22nd Battalion: 1917

22nd-battalion1917-08-146th August 1917: Training continued as per the Battalion Syllabus (attached) and  General Officer Commanding addressed all officers within the 6th Brigade. The latest German tactics and the importance of initiative on the part of the junior officers were the chief points dealt with.

29th July 1917: In the early hours the 22nd Battalion reached the village of Arques near St. Omer. A further march of two miles brought it to the village of Campagne around which the Battalion found home in scattered billets for the next six weeks where training continued. It was near this spot that the Battalion had billeted on its arrival from Egypt and Renescure and Roquetoire was accessible for those that deemed to venture out after long daily route marches. Paris leave also became more general. Maj-Gen Paton took over command of the 6th Brigade.

28th July 1917: After an early reveille, the Battalion entrained at the Aveluy station close by and commenced their journey north via Amiens, in the horse boxes frequently used in France.

Pozieres - E04578.JPG24th July 1917: After a month in Divisional Reserve at Beaulencourt, the Battalion struck camp at 5am and at 7am marched out for Aveluy, passing through Le Sars and Pozieres, exactly a year on from the fighting. The two memorials erected to the AIF 1st and 2nd Divisions (photograph right) were passed and, where every spot revoked reminiscence, the journey north and to Belgium began. The arrival at Aveluy and the Ancre afforded the opportunity of a swim and relief from the hot summer sun. While at Aveluy Maj-Gen Gellibrand was transferred to England to command the AIF Depots.

22nd July 1917: Church parade and presentation of medals and ribbons by Lieut-Gen Birdwood. After the march past Gen Birdwood met the junior officers.

21st July 1917: Attack practice in cooperation with tanks which were represented by hessian mounds.

11th July 1917: Lecture on Venereal Disease.

3rd July 1917: Skirmishing and open attack as a drill. Twenty-six other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD, Le Havre.

1st July 1917: Church parade and inspection by General Smythe, Commanding Officer AIF 2nd Division.

23rd June 1917: Practiced village fighting at Beaulencourt.

19th June 1917: Practiced wood fighting at the village of Villers-au-Flos.

15th June 1917: The AIF 2nd Division relieved the AIF 5th Division, with the 6th Brigade relieving 14th Brigade. The 22nd Battalion entrained at Varennes for Bapaume, and then marched to Beaulencourt where it formed part of the Divisional Reserve for the I Anzac Corps in the front area.


10th June 1917: Major ARL Wiltshire (front row, sixth from left) was promoted to Lieut-Colonel and assumed command of the 22nd Battalion, a position he held for the rest of the war. Major Matthews returned to the Battalion and became second in command

6th June 1917: General Birdwood and the Hon Andrew Fisher were present at a Brigade Church Parade, followed by a march past. Numerous promotions were made following the Bullecourt losses, including Lieut Rodda receiving his Captaincy. Battalion strength 25 officers and 731 other ranks.

Mills - 3807858.JPG1st June 1917: During 6th Brigade mortar training the premature bursting of a Stokes bomb caused 20 casualties – 4 killed and 16 wounded – including 5058 Pte Mills (photograph right) of the 22nd Battalion who died a day later from his injuries. The accident was probably caused by a faulty shell which burst about three feet from the nozzle of the gun.

30th May 1917: A successful Brigade sports meeting was held at Henencourt, finished by a series of spirited boxing matches. 

29th May 1917: The Battalion marched to Millencourt and practiced a bombing attack on a set of trenches along with the 6th Light Trench Mortar and Stokes Mortars.

1917-06-01.png18th May 1917: Having been their Commanding Officer since February Lieut-Col. DM Davis left the 22nd Battalion to take command of the 6th Training Battalion in England, leaving Major Wiltshire in temporary command.

17th May 1917: Leaving Mametz Camp the 22nd Battalion marched to Aveluy just outside Albert and then to Bouzincourt where in this pleasant village and countryside the Battalion stayed for a month. Marching, musketry, close order drill and training of specialists took place (see example training syllabus, right). A number of men were sent to a seaside camp to recuperate, and football and sports provided recreation.

ascanius-h1615711th May 1917: HMAT Ascanius (A11) set sail from Melbourne on the last of her nine transport trips from Australia, and on this final voyage with the 19th reinforcements of the 22ndBattalion on board. In addition to the trips to and from Australia she picked up and transported the 22nd Battalion that had were waiting in Mudros Harbour, Lemnos, following the evacuation of Gallipoli, bound for Egypt where at the time the AIF was re-grouping.

