26th Sept 1917: The Battle of Polygon Wood

The Battle of Polygon Wood was the second of three great successes for the AIF in the Third Ypres campaign in 15 days. The barrage which commenced at 5.50am just as the plateau became visible was the most perfect that ever protected the Australian troops. The ground was dry and each shell burst raised a wall of dust and smoke behind which the AIF 4th & 5th Divisions of I Anzac Corps together with British divisions on their flanks advanced, but this cloud created confusion for the advancing battalions and they soon became intermingled. The 15th Brigade had the hardest day where pillboxes Elliott - A02607to the right of the 31st Battalion were causing problems. The 14th Brigade attacking the Butte and the 4th & 13th Brigades to their left fared better, outflanking the pillboxes, and achieving their objectives with relative ease. Protective barrages were then put in place and with the determined work by the infantry to secure their positions, successfully deterred the expected German counter-attacks. In taking its objective the 14th Brigade captured some 200 prisoners and 34 machine guns. However the success of the operation was largely down to the leadership of Brigadier-General ‘Pompey’ Elliott (photograph right) commanding officer of the 15th Brigade whose Battalions suffered that greatest of the 5,500 Australian casualties that day.

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