22nd Battalion: 1918

22nd-battalion14th November 1918: Divisional Horse Show and Gymkhana was held and proved to be a great success.

12th November 1918: After inspection training was conducted as per the syllabus with ‘B’ Company on Long Range Firing and one platoon of  ‘D’ Company carried out live bombing training.

Saint-Vaast-en-Chaussée_(Somme)11th November 1918 – Armistice Day: On a fine day the Battalion formed up at 9am on the Parade Ground. After inspection ‘A’ Company reported for Long Range Firing. One platoon of ‘C’ Company carried on with live bombing and the remaining men as per the training syllabus. At 10.30am the news of the Armistice was received at Battalion Headquarters and a runner was sent to carry the good news to the parade, and the Battalion Band marched through the village playing national anthems. The Australian and French flags were hoisted on the spire of the St. Vaast church (photograph above right). The afternoon was devoted to sports.

6th November 1918: Warning orders were issued for the 22nd Battalion to prepare once more to take its place at the front, as the battle continued driving the Germans eastwards.

1st November 1918: At 9am the Battalion formed up on the parade ground for inspection then carried on as per the training syllabus, followed by a football match between ‘A’ Company and Transport, which the latter won. The same regime, including baths, continued for the rest of the month.

29th October 1918: 347 men went to baths at Chateau Tirancourt and given a new change of clothes.

23rd October 1918: 355 men were given a hot bath at Chateau Tirancourt. At 8pm a concert was given in the YMCA tent.

17th October 1918: Baths at Vignacourt were allotted to the Battalion and during the morning 400 men were given a hot bath and change of clothing. The rest of the day was given over to the usual routine of training and sports.

White - 201210th October 1918: 2012 Pte Albert White, MM, was wounded in action on the 3rd October 1918 during the attack at Beaurevoir in which he was awarded the Military Medal, but he died of his wounds a week later in hospital in Rouen. As a result Pte White was the last man of the Twenty-Second to lose his life through enemy action during the Great War. Pte White was also a cousin to Major LW Mathews of the 22nd Battalion. [Photograph and other memorabilia courtesy of the Ballarat Clarendon College and placed on line by the Victorian Collections.]

9th October 1918: After inspection of gas helmets and equipment the Battalion carried on with games, physical training and bayonet fighting. The afternoon was devoted to sports and football. This this was the regime that the men of the Twenty-Second followed for the rest of the month.

8th October 1918: The 22nd Battalion remained in the enjoyable and peaceful town of St. Vaast for six weeks, with news of Allied victories reaching the battalion daily.

7th October 1918: After a route-march to Roisel the Battalion entrained for Amiens where it then marched twelve kilometres to billets at St. Vaast, reaching the little Somme hamlet in the early hours of the following morning.

6th October 1918: The delay of the relief into small hours of the 6th October meant that at 2am the 22nd Battalion was one of the last Australian infantry battalions to be in the front line in France, returning to the trenches that it had previously occupied at Billiard Copse. After resting a few hours the battalion moved by route march to Villeret Wood where they rested for the night.

5th October 1918: The 5th October 1918 was the last day spent by the 22nd Battalion in the firing line, holding the left flank of the Brigade along with the 23rd Battalion as the 21st, 24th and 2nd Pioneers attacked at Montbrehain. During the early hours of the following morning the 22nd Battalion was relieved by the American 117th Regiment. A few of the battalion stayed behind and were attached to the 117th including Lieut-Col Wiltshire, Major Matthews, Sgt Speechley and Pte Hunt (5th/22nd), with both Sgt Speechley and Pte Hunt being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for their leadership in assisting the Americans take their objectives in the attack at Geneve towards Busigny on the 7th October.

Beaurevoir 4th Oct 184th October 1918: On the left the 20th Manchester’s of the British 7th Brigade had to secure a number of objectives before the 22nd Battalion began its second attack at Beaurevoir, requiring a wait of 25 minutes on the ‘JOT’ after the barrage had opened at 6.30am, which resulted in the area just to the rear receiving heavy shelling. The fight of the 4th October was much more severe than that of the previous day. The objectives lay about Geneve, just beyond the road leading from the village to Montbrehain and to the right of Ponchaux. After advancing 1,000 yards the first objective was taken without much difficulty but the second was only captured after stiff opposition from machine-guns. It was not without still more costly fighting that the final objective was carried, the task made more difficult by heavy enemy fire from a factory just south of Geneve and the fact that the Manchester’s which had penetrated into Ponchaux were unable to hold the village from which machine-gun and rifle fire were now being received. The 22nd Battalion’s left flank was thus exposed until secured by the left hand company. By 10am the Battalion had completely consolidated all its objectives but at a severe cost having lost twenty-two men killed in action, including 2nd Lieut. Dawsett who had just re-joined from Officer Training Class with his commission, and sixty-five wounded in this the 22nd Battalion’s final fight. A large number of prisoners were taken along with twenty machine-guns. Thirty-two men from the 22nd Battalion were awarded for their bravery and gallantry along with fourteen men from the previous days fighting of 3rd October.

Beaurevoir 3rd Oct 183rd October 1918: Orders arrived at 3pm for the 22nd Battalion to be prepared to move forward in readiness to attack the German positions on the high ground to the right of the village of Beaurevoir, between the villages of Estrees and Geneve. Though the weather was bright and sunny, sunken roads and banks provided sufficient cover for a careful advance to the ‘JOT’, an old trench system crossing the Estrees – Geneve road. The moving columns were almost in position when they were spotted by a hostile aircraft and the enemy immediately shelled the area with 5.9’s, but fortunately only causing slight casualties. The area was filled with enemy dead, the result of an attack earlier in the day by the 5th Brigade. At 4.30pm and while still making its way to the JOT our artillery opened up and put down a barrage, unbeknown to the men of the 22nd that it was to cover their attack. The message did not arrive until almost two hours later at 6.25pm! A new zero hour had been set for 6.30pm, and this message did not arrive back with Lieut-Col Wiltshire until just seven minutes before the off, passing the message ‘we attack in seven minutes’ to Lieut.’s Sutherland and Anderson. Fortunately the Battalion being both highly trained and with most of the men having great experience organised itself rapidly for the advance. The 22nd Battalion frontage of 1,400 yards had ‘A’ Company on the left of the Estrees – Geneve road with their objective a sunken road which ran between the road and La Motte Farm. ‘C’ Company’s objective was to push through this objective and with ‘D’ Company on the right to capture and consolidate the high ground overlooking Geneve. On the Battalion’s left flank was the 24th Battalion and with the 23rd Battalion on the right. After a not very intense 18-pounder barrage of six minutes duration the waves pushed on through the 18th Battalion in isolated outposts just beyond the JOT. Resistance was strongest along the Roman Road along which the 22nd battalion was attacking. From the men of the 5th Brigade near the road came a warning of ‘mind the quarry’, an excavation on the right of the road held by a strong garrison, all of whom were bayoneted once the position was reached. The attack was braithwaite-2made with such verve and initiative that despite a strenuous resistance by enemy machine-gunners on the left flank all objectives were quickly secured along with 100 prisoners, thirty machine-guns, four 77mm guns and one 5.9 howitzer. This very decisive victory cost the Battalion only twenty casualties. However amongst the eleven killed were two very well-known and popular officers, Capt. Braithwaite, MC, (photograph above right) and Lieut. Paterson, MC, (photograph below right) commanding officers of ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies respectively. Capt. Braithwaite along with Lewis gunner Cpl Bonnet were killed in the act of charging the troublesome machine-gun on the left flank. As Capt. Braithwaite fell those nearby heard his last orders ‘Go on C Company’, and as Lieut.-Col. Wiltshire later wrote, ‘on they charged, mopping up the position and fully avenging their Captain’s death’. Capt. Paterson was killed at a copse on the crest.

