On WWI battlefields
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.