On WWI bat­tle­fields

Kalgoorlie Miner - - REAL ESTATE -

1916 and were soon blood­ied in the dis­as­trous bat­tle of Fromelles.

In July, West Aus­tralians were heav­ily en­gaged in the Somme Of­fen­sive, with the 11th, 16th, 28th and 51st Bat­tal­ions dec­i­mated in the bit­ter fight­ing at Pozieres and Mou­quet Farm.

Af­ter the at­ten­u­a­tion of the Somme Of­fen­sive, the Anzacs shiv­ered through the win­ter in open trenches near Flers.

Af­ter the Ger­mans with­drew be­yond Ba­paume, the An­zac di­vi­sions ad­vanced to the Hin­den­burg Line at Bul­le­court, where four Aus­tralian di­vi­sions were spent in fu­tile at­tacks.

The fo­cus was shifted to Bel­gium, where a re­sound­ing vic­tory was at­tained at Messines, with a part played by WA’s 44th Bat­tal­ion.

Sub­se­quent at­tacks were launched fur­ther north, to the east of Ypres, in a bid to cap­ture the Bel­gian ports used by the Ger­man U-boats.

All five Aus­tralian di­vi­sions were in­stru­men­tal in highly suc­cess­ful at­tacks to­wards Pass­chen­daele, where the of­fen­sive ground to a halt in im­pass­able swamps cre­ated by in­ces­sant shelling and tor­ren­tial rain.

The An­zac di­vi­sions were re­formed dur­ing the win­ter of 1917.

In March 1918, to the south in the Val­ley of the Somme, a last-ditch Ger­man of­fen­sive smashed through the Bri­tish front line and men­aced the vi­tal rail town of Amiens.

The Aus­tralians, renowned as crack troops, were sent south­wards to block the ad­vanc­ing Ger­mans.

Des­per­ate ac­tions were fought by the in­fantry bat­tal­ions with­out the ben­e­fit of heavy ar­tillery sup­port.

How­ever, the Ger­man as­sault was checked, un­til it was re­newed with an as­sault against Villers-Bre­ton­neux in the Val­ley of the Somme.

The Aus­tralian 13th and 15th Brigades were im­me­di­ately or­dered to re­take the town in com­plete dark­ness, with­out ben­e­fit of a re­con­nais­sance.

The un­der­strength bat­tal­ions, which in­cluded the West Aus­tralian 51st, drove the Ger­mans back in a spec­tac­u­lar bay­o­net at­tack that is still cel­e­brated in Viller­sBre­ton­neux.

Over the en­su­ing weeks, the Ger­mans were slowly forced back east­wards in lo­cal at­tacks iron­i­cally known as “peace­ful pen­e­tra­tion”.

The West Aus­tralian 16th and 44th Bat­tal­ions par­tic­i­pated in the bril­liantly ex­e­cuted bat­tle of Hamel in July 1918.

The fol­low­ing month the Ger­mans were com­pre­hen­sively de­feated by Aus­tralian and Cana­dian di­vi­sions in the bat­tle of Amiens on Au­gust 8, 1918.

The Ger­mans made a fight­ing with­drawal to the “im­preg­nable” bas­tion of Mont St Quentin, which was seized by un­der-strength Aus­tralian bat­tal­ions.

The ad­vance con­tin­ued to the trench sys­tem known as the Hin­den­burg Line, which was seized in a se­ries of bat­tles in Septem­ber 1918. Mean­while, the Ger­mans had tired of the war, which had re­sulted in star­va­tion and ri­ots in Ger­many.

World War I ended with an Ar­mistice on No­vem­ber 11, 1918.

The Cob­bers Statue com­mem­o­rates Aus­tralians who died at Fromelles in 1916.

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