10th May 1917: Brigade resting and re-organising. Kits of deceased men being dealt with.

9th May 1917: After a night under canvass at Le Sars the Battalion moved on to Martinpuich and Contalmaison and finally to Mametz camp. Here the Battalion spent the next week refitting, reorganising and training specialists.

8th May 1917: Upon reaching Bapaume the men boarded trucks on  a trench railway to Le Sars.

7th May 1917: The Battalion moved to Favreuil where in the pouring rain camp was made in the open.

6th May 1917: The 22nd Battalion performed carrying parties to the front line.

5th May 1917: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Battalion and moved in small parties to the sunken road between Noreuil and Longatte. Owing to the severity of the losses, the Battalion was acting as a Company, with each Company as a Platoon.

4th May 1917: The relief of the 6th Brigade by the 1st Brigade started from midnight (the 22nd Battalion relieved by the 3rd Battalion), and was completed by 4am. For the next 24 hours the Battalion rested by the railway embankment. In 24 hours the 22nd Battalion had lost sixteen officers and 422 other ranks of whom over fifty percent were killed or missing. Though no other battalion lost so heavily, overall the 6th Brigade lost 58 officers and 1,422 other ranks.

3rd May 1917: The Second Battle of Bullecourt. “The Battle of Bullecourt occupies a unique place in the Battalion’s annals. For no other struggle had the preparations been so complete, the rehearsals so thorough, or the general organisation so apparently perfect. Yet within a few minutes of its commencement, the combat developed into a pell-mell of violent hand-to-hand struggles, where the 6th Brigade met the flower of the German Army, and beat it into quiescence.” Capt E.Gorman, With the Twenty-Second.

The Hindenburg Line was a formidable defensive system on ground specifically chosen, with intersecting arcs of machine gun fire, and shell proof dugouts to withstand losses from the preceding barrage with easy access and exit for their garrison. Furthermore German intelligence had learnt of the impending attack and by whom and as a result the Kaiser hand-picked the defending battalions to repel the attacks by the Australians. Bullecourt was a key defensive position for the Germans where the line bent or pivoted.

Bullecourt May 1083.gifZero hour was fixed for 3.45am with the AIF 5th Brigade to the right of the 6th Brigade and the 185th Brigade of the British 62nd Division on the left. The moon had provided some light earlier in the night, but the 10 minutes immediately preceding zero hour were intense darkness. The JOT was parallel to the enemy lines and 500 yards in front of a steep railway embankment. Brig-Gen Gellibrand established his forward HQ in this embankment and through his leadership and active command and despite heavy shelling from the direction of Queant, the success of the operation may be largely attributed. This was in every sense a Brigade not battalion battle where men of all four battalions were often joined in one bombing party.

As the formations filed over the embankment to form up on the JOT the moon light revealed them to the enemy and the barrage opened up causing casualties. At zero hour our artillery opened up and the advance in waves began. Very little distance had been traversed before a concentration of shells, minenwerfers and machine gun bullets fell upon the 22nd Battalions centre, and caused its casualties to substantially exceed those of any other in the Brigade. The intensity of the machine gun fire was not equalled in any of the Battalion’s other experiences. Many of the Battalion fell in No-Hogarth - H06563.JPGMan’s Land and at the German wire, including Capt. Hogarth (C Company, 2nd in Command of the 22nd Battalion, photograph left), Capt. Slater, and with Lieut. Fraser being shot as he approached OG1. For many of the others on the left they were pinned down by fierce rifle and machine-gun fire.With the 21st Battalion also suffering heavily, the survivors pushed forward no longer in systematic waves but a blending of the battalions. On the extreme left of the Brigade the left encountered severe resistance and did not completely attain their objective, and to their left the 62nd Division had failed to progress. In this critical position they received enfilade and frontal fire but established themselves in shell holes just short of their objective. The right and main body followed closely on the barrage and finding the wire well destroyed gained the German line, but there was considerable opposition and then commenced a bombing action which lasted 24 hours. Capt. Kennedy upon reaching OG1 with a fraction of the men and turning left to make good the position was met by German bombs. A bomb fight followed in which the 22nd won 200 yards of trench. Lieut. Greig pushed on with his wave to OG2 and likewise turned left and with Lieut. Braithwaite, Military Cross, (wounded in both arms) and Lieut. Thwaites began a bomb fight to secure the objective and a long drawn out bomb fight ensued. Supported by Stokes Mortars of the 6th Light Trench Mortar Battery and the Lewis gunners pushed back the defenders, but only to another dugout. A party led by Corporal O’Neill, Military Medal, with Sgt Arblaster of the 21st rushed the strong-point, but the Germans were fighting hard and none but the wounded were found in the dugout.

