36th BATTALION - 33rd BATTALION AIF
Sergeant: 3170 Francis Arthur ABBOTT.
Born: 29th January 1893. Penrith, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:29362/1893.
Died: 31st August 1918. Killed in Action, Bapaume Road, France.
Father: Joseph Abbott. (1847-15/12/1921) Died at Penrith, N.S.W.
Mother: Mary Anne Abbott. nee: Mitchell. (06/02/1851-23/11/1924) Died at Penrith, N.S.W.
Francis Arthur Abbott served with the Senior Cadets before enlisting with the 3rd Infantry Regiment where he served for 3 years and was transferred to the Instructional Staff when he was promoted to Sergeant and served for 18 months and was promoted to Staff Sergeant Major before enlisting with the AIF on the 15th February 1917 with the rank of Sergeant at the Sydney Show Ground. Francis was en trained to the Liverpool Army Camp where he was allocated to the 7th Reinforcements, 36th Battalion AIF.
The Reinforcements commenced basic training and were kitted out before they were en trained to Sydney where they embarked on board HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 19th May 1916 for England. During the journey Francis was admitted to the Ships Hospital suffering from Bronchitis on the 3rd of June. He remained in quarantine until the 7th of June where he rejoined the Reinforcements. He disembarked at Plymouth, England on the 19th July and the Reinforcements were marched in to the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill where he commenced training with the 9th Infantry Training Battalion.
Francis was marched in the the School of Instruction at the Jellaladad Barracks at Tidworth on the 5th November before proceeding overseas for France from No:13 Camp at Fovant where he boarded from Southampton on the 18th of December and disembarked the next day at Rouelles, France.
Francis was transferred to the 33rd Battalion AIF on the 30th April 1918 when the 36th Battalion was disbanded to reinforce the other Battalions in the Brigade. The 33rd Battalion was reduced to less 300 fit men from a Battalion strength of 1000.
36th Battalions Last Parade, France
8th August 1918.
The approach was made in two stages. The 33rd Battalion moved from VIEW SECTOR on the night of August 6th/7th to AUBIGNY and rested there for 24 hours. On the night of August 7th/8th the Battalion passed the starting point at C.3.C.70.20 at 10.20 pm. "A" track was used. The marking of the route was not sufficient, consequently it was picqueted by 30 men, including the band, under an officer. The march was made without incident or interruptions and we suffered no casualties. the head of the column reached the jumping-off line at 1.10 am. The march discipline throughout was excellent.
"A" track was laid to our left flank, consequently a tape line was laid to the center of the Battalion front. "A" and "B" Company's wheeled in single file to the right, and "C" and "D" Company's to the left. As shown in the attached map, the jumping line was in rear of our outpost line in places. There was plenty of room in the front line (BARRABOOL TRENCH) for the whole Battalion to be under cover. The original plan was to remain in this trench until zero minus 5 minutes. But the situation was so quiet that the Companies were able to take up their dispositions in their ordered formation, and so rest in the open.
This assembly was completed at 2.10 am. We had no casualties before zero hour. Lieutenant: 129 Walter Gilligan MASON. (A Company Scout Officer) had charge of laying the tapes and did this work very well. Six direction tapes each 100 yards long were laid, one on each flank of the Battalion and one in the centre of each platoon front. These proved of the greatest value owing to the fog. The 33rd Battalion Scouts relieved those of the 38th Battalion who were holding the sector at 10.00 pm. At 10.30 they encountered an enemy post at P.21.B.30.20; the enemy threw bombs and wounded five of our men. Ten minutes later the 38th Battalion had an Officers patrol in NO MAN'S LAND but no further trace of the enemy could be found.
The Assault at about 4.00 am, as a dense fog arose, so dense was it that it was impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead. The whole artillery opened fire with great precision, and the barrage was very accurate. The fog made it extremely difficult to keep direction and to maintain formation, consequently the advance resolved itself into small parties moving on their own initiative. Only the first of the special ACCROCHE WOOD Signals could be seen, the smoke accentuated the fog. Even the barrage could not be seen.
ACCROCHE WOOD was strongly garrisoned and contained an abnormally large number of machine guns, but the garrison offered no resistance and readily surrendered. The attack was quite unexpected, and the fog was certainly to our advantage. The enemy remained in his dugouts during the bombardment. He gave us very little occasion to use bombs as he readily came forward with his hands extended above his head, one would almost think this was one of his favorite P.T. exercises.