Paterson - P05833The advance by the 22nd Battalion had enabled a timely relief for the 17th Battalion of the 5th Brigade who almost to a man were suffering from being half blinded with eyes streaming, and with swollen throats from the gas attacks of the previous night. At 10.30pm instructions came through that the attack was to be continued in the morning in conjunction with the 23rd Battalion on the right and British 7th Brigade on the left, the 22nd Battalion being separated by British battalion by the Torrens Canal, a small drainage channel which acted as a natural boundary. For the attack ‘A’ Company crossed from the left to the right of the road, with ‘C’ Company on the left of the road and ‘D’ Company forming a defensive flank along the Torrens Canal. That night the Transport and Quartermasters Staff again did great work delivering rations and stores right up to the men in the front line.

Beaurevoir Line map2nd October 1918: Billiard Copse lay well within the Hindenburg Line System (map right), and the adjacent village of Nauroy had been strongly fortified by the enemy. The trench systems here covered some thousands of yards in breadth and extended from the canal on the west to the Beaurevoir Line to the east. Here the 22nd Battalion waited for orders to attack the Beaurevoir defences and bivouacked for the night.

1st October 1918: The Battalion moved forward from Marquaix to occupy a part of the Hindenburg Line near Bellicourt. At short notice the final stage forward to Billiard Copse near Nauroy was made in intense darkness and without guides, with a compass bearing the sole aid to navigation. All the obstacles of the Hindenburg Line had to be crossed and the track lay across a deep canal and over difficult and entirely strange countryside. En route the moving companies were bombed by a low flying German aeroplane, but no casualties resulted. The destination was reached soon after midnight and great credit was due to Lieut. Smith, MC, MM for his map and compass reading skills. Later in the night blankets and rations arrived and by daylight the Battalion was well dug in and as comfortable as the position permitted.

30th September 1918: The day again passed without orders to move. Some excitement was caused by rumours of an unconditional surrender by Bulgaria.

29th September 1918: The Battalion rested during the morning after the somewhat strenuous march of the night before. In the afternoon there was an inspection of rifles.

28th September 1918: The Battalion moved forward at dusk to Marquex and bivouacked there for the night.

27th September 1918: The Battalion having received orders to move out to Le Mesnil, an advance party was sent forward to make the necessary billeting arrangements. The 22nd Battalion left Cappy at 7.15pm and a move towards the line commenced during the dark to avoid observation by enemy planes.

26th September 1918: The 22nd Battalion proceeded to Herleville and carried out attack practice. In this operation three tanks of the Tank Company were engaged. Cookers followed the men who were thus able to have dinner at Herleville, and the Band accompanied the troops to and from the operations.

25th September 1918: At Cappy there was a widely held opinion that the Battalion would not be returning anytime soon to the front line, but confidence in this theory soon evaporated with nightly movements of large bodies of men moving eastwards through the village to the line. Soon came rumours of another stunt and preparations were made for another move.

17th September 1918: A severe stormed had raged through the night bringing down numerous trees along the banks of the canal. During the day which turned out fine the usual program of parade, inspections, training exercises followed by sports in the afternoon were carried out. The strength of the 22nd Battalion actually with the unit, 20 Officers and 502 Other Ranks.

16th September 1918: A much enjoyed sports day, helped by the presence of bookmakers and beer at various canteens!

15th September 1918: After Church Parade Major Chaplain Smith left the 22nd Battalion for return to Australia.

14th September 1918: At the Brigade Sports – won by the 23rd Battalion – Drivers Laidlaw and Flower persuaded the Battalion donkey’s to great speed, finishing first and third in the mule race!

10th September 1918: After parade a squad drill was held, with and without arms, followed by physical training and organised games. The Brigade Gas NCO inspected the helmets of the Battalion.

9th September 1918: A Battalion parade at 9am followed by general clean-up, washing of equipment and covering steel helmets.

8th September 1918: The Battalion attended church parade, and 50 men were supplied to a working party for Area Command at Cappy.

7th September 1918: 300 men were given hot baths and a change of clothing. Refitting was carried out.

Cappy - E032256th September 1918: In preparation for the coming Autumnal weather great coats were issued during the morning. In the afternoon most of the men had a swim in the river. Later that day a kit inspection was carried out.

4th September 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved and left the trenches to cross the Somme and bivouac at Boscourt. The route-march of the next two days brought it to Cappy, the battleground of just eight days before, but now a comfortable and peaceful rest area. Here the Battalion stayed for three weeks enjoying rest and the pleasant weather on the banks of the Somme. Activities during this time included Divisional and Brigade sports, church parades and many ceremonial inspections. At football, Headquarter’s team defeated the Companies with great regularity! During the stay at Cappy preparations were begun for the absorption of the 21st Battalion into the 22nd on account of the depleted numbers, but thankfully for their sister battalion the transfer did not take place and they were able to keep their unit and identity for the final phase of the 100 Days offensive.

3rd September 1918: ‘D’ Company, though nominally in support at times found they were close to active enemy posts and several patrol encounters ensued resulting in a number of prisoners being captured. Lieut. Thewlis was wounded during these operations. After the capture of Peronne the situation cleared and ‘D’ Company again passed into support. When the  British battalion on the left moved forward ‘C’ Company, who for two days had been doing front-line work, also became support troops.

NCOs - H00464During the Mont St. Quentin operation, which British 4th Army General Rawlinson referred to as the finest single feat of the war, and by the time the 22nd Battalion had been relieved on the 4th September, they had lost another nine men killed in action or died from their wounds. Eight men from the Battalion were awarded for their gallantry including Sgt Batton of the 5th Reinforcements who received a Distinguished Conduct Medal to add to his Military Medal and Bar, and RSM Cadwell (photograph right, back row centre) a Military Medal to his Distinguished Conduct Medal and Belgian Croix de Guerre making them, along with Lieut-Col. Wiltshire, the most decorated men in the 22nd Battalion during the Great War.

1st September 1918: In the evening ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were in Gottlieb Trench, ‘C’ Company on the left of Haut Allines junctioning with a British battalion on the Canal-du-Nord, while ‘D’ Company on the extreme right occupied Gott Mit Uns Trench. The 7th Brigade had now passed through and carried further objectives and the 22nd Battalion became attached to them for the purpose of covering the flanks which were exposed.

mont_st_quentin_counter_31aug_531st August 1918: A move was made to a position in support near Clery-sur-Somme (map courtesy of Australians on the Western Front) and as much shelter as possible was obtained from a high railway embankment there. The area was congested and enemy shelling caused some casualties including Capt. King and Lieut. Smith being wounded. For the Australian 2nd Division attack of Mont St. Quentin that had a commanding position above Peronne and the Somme crossing there, the 22nd Battalion being the weakest numerically within the 6th Brigade would act as Brigade Reserve. The first attack would fall to the 5th Brigade, during which Pte Binion of the 22nd Battalion was awarded the Military Medal for volunteering as a stretcher-bearer to assist the 5th Brigade despite being under heavy enemy machine gun fire.

30th August 1918: For twenty-four hours the Battalion rested. Dug-outs and shelters were fairly abundant and a good night’s sleep – after a liberal rum issue – greatly helped in sustaining the high morale which was a noticeable feature of this time.

29th August 1918: At 2am the line again moved forward, this time with no opposition. By dawn the 22nd Battalion patrols had reached the outskirts of Flaucourt overlooking the River Somme, and the town of Peronne on the far bank. The 7th Brigade then pushed through and continued the advance.

Layburn - H1688528th August 1918: A further advance of 2,000 yards was made when Black Wood on the outskirts of Herbecourt was reached with four men being awarded for their gallantry. During the day an advance party of twelve under Lieut. Good, DCM, were vigorously attacked by a number of Germans of the Guards Regiment with L-Cpl Layburn (photograph right)shot by the German officer. L-Cpl Cannon, MM + Bar, took control of the situation with his Lewis gun, killing the German officer in the process. A steady supply of prisoners was taken, with increasing talk of pessimism and that the German Army was on the verge of collapse.

