31st December 1916: The 22nd Battalion spent the last day of 1916 at B Camp, Trones Wood, and witnessed at midnight the heralding in of the New Year by a British bombardment similar to that of Christmas Day.
30th December 1916: General work of improving the area, burying telephone cables etc.
29th December 1916: Relieved by 21st Battalion and returned to B Camp, Trones Wood. Lieutenant Colonel R.Smith temporarily in command of 6th Brigade as Brig General Gellibrand evacuated sick.
28th December 1916: 22nd Battalion relieved by the 23rd Battalion and returned to Needle Trench.
25th December 1916: The 22nd Battalion relieved 21st Battalion in the firing line. Christmas dinner in the line was of bread and bully-beef. The weather was bad, and though battle casualties were not heavy, the poor conditions were responsible for many having trench feet. It was only by continual massage, frequent changes in socks, and unremitting attention of platoon commanders that this complaint was mastered. Artillery demonstration from 11.30 to 11.32 am by all guns in the Anzac Army, along with every gun in the British 4th & 5th Armies. Enemy retaliation was light.
24th December 1916: The 22nd Battalion went into the Ginchy sector near Delville Wood relieving the 59th Battalion in Needle Trench, minus its newly arrived reinforcements which spent a month at Bussy-les-Dours in further training. Hostile shelling intermittent all day.
22nd December 1916: Marched to E Camp at Troneswood.
20th December 1916: Marched to huts at Fricourt.
19th December 1916: Marched to billets at Ribemont via Amiens.
17th December 1916: Reveille at 5am for an early morning march to the station at Flesselles and, after a tedious wait and return to billets for dinner, eventually boarded a train to Ribemont.
13th December 1916: Arrival of 127 other ranks from the 16th Reinforcements reporting from 2nd ADBD, Etaples.
6th December 1916: Arrival of 14 other ranks from 2nd ADBD. Promotions for Lieut. Hogarth (photograph right) to Captain; 2nd Lieut.’s McKinnon, Thwaites, Kellaway, Scammell, King, McCartin, Evans and Greig to Lieutenant.
4th December 1916: Arrival of 170 other ranks from the 15th Reinforcements reporting from 2nd Australian Division Base Depot, Etaples.
3rd December 1916: General Birdwood attended a Brigade church parade, and distributed decorations [medals, not Christmas variety!].
2nd December 1916: For the next two weeks the Battalion was engaged in training: special attention given to musketry, with rapid loading practiced daily; Gas – apparatus overhauled and men practiced in rapid adjustment of respirators; Specialists: Lewis Gunners; Bombers, including use of the rifle grenade; Attack practices in trench system adjacent to the parade ground.
1st December 1916: After a slow and cold railway journey, Flesselles (to the north of Amiens) was reached, where it would stay seventeen pleasant days in this village. Here the men were re-equipped and enjoyed excellent Christmas dinners, in lieu of Christmas which was to be spent back in the front-line.
27th November 1916: For the next two days the men of the Battalion were at baths and issued with new clothing.
26th November 1916: The last days of November were spent at Dernancourt, where on a snowy field the mud-stained 22nd Battalion was inspected by AIF 2nd Division Commanding Officer General Legge.
25th November 1916: Lt Col R.Smith transferred to take temporary command of 6th Brigade, with Major ARL Wiltshire assuming temporary command of the 22nd Battalion.
24th November 1916: Return of a number of the Pozieres wounded and sick from 2nd ADBD, Etaples.
23rd November 1916: Embarkation of the 18th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Hororata A20, consisting of servicemen 6271 to 6460
22nd November 1916: The 22nd Battalion marched from Flers to Fricourt Camp where they carried out Corps Engineering work including road construction.
19th November 1916: The 22nd Battalion along with the 6th Brigade was relieved by British 2nd Infantry Brigade, though it proved to be a great ordeal moving over many kilometres devoid of any duckboards, with the vision of the YMCA soup kitchen driving the men on. Four nights were now spent in huts near Fricourt, and the following days were given to the removal of mud from the adjacent roads.
16th November 1916: The 22nd Battalion, having been relieved from the front line, now in Flers Trench performing fatigue work and carrying duties for front line units, plus construction of deep dugouts. Meanwhile in England saw the arrival of the 16th Reinforcements on HMAT Nestor A71, consisting of servicemen 5781 to 5994 in Devonport, Plymouth.
15th November 1916: After the attack by the 5th Brigade on the previous day, the Germans retaliated with many gas shells. Before the 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and returned to Flers Trench, 505 Pte Kenyon volunteered to look for wounded Sgt Lusby and successfully led him back through the enemy barrage, and was awarded the Military Medal.
14th November 1916: During the afternoon 18 enemy aircraft flew over the 22nd Battalion line reconnoitring the position, dropping light signals. That day the 5th Brigade mounted an attack which drew a response by the German artillery along the line. At this time ‘C’ Company was manning the front trench and being heavily shelled. Captain JS Dooley coolly led his men forward some 120 yards and occupied shell craters till dusk, making sure that they did not advance too far to come within range of their own artillery. Whilst the trenches held by the Battalion were practically destroyed, the company only suffered three casualties, and for this action Capt. Dooley was awarded the Military Cross. 548 Pte Adams who acted as a runner through the heavy artillery barrage back to battalion HQ was awarded the Military Medal.
13th November 1916: Situation normal. Work continued improving the trenches. Yarra Bank sap constructed and post placed therein.
12th November 1916: 6th Brigade front extended to the left by taking over from 5th Brigade – ‘C’ Company from 22nd Battalion placed on front line for this purpose.
11th November 1916: The 22nd Battalion relieves 23rd Battalion in the front line. Trenches were in bad condition, were shallow and afforded little protection from shell fire. Digging was at once commenced and before dawn a sufficient depth had been obtained to avoid undue losses. Trench foot became prevalent. The use of whale oil and frequent rubbing minimised evacuations from the cause but the absence of any facilities for dry standing made the carrying out of these preventative measures difficult.