Filmer - H13920.JPGThe remaining waves in conjunction with the other battalions continued the advance to the second German Line from where the success signals were fired at 4.26am. Within the first two hours the 6th Brigade had established itself in both the first and second systems of the Hindenburg Line and for some distant further forward. On its left the German positions were entirely maintained. On its right, all but a portion of the first German trench was still in the enemy’s hands. Throughout the day counter-attack followed counter-attack, thirteen in all, with Capt. Kennedy and his handful from the 22nd involved in bomb fights in OG1, but the situation of ammunition became serious. One carrying party of thirty under Lieut Filmer (photograph right) was reduced to four when he led its remnant to the objective. Within a few minutes and looking over the trench he himself was killed.

The casualties among the stretcher-bearers were extremely heavy. At 8am the situation was most critical, as the Brigade was hemmed in and supplies limited. By midday some successes had been made on the flanks, but the 22nd Battalion was subject to more counter-attacks, with the supply of bombs diminishing against the continued counter-attacks. However by evening the enemy, despite being hand-picked battalions with special training, had pretty much been beaten to a standstill.  

2nd May 1917: During the evening at 7pm the Battalion moved to a gully in rear of the front line, to the right of Bullecourt, with an attacking strength of 21 Officers and 618 other ranks, the remainder proceeding to the Divisional Details Camp. The articles for the next morning’s attack were drawn by platoons, and some hours were available for sleep before the Battalion was awakened to line the Jumping-Off Trench.

1st May 1917: Companies and platoons informed of the attacking sections and waves for the forthcoming attack at Bullecourt. The 22nd Battalion would be leading the attack on the far left of the 6th Brigade, in four waves and two sections [see Brigade orders of 23rd April below], with a further four waves following behind from the 21st Battalion, and with eight similar waves of the 24th & 23rd Battalions to the right.

30th April 1917: A second Divisional attack practice on practice ground near Favreuil, and improvements were made in assembling and direction during the hours of dark. At no other time were the rehearsals as complete then as at Bullecourt. By the end of the month, with the first warmth and signs of Spring, the fighting strength of the Battalion was 33 Officers and 842 other ranks.

28th April 1917: At midnight the alarm sounded with the call for the Battalion to ‘man the Corps line.’ Once the last man was in place the order was given to dismiss, as this was just a drill to time the response rate.

27th April 1917: The 22nd Battalion along with the battalions of the 6th and 5th Brigades carried out battle practice at Favreuil. Attacking waves were waiting on jumping off line at 3.30am. At 4am barrages represented by lights commenced and battalion jumped off. Operation completed at 6am. In the afternoon companies practiced in passing of obstacles in their attacking waves and the negotiation of barbed wire by means of traversing mats. Also successful demonstration of blowing gaps in wire entanglements using Bangalore Torpedoes.

26th April 1917: The artillery commenced a preparatory bombardment of the German lines.

25th April 1917: Anzac Day observed as a holiday, with battalion sports during the afternoon.

1917-04-23b.png1917-04-23a.png23rd April 1917: Capt. IP Stewart, Adjutant of the 22nd Battalion, issued the operation memo for the attack at Bullecourt (with amendment 1st May) which included attack formations and which would also provide the template for their rehearsals. [See Combat Areas > 22nd Battalion > Bullecourt (Preparation) to read the memo]

22nd April 1917: The Battalion carried out attack practice in conjunction with two battalions of the 5th Brigade. For the purpose of the practice the village of Bihucourt represented Bullecourt.