27th August 1918: The relief was completed at 2am and immediately fighting patrols went ahead, engaging the enemy wherever found with bomb and bayonet. By dawn the firing line had been advanced by 1,500 yards, during which Cpl Moodie was awarded the DCM, but at the cost to the Battalion of some twenty casualties of whom five were killed in hand to hand fighting in the dark. Amongst those killed was Lieut. Wall, MC, who was held in high esteem by the men. The advance was continued until noon with the 24th Battalion passing through Dompierre and with the 22nd Battalion mopping up. The Battalion Lewis gunners intercepted an attempt to withdraw two German field guns, with the guns captured. The constant advancing was fatiguing, as sleep was a luxury and the strain on the nerves was constant not knowing what lay immediately ahead.

Dompierre - Aug 191826th August 1918: The 22nd Battalion relieved the 10th & 11th Battalions of the Australian 1st Division in freshly captured positions beyond the ruined village of Cappy, with the 24th Battalion on the left and the 21st Battalion on the right. The enemy was fighting a rear-guard action relying mainly on isolated machine-gun posts established in some old abandoned trenches of the Somme 1916 fighting.

25th August 1918: Church parade was held in the morning and then in the early evening the 22nd Battalion left Vecquemont in motor buses. After a wet ride they disembarked near some newly dug reserve trenches about four miles from the firing line where in the rain they bivouacked for the night.

24th August 1918: During the afternoon a cricket match was held between the 21st & 22nd Battalions, and nearby the YMCA erected a marquee where impromptu concerts were held

20th August 1918: A quiet day when the troops rested and went to baths at Daours where a clean change of underclothing was issued. An opportunity was also taken to swim in the river.

New York Anzacs19th August 1918: The Germans delivered an attack at Herleville and re-took the front-line system, from which they were themselves dislodged by a strong counter-attack. These Germans were in every way superior to their ordinary infantry, refraining from the common practice of ‘ratting’ the prisoners they had taken, but they also buried a number of the Twenty-Second dead and erected a cross on their grave with the inscription ‘Six Unknown Australians’ [Lieut. Westaway, Sgt Bregenzer, L-Sgt Dolan, L-Cpl Jackson, Pte Hurst & Pte Kelly]. The remnants of the 22nd Battalion boarded buses for Vecquemont and then marched to bivouacs that were reached in the morning. Here they would remain for a week re-equipping, reinforced and re-organising. The Battalion’s continued existence as a fighting unit was made possible by the arrival of a good body of reinforcements that had arrived via New York (photograph above), and were subsequently known as the ‘New York Anzacs’.

McCartin - P04109.00118th August 1918: The attack at Herleville by the three companies of the 22nd Battalion, B on the left, A in the centre and D on the right, was met by heavy artillery and machine gun fire from the outset, but despite this D Company captured their objective. Advancing over open country D Company lost twelve men of its original thirty before reaching it, with the survivors holding on until assistance arrived later in the morning. D Company commanding officer, Lieutenant McCartin, MC, (photograph right) was twice wounded in the attack but continued to the objective. When he found the crucifix on his left still strongly held by the enemy he made his way across the open and past the strongpoint to the headquarters of the support C Company where he was again seriously wounded in the face as communication was made with Lt-Col. Wiltshire’s Battalion HQ. C Company commanding officer Lieut. Braithwaite took the telephone and told Wiltshire of the seriousness of McCartin’s wounds. McCartin was told to return to the rear, but instead he attempted to return to his men whereupon he was killed by a shell. McCartin, initially a Private and one of the original Anzac men, was one of the most popular officers and held in high regard by all that he came in contact with.

Ellis - DA10177A Company in the centre had been faring badly. They were only twenty-four in all, in five small sections, at about seventy yards interval when they commenced a bombing fight with the Germans in the trench beyond. Lieut.’s Fulton and Evans were both wounded and command fell to Lieut. Smith, MM. It was not until ten of the twenty-four had been killed or wounded and no more bombs were left that the impossible was abandoned and the little party withdrew to a communication trench by the crucifix. Amongst those killed from this company was Sgt Ellis (photograph left) who set a magnificent example to his men urging them on, throwing bombs and fighting desperately until he was killed. Lieut. Woods of the 7th Machine Gun Company rushed forward to help A Company that he was attached to, establishing his gun in full view of the enemy and did wonders working his gun until a bomb landed too close and in the attempt to throw it back it exploded inflicting wounds that he would succumb to back at the Casualty Clearing Station.

Bregenzer - DA09106On the extreme left B Company suffered severely. Under the command of Lieut. Westaway the thirty-three men set off under heavy artillery and machine gun fire, suffering many casualties before reaching their objective. The survivors joined forces in a large shell hole within fifty yards of the enemy and opened fire with a Lewis gun and rifle grenades. The gun was soon knocked out of action by a bomb and the grenades expended. Sgt Bregenzer, DCM, (photograph right) jumped into the open calling for the Germans to surrender but he was killed immediately. Neither the flares nor the SOS signal sent up for artillery support were responded to and the enemy worked closer firing a machine gun and grenades into the now defenceless garrison of the shell-hole. Lieut. Westaway and several men were killed and most of the rest wounded before being surrounded and taken prisoner. [Read the letters and notes from Lieut. Mallinson on his account in the shell hole, being taken prisoner, and the exchange of letters between Mallinson and Lieut-Col. Wiltshire on the futility of the attack]. The 24th Battalion party on the immediate left suffered a similar fate.

The task set for the men that day was a hopeless cause, and many a brave man gallantly lost their lives. Of the ninety men who took part in the attack,  nineteen were killed, and a further forty-one wounded or taken prisoner. Fifteen men from the Battalion were awarded for their bravery that day. With the British 32nd Division within Monash’s Corps replacing the 2nd Division that evening, all that was left of the 22nd Battalion, some seventy fighting men in all, were relieved by the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, some 670 strong. When the 22nd Battalion came out of the line, there were only nine members of B Company.

17th August 1918: Through the efforts of the previous nights the line had been pushed up to within four hundred yards of strong German posts on the outskirts of the village of Herleville. These were garrisoned, as later found out, by a portion of a Guards Division specially brought from reserve with instructions to stay at all costs and repel any attack that might be attempted. They were supported by strongly reinforced artillery which was always active, and its fire rising frequently to barrage intensity.

Herleville 18th Aug 1918The 24th, 22nd and 23rd Battalions held the Brigade frontage from left to right, with the road leading to Herleville running between the 24th and 22nd Battalions. About four hundred yards in front of the 22nd Battalion was a crucifix, joined to the village by a sunken road and traversed in places by trenches and bordered on the far side by a high bank which served as a parapet for a strongly held trench. Around the crucifix itself there was a simple trench system. Orders were received to attack on the following morning at 4.15am.

So depleted was the Battalion’s fighting strength that they could muster only 90 bayonets across three Companies for the attack, far too few to cover the ½ mile frontage allotted to them and for ground that had no particular value. These facts were most strongly represented but orders were nevertheless issued that the attack would take place. Wave formations were impracticable and thin section groups were formed for the attack. Owing to the limited artillery available the barrage was arranged in lanes only on selected places.

16th August 1918: Again very hot and rumours start about a small attack to be made. Ordinary trench routine, with patrols at night and ration carrying parties.

15th August 1918: Very hot during the day. Hostile artillery very active, particularly during the night on support and reserve areas. Ordinary fatigues consisting of carrying rations and one small party carrying Stokes Mortar ammunition.

14th August 1918: A hot day, the line advanced during the night by means of peaceful penetration without incident.

12th August 1918: The next few nights saw the Battalion pushing the line forward by three to five hundred yards each time by a series of ‘peaceful penetration’ advances. The ground was entirely free from trenches or other cover and after each advance new trenches had to be dug before dawn. By this time the Battalion mustered only 130 rifles and as the front line posts had to carry up their own rations, each man was called on to do the work of three.

11th August 1918: The 6th Brigade took over part of the firing line with the 22nd Battalion relieving portions of the 19th & 28th Battalions. Battalion Headquarters was positioned in an old German dug-out in the ravine to the east of the village of Framerville, which contained many interesting German documents left behind.