10th November 1916: I Anzac Corps Heavy Artillery engaged hostile trenches opposite the Divisional front from 9 am to noon. Enemy replied feebly. Improvements made to trenches.
8th November 1916: Hostile shelling very heavy at times. Work at improving trenches continued. Duck board track very hard from Factory Corner to front line.
7th November 1916: Mud very trying rendering movement most difficult with communication trenches useless and all movements being made overland. A&D Companies of the 22nd Battalion moved to Wattle trenches to replace 23rd Battalion. All ranks suffering great hardships from cold and mud. Enemy shell fire was frequently heavy and it was at Factory Corner that Lieut McCormick was killed.
5th November 1916: The 22nd Battalion performing Brigade and Engineer fatigue duties. The weather was extremely cold and the trenches boggy.
4th November 1916: Leaving Montauban the 22nd Battalion marched forward, passing the wrecked tanks and fighting from mid-September. The 6th Brigade took over the Flers sector from the 8th Brigade (AIF 5th Division), with the 7th Brigade on the left flank and the 1st Brigade on the right. There were great difficulties bringing up supplies owing to the conditions of roads and the weather. As Capt. Gorman later wrote in the Battalion history no other mud attained such a notoriety as that at Flers, with a consistency, depth and stickiness unequalled by anything afterwards encountered in Flanders. ‘As bad as Flers’ was adopted as a standard description of filth and wretchedness.
3rd November 1916: The 22nd Battalion as part of 6th Brigade marched from Buire to Mametz and then Montauban where they remained in huts for the night.
31st October 1916: Embarkation of the 17th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Argyllshire A8, consisting of servicemen 6026 to 6188.
28th October 1916: For the next six days the 22nd Battalion was billeted at Buire-sur-Ancre, practicing including organisation of attacking waves.
24th October 1916: A troop train was boarded at St.Omer Station, and early next morning the 22nd Battalion detrained at Longpre, near Amiens and marched to excellent billets at l’Etoile on the banks of the Somme. The next move involved novel transport for the Battalion on motor-buses belonging to the French Army carrying the whole Battalion to the Sugar factory at Ribemont, before marching to Buire.
18th October 1916: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 11th Northumberland Fusiliers and proceeded to Ottawa Camp for the return journey to the Somme. After two days in Ottawa Camp and re-crossing into France, brief halts were made near Steenvoorde, Buysschure and Nortleulinghem .
11th October 1916: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 23rd and returned to Brigade reserve in Ypres, and for the six days supplied men for work behind the firing line.
10th October 1916: 22nd Battalion patrols active on left of sector, reconnoitring with view to a raid.
9th October 1916: Situation in the firing line continues to be quiet. Work continued in rebuilding of trenches, repair of duckboards and drainage.
5th October 1916: 22nd Battalion commenced its move back to the firing line in the Sanctuary Wood to Menin Road area and to relieve the 23rd Battalion. Relief completed at 9pm. In addition 143 other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD.
28th September 1916: 22nd Battalion relieved by 23rd Battalion and returned to Brigade reserve in Ypres where they would remain in billets until the 5th October.
25th September 1916: Embarkation of the 15th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Shropshire A9, consisting of servicemen 5536 to 5721.
24th September 1916: Enemy trench mortars active at intervals from Hooge. Capt Wiltshire and Capt Davis report back from 2nd ADBD Etaples along with 28 other ranks (including L-Cpl Robbins, Pte Trompf and Pte Fenwick from the 5th/22nd)
23rd September 1916: Situation normal in the front line. Opportunity taken to carry out drainage and trench improvements.
22nd September 1916: Enemy inactive save for occasional trench mortar bombs.
21st September 1916: The 22nd Battalion relieved the 23rd Battalion in the firing line in the area of Sanctuary Wood to Menin Road of the Ypres Salient, with the relief completed at 11.30pm.
20th September 1916: The 22nd Battalion commanding officers went to reconnoitre the firing line ahead of the move forward. 51 other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD.
15th September 1916: The 22nd Battalion was placed in Brigade reserve, with fatigues of supplying to the Firing Line and Support Trenches.
14th September 1916: The train was taken at Vlamertinghe for the ruined city of Ypres (photograph right) where the cellars in the Convent sector were used as billets alternatively with the 23rd Battalion as both Battalions shared line work in the quiet sector near Hooge. The ruins were lightly but constantly shelled and in October a few casualties were suffered by the Battalion. Relieving each other every seven days, the 22nd and 23rd Battalions manned the front with its right flank on Sanctuary Wood and the left on the Menin Road. The tranquility was marred by the presence of large rats that infested the trenches and Minenwerfers.
13th September 1916: 4 officers and 10 other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD, Etaples.
10th September 1916: General Birdwood presented ribbons, and General Legge visited in the afternoon. Special training in new box respirator carried out
9th September 1916: 150 other ranks sent to Divisional baths at Poperinghe.
6th September 1916: For the first nine days in Belgium, only the mornings were devoted to drill, and the afternoons were given to sports plus leave could be obtained to visit Poperinghe.
5th September 1916: After two days at Gezaincourt, a short march brought the Battalion to Doullens where it entrained for the more tranquil north, arriving at Proven about 9pm. An eight mile march followed to Eyrie Camp where the blankets that had been handed in on 1st July were re-issued. This was the Battalion’s first visit to Belgium.
3rd September 1916: After two days of resting in billets at Fieffes, the Battalion reached Gezaincourt for a two day stop.
31st August 1916: After another two days marching, the 22nd Battalion along with Brigade HQ were billeted at Fieffes where re-organising and re-equipping commenced. The 6th Brigade paraded at 3pm to witness presentation of ribbons by General Birdwood to those who had won decorations at Pozieres.
28th August 1916: Making their way via Bouzincourt and Senlis the 6th Brigade men showing signs of fatigue marched to billets at Warloy, a distance of 6 miles from Albert. Kits were collected from the dump and issued to the men. 18 other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD.