Favreuil map - i037-hi.jpg19th April 1917: On the last night of the tour everyone was drenched by the heavy rain. The 5th & 6th Brigades were relieved by the 7th Brigade, with the 22nd relieved by the 25th Battalion. During this stint on the front-line the Battalion had 7 killed and 29 wounded, plus 19 sick. The Battalion went into Divisional Reserve occupying tents and bivouacs at Favreuil for training and relaxation including sports. The Divisional canteen was also stationed close-by.

17th April 1917: Enemy high explosive shell hit a dugout in the support lines containing Ptes Vass, Fry and Summersford of C Company, killing all three. L-Cpl Anderson of D Company also killed, and along with Ptes Groves and Fowles on the previous day makes this the worst period for the Battalion since the attack at Warlencourt towards the end of February.

15th April 1917: The Germans launched an unsuccessful and costly attack on Lagnicourt, manned by the AIF 1st Division and with the 5th Brigade now under the command of the Battalion’s former Commanding Officer Brig-Gen R.Smith holding the left of their position. Fourteen German battalions took part in the main attack, and it was estimated that 1,500 were killed and 300 prisoners. The village and the attack lay beyond the right flank of the 22nd Battalion military-cross-george-v-300x300but in range of the Lewis gunners, including L/Cpl 1187 Tourrier who estimated that his gun accounted for 40 Germans and became ‘the envy of the battalion gunners’. A party of one officer and eleven other ranks attempted a raid on one of the Battalion’s posts and were all killed, and for his work 2nd Lieut. F.Gawler received a Military Cross. Sentry 5111 Pte Winter was shot dead by the raiders, and Major JS Dooley, MC was wounded.

14th April 1917: The 22nd Battalion took over the front line from the 18th Battalion on the left of Noreuil, with the 5th Brigade on the right flank and British 168th Brigade on left.

13th April 1917: The Battalion moved  via Sausage Valley to Albert, then to Pozieres and Bapaume before arriving at Beugnatre where the night was spent.

12th April 1917: The battalion moved to Becourt Camp in preparation of the relief of the AIF 4th Division (that had just suffered heavily at Bullecourt) by the 2nd Division.

9th April 1917: Training including trench to trench attack practice, and a Brigade attack practice took place at Tara Hill.

6th April 1917: Firing practice on the range followed by ½ day holiday on account of it being Good Friday.

5th April 1917: Orders from the previous day cancelled and Battalion returned to D Camp, Mametz.

4th April 1917: Orders received for the 22nd Battalion to be held in readiness to work on railway construction, and an advance party proceeded to Bapaume.

1st April 1917: Church parade at Becourt. Presentations of Military Medals and ribbons by Lieut-Gen WR Birdwood, Commanding Officer AIF.

31st March 1917: Brigade church parade. 85 other ranks reinforcements joined the Battalion.

28th March 1917: Parades were resumed and Battalion drill was performed over shell-holes, roads and barbed-wire entanglements.

27th March 1917: The 22nd Battalion was relieved from Bapaume and rejoined the Brigade in Mametz Wood and its huts and placed in Divisional Reserve. Bathing and training commenced.

Bapaume 2 - E00419.JPG26th March 1917: Early in the morning 22nd Battalion B and C Companies moved into Bapaume and took over from 20th Battalion, and to billet in the Town Hall. However upon arrival the Town Hall (photograph right) had been destroyed the previous day by a clockwork mine, so the two companies were given the task of shovelling the Town Hall off the road and looking for survivors. A similar mine entirely destroyed the dugout system on the edge of Bapaume that was used by the 6th and 7th Brigades as their headquarters, though fortunately when the mine went off most of the 7th Brigade staff had advanced to Vaulx-Vraucourt. Orders were given that dugouts and houses left intact by the enemy must not be used by staff or troops. Meanwhile the rest of the 6th Brigade was relieved and moved into hut shelters at Mametz Wood.

25th March 1917: Church parade followed by road work. 31 other ranks reported from 2nd ADBD, Etaples.

19th March 1917: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 25th Battalion of the 7th Brigade in support and moved to Malt Support tented camp.