Most of the guns in LONE VALLEY got away they were aided by the fog and all that we could do was to open fire on them. We captured only three guns in this valley, three 4.2's south of RAT WOOD. HAZEL WOOD was captured without difficulty. The GREEN LINE was reached according to schedule and consolidation immediately commenced. On the left protective barrage at 8.20 am when the 4th Division passed through us to the second phase of the attack, this line was re-sited and ran from Q.25.B.40.80; to Q.20.A.40.10; We were in touch with the 35th Battalion on our left and the 18th Battalion who did not occupy their allotted front. The sector was organised into four Company Sub Sectors each with two Platoons in the front line and two in support. Battalion Headquarters were established at P.23.D.50.50; The re-organisation and refitting of the Battalion was carried out without delay.
The barrage was excellent, not a single short being reported. All ranks are most enthusiastic in their appreciation of the exceedingly fine work of our artillery. The movement forward of our batteries to assist in the second phase was splendidly carried out. Special mention too must be made to the good work of the 10th and 9th A.L.T.M. Batteries and the 5th and 6th A.M.T.M. Batteries. One expected to see many more enemy dead in the area, not more than 50 were seen. The enemy's resorting to deep dugouts and his good form in athletics accounted for this.
The enemy's artillery was surprisingly feeble. At no time was his fire effective. When he eventually did learn something of the situation he lost no time in beating a hasty retreat. In the early stages the tanks were no assistance, being behind our troops most of the time. When the visibility allowed the tanks to go forward they did excellent work. Only one tank reached the green line with our troops. When they did get in front they were handled to great advantage. Their effect on the enemy's moral greatly delighted our men. The supply tank formed our dump 300 yards in rear of our line. The value of getting such large supplies forward so early and saving of infantry carrying parties cannot be overestimated.
The work of our machine guns could only be heard. Their fire appeared to be well concentrated and undoubtedly must have been accurate. Only one means of communication was possible, namely runners, and they had very great difficulty in finding their way; On the fog lifting viability and telephonic communication was established. The liaison patrols with the 5th Brigade on our right did not function.
Seven officers, 500 other ranks were captured. This is a conservative estimate and much below the totals submitted by the Companies. 457 can be definitely accounted for these having passed through Battalion Headquarters. 4 x 4.2 Howitzers and 6 x 77 MM Guns. These were captured by Lieutenant: 3072 Frank Albert HUTCHINGS M.C. and party and were marked and tagged. This party worked in the Second Division's area and captured these guns just north of LA MOTTE-en-SANTARRE. On returning in the afternoon to ascertain the number they found, that the guns had been taken away. The remaining there were captured at LENA WOOD. 30 machine guns. Of these 16 have been sent to the HAMELET dump. We have not the numbers of the remaining 14, but the total of 30 is a low estimate. a number of our guns were removed by other units which did not take part in the attack. 1 x Anti-Tank gun. 10 light Minenwerfers, 2 medium minenwerfer, 1 horse, 2 typewriters, large quantity of shells, rifles, equipment, documents and war material.
Casualties 10 Killed in Action, 50 wounded.