27th August 1916: In the early hours the 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 14th Battalion of the 4th Brigade, and organised as two companies marched in pouring rain to the outskirts of Albert, where billets were found for the night.
26th August 1916: At dawn the 6th Brigade headed by the 21st and 24th Battalions with B Company from the 22nd Battalion protecting their left flank began their attack on Mouquet Farm. B Company moved forward at the zero hour of 4.45am under a good barrage, with the four Platoons dropped off one after another to take up positions on the left in shell holes, but soon a nest of German gunners caused heavy casualties including Capt. Smith who was killed. It was now becoming apparent that the farm was protected by a system of cleverly constructed tunnels, precursors of those to be later seen on the Hindenburg Line, of which the attackers knew nothing until the enemy appeared in positions and molested the flanks.
Lieut. Cumming penetrated the forward objective with the handful of men that had survived the enemy fire and fought a bombing action until he was severely wounded, and unable to regain our lines was taken prisoner for the rest of the war. As in the OG2 Lines of the 5th August, Lieut. Rodda was the only unwounded officer and he assumed command of the company. Six members of the 22nd Battalion including 401 Pte Hull were awarded the Military Medal for maintaining communication by crossing open ground between the isolated posts and with the 21st Battalion that had dangerously veered too far to the north-east during the attack. Hostile artillery was now heavily shelling the main attack and the attackers met with stubborn resistance from the cunning tunnel defences. By means of these the 21st was attacked from the rear. Not only were their losses very heavy but they were unable to clear the ground of the wounded. 2416 Cpl Thomas attached to the 22nd Battalion was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for driving the counter attack back with his Stokes Mortar and succeeding in blowing up an enemy bomb dump. B Company survivors maintained their allocated flank until relieved at 2am on the 27th August. Thirteen men from the 22nd Battalion were killed in action, including 2019 Pte Butler, 462 Pte ‘Fatty’ Smith and stretcher-bearer 1069 Cpl Tucker (photograph left), all previous recipients of the Military Medal, and with 4441 Pte Gillin dying from his wounds two days later.
Prior to the attack A Company moved to Tom’s Cut and throughout the day C & D Companies were ordered up to Quarry and employed in carrying. When the main attack failed, all men took up position in the First Avenue, and in the evening C Company relieved A.
25th August 1916: Carrying parties during the day, reinforced by volunteers from transport, machine gunners and light duty men. B Company under Capt. H.E. Smith was attached to the 21st Battalion for next attack on Mouquet Farm, with A Company in reserve in Toms Cut and C & D Companies in reserve in the Chalk Pit.
23rd August 1916: Heavy shelling into Sausage Valley as work continued on consolidating the new position, including the 23rd Battalion gaining 150 feet by sapping forward and linking up.
22nd August 1916: Orders received for the 6th Brigade to move forward for another attack, and moving by platoons at two minute intervals via Albert and Tara Hill the 22nd Battalion re-entered Sausage Gully and acting as Brigade reserve carried out duties: 100 men making roads in Mash Valley; 12 as permanent dump guard; and 200 under Capt. Cull lived among the chalk-pits and carried bombs and rations forward from the dump there. B Company who were first employed on the road building, were later attached to the 21st Battalion for the impending attack on Mouquet Farm. That day a very heavy barrage was thrown by the enemy over Pozieres.
20th August 1916: The 22nd Battalion reached Vadencourt and its huts and that afternoon after church parade, General Birdwood presented MC, DCM and MM decorations won by members of the 6th Brigade, including a Military Medal to 919 Pte Strain, awarded for his gallantry as a stretcher, along with 2488 Pte Robbins (5th/22nd) during the raid at Bois Grenier in June. Pte Robbins was killed in action at Pozieres between 27th July and 4th August 1916.
19th August 1916: March continued with billets at Herrisart reached by 10am where the Battalion rested during the day
18th August 1916: In heavy rain the march to the front line re-commenced, making bivouac at the orchard in La Vicogne.
15th August 1916: Night operations training with attack on practice trench. During the day 45 Other Ranks reported in from 2nd Australian Division Base Depot, Etaples.
14th August 1916: The Battalion continued training in accordance with the Brigade syllabus, and for the men welcome baths and a change of underclothing were provided.
10th August 1916: Four days after leaving Pozieres Berteaucourt (north-west of Amiens) was reached, where according to Gorman the billets were good and the villagers most kind. Nearly two years later many had the opportunity of revisiting this village, and the pleasures of renewing acquaintance with old friends there. During the march and while at Berteaucourt the 22nd Battalion received many new officers to replace the recent casualties, together with 38 other ranks reporting from 2nd ADBD. For the next eight days re-organisation took place, and the training of Lewis gunners, trench mortars and other specialists, plus bayonet fighting.
9th August 1916: At Vadencourt Wood a halt to the march was called. On one side the 22nd Battalion lined the road, the other a portion of the AIF 1st Division returning to the battle, as His Majesty King George V en-route to a meeting with French Generals Joffre and Foch and British General Haig, drove by, having expressed his appreciation of the good work carried out by the 6th Brigade. (Photograph showing the 6th Brigade marching past the 2nd Brigade looking on, and who were themselves heading back to the Pozieres front).
6th August 1916: Having been relieved by the 24th Battalion during the night, the 22nd Battalion remained in trenches at Sausage Valley for the day before heading at 8pm to bivouac at Tara Hill, which despite being heavily shelled from midnight to dawn the Battalion did not suffer any casualties. Thus began a period of respite, of which most of it was on the march. From Tara Hill the Battalion moved via Albert and Warloy to Berteaucourt.