17th March 1917: As the 23rd Battalion entered Bapaume, the 22nd Battalion was to the left of the town and in front of Grevillers, before moving to Ravine Gully.

13th March 1917: Brigade ordered to move forward and take up positions along the Warlencourt Road, with the 22nd Battalion to occupy positions in Le Barque village and Malt Trench.

10th March 1917: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and marched out to Bazentin Camp. The camp was reached by 2am, but within six hours the Battalion was ordered to head back to the front and began retracing their steps of just a few hours before! Eaucourt, l’Abbaye and Le Barque were the first places to be garrisoned on reaching the advanced lines again, and daily progress was made on the heels of the retreating Germans.

9th March 1917: A forward line was laid out about 200 yards from the enemy line. Patrols reported enemy wire 15 to 20 feet in depth, and Machine Guns active. The vicinity around Brigade HQ was shelled heavily between 1 – 2 am.

Massie - H05505.JPG8th March 1917: The 22nd Battalion relieved the 23rd Battalion in Malt Trench (A & C Coys), Malt Support (B Coy) and Layton Lane and outposts. Throughout his retirement the German’s policy was to man selected strong posts and hold them with machine gun crews. These crews were often scattered along a continuous trench, all protected by wire and were very difficult to locate. Patrolling was dangerous and it was in this manner that Lieut Massie (photograph right) went missing in front of the then uncaptured Grevillers line, and was later reported killed in action having been taken behind German lines.

5th March 1917: Carrying to line and moved forward to Le Barque Trench.

3rd March 1917: Carrying supplies forward and then moved to Hexham Road, Gird Trench and Gird Support.

Eaucourt Abbaye.jpg.png2nd March 1917: At 4pm the 22nd Battalion began to move forward to Seven Elms, Flers Line and Eaucourt Abbaye in support as the 6th Brigade began the relief of the 5th Brigade.

1st March 1917: Close order drill plus training of Bombers, Lewis Gunners and Signallers at Shelter Wood.

26th February 1917: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 24th under the cover of fog. By noon the remnants of the Battalion had concentrated back at Shelter Wood Camp where it remained until the rest of the month, resting and receiving the next draft of reinforcements. During this last tour of front line duty the battalion had suffered some sixty casualties.

25th February 1917: On the eve of the Battalion’s relief, orders were received to issue ammunition and bombs in preparation to send out strong patrols for an advance along with the 21st Battalion to occupy Gallwitz Trench. Without the usual accompanying bombardment the night was eerily quiet and the fog made it difficult to navigate, and this was for the Battalion the first example of advancing under what would be termed ‘peaceful penetration’. The right hand companies of the 22nd faced with thick uncut wire entanglements sent back for duck-boards to lay across it. No enemy was encountered and they were ordered to complete their night’s task by reconnoitring and encircling with posts the ruined village of Warlencourt. Although the enemy was light in numbers, there were still casualties.

Warlencourt - P02226.011.JPGDuring the day there was no shelling and the weather was fine. Many enemy could be seen in the vicinity of Malt Trench and with resistance being encountered on the left of the I Anzac Corps front held by the 2nd Division, Gellibrand, in temporary command of the Division, decided on a determined advance and to take Malt Trench which was the enemy’s most important defence on this part of the front. The 18th Battalion of the 5th Brigade was met with fire from several machine guns and casualties were heavy. Snipers were active including against the stretcher-bearers and wounded. The 6th Brigade was quickly summoned to attack with little preparation and attacked with two companies each of the 21st and 22nd Battalions. The two companies of the 22nd Battalion were led by Lieut. Bazeley (C Company) and Captain Cull (D Company) who had earlier audaciously reconnoitred the position during the day, noting that the German wire had not been cut. He was informed however that there would be no artillery support to cut the wire and that the attack must proceed at all costs at once. Scouts were sent out to discover passages through the wire. As C and D Companies reached the top of the hill outside of Warlencourt some fifty yards from the entanglements, Germans in their trench opened fire with machine-guns and rifles. Cull ordered his men to lie in shell-holes and wait for reports from the scouts, but when no report came, he gave the order to charge. His impetus carried him over the first stake but he got entangled in the second where his hip was shattered by a bomb. Lieutenant Corne and Private Martin tried to extricate him, but Corne was hit and killed. Twenty of the men found an opening in the entanglement and under the leadership of Sgt Harwood entered an unoccupied portion of Malt Trench but were shortly afterwards driven out by machine gun fire. Captain Cull and french-croix-de-guerreseveral of his men were captured and made prisoner of war. At dawn in Little Wood a patrol from C Company was engaged and a stray bullet detonated a box of bombs being brought forward causing 16 casualties killed and wounded, including L-Cpl Kruger, DCM. Several were also wounded by booby traps left by the enemy. In all 50% of the men engaged in the failed attack of the 25th/26th February became casualties, including nine men from the 22nd Battalion killed. During this action four men from the battalion were awarded for their gallantry including the wounded 2151 Sgt Harwood who was awarded the French Croix de Guerre (picture right), and 2346 temporary Sgt McCormack of the 5th/22nd the Military Medal.