Amiens Gun10th August 1918: A beautiful day free from enemy shelling and the Battalion was in carnival mood. The band was brought up and played while sightseers visited the giant railway gun captured by the 8th Brigade. There were even fireworks at night, obtained from the dozens of multi-coloured flares abandoned by the enemy, but the unauthorised illuminations soon came under an official ban

9th August 1918: With the men carrying full battle equipment the Battalion advanced in artillery formation to Guillacourt where an enormous German dump sheltered all the companies.

Amiens AIF 8th Aug8th August 1918: Three hours before zero the 22nd Battalion evacuated the outpost line, leaving only a few posts of one officer and ten men each. These kept an anxious watch through the very heavy mist until just before dawn when they too withdrew as the attacking battalions arrived. The British guns then put down a smothering and demoralising barrage and the great victorious attack of the 8th August 1918 was soon in full swing. Following the Fifth Brigade the 22nd Battalion moved forward into what had, earlier in the morning, been the German front line.

7th August 1918: The 22nd Battalion was holding the outpost line. A Special Order of the Day was issued for circulation to all ranks which dwelt upon the importance of the operations and their probable far-reaching consequences. Behind tanks were getting into position and fresh guns coming into the line registering on enemy targets. Roads were congested with traffic of all kinds causing inconvenience to the ration limbers.

6th August 1918: The relief by the 22nd Battalion of the 21st Battalion in the front line carried out without incident, and completed by midnight. The four companies were in the line A,B, C & D from right to left, with the 24th Battalion on the left.

5th August 1918: The Americans were withdrawn and rumours started to circulate over a gigantic stunt. Orders were given that all ranks were to use the communication trenches, often very muddy due to the heavy rain, and not walk overland in order to conceal movement. Hostile artillery very active throughout the night.

4th August 1918: Fatigue parties at night cable laying. Villers-Bretonneux was heavily shelled by enemy artillery.

2nd August 1918: The 28th Battalion took over the 22nd position west of Villers-Bretonneux to enable the Battalion to move to closer support east of the town.

31st July 1918: 200 men marched to baths at Blangy Tronville to the east of Amiens.

30th July 1918: Lieut.-Col. Wiltshire resumed command of the Battalion following his return from leave.

29th July 1918: The 22nd Battalion and the Americans were relieved from the line by the 21st Battalion, and leaving the Americans to provide the support ahead of Villers-Bretonneux the Battalion resumed its nocturnal role of cable-laying. The heavy nature of the manual labour performed so continuously, the strain of living so long in the forward area and the two gas attacks had their effect on the men, and a relief to the Corps or Divisional was hoped for but not forthcoming.

US 129Regt28th July 1918: Improvement of outposts continued with two posts on the right being linked up. Day and night extremely quiet.

27th July 1918: The 22nd Battalion had its first association with the Americans. ‘K’ Company of the 3rd Battalion, 129th American Regiment (coat of arms, right) was attached to the 22nd Battalion for experience, with one platoon allotted to each company and one in reserve. This one full-strength American Company considerably outnumbered the entire 22nd Battalion. During the night the enemy dropped minenwerfers and ‘pineapples’ on our centre and right.

26th July 1918: Left company again heavily shelled, and as before our counter-battery work did not appear to be very effective.

25th July 1918: During the afternoon the left company of the Battalion and the adjoining 17th Battalion were subjected to heavy bombardment of all calibres, and enemy machine guns were active in the night. Improvement and linking up of posts continued and trench shelters erected.

24th July 1918: Enemy aircraft very active in the morning. The right company established a liaison post with the 23rd Battalion in the railway cutting.

23rd July 1918: Front line garrison continued improving and connecting up outposts.

22nd July 1918: The Germans put over a barrage of gas-shells even more intense than that the Battalion suffered in the Aubigny system. From 10pm till early morning on the 23rd thousands of yellow-cross gas-shells fell in the ruins and the gas was blown back over the ration dumps and the Battalion Headquarters. Elaborate precautions enabled the casualties to be kept to about fifty. The other battalions in the Brigade and all units in the vicinity of Villers-Bretonneux suffered much more heavily. At this time most of the other casualties resulted from machine-gun fire, though every afternoon the left company sector was intensely bombarded. It was a stray bullet which killed Lieut. Swanton at his post.

19th July 1918: The Battalion relieved the 25th Battalion in the firing line east of Villers-Bretonneux, with the 23rd Battalion on the right and 5th Brigade on the left. By day the line was quiet, but at night there was much sniper and machine-gun fire as the flatness of the countryside made indirect fire dangerous for the any man moving overland.

17th July 1918: A heavy thunderstorm was followed by a bright sunny day and although box-respirators were worn for hours and the immediate locality evacuated, the gas hung around for days.

Officers - E02585.JPG16th July 1918: At 11.30pm the Germans commenced a barrage of the Aubigny system and neighbouring area with gas-shells. Within three hours the enemy threw over 7,000 shells completely saturating the area with mustard-gas. The men wore their SBR for a considerable period of time and the affected area was evacuated, and shell holes filled in. In spite of the precautions taken, the intensity of the bombardment and the sultry nature of the weather causing the gas to hang about, it was apparent that the casualties were going to be numerous. At the end of 72 hours when the last of the men had been evacuated it was found that the battalion had lost 200 members including the officers commanding A & B companies. Both companies had been severely depleted that the decision was taken to amalgamate them, with Lieut. Abercrombie, MC, taking command. For his action that night in helping to minimise casualties Lieut. Anderson (photograph above, far right middle row) was Mentioned in Dispatches.

13th July 1918: A fine day saw aircraft active throughout the day, with observation balloons brought down on both sides.

10th July 1918: The 22nd Battalion was temporarily attached to the 7th Brigade and continued on cable burying under the supervision of Capt. Rodda, MC.

9th July 1918: A number of gas shells fell on the Aubigny Line but as the Battalion was out on cable burying duties there were no casualties.

7th July 1918: Following the relief of the 6th Brigade by the 5th, the 22nd Battalion moved back to the Aubigny system. As the Aubigny system had not been occupied for quite some time much work was needed working on the defences and trench shelters.

5th July 1918: Following the attack at Hamel, three officers and 100 men from the 22nd Battalion dug a communication trench from the old front line to the newly captured positions. The heavy enemy artillery fire resulted in twenty per cent casualties.

4th July 1918: With the successful attack at Hamel the 22nd Battalion moved forward to the Villers Line system.

2nd July 1918: The Hon W.M. Hughes and Sir Joseph Cook, accompanied by the Corps and Divisional Commanders, inspected a special parade at Lamotte and addressed the troops. That night the 22nd relieved the 20th Battalion in reserve close to the front line.

28th June 1918: The Battalion began its move to the Villers-Bretonneux sector, starting with a march to Glisy and divisional reserve trenches near the village, occupying trenches between the railway line and the Amiens Road. Accommodation was very poor. The arduous and fatiguing work of digging and burying signal cables became tiresome in the extreme.

23rd June 1918: The Battalion had its first inspection by Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash, the new Corps Commander, when he presented decorations and ribands, with a stirring speech outlining the heavy work yet to be done. Meanwhile a Field General Courts Martial for the 6th Brigade was convened under the Presidency of Major Matthews of the 22nd Battalion. The charged included four men from the Battalion of which two were from the 5th/22nd.

Sports Jun 1821st June 1918: Reconnaissance of the Villers-Bretonneux area was made by one officer per company and HQ staff. Training as per syllabus for the men. Both villages were at this time receiving a good deal of artillery fire, but this did not prevent frequent cricket matches in the chateau grounds, where also a Sports Meeting was held, ‘C’ Company winning the championship

17th June 1918: Troops bathed and given clean set of underclothing.

15th June 1918: The sector was handed over to the 59th Battalion of the AIF 5th Division and the 22nd Battalion established itself under trench shelters in the La Houssoye system, between Querrieu and the village from which the trenches took their name.

13th June 1918: At around 2am and under covering fire from artillery and machine guns, Livens Gas Projectors were fired over the enemy lines in the direction of Morlancourt.