4th/5th August 1916: The attack on the German Second Line at Pozieres OG1 and OG2 was timed to commence at 9.15pm with B and D Companies to capture the first objective, and A and C the second objective (6th Brigade Report, right). These companies had been reinforced during their stay in Sausage Gully by a number from the newly arrived Reinforcements. They moved by platoons at 5pm from Sausage Gully and filed into Dinkum Alley. Where the Alley ended was an open space which had to be crossed to reach Kay Trench, Tramway Trench or the JOT. It was at the Tramway (photograph below) that A & C Companies were to wait until zero hour, and then through the JOT and OG1 on to OG2. However the entry into Dinkum Alley had been observed by the enemy who put down a terrific barrage on it and its exit. The congestion was beyond description, with other battalions including the 26th Battalion moving at the same hour, and telling C Company to halt – the 22nd thought it was they that should wait, not the 26th! – confusion reigned. Up and down the Alley stragglers wandered, and in the confusion men and hours were lost. Before the attack commenced, the Companies had lost 20% of their personnel to shell-fire. By 9.15pm when the attack barrage opened, only 30 men were in position, but by 9.30 Major Mackay signalled that all available men in D Company had arrived and the order to advance was given a minute later. The two Companies that had been held up (A & C) and formed the last two waves were feared lost, but they arrived at 9.46pm and moved forward to the attack. Leading from the front and before OG1 was reached, Major Mackay and 2nd Lieut Pritchard had been killed. There was not much hand-to-hand fighting in OG1 itself as the barrage had killed or wounded most of the enemy there and smashed the entrenchments, and within a few minutes was securely held by the attackers. A & C Companies, pausing for a few minutes on the JOT, pushed forward to OG2 which was not a well organised line of defence and after taking it dug in. Hazardous journeys were made by the runners back and forth under the barrage and machine gun fire, including 1892 Pte Claridge (Military Medal) despite being severely wounded made three trips as a messenger, and helped another wounded man back from OG2.
The 7th Brigade had linked up on the right but the left which swung back to OG1 was unprotected and raked by machine gun and artillery fire. With the dawn came a German barrage and a counter-attack, but nowhere did the line break. On the unprotected left the attackers came within bombing distance, but were unable to break into the trench, suffering approximately 75% in casualties. Casualties for the Battalion however were heavy, particularly from shelling and snipers who had crept forward to cover the attack. It was by one of these that Capt. Curnow was killed. Every officer in OG2 was now a casualty except Lieut. Rodda.
Heavy bomb fighting ensued including a party led by 342 Company Sergeant Major T Carter that destroyed an enemy post, and 223 Pte G O’Neill who held up an enemy counter attack. Supplies had to be brought forward under bombardment and 1779 L-Cpl PK Schafer and 2493 Pte RE Batton (5th Reinforcements) were awarded the Military Medal carrying bombs to the captured trenches. It was in OG2 that Pte O’Neill and 1635 Pte ND Weston won their DCM’s, the latter shot through the head and wounded, and despite his wounds clung to a Mills bomb that had had its pin removed until it was taken by comrades. To his DCM was later added the Russian Cross of St.George. All through the day the shelling continued without ceasing, and dead and wounded lay in heaps together. At times the trench held hardly a single un-wounded man. Later, German stretcher-bearers and our own worked side-by-side and collected those that were still alive. The attack of the 4th/5th August would take the heaviest toll on the Battalion so far with 135 men from the 22nd killed during the attack (CWGC records), and hundreds wounded in action. For the men of the 5th/22nd, they had a casualty rate of over 40%. The attack however was very successful and all objectives attained, with about 150 prisoners taken.
During the Pozieres operations the Battalion suffered heavily with 26 officers and 625 other ranks becoming casualties, of which 238 were reported killed or missing. Many of the Battalion’s stretcher bearers were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal or Military Medal for their plucky determination and endurance under shell fire, returning to the front carrying full loads of bombs and supplies. In spite of stubborn fighting the line held and on the evening of the 5th/6th August the remnants of the 22nd were relieved by the 24th and moved back to Sausage Gully, and next day to Tara Hill.
4th August 1916: The Battalion rested for the day in Sausage Valley and following the heavy casualties during the last tour of the front line eleven 2nd Lieutenants were commissioned. Within forty-eight hours six were killed and three wounded. The Battalion experienced heavy shelling throughout the day during which preparations were completed for an attack. During the afternoon orders were received from 6th Brigade to attack, objectives being OG1 and OG2. At 5.30pm and with two minute intervals between platoons moved into assembly trenches near Pozieres.
3rd August 1916: During the night a fatigue party of 240 men continued digging an assembly trench during the night.
2nd August 1916: With another attack on OG1 and OG2 planned, the fatigues for 300 men of the 22nd Battalion included digging of a Jumping Off Trench (JOT) on the night of the 2nd/3rd within 300 yards of the German lines.
1st August 1916: 22nd Battalion in rest trenches in Sausage Valley, fatigue parties carrying for the 21st Battalion in the Pozieres front line which was subject to heavy enemy shelling all day.
31st July 1916: The Battalion spent the day conducting fatigues such as carrying rations for the 21st Battalion in the front line, having to traverse through the German bombardment. The Battalion position is Sausage Valley was shelled in the afternoon with 1 Other Rank killed; 31 OR wounded and 1 OR missing. 157 Other Ranks reported for duty, including the newly arrived 9th Reinforcements, bringing the strength of the Battalion up to 18 Officers and 737 other ranks, some 12 Officers and 272 other ranks fewer than when the Battalion left Bois Grenier a month ago.
30th July 1916: Having been relieved by the 21st Battalion the previous night, the 22nd Battalion reached Sausage Valley at 6.30am where it stayed for the next five days to re-organise and ‘rest’ amongst all the noise and commotion. The Battalion was shelled in the afternoon, resulting in 2 OR killed, 11 OR wounded and 1 OR missing. During the four day period in the Pozieres front line 65 men from the 22nd Battalion had been killed in action (from CWGC records) or died from their wounds. In addition over 300 men had been wounded including many that had to be withdrawn due to shell shock from the fierce bombardment. Of the 105 men of the 5th/22nd that had entered the battle, 8 men had been killed, 22 had been wounded in action including 7 with shell shock.