24th February 1917: Before dawn patrols were active and sighted an enemy fighting patrol of 20. Noted that there was an absence of flares during the early hours and no enemy shelling. Lieut-Col Davis received command of the Battalion, with Major Wiltshire second in command. That evening telephone message from HQ that the enemy was suspected of evacuating Mauramont and Serres.

23rd February 1917: A quiet day. At dark a patrol left our lines and bombed the post where Cpl Wittner was killed and recovered his body.

21st February 1917: The 22nd Battalion marched out to relieve the 23rd Battalion in the Firing Line, and despite the deep mud that impeded the progress, the relief was completed by 3.15am. Except for scattered shelling the night was quiet. The first patrols found No-Man’s land quiet but just after dawn Cpl Wittner lost direction and was killed by a bomb thrown from a German post that he had stumbled across.

20th February 1917: A wet day. 364 pairs of gumboots arrived and were issued to the men.

18th February 1917: Capt CEW Bean, Official War Correspondent visited the battalion. The men, scattered around in tents and leaky bivouacs were most uncomfortable.

17th February 1917: The refreshed and clean battalion moved to Villa camp in Divisional Reserve, though the journey was slow owing to heavy traffic of troops and vehicles on the road. Promotions were made in the ranks to NCO’s (see 5th Reinforcements).

16th February 1917: In the third week of February the thaw commenced. As the month was dragging to an end the snow melted, and the forward area was a semi-frozen sea where movement was difficult, and every shell-hole a trap for the stumbler. At Shelter Wood the battalion had baths and spent time cleaning up, but mud and slush everywhere. In the evening concerts and card parties were held.

14th February 1917: Having arrived back at Shelter Wood, the Battalion Commanding Officer inspected and addressed 110 new reinforcements.

13th February 1917: Routine shelling during the day followed by enemy snipers becoming active in the evening, until they were stopped by our artillery. Later that evening the battalion was relieved by the 26th Battalion and commenced the long march back to Shelter Wood Camp. By dawn stragglers were still arriving.

1917-02-17.png10th February 1917: Away to the right the AIF 1st Division conducted a raid on The Maze. The 6th Brigade assisted by firing their Machine Guns and Stokes Mortars to create a diversion (see accompanying brigade report, right). The Germans responded with a bombardment in retaliation and four men from the Battalion – Ptes Kavanagh, Matson, Biber and Jago – were killed in action, making this the worst day for the 22nd Battalion since Mouquet Farm in August 1916. In addition another 10 other ranks were wounded, including L-Cpl Batton, MM, of the 5th/22nd. The weather continued to be fine but intensely cold.

9th February 1917: At 4pm began the relief of the 23rd Battalion in the Firing Line, with a frontage of ¾ mile. In spite of considerable machine gun fire on approaches the relief was completed by 9.30pm without incident. Patrols sent out and located several enemy posts, some by presence of coughing. The enemy front line was a deep continuous trench heavily wired with listening posts in front or in the wire.

7th February 1917: A further move was made to rough scattered bivouacs and sunken roads just east of the ruined village of Martinpuich, the headquarters of the Battalion occupying dugouts at the foot of seven prominent trees known as Seven Elms.

6th February 1917: The 22nd Battalion moved to Divisional Reserve in Villa Camp near Martinpuich.

