1st March 1919: For the month of March, when for the most part excellent weather prevailed, the 36 Officers and 414 Other Ranks had plenty of time on their hands with rifle and kit inspections in the morning and lectures arranged by the educational branch. Visits were arranged to various industrial institutions in the Charleroi area. Films were shown nightly in the 6th Brigade cinema, as well as several dances arranged in the local hall attended by the men and the local mademoiselles, with the music performed by the Battalion band (photograph of men outside the YMCA Club, Charleroi). Through the month 14 Officers and 24 Other Ranks would be Struck off Strength as they returned to Australia, either in small groups or sometimes individually, with no large quota allocation this month.
28th February 1919: During the month the health and spirits of the men was good. Demobilisation was not rapid but the continuance of liberal leave and numerous excursions to towns and places of interest made the time pass quickly (photograph right of Charleroi). Owing to the inclemency of the weather football had to be discontinued and boxing and other sports took its place to keep the men trim and their minds engaged. Lectures on various subjects were delivered in the cinema hall. During the month Battalion educational classes were abandoned and replaced by Brigade classes.
23rd February 1919: Lieut-Col ARL Wiltshire, DSO, MC, assumed temporary command of the 6th Australian Infantry Brigade.
19th February 1919: Opportunities now became available for visiting Germany and the first of the Regimental Colours were sent up to Cologne to be dipped in the waters of the Rhine before being sent out to Australia.
12th February 1919: On what was a fine day, the 22nd Battalion marched via Somze to new billets at the Charleroi suburb of Marcinelle (photograph right). During this period practically the whole Battalion lived in private houses as guests of the civilian population where strong friendships were made, and as this was the first time since Egypt the Battalion was billeted close to a large city this was much appreciated by the men.
3rd February 1919: At 09:30am all officers and men assembled in Gourdinne square to bid farewell to the 1915 6th Quota draft returning to Australia. 1 Officer and 36 Other Ranks marched out with the draft. [photograph of the 22nd Battalion 6th Quota courtesy of Jennie Marshall and the Lieut Harricks, MC, collection]
1st February 1919: Very cold, and snow fell throughout the day. The draft for Australia paraded in the square for final inspection.
31st January 1919: The month of January was very quiet for the men of the Battalion. Full advantage was taken of what little fine weather there was to arrange inter-company football matches. The final match of the Brigade championship between the 22nd and 24th Battalions ended in a draw. During the afternoon 240 men were bathed and given a change of clothing.
27th January 1919: At 9.15am all available men were engaged in cleaning out a barn and preparing it as a concert hall.
24th January 1919: At 10.15am all available men assembled in the town square to bid farewell to the third 1915 draft returning to Australia. 1 Officer and 60 Other Ranks marched out with the draft, leaving 35 Officers and 447 Other Ranks.
23rd January 1919: At 9.30am all available men reported to the Town Major for fatigue work. At 10.30am the draft for Australia paraded in the square for final inspection.
21st January 1919: At 9.30am all available men proceeded to Nalines (photograph right) to attend a lecture on demobilization by Brigadier-General McNicol. The remainder of parades and training were cancelled to allow men to visit the Divisional Race Meeting at Bomeree.
19th January 1919: At 2.45pm the Battalion paraded in the square and received an address from the inhabitants of Gourdinne. The battalion band delivered a programme of music.
16th January 1919: After inspection all available men reported to Town Major for fatigue work
14th 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.
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 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.
8th 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. 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.
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.
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.
16th 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.
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.
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.
10th 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.
7th 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 worked at night digging trenches forward.