29th July 1916: During the night of 28th/29th July the 7th Brigade plus the 23rd Battalion of the 6th Brigade and 20th Battalion of the 5th Brigade launched an attack on the strong German trench system known as OG1 and OG2. The 23rd had been successful but the failure of the 7th Brigade meant that their right flank was exposed so the support of D Company of the 22nd Battalion under the command of Major MN Mackay (Mentioned in Despatches) was made. D Company reached the German wire and with the few available shovels and entrenching tools were digging in, but due to the failure of the major operation were forced to withdraw.
Throughout the day enemy shelling was fairly intense. The bombardment of the night of the 29th July, brought about in response to an Australian bombardment, onto K Trench was so intense that the relief by the 21st Battalion, which commenced at 10.30pm, could not be completed until dawn of the 30th. With the help of guides negotiating out of the forward position through thick fog, the 22nd Battalion then moved back to Sausage Gully. According to the Unit Diary the 29th July saw 3 other ranks killed; 1 officer plus 21 other ranks wounded.
28th July 1916: As a result of the heavy casualties experienced the previous day, before dawn B Company was sent back from Pozieres to Sausage Valley, together with one platoon each from the three other companies to reduce the overcrowding and risk of high casualties. The shelling throughout the day consisted of intense fire lasting about 15 minutes followed by periods of comparative calm.
Back in Australia saw the embarkation of the 14th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Themistocles A32, consisting of servicemen 5294 to 5478 heading for England.
27th July 1916: By 4.30am the relief of 6th Battalion by the 22nd Battalion at Pozieres was complete. C & D Companies occupied the front-line and A & B Companies were in Kay Sap, supported in total by 8 machine guns. Either side of the 22nd were the 24th Battalion (6th Brigade) and the 19th Battalion (5th Brigade) on the left and right respectively. Enemy shelling commenced at 6.30am in response to our artillery fire, and although intense were falling about 100 yards to the rear of the Firing Line. At 9.15am a small party was observed behind enemy front line directly in front of C Company – the enemy party was dispensed with our rifle fire. During the afternoon in front of the whole Battalion sector enemy were seen moving along the trench.
In the support trenches B Company was being heavily shelled and experiencing heavy casualties. All of its officers became casualties, and 351 Sgt MC Richard was mentioned in despatches for taking over and organising reconnaissance into No-Man’s Land. High explosives blew in the crowded trenches, and when one barrage lifted, another commenced. The ranging of the enemy artillery was also improving on the front line, as enemy numbering about 100 strong wearing packs moved into their front line trenches.
At 9pm the Battalion received orders from Brigade to reconnoitre lines of approach for an attack by the Division and the condition of the enemy wire, which upon inspection had been cut in places and in rather poor condition. Casualties during the day: 2nd Lt Hart killed, plus 19 other ranks; 5 officers wounded, including Capt. Wiltshire, and 129 other ranks wounded. 19 other ranks missing.
26th July 1916: Early in the morning the 22nd Battalion received orders and commenced its march to the line, and as there was no time to prepare breakfast the men had to march on empty stomachs. The route passed through the ruined town of Albert, and the leaning statue of the Virgin hanging precariously from the steeple of the church. All packs were dumped, and fighting order was assumed. Circular tin discs were issued to each man to be worn on their backs to facilitate spotting by observers and aircraft. In the fields around Albert, the 1st Division’s Battalions were sleeping. They had just emerged from the capture of Pozieres village, and their appearance recalled memories a previous meeting on Gallipoli. Moving on through the notorious Sausage Gully where the guns were massed wheel to wheel, care had to be taken in passing to avoid injury from their ‘flash’, and here they were issued with picks and shovels, two Mills Bombs each and two sandbags. Three gas alarms were sounded on account of gas shells in the Valley. They passed the Chalk Pit into hastily constructed trenches beyond the village of Pozieres. Late that evening the Battalion started to relieve the 6th Battalion in the front line.
25th July 1916: The 22nd Battalion practised the Pozieres attack in the afternoon, followed by a route march, returning to Lealvillers.
24th July 1916: Route march returning to Lealvillers: A & C Companies in the morning, B & D Companies in the afternoon. Training when not route marching. AIF 2nd Division Commanding Officer General Legge visited the Brigade.
23rd July 1916: Just after midnight the Battalion witnessed to the east the fierce bombardment that preceeded the AIF 1st Division’s attack on Pozieres. That day the 22nd Battalion held church parade in the morning and rested in the afternoon.
20th July 1916: The 22nd Battalion marched from Puchvillers at 9am reaching Lealvillers at 12.30am, where the Battalion remained in billets for four days. While preparing, the Battalion was being trained and practiced in the evolving tactics of trench attacks with men getting close as possible to the barrage falling on the enemy lines and then rushing it when lifted. The barrage would then move to the 2nd objective, set often close to the first, therefore providing both cover from a counter-attack to those at the first objective plus softening up the defences for attack by the next wave. At the same time the Germans had perfected their own barrages put down a curtain to the rear of the men attacking and sometimes further to the rear hindering the movement of the reserve or supply-trains.
18th July 1916: The 22nd Battalion marched from Rainneville reaching Puchvillers at 4pm.
16th July 1916: The 22nd Battalion marched from Breilly at 10.30am making billets at Rainneville to the north of Amiens.
12th July 1916: Drilling and route-marching for the next four days while billeted at Breilly.
11th July 1916: Reveille was at 2am and following a four mile march along the canal St.Omer Station was reached at 7.30am. The 22nd Battalion boarded the train heading south towards the Somme and the major offensive which had already begun, passing through Calais, Boulogne, Etaples to Amiens. Upon detraining at Amiens the Battalion had to march 10 miles back to the village of Ailly-sur-Somme, through which the train had just passed, and then to the billets at nearby Breilly.
9th July 1916: After a march of 15 miles the 22nd Battalion reached Renescure, with its good billets.
8th July 1916: The 22nd Battalion began its journey to the Somme and moved from Steenwerck to Rouge Croix, with a strength of 30 officers and 1009 other ranks.