4th February 1917: Company commanders went forward and reconnoitred their sectors to the left of the Butte de Warlencourt and in front of Le Sars. The Battalion right was at the Albert-Bapaume road.

warlencourt1st February 1917: The morning was devoted to gas drill and foot rubbing. Companies fell in outside their huts in battle order wearing steel helmets and carrying two blankets fastened to their belts. Hats and puttees were dumped with the QM, and sandbags were worn as gaiters instead of the puttees. At 4pm the move was made by road to Shelter Wood Camp, replacing the 17th Battalion. The 22nd Battalion was heading to the Le Sars sector, facing the famous Butte de Warlencourt. The land was gripped in an iron frost, and the shell-pitted region was now a field of ice many feet thick, which men dug out with picks. It was so cold that moistened hair froze as it was brushed, and bread had to be thawed by the fire before it could be cut. The icy temperatures were also agonising on the feet and fingers, but the prospect of the thaw and return to the terrible mud of Flers and Ginchy was worse.

29th January 1917: At the end of January the Battalion moved to Becourt Wood Camp near Fricourt via Meaulte with a fighting strength of 25 Officers and 668 other ranks. For the next two days the battalion trained specialists and raiders, together with medical inspection and foot washing.

25th January 1917: For three days the Battalion had drill and attack practice on high ground south of Ribemont. Capt Bunning, Lieut.’s Alderson, Woolf and Corne and 2nd Lieut. Smith reported back to the unit from 2nd ADBD.

smyth23rd January 1917: The 22nd Battalion was inspected on parade by Maj-Gen Sir NM Smyth, VC, (pictured right) soon to be commanding the AIF 2nd Division. Smyth replaced General Legge who having fallen ill with the flu was relieved of his command and returned to Australia. 

18th January 1917: The Battalion entrained at Quarry for Mericourt and marched to Ribemont for ten days, and the rest in the village revived many a man. The socks and comforts provided by the Battalion’s many good friends in Australia did much to ease the hardships.

17th January 1917: Prisoner captured from 29th Ersatz Infantry Regiment, lost while on patrol. That night the Battalion was relieved by 31st Battalion and returned direct to ‘B’ Camp Trones Wood.

16th January 1917: The start of the long frost which lasted for six weeks, with the freezing temperatures causing problems to keep a footing on the earth and duckboards. Arranged and carried out Stokes mortar bombardment of suspected enemy post with good results, but brought heavy bombardment in retaliation. The 25th Battalion to the right sent up an SOS and the whole Divisional artillery came into action, with normal conditions again after an hour.

15th January 1917: Captured a prisoner from the 361st Regiment. He was a stretcher-bearer who was attending to an officer shot by our snipers.

14th January 1917: Relieved the 21st Battalion in the Firing Line

12th January 1917: Battalion relieved the 23rd Battalion in support at Needle Trench

6th January 1917: Battalion relieved by 23rd Battalion and returned to Brigade reserve at ‘B’ Camp at Trones Wood. During this time 35 other ranks reported in from 2nd ADBD, Etaples. 2nd Lieutenant Corne was promoted to Lieutenant.

5th January 1917: One hour of intense bombardment of enemy trenches in front of the battalion line carried out by all available guns. Results appeared good, and enemy retaliation moderate. Relieved by 24th Battalion and moved to Needle Trench in support.

3rd January 1917: Patrols reconnoitred enemy lines and located advance posts by the sound of heavy coughing. Bombing parties bombed these posts. Our snipers claim a bag of five. The length of front line held by the Battalion is approximately 1200 yards, and the front line is impassable in places. Garrison of 480 All Ranks.

2nd January 1917: The Battalion relieved left company of 21st Battalion in Spring and Spectrum trenches in the Firing Line, and took over new line from 6th Dorset Regiment, British 51st Brigade. This new sector was found to be in an extremely bad condition filled with mud and water. Enemy snipers very active and causing much annoyance amongst the men.

1st January 1917: The 22nd Battalion relieved 23rd Battalion as support in Needle Trench in area of Trones Wood with a fighting strength of 23 Officers and 747 other ranks. Divisional artillery ushered in 1917 by firing many tons of shells on the German lines.

Events Archive 1916

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