11th June 1918: Enemy artillery was active, with about 250 Green Cross gas shells (pulmonary agent designed to impede the ability to breathe) fired between 1.45 & 3am, with Pte Rogan killed in action.

lwh-portrait10th June 1918:  A large dusk raid led by the 7th Brigade with the 6th Brigade in support together with supporting artillery was designed to gain additional territory on the ridge between Sailly-Laurette and Morlancourt. The 6th Brigade’s task was allocated to the 22nd Battalion on the northern flank of the raid. The demonstrations by the Australian infantry and artillery on both of the flanks of the 7th Brigade’s attack were so effective that they succeeded in causing the Germans to believe that the front of the assault was much wider than was actually the case. Under the northern extension of an accurate artillery and Light Trench Mortar barrage, the 22nd Battalion party raided the Germans on the spur between Ville-sur-Ancre and Morlancourt. Led by Lieut. Harricks (photograph above right) the 22nd Battalion raiders fought hard without suffering a casualty, killing thirty of the enemy and bringing back six prisoners and a machine gun. For this dashing operation Lieut. Harricks received the Military Cross, and five other raiders – L-Cpl Harris, Sgt Nicholls, L-Cpl Russell, L-Cpl Strawhorn and Pte Watson – were also decorated with the Military Medal. 

9th June 1918:  Following a successful raiding patrol against an enemy post, Lieut. Lennon was killed re-entering the Battalion lines along with Sgt Tyler and Pte Bunworth and with a further six men wounded. [Watch the ‘Macarthur: uncovering stories of sacrifice’ video that follows the family of Pte Bunworth in this quest]. During the raid Sgt Strachan of the 5th/22nd was awarded the DCM before bringing back his badly wounded officer and one prisoner despite being wounded. At 10.30pm a further gas projectile attack was performed on the northern end of Morlancourt using 200 projectors.

8th June 1918: A Livens Gas Projectile attack was carried out at 1am following artillery and trench mortar fire on to enemy front line.

22nd Bn Sgts - E023787th June 1918: The weather continued to be good and work remained plentiful, with digging of new trenches. It was during one of these digging parties that an accident happened. The body of a dead soldier was unearthed but the pick unfortunately penetrated the clothing containing a bomb, whereupon the pin was pulled out exploding the bomb killing Sgt Smith and wounding Lieut. Braithwaite, MC (photograph of the 22nd Battalion Gallipoli Sergeants with Sgt Smith sitting front row, far right. This photograph was taken just a week before Sgt Smith was killed). Later that day the Battalion replaced the 21st Battalion in the firing line and commenced an eight-day tour of duty.

4th June 1918: Fatigue parties worked at night installing Livens Gas Projectiles for a forthcoming bombardment.

3rd June 1918: Fatigue parties at night digging trenches forward.

31st May 1918: After the ten days at Franvillers the men were in a good and recovered state for a return forward where during the night they relieved the 28th Battalion in front of Mericourt occupying the Treux, Ballarat and Bendigo support trenches. The relief was completed without incident at 12.30am. 

Bandsmen - E0242030th May 1918: While at Franvillers the official photographer arrived and many photographs were taken for official records, including the four Company group photographs below [visit the AWM website for the originals]. One such group photograph was that of the 22nd Battalion band (right) with Lieut-Col. Wiltshire. Later in the day 5893 Pte Riddell (back row, 2nd right) and 1749 Pte Westmore (third row, far right) were collecting water when the Germans fired a number of high explosive shells into the village. Both men were hit, but Pte Riddell died shortly after from his wounds, just hours after this photograph was taken.

 

 

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strachan-thomas-gray-239826th May 1918: A change-over in the nucleus personnel.

23rd May 1918: As the Battalion rested at Franvillers, promotions were given on account of the losses experienced during the Ville-sur-Ancre attack. These included  three men from the 5th Reinforcements, 2455 Cpl Ware appointed Lance Sergeant, 2398 Cpl Strachan (photograph right) appointed Lance Sergeant, 2393 Pte Seccull promoted to Lance Corporal.

20th May 1918: By dawn the whole position had been dug in and strongly held, and the 2nd Pioneers had dug a communication trench from the Little Caterpillar to the new front line, 200 yards beyond Big Caterpillar. So successful was the whole operation and so important to High Command that on the following day General Birdwood visited Battalion HQ in the line to convey personally his thanks and appreciation. At about 11.30pm the Battalion was relieved in the front line by the 28th Battalion and moved back to Franvillers. The Battalion Band played the victors home along the Amiens-Albert Road, and for some hours stragglers were still coming in guarding and dragging the captured trophies from the battlefield. Here in fine weather the Battalion stayed for 10 days re-organising and conducting fatigues, but as the German artillery was targeting the village the men had to dig-in in trenches on the outskirts. Most of the men were required each night for fatigue parties, while the trophies obtained during the attack dispatched back to the Australian War Museums.

19th May 1918: The battle for Ville-sur-Ancre was very much a 22nd Battalion battle, as it was the only complete unit involved in the attack. Ville-sur-Ancre was essential to the German for the defence of Morlancourt, and the village was the first to be regained by the Allies after the end of the Spring Offensive.

Ville-sur-Ancre mapShortly after midnight all four companies were in position ready to attack, B, A, C & D from left to right, in two waves. Never before had the 22nd Battalion attacked over so large a frontage (1,500 yards) with so few men, with 15 to 20 yards separating each man in the same wave on the JOT. Zero hour was set for 2am when an intense creeping barrage fell on the German line, and by the time the German artillery replied it was directed mostly at targets in the back areas. The attackers followed so closely upon the barrage that they effectively surprised and captured the occupants of the enemy outpost line who were not able to put up much resistance. The first wave consisted of a line of skirmishers to search the ground, the second to mop up small posts and Machine Gun positions as the advance progressed. Where there was resistance, such as a machine gun on the left, Lieut. Westaway’s platoon dropped to the ground, its Lewis gunners blazing away firing from the hip as they made for the post.

Ville-sur-Ancre - E04831On the outskirts of the village and opposite the Battalion’s left flank was a cemetery and a crucifix, both strongly held by the enemy. These positions were attacked by a party under Lieut. Madden, Military Cross, and captured straight away along with several machine-guns. In the ‘Big Caterpillar’ (photograph left) the resistance was serious and heavy hand to hand fighting took place. Already short in numbers, by the time the sunken road had been reached the attackers had suffered heavy casualties. In front the defenders were numerous and capable of a strenuous resistance, plus the men were being sniped at from the rear. Sgt Ruthven seeing Capt. Hunter his company commander severely wounded and the seriousness of the situation took control as follows: As the leading wave approached its objective it was subjected to heavy fire from an enemy machine-gun at close range. Without hesitation he at once sprang out, threw a bomb which landed beside the post, and rushed the position, bayoneting one of the crew and capturing the gun. He then encountered some of the enemy coming out of a shelter. He wounded two, captured six others in the same position, and handed them over to an escort from the leading wave, which had now reached the objective. Sgt. Ruthven then reorganised the men in his vicinity and established a post in the second objective. Observing enemy movement in a sunken road nearby, he, without hesitation and armed only with a revolver, went over the open alone and rushed the position, shooting two enemy who refused to come out of their dug-outs. He then single-handed mopped up this post and captured the whole of the garrison, amounting in all to thirty-two, and kept them until assistance arrived to escort them back to our lines. During the remainder of the day this gallant non-commissioned officer set a splendid example of leadership, moving up and down his position under fire, supervising consolidation and encouraging his men. Throughout the whole operation he showed the most magnificent courage and determination, inspiring everyone by his fine fighting spirit, his remarkable courage, and his dashing action.

Ruthven D00019medal_vcFor this action William ‘Rusty’ Ruthven (photograph left) was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first to be awarded to any member of the 6th Brigade during the war, and what would be the only recipient within the 22nd Battalion.