3rd July 1916: The sector was handed over to the 3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade. The night of the relief was marked by an intense bombardment, as the Battalion commenced its march through Steenwerck to La Becque for a four day stay.
Also on this day saw the embarkation of the 13th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Ayrshire A33, consisting of servicemen 4971 to 5148.
2nd July 1916: Battalion working and fatigue parties supplied. Casualties one other ranks killed, 3 other ranks wounded.
30th June 1916: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 23rd Battalion, commencing at 10pm but held up for 15 minutes by German artillery opening up. The Battalion resumed its old position in the reserve trenches in the rear of the 6th Brigade front in the Bois Grenier line. Battalion strength 31 officers and 931 other ranks.
29th June 1916: The night of the 29th/30th June saw the large raid by 8 Officers and 244 other ranks by the 6th Brigade to the south-west of the Armentieres – Wavrin railway. This raid (see Brigade orders, right) was the most important of the Anzac series and involved the expenditure of about 8,000 shells, mainly of field artillery, and 1,000 trench mortars that were targeted on cutting the wire in front of the German lines. This large raiding party, to which each of the four Battalions had contributed an equal quota, had been training for some time near Armentieres under Capt. ARL Wiltshire of the 22nd Battalion. Under the heavy artillery and trench mortar barrage the ‘Black Anzac’ raiders rushed the German lines and entered their lines in three places. As 462 Pte Smith, MM, wrote of the raiders with blackened faces ‘Old Fritz did not know what was up when about 60 black fellows jumped into his trenches…it was rather exciting crawling along the ground on our tummies on no-man’s land. It was alright out there watching our artillery give them some iron rations.’ In the main the raid was highly successful and about 100 Germans were casualties, including 32 killed, while five prisoners were brought back for identification and information. The Brigades casualties were 32 including 8 killed and three missing, of which eight from the 22nd Battalion were wounded. For his services Capt. Wiltshire received a Military Cross, and 919 Pte Strain and 2488 Pte Robbins a Military Medal for gallantry in cutting the wire under Machine Gun fire and for devotion to duty as stretcher bearers bringing back three wounded men.
28th June 1916: Quiet day. Little enemy shelling. 2 other ranks wounded.
27th June 1916: At 01.20am our artillery shelled enemy trenches as a diversion against a raid on the Battalion’s right. Heavy enemy retaliation on whole of our Battalion sector especially on the support and reserve lines. Casualties 3 Officers wounded, 2 other ranks killed and 4 other ranks wounded.
26th June 1916: The Germans put down a particularly heavy bombardment in which Armentieres suffered. The Signallers under Lieut LA McCartin had a difficult time repairing and maintaining the communication lines between the front and the command centres. Casualties that day included Lieut L Oldfield who later died of wounds, and 6 other ranks were wounded.
25th June 1916: With hostile activity ramping up along the British front in preparation of the Somme offensive, our artillery was active throughout the day including a demonstration carried out by our artillery on the German trenches opposite the Battalion’s sector. The enemy retaliated, mainly on our support and reserve lines. Casualties during the day of one other rank killed, and 7 other ranks wounded.
24th June 1916: Our artillery was active throughout the day. The enemy’s artillery had been quiet through the day but then opened a brisk fire on the Battalion’s right Company lasting about 10 minutes with high explosive and shrapnel, with casualties two other ranks killed, and two other ranks wounded – amongst those that died were 2339 Pte Hogan and 2340 Pte Hosking, the first of the 5th Reinforcements to be killed during the war.
23rd June 1916: Battalion patrols had been out nightly but had not encountered any German patrols, with the Australians having ascendancy over No Man’s Land at that time. However the enemy’s aerial torpedoes were troublesome in the salient. Casualties 1 killed and five wounded that day.
22nd June 1916: Enemy’s artillery active throughout the day, hardly any time when the guns were silent. At 4pm the Battalion’s sector was subject to a severe bombardment and front parapets were badly damaged. As Major MacKay wrote in his diary “Shells bursting everywhere – heaviest bombardment I have yet experienced. Bombardment lasted ‘til 4.50. Fifty minutes of hell.” Casualties 1 killed and three wounded.
21st June 1916: The Battalion sector was shelled intermittently throughout the day, with casualties of 2 other ranks wounded. One of the wounded, 823 Pte Greenwood, was taken to 8th Casualty Clearing Station but dies of his wounds later that day.
20th June 1916: The 22nd Battalion relieved the 23rd Battalion in the Firing Line in the Rue du Bois salient. The salient was subject to both enfilade and frontal fire, and B Company that held it suffered one half of the heavy casualties resulting from this tour of front line duty. The shelling was heavy on both sides, including the use of aerial torpedoes and minenwerfers by the Germans.
18th June 1916: To support the raids ordered by General Haig to harass the enemy ahead of the Somme offensive, the 6th Brigade raiding party was formed and commenced training. This raiding party – which was to be the largest in this series – was formed of one platoon from each of the four battalions within the Brigade. Captain ARL Wiltshire of the 22nd Battalion was placed in charge.
10th June 1916: During the evening the 22nd Battalion relieved the 28th Battalion in the Bois Grenier reserve line, remaining there for a week before moving to the Rue du Bois salient. The Battalion strength was 30 Officers and 998 other ranks. In the reserve line the Battalion supplied working parties for defence work, cable laying, carrying stores etc to the front line at night.
7th June 1916: Order received for the 6th Brigade to prepare to relieve the 7th Brigade in the trenches, with the 5th Brigade on right flank and New Zealand Infantry Brigade on left flank.
3rd June 1916: Battalion on fatigues, and specialists continued with their training. 2302 Pte Patterson is hit by a shell and dies of his wounds later that day at 7th Australian Field Ambulance.
