10th Jul 1917: Australian tunnelers captured and made POW

In 1917 the northern most part of the Western Front ran along the small Yser river until it entered the sea at Nieuwpoort. Previously held by the French the sector was passed over to the British 4th Army in preparation of a coastal attack (Operation Hush) to support the latter stages of the forthcoming Ypres offensive. To assist in the attack it was deemed preferable to undermine a German strongpoint and for this task the 2nd Australian Tunneling Company was chosen on account of its experience in tunneling in soft sandy conditions. Tunneling was progressing well but the Germans knowing that this was a weak point for them in the defence of the expected Ypres offensive decided to mount a limited offensive. A bombardment of the British lines caused damage to the shallow mine shafts and once the German 3rd and 10th Marine Divisions attacked at dusk, many of the Australian miners found themselves, as they dug and broke through into the open, behind the enemy. Of 50 tunnelers beyond the river only four managed to escape back to their lines, the majority being captured. In all the Germans took 1,284 prisoners and suffered themselves 700 casualties, mostly of light wounds.

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