Farther down the slope where the Big Caterpillar was deeper another German machine gun was encountered and was put out of action by Lieut. Abercrombie, Military Cross, a well-known cricketer with a good arm, throwing a Mills bomb to good effect. Major Dooley, Commanding Officer of ‘C’ Company was wounded early in the attack and command passed to Capt. Sparrow. Machine Gun fire was encountered from the embankment, but Cpl Binns, MM, did fine work firing his Lewis Gun from the hip and putting the enemy gun crew out of action, and along with CSM Werrett, DCM, and some others were responsible for collecting 28 prisoners from the Big Caterpillar sunken road (photograph below), many of whom had been sleeping with their boots and equipment off in niches or funk holes cut into the bank and covered with English waterproof sheets captured previously during the Spring Offensive. Within half an hour of Zero hour success signals could be observed from all objectives except those on the left flank where B Company could not go forward to their final objective owing to a portion of the barrage falling short, the barrage itself accounting for a number of casualties. When it ceased the company advanced and the whole Battalion dug in on the crest of the slope overlooking Morlancourt. At 2.50am ‘C’ Company had established touch with the flank companies, and within minutes success flares were observed at ‘D’ and ‘A’ Companies. Prisoners, many exhibiting low morale, began to arrive at 3.15am. Over 200 prisoners and many machine-guns were captured by the 22nd Battalion during Ville-sur-Ancre - E02762the morning, of which many ended up back in Australia at the AWM museum (photograph right).

Casualties amongst the Battalion’s 523 officers and other ranks that took part in the attack were heavy with 30 men killed or missing in action including 2nd Lieut. Bowden, and of the 165 men wounded Major Dooley, MC, Capt. Hunter, Lieut. Southwell and Lieut. Bourke were all incapacitated from further service in France.

18th May 1918: The plan adopted for the Ville-sur-Ancre operation was to attack and seize the high ground to the south of the village and so force the enemy to evacuate. The 22nd Battalion were given a frontage of three-quarters of a mile to attack, and to penetrate for a depth of a similar amount. The village itself was to be cleared and consolidated by companies of the 21st & 23rd Battalions. The 18th Battalion of the 5th Brigade would provide protection on the right flank. The objective included two sunken roads – known as ‘Big Caterpillar’ and ‘Little Caterpillar’ – strongly held by the enemy and guarded by a series of outposts manned by machine-gunners. After capturing these objectives the Battalion was to link up with a Company of the 24th Battalion east of the village Ville-sur-Ancre - E02323and thus allow parties of the other two battalions to mop it up.

Two guides per Platoon met the Companies at the position of the assembly and guided them to the JOT. As the men began to move forward shortly before midnight ‘A’ Company suffered fifteen casualties from a single stray shell. Secrecy was paramount to the success of the operation, with bayonets not to be fixed until zero hour and entrenching tools tied to scabbards.

17th May 1918: During the night the JOT was pegged out by the 6th Field Company engineers under the command of Lieut. Gillespie, assisted by Lieut. Thewlis (photograph below, front row second left), in readiness for the Ville-sur-Ancre attack scheduled for twenty-four hours later.

Bill the Mascot16th May 1918: A glorious day. Morale was high and everyone was in high spirits as they read, played or slept in the sun. In the neighbouring village of Treux RSM Cadwell (photographed front row, far right) found an emaciated kid. This little goat was adopted by the Transport Section and after being bottled fed thrived well. ‘Bill’ accompanied the Battalion in all its subsequent movements along the front, and as the Battalion mascot made numerous appearances before the Official Photographer.[Photograph courtesy of Jennie Marshall and the Lieut. Harricks collection]

14th May 1918: In the early hours a raiding party from D Company attempted to attack a German strongpoint but were caught in a hail of machine gun bullets killing four of the raiders – Sgt Smeeton, Pte Atkins, Pte Arrow, Pte Lorrigan – and wounding others. Meanwhile word was now getting around that the Battalion was to be involved in a major stunt at Ville-sur-Ancre. As a preliminary the 22nd Battalion along with the 24th Battalion were relieved by the 21st and 23rd Battalions and went into support at Ribemont where the men bathed and rested.

13th May 1918: A conference was held at Brigade HQ at Heilly on the proposed attack at Ville-sur-Ancre with the objective of straightening the line and capturing the village. The Germans were now using phosgene and mustard gas shells plus machine-guns to a large effect, but while attacking the 5th Brigade on the 22nd Battalions right they suffered a crushing defeat. Practically the whole of the attacking force was either captured or killed.

12th May 1918: A party under Lieut. Greene was tasked with occupying a new position in front of the line when it was attacked by a strong enemy fighting party. One man was badly wounded and with the Germans encircling their position Lieut. Greene, Military Cross, supported by L-Cpl Kennett, Military Medal, engaged the enemy successfully reaching and carrying the wounded man back to the rest of the patrol (see Medals & Awards, Morlancourt for all citations)

6th Bn Lieut. Wall - P06018.00311th May 1918: On the night of the 10th May a patrol of ten under Lieut. HHM Wall pushed out in the dark along the bottom of the spur south-west of Ville-sur-Ancre to the Little Caterpillar sunken road. On nearing the German post there, Wall dropped six of his men to cover him and crept ahead with the rest. As he lay watching at a point from which the German machine guns at the sunken road and  a listening post ahead of them could be made out, one of the men in the rear party coughed and shortly afterwards a patrol came out from the German lines in that direction. As it approached, Wall ordered it to halt and then as the Germans were clearly going to fight, fired. Two Germans were hit and a third captured, and the remainder ran off, chased with bombs. Wall brought back his three prisoners of the 357th I.R., 199th Division, without loss to his party. Lieut. Wall (photographed above middle row, third from left, with other officers in the 6th Battalion) distinguished himself greatly in patrol work for which he was awarded the Military Cross. The 18th Battalion were now in position on the right.

10th May 1918: The forward positions for both sides were a series of outposts and every night some portion of the AIF line was pushed forward through what became known behind the line as ‘peaceful penetration’. On the night of the 10th May the posts of ‘C’ Company were pushed forward without opposition in front of Marrett Wood. The 22nd Battalion took no small part in this novel warfare and the Australian Corps for nearly four months sustained, unaided, its offensive work while the rest of the British Army re-organised.

3rd & 2nd Division 19189th May 1918: The 22nd Battalion left Querrieu at 3.30pm and relieved the 39th Battalion in the front line before Ville-sur-Ancre and Morlancourt, arriving at 1.50am on the following morning. There was some hostile shelling during the relief, with the 35th Battalion (9th Brigade) on the right and the 24th Battalion (6th Brigade) on the left.

8th May 1918: The Battalion practiced an attack with imaginary tanks. A celebration was later held of the third anniversary of the Battalion’s departure from Australia. After dinner a concert organised by L-Cpl Herz was enjoyed by those that were able to cram themselves into the semi-demolished barn that acted as the theatre.

Querrieu Chateau - E048835th May 1918: AIF Commanding Officers Generals Birdwood (I Anzac Corps), Smythe, VC, (2nd Division) and Paton (6th Brigade), were present at the Brigade church parade held in the picturesque grounds of Querrieu Chateau (photograph right). General Birdwood addressed the troops with regard to the work yet ahead in the German Spring Offensive and presented ribands and medals.

2nd May 1918: The route march was resumed in the morning through Contay, Beaucourt, Montigny, Behencourt and Pont Noyelles arriving at Querrieu at 3.15pm where the men billeted in the village. The 6th Brigade was held here in readiness to counter-attack should the Germans break through on the Villers-Bretonneux front. Over the next two days officers reconnoitred the forward area while the men carried out physical drills, gas drill with lectures, and bayonet fighting. Bathing in the nearby river was much appreciated by everyone.

1st May 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st London Regiment and moved into Brigade Reserve at Warloy with 35 officers and 683 other ranks with the Unit.

27th April 1918: The Battalion rested and bathed during the day.

26th April 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and returned to the Support Line at Lavieville.

24th April 1918: The front line tours were marked by a number of patrol encounters, in one of which Lieut. Barker – of the Gallipoli contingent and a prominent footballer – was killed. For his gallantry during the patrol and bringing back his officer 3969 Sgt Waxman received the Military Medal.