30-31st August 1918
On the northern flank the 3rd Division's attack had been arranged at short notice after a day exhausting to both infantry and artillery, and in the face of other particular difficulties. The timing of the attack was to be taken from the left where the 58th Division, somewhat further back than the 9th Brigade, started at 5:10 am behind a very slow barrage to attack Marrieres Wood. The 9th Brigade using the 33rd Battalion, started at the time arranged, 5:40 am, but the artillery had not yet received its orders and though it fired, the barrage was thin and machine-guns in the south-west corner of Road Wood stopped the 33rd. One Company was late, but Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. had swung his Company into its place. Major: Cedric Errol Meyer BRODZIAK. D.S.O. was now killed while referring to his map.But within twenty minutes the artillery greatly increased its fire. The 33rd were able to raise their heads. A private Private: 726 George CARTWRIGHT. V.C. stood up and from the shoulder fired at the troublesome German gunner and then walking forward shot him and the two men who took his place. Next, covering his run by exploding a bomb shot of the trench, he rushed the gun and captured 9 Germans. The 33rd stood up and cheered him, and then advancing by two's and three's entered the wood. Private: 792 William Allan IRWIN. D.C.M an Australian half-caste, after attacking like Cartwright, was mortally wounded and Died of Wounds on the 1st of September 1918. The 33rd was now considerably behind the 6th London (58th Division), having chased the Germans from Marrieres Wood, was held up by fire from Wary Alley which curved up the gully between the woods. Coming through the south Company Sergeant Major: 967 Louis John MATHIAS. D.C.M & Bar. cleared the Germans by fire from a Lewis Gun. The 33rd now set to bombing up the old trenches leading up to the upper end of the 1916 Spur where the Peronne-Bapaume Road also ran through. On the nearer side of the road a German battery commander with his gun crews and some infantry was blazing with six field-guns into the Australian groups everywhere they left shelter. From the southward side Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL. and Lieutenant: William Alexander McLEAN. M.C. of the 33rd-the latter greatly helped by the leaders of the 10th Brigade Sergeant 1007 E E Walters. D.C.M, 39th Battalion and Corporal 5024 A V GRINTON. D.C.M, 38th Battalion, worked up and presently rushed the guns, the German Battery Commander fighting to the last with his revolver. He was shot by Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL. Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. reaching realised that the old quarry beyond it was a commanding position and accordingly took it and 40 German prisoners and placed a post on its eastern rim. He then went back to Wary Alley, and finding some of the 6th London Regiment, got Captain: S T COOKE M.C, and 20 men to garrison the quarry while the 33rd lined the Bapaume Road on the right.
(33rd Battalion Unit Diary)
Francis was Killed in Action on the 31st August 1918 during this action and is remembered with honour and is commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at the Villers-Bretonneux War Memorial.
VILLERS-BRETONNEUX WAR MEMORIAL
(Studio Photo: AWM2016.26.18.)
Francis was a single 24 year old Soldier with the Instructional Staff from Hornsey Wood via Penrith, N.S.W. upon his enlistment with the AIF. His parents Joseph and Mary Abbott were married on the 8th February 1872 at Waterloo, N.S.W. They had 9 children; Mary Ann Abbott "Annie" born 1873 at Liverpool, N.S.W. and died 23rd November 1954 at Hurstville, N.S.W. Francis J Abbott born 1876 at Redfern, N.S.W. and died 1876 at Waterloo, N.S.W. James Joseph Abbott "Jim" born 1887 at Redfern, N.S.W. and died 14th February 1949 at his home in Concord, N.S.W. Albert Abbott "Alby" born 22nd February 1880 at Redfern, N.S.W. and died at the Napean Hospital 6th October 1951. Joseph Abbott "Joe" born 1883 at Penrith, N.S.W. and died 1886 at Penrith, N.S.W. May Abbott born 16th January 1889 at Penrith, N.S.W. and died 21st July 1973 at Parramatta, N.S.W. Francis Joseph Abbott born 29th January 1893. Birth Cert:29362/1893 and died 31st August 1918 Peronne, France. Ivy Abbott born 30th October 1896 at Penrith, N.S.W. and died 17th December 1977 Auburn Nursing home, Auburn, N.S.W.
Outdoor group portrait of several members of the Abbott family, relatives of 3170 Sergeant Francis 'Frank' Arthur Abbott. Identified back row, left to right: May Abbott and James Joseph Abbott (siblings of Frank), Doris Beatty and her brother, Glen Beatty (niece and nephew) and Joseph Abbott Jnr (sibling). Identified seated, left to right, Frank's father, Joseph Abbott Snr and Joseph's eldest and youngest daughters, Annie Beatty (nee Abbott) and Ivy Abbott. Seated front row, left to right, Lorna Abbott and Arnold James Abbott, the children of James Joseph Abbott.
Studio portrait of Lillian Agnes Stuart Meade, the fiancee of Francis 'Frank' Arthur Abbott.
'To Dear Ivy & May & Joe, from your loving friend Lil'. Lillian Meade married Alexander Charles Milton Gordon in 1927. She died on 24 June 1974 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
(Family Information and Studio Portraits of Francis supplied by Tracey Watt: September 2018)
© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)
Under Construction: 02/09/2018-12/09/2018.