1st June 1916: Inspection of the AIF by The Right Honourable William Morris Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia , and the Rt Hon Andrew Fisher, High Commissioner for Australia (photograph right). Three cheers for Hughes, Birdwood and Australia, and all was over. Later that evening the Battalion marched five miles to work on digging trenches and cable laying. Battalion specialists – Lewis Gunners, Signallers, Bombers, Scouts and Intelligence Observers – remained training.
5th May 1916: Information was received from 2nd Division HQ that at 7.40 pm the enemy was attacking the Bridoux Salient held by the 5th Brigade. The battalion and 6th Brigade was ordered to stand by, but were not required.
2nd May 1916: The battalion sent 200 men to the Divisional baths at Armentieres; 400 men were placed on various fatigues near Fleurbaix.
1st May 1916: The 6th Brigade went into reserve and the 22nd Battalion into billets and huts near Erquinghem, then a nice and practically undamaged village though still close to the front line. There for six weeks the battalion remained, training and conducting fatigues including the laying of wiring and digging of reserve lines. Steel helmets and box respirators were not plentiful at this time, but in May the battalion received more.
30th April 1916: The 22nd Battalion is relieved at 11.30 pm by 6th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, AIF 1st Division. The 22nd arrived at billets in Erquinghem at 2.30 am.
29th April 1916: Situation normal and enemy quiet. Our snipers find it difficult to obtain a target. 6th Battalion officers from the AIF 1st Division visit the trench in advance of taking over.
28th April 1916: Our trench mortars opened up with 40 rounds – 35 hit their target, 5 failed to explode.
27th April 1916: A false gas alarm on the Battalion’s left caused both sides to open up with artillery. Their artillery switched onto our front trenches with two direct hits with one man killed and four wounded. Meanwhile, Captain HC Buckley of the original Battalion and 56th Yarra Borderers was accidentally killed by a bomb while conducting grenade training to the rear at Fleurbaix.
26th April 1916: Enemy artillery fired 20 high explosive and shrapnel shells. Nil casualties.
25th April 1916: On the first anniversary of the Anzac Cove landings, the 22nd Battalion moved forward to relieve the 21st Battalion in the front line trenches in accordance with operational orders No.11 (see copy of orders right). The relief was completed at 10.22 pm.
22nd April 1916: For the next three days while in reserve, the Battalion conducted fatigues, mainly reclaiming and repairing the communication trench.
21st April 1916: Good Friday – church services held by Company arrangement. Shelled for 1 &¼ hours – two other ranks wounded.
19th April 1916: Having been relieved by the 21st Battalion at 9.50 pm, the 22nd Battalion left the front line with 28 Officers and 939 other ranks, 2 Officers and 45 other ranks fewer than when they arrived six days earlier. All Company’s reported settled into billets by 11 pm.
18th April 1916: Enemy artillery fired 6 rounds of 77 mm shells at our front line but ceased when our artillery retaliated and fired on their front line.
17th April 1916: Enemy working party spotted resulting in our artillery firing 7 rounds from 18 Pounder on enemy front line and 6 rounds from the Trench Mortars.Working party ceased activity. Enemy attitude quiet, and both rifle and artillery less active than normal.
15th April 1916: Unable to send out any patrols owing to the bright moonlight. 1234 Pte R Jordan of C Company was the first from the Battalion to be killed in France, with a shrapnel wound to the head and back.
14th April 1916: Sniping and observation the main activities, with very little movement noticed in this quiet sector. Patrols soon came in contact with the enemy, and in a night encounter Lieut. JC McCaul was shot and seriously wounded and did not re-join the Battalion again. 273 L-Cpl Wallace was seriously wounded, and died from his wounds the following day.
13th April 1916: After six days in reserve, the 22nd Battalion in accordance with Brigade Orders (picture right) relieved the AIF 21st Battalion in the front line, then a quiet place. This, their first relief in the front line on the Western Front, was completed at 9.40pm with 30 Officers and 984 men. In this part of the Western Front the trenches were above ground breastwork trenches on account of the high water table. Communication trenches built during the dry months of 1915 had become flooded by the October and November rains. No-Mans Land varied from 100 – 400 yards and wire entanglements were slight on account of the great danger posed to the parties having to go into the open.
10th April 1916: Fatigue parties commenced work on reclaiming and improving the communication trenches, during which enemy artillery was active for 90 minutes in the afternoon. 400 men from the Battalion marched to baths in Armentieres where they received clean underclothing and socks.
9th April 1916: A white house near a billet occupied by ‘C’ Company was suspected of being used for signalling for enemy artillery that was intermittently shelling the billets to the rear. As a precaution the house was dyed during the night with permanganate of potash and water!
7th April 1916: During the night of the 7th the 22nd Battalion carried out its first relief in France taking over the Reserve Line at Fleurbaix from the 11th Suffolk Regiment (101st Brigade, 34th Division). Looking back in months to come, over-elaborate precautions were taken that night to avoid noise and lights, particularly for this relatively quiet Bois Grenier ‘nursery’ area for new untried or arriving troops.
6th April 1916: Foot inspection and bathing, plus physical exercises. Preparing to move out with 29 Officers and 956 other ranks.
4th April 1916: Orders were received to march to the Bois Grenier, or ‘nursery sector’ and the 22nd Battalion as part of 6th Brigade commenced its march north from Roquetoire along the Lys River, with Haverskerque reached on the first day after thirteen miles. The next day saw a fifteen mile march towards Estaires. A great reception was given by the people to the Battalion as it went through the villages. Four men fell out of the march due to sore feet, as was common with the new arrivals with soft feet from previous months marching on sand, and the cobbled streets. Some of the men were also charged with breaking from the ranks during the march – including three men from the 5th/22nd – and received Field Punishment Number 2.
Meanwhile the 12th Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne on HMAT Euripides A14, consisting of servicemen 4651 to 4809.
1st April 1916: As the Brigadiers of the AIF 2nd Division were taken to view the forward area, the men destined for the front-line were issued with steel helmets along with gas masks and instructions given in their use. Lectures were also given at the billets on the methods of preventing frost-bite, on observing the enemy in and behind their trenches, plus how to deal with liquid-fire attacks.