22nd April 1918: The 22nd Battalion returned to the front line, relieving the 21st Battalion, with the 24th on the left and 28th (7th Brigade) on the right. 

Ville-sur-Ancre 820th April 1918: Worked was carried out on improving and linking up the trenches.

18th April 1918: The Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and returned to the Support Line surrounding Lavieville where the following day they had rain, sun, hail and snow. [German map showing the area and plan of attack]

15th April 1918: While out on patrol Lieut. Armstrong was wounded  and 2nd Lieut. Sutherland was wounded a few days later. A skillful German sniper opposite the Battalion’s right caused many casualties during this tour in the front line. He specifically devoted his talent against the 22nd Battalion’s Sergeants, six of whom were made casualty including Sgt Aspinall and Sgt Corry who were killed in action, before he himself was dealt with.

14th April 1918: The 22nd Battalion returned to the front line, relieving the 21st Battalion, with the 24th on the left and 26th on the right.

13th April 1918: As a result of the German advance, there were no facilities for bathing or changing underclothing. Nearby deserted houses, many of which were being systematically destroyed by shell fire were raided and tubs for bathing salvaged, plus any clean underclothing that was found taken, including women’s!

11th April 1918: The 22nd Battalion was involved in working parties, improving trenches, erecting wire entanglements, under some hostile shelling of the area.

10th April 1918: The Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and returned to the Support Line surrounding Lavieville. Thus began a period of rotation with its sister battalion from the 6th Brigade until the end of the month. The expected attack never came, but tension was high and the strain severe. During this time much digging and wiring was done.

McCartin - P04109.0019th April 1918: A feature of this Lavieville sector was the constant artillery strafing of Pioneer Trench and the Albert-Amiens Road. The bombardments used to come in short violent bursts and it would soon sever all signal wires running to the forward positions. It was in re-establishing communications that Lieut. McCartin (photograph right) was wounded, and his excellent work recognised by the award of a Military Cross.

8th April 1918: Heavy rain fell practically all day but the men with little shelter in the outpost line were more concerned by the action of enemy snipers firing from Dernancourt. The 22nd Battalion responded with Sgt Thurlow and Pte Wilson being the most deadly snipers within 6th Brigade, who totalled 57 certain hits during the April tour of the front line. On the 8th April Sgt Thurlow was awarded the Military Medal for gaining ascendency over the enemy despite being heavily sniped at himself. Later in the day ‘A’ Company relieved ‘C’ Company in the outposts.

Dernancourt - A010587th April 1918: After a stormy night, accompanied by barrages from both sides, the Battalion had taken over very a large section of the front overlooking Dernancourt and its railway embankment (photograph right) and to the left Albert, with the Virgin Mary statue still leaning precariously. The previous day the relieved battalions of the 12th Brigade had just beaten off a major German attack. An enemy attack was expected daily, with the men in the basic outposts, and practically no trenches, enduring the poor weather as well as the shell fire and offensive patrolling. The orders were simple: “There will be no withdrawal. Every bit of ground will be fought for.” On the left of the 22nd were the 23rd Battalion, and on the right the 26th of 7th Brigade.

6th April 1918: Early in the day the Battalion, now in fighting kit, was taken by bus to La Houssoye on the main Albert-Amiens road and after a march through Franvillers halted at St. Lawrence Farm and where orders were received that it would that night relieve the combined 46th & 47th Battalions in the front line near Dernancourt, effecting the relief by 10.30pm. The nucleus personnel moved to Allonville. The strength of the battalion was 41 Officers and 784 other ranks as they moved back to the front line.

Amiens 19185th April 1918: The 22nd Battalion detrained at 5.15am at St. Roch Station, Amiens, and marched 11kms to the village of Bertangles packed with troops, arriving there about 11am. ‘A’ Company was left temporarily behind at St. Roch to assist in the detraining process, while the other three companies enjoyed a fairly good rest in the afternoon. By the time the Battalion returned to the Somme, Albert and the villages to the east including Pozieres and Bullecourt now lay in German hands and its forces were now placing artillery fire and danger on the pivotal city of Amiens. Amiens was now deserted except for a few scattered groups of civilians passing and making for the railway station, its streets now littered with debris and tangled wire. For the men of the Twenty-Second their morale was high, exalted by the emergency and by his knowledge of the seriousness of the situation.

4th April 1918: Marching through heavy rain and wind the 22nd Battalion reached the village of Godwaersvelde, where at 4pm a train was waiting to convey the Battalion to Amiens and the Somme once more. Within five days of their departure news had come through that the Germans had captured the Warneton sector [the second phase of the German Spring Offensive, Georgette]. At first many thought that this was not possible on account of the intricate barbed–wire defences that had been installed there by the Australian Corps throughout the winter. Major Dooley, who for many days and nights had supervised at much personal risk the construction took it personally and led the call for vengeance against the Hun!

2015-03-16 14.38.303rd April 1918: The men rested and took the opportunity to bath at St. Jan Chappelle and at Berthen. The first edition of the Battalion’s newspaper, the ‘Twenty-Second’s Echo – Random Shots from the Red and Purple Diamonds’, was circulated, and was greatly appreciated from the outset, appearing every two weeks until the unit’s demobilisation, with Sgt Blatchford as the editor. The printing press was a gift from one of the eminent London Fleet Street printers William Haddon of John Haddon & Co, and the company also provided assistance in the start-up. A welcome and generous donation was received by Mrs Craig, wife of the former Medical Officer Major Craig now invalided back to Australia following his wounding at Broodseinde six months previous.

2nd April 1918: The men rested and spent the time cleaning equipment in preparation for the move to the Somme. At 4.40pm motor buses were boarded at Neuve Eglise and the 22nd Battalion moved to billets at Berthen, about nine kilometres from Bailleul. From the big hill outside Berthen (Mont Kemmel, photographed) a last view for the men of the 22nd was obtainable of Ypres and the Flanders battlefields.

1st April 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved and by dawn the last of the platoons was in Shankill Camp near Neuve Eglise. 

Livens31st March 1918: At 1am a planned large scale gas attack using 4 inch Stokes Mortars and Livens Projectors took place, but the barrage put down was weak. However with clear skies observation was good and continuous streams of gassed Germans could be seen carried out of Warneton. [Photograph of Captain William Livens, DSO, MC, next to a Livens Projector, a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with inflammable or toxic chemicals. In World War I, the Livens Projector became the standard means of delivering gas attacks and it remained in the arsenal of the British army until the early years of the Second World War.

By now word had reached the battalion that tremendous German offensive had been launched on the Somme, and that within a few days all the old battlefields that had been won at such a heavy cost were now in German hands. A move south was expected and at 10.30pm the 10th Cheshire Battalion (25th Division) that had been fighting on the Somme in the German Offensive arrived to effect the relief.

Longueval 9.4529th March 1918: Enemy trench mortars very active. The Battalion received support from the battery of 6 inch Newton Medium Trench Mortars.

28th March 1918: Enemy 5.9 Howitzer Batteries were very active, apparently searching for the new 9.45 ‘flying pig’ mortars that were now in place and having been active in retaliation to the minenwerfers. [Photograph of a 9.45 in the village of Longueval – courtesy of Passion & Compassion 1914-1918]

26th March 1918: During the night of 26th/27th March an encounter took place between a patrol from the 22nd Battalion and an enemy party. The Germans put down a barrage on our posts killing one officer and four other ranks. 2nd Lieut. Parsons died of his wounds, which he bore very bravely. His chief consideration, being carried from the line, was that the stretcher-bearers should not unduly distress themselves on his account. [See letter from Capt. Braithwaite, MC]

Binns 11725th March 1918: During an active night patrol and having met a strong German force, under heavy fire 117 Cpl Binns (photograph right, ‘C’ Coy) and 6862 Pte McKenzie brought their Lewis Guns into effective use enabling the patrol to withdraw, earning them both the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry.

