALIAN BRONZE MEDAL for MILITARY BRAVERY: 1
Sergeant: 784 Percy Clifton MUDFORD. D.C.M. M.M @ Bar
34th Battalion HQ. Liverpool 30/05/1924.(Harrower Collection)
34th Battalion Reunion 1941. (Harrower Collection)