31st March 1916: Inspection of the AIF 6th Brigade by Lord Kitchener at Aire.
29th March 1916: On arrival at Aire-sur-la-Lys the 22nd Battalion disembarked the train at 2am in the morning amidst sleet and snow, a sudden and marked contrast to the weather in Egypt. By 7am billets amongst the civilian population were reached both within and widely scattered around the village of Roquetoire, approximately 25 miles behind the front-line in northern France. The officers frequently found spare beds in houses where the sons were away fighting, or had been killed, whereas the other ranks had to make do in farm buildings. Being in a rural area and with practically all the local men away fighting , the Australian soldiers frequently helped out with tasks about the farms or houses. In those early days eggs and good champagne were cheap and plentiful, the latter being appreciated with the excellent French cooking.
Meanwhile on the same day saw the embarkation of the 11th Reinforcements from Melbourne on the RMS Orontes, consisting of servicemen 4351 to 4592.
26th March 1916: Exactly one year after being formed, the 22nd Battalion disembarks the ‘Llandovery Castle’ in Marseille Harbour, and marched through the manufacturing part of the city to Marseille station. At 4.30pm the train was boarded and the Battalion commenced its three day journey in comparative comfort to northern France. The battalion as part of the 2nd Division that was the first to land in France was warmly greeted at every stop. Men and women passed them gifts of fruit and wine. From these early days in France it became apparent that the Australian soldier, with their friendliness and not hindered by social distinctions was much more akin to the French than the more reserved British soldier. This affection between the two became even stronger as the fighting prowess of the Australian soldier became widely known to the French people during the war.
25th March 1916: The ‘Llandovery Castle’ entered Marseille Harbour and she tied up about 3pm. The unloading of baggage was commenced, but the troops were not disembarked until the following day. Shore leave was not granted that evening.
23rd March 1916: The ‘Llandovery Castle’ lay off Malta for some hours but did not call.
20th March 1916: At about 10am the ‘Llandovery Castle’ (picture right) steamed out of Alexandria with Colonel Smith as O.C. Troops and Captain Bunning as Ship’s Adjutant. The new Lewis guns, introduced at Moascar, were mounted by their crews as a form of protection against submarines.
19th March 1916: In the Egyptian port of Alexandria, the AIF 22nd Battalion of 27 Officers and 930 other ranks, along with the 2nd Pioneers and 6th Field Ambulance, disembarked the train and shortly afterwards were on board the ‘Llandovery Castle’, destination France. Unbeknown to the men at the time, the ship that they had just boarded would later be embroiled in one of the most controversial incidents of the First World War. In June 1918 and while operating as a Canadian Hospital Ship, she was torpedoed in the Atlantic Ocean. The German U-boat Captain, believing that there were eight American Flying Corps Officers on board, picked up and questioned the Captain of the Llandovery Castle, and trying to destroy the evidence of the sinking shot many of the survivors in the lifeboats. Many Canadian medical staff and nurses were killed, with only twenty-four people surviving the attack.
18th March 1916: General Birdwood and the Prince of Wales reviewed the 6th Brigade, and at 11.45pm the Battalion entrained in open trucks for Alexandria in heavy unseasonal rain.
13th March 1916: As part of the Australian 2nd Division, the 22nd Battalion was one of the first to leave camp for Alexandria and the voyage across the Mediterranean to France. The 7th Infantry Brigade was the first to leave, followed by the 5th and 6th.
11th March 1916: Training continued. 22nd Battalion kits sterilised and following day the soldiers received inoculations.
8th March 1916: The 22nd Battalion arrives at Moascar (just to the west of Ismailia) from Ferry Post, having been relieved by the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. During the coming ten days at Moascar there were many changes, with men being transferred to new units that were being formed and the return of the convalescent sick and wounded. Major Smith who had been commanding the Battalion since Colonel Crouch’s departure, is promoted to Lieut.-Colonel.
7th March 1916: Embarkation of the 10th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Wiltshire A18, consisting of servicemen between 4051 to 4776
6th March 1916: Advanced orders for embarkation are received and preparations and preparations are made for the Brigade to move to the staging camp at Ferry Post.
1st March 1916: Entrenching and wire entanglement work on the front-line continued, but instructions received to push on with musketry course adding to the rumours of a reported move to France shortly. Strength of the Battalion, 29 Officers and 905 other ranks.
29th February 1916: 6th Brigade Commanding Officer Colonel Gwynn is transferred to I Anzac and is replaced by 12th Battalion Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Gellibrand. Defence work and training continued.
8th February 1916: Embarkation of the 9th Reinforcements from Melbourne on HMAT Warilda A69, consisting of servicemen 3752 to 4006. Later in 1916 HMAT Warilda was converted into a Hospital Ship and was sunk on 3rd August 1918 with the loss of 123 persons, including fifteen Australians.
26th January 1916: The Battalion entrained for Ismailia (see map above, courtesy of Digger History) and on the 29th January marched to Ferry Post. After two days the Battalion moved to Brighton Beach out in the wastes of the Sinai desert, preparing the defence line (photograph right) and the remainder of the Battalion training. Two Companies were always on outpost duty, but as Gorman recalls ‘this was not nerve-racking as ‘no man’s land’ was many hundreds of miles wide.’
6th January 1916: The 22nd Battalion landed at Alexandria, followed by a short train ride to Tel-el-Kabir. Upon arrival at camp they were greeted by the 4th and 5th reinforcements that had already secured the few tents available.
5th January 1916: Embarkation of the 8th Reinforcements 22nd Battalion from Melbourne on the HMAT Afric (A19), consisting of servicemen 3451 to 3683.
3rd January 1916: After spending Christmas and the New Year regrouping on the island of Lemnos following the successful evacuation from Gallipoli, the 22nd Battalion boarded HMAT Ascanius (A11) at Mudros Harbour en-route to Alexandria and the AIF training camps in Egypt.
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FIRST WORLD WAR TIMELINE