24th March 1918: Owing to the German Offensive all training schools and leave were cancelled. However the enemy opposite in the Warneton Sector had become quiet, with a cessation in shelling and flares.

23rd March 1918: The 22nd Battalion once again took up position in the front line posts as previously, relieving the 21st Battalion, and where the gigantic ‘minnies’ were even more active than on the previous tour causing a number of casualties. Major Dooley became Commanding Officer at La Basse Ville and Lieut. Braithwaite took over his ‘C’ Company.

22nd March 1918: With the start on the previous morning of the German Spring Offensive on the Somme to the south, enemy artillery and raiding was active across the whole front. Owing to the 24th Battalion losing 150 men to gas shells the previous day the 22nd Battalion had extra work on strengthening the line, with nine officers and 250 men working at night. The men from the 22nd were too subject to these gas shells which caused a number of casualties.

16th March 1918: A fatigue party of 5 officers and 125 men under Lieut. Braithwaite reported to 21st Battalion at La Basse Ville for work on defences. 180 men bathed at Red Lodge and received clean clothes. Defence building & wiring fatigues and bathing continued while the battalion was in support.

Catacombs - E0386815th March 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion at 9pm who two nights later were raided by the Germans after a heavy Minnenwerfer barrage. The Battalion spent the next eight days in reserve with B, C, & D Companies at the Catacombs and A Coy plus Battalion HQ at Red Lodge, though every night spent working around the front line posts. The accommodation at the Catacombs ‘underground city’ was very comfortable and offered a good nights rest. [Photograph of the area where the Catacombs were located, with Hill 63 in the background]

German balloon - H1348314th March 1918: Rained during the night but little damage was done to the trenches and the water drained away. An enemy balloon broke away but was shot down by a British airman as it crossed our lines. Photograph of a German soldier jumping from his observation balloon, a procedure German observers took when their balloon was attacked by Allied aircraft.

13th March 1918: Enemy trench mortars active but were effectively silenced by our 18-pounders.

11th March 1918: With the increased artillery activity continuing the Australian 18-pounders were active on the enemy front and support lines, with retaliation by the enemy Trench Mortars.

9th March 1918: Artillery activity on both sides increased towards and during the night, with one officer, 2nd Lieut. Robbins of the 5th/22nd having only just returned with his commission from the Officers Cadet Battalion in England – and having lost his brother also with the Battalion at Pozieres –  killed in action along with three other ranks.

8th March 1918: With the 18th Battalion on the right flank and the 24th Battalion on the left the 22nd Battalion took up their position in the front line in front of Warneton and La Basse Ville, with the River Lys protecting the right flank. The line was held by a series of posts: two Companies occupying the front, one in support and the fourth in reserve. Patrols were active.

7th March 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved from Kortepyp Camp and entrained at Romarin Siding on the Light Railway train at 5.30pm. During the night the 22nd relieved the 38th Battalion in the front line, back again in the La Basse Ville area.

6th March 1918: Reveille was sounded at 2.30am for the return to the front and by 5am the Battalion was at Lottinghem and then entrained for Steenwerck. The night was once again spent in Kortepyp Camp. A party of 1 officer and 3 NCO’s per company proceeded to the front line for reconnaissance.

27th February 1918: Sports took place during the battalion’s time at Selles. In a 6th Brigade football tournament held during the month the 22nd Battalion reached the final, defeated as usual by the 24th Battalion. A Divisional Platoon competition for shooting and bayonet fighting was won by X Platoon of C Company under Lieut Gorman, MC. The excellent Lewis gun work by L-Cpl Binns, MM & Bar, significantly helped in their winning.

1st February 1918: Musketry and accuracy of fire was to become a focus and feature of training during the period at Selles. The Battalion completed its 1,000th day of active service abroad since its embarkation on 8th May 1915.

Boulogne 191830th January 1918: After detraining at Lottinghem in the early hours and marching for six kilometres, the 22nd Battalion arrived at Selles, about 20km from Boulogne. Disappointingly there was no sign of a village but just widely scattered huts of differing quality. For the Battalion this was the furthest that they had been from the front line since their arrival in France two years earlier, offering ample opportunity for leave to Boulogne, and here they remained until 6th March. The strength of the Battalion at the end of the month was 48 officers and 879 other ranks.

27th January 1918: After resting for a week following their relief, the 22nd Battalion moved on a foggy day with bad visibility by route march to the Shankill huts near Neuve Eglise. The camp was scattered but the accommodation good. Physical drill, inspection and cleaning of equipment were the order of the day. Everyone was looking forward to a long promised month near the coast.

26th January 1918: General Birdwood visited and spoke to groups of men on work improving the camp.

23rd January 1918: The 22nd Battalion attended a concert given by the ‘Red Diamonds’, the 6th Brigade Troupe in the Cinema Hall at Romarin.

21st January 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and went into Romarin Camp where dry clothing, socks, fires and a hot meal were waiting for the men. For the next week working parties were supplied as per the works schedule.

Sgts Gallipoli - E0237818th January 1918: During this period patrols were very active, frequently bringing in prisoners. Close to one of the 22nd Battalion posts a German patrol was encountered by a party under the command of 342 CSM Carter who shot the German officer and on inspection was carrying some very useful maps on trenches and troop dispositions. For this action CSM Carter [front row, third from the left, in photograph of 22nd Battalion Gallipoli Sergeants] was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal [click on link to read the citation].

15th January 1918: Snow turned to rain and the frozen ground began to thaw. The communication trenches were in a bad way – the revetment gave way and the trench became full of mud and water, the duckboards broke loose and floated away. Shelters in the support line and in the posts were crushed in and flooded out. Gumboots were issued. Rations carried by the reserve company to the right company took six hours as opposed to the previous one hour when the ground was frozen. The water and mud in many cases was up to the men’s waists. The Germans were in even worse situation as the River Lys had flooded and they were on lower ground. Both sides were busy pumping out, repairing and draining. The tour of duty was performed under conditions the like of which the Battalion had not known since Flers and Ginchy.

La Basse-Ville13th January 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved into the front line, with the 19th Battalion on the right flank and 24th Battalion on left, at La Basse Ville facing the town of Warneton, in an area with a very bad reputation owing to the number and size of ‘minnies’ employed by the Germans. The line was held by a system of posts, ‘B’ & ‘D’ Companies in the firing line, ‘A’ in support and ‘C’ in reserve. The ground was frozen hard, and snow a few inches deep lay on the ground. 

12th January 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved to Romarin and then via Light Railway to a system of dug-outs called the Catacombs just behind Ploegsteert Wood. These catacombs were an Catacombs - E01509underground dug-out city, large enough to comfortably house a couple of thousand men, consisting of great timbered drives and tunnels into the side of Hill 63. In galleries driven at right-angles off the main passages, long rows of wooden bunks were erected. The place was electrically lighted and though the atmosphere was a little stuffy, troops fresh from the line were very appreciative of the solid comfort of a good dry bed. [Photograph of the 6th Brigade in the Catacombs].

11th January 1918: Inspection of Box Respirators followed by gas drill. Orders received to relieve the 25th Battalion in the front line. 

8th January 1918: Heavy fall of snow during the day, approximately 3 inches deep. ‘C’ Company tasked with laying duckboards, and a detachment of men from other platoons on cable laying duties. 150 men went to baths during the morning, who then worked on reveting the huts.

7th January 1918: Lecture on night operations including defence of strong points garrisoned by a platoon.

6th January 1918: Church parade held. A special day of prayer by Kings Proclamation.

2nd January 1918: Weather was very cold and ground frozen. ‘D’ Company and 2 platoons of ‘C’ Company employed on Corps defence under Capt Kennedy & Lieut. Gorman, plus continued salvage work, stores and corduroy road construction.

1st January 1918: Fatigues – 200 men employed on salvage in Ploegsteert Wood under direction from Major Dooley, MC.; 100 men loading & unloading stores at Romarin Siding; and 33 men constructing corduroy road for Balloon section.

 

Events Archive 1917

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