AIF Divisions: 1917

image25th April 1917: On the 3rd Anzac Day, the British 11th Division took over the southern sector under the command of I Anzac Corps, relieving the AIF 1st Division. Delays to the next Bullecourt attack meant that General Smyth of the AIF 2nd Division was able to plan and rehearse the operations with the thoroughness for which there had never been such an opportunity in the history of the AIF.

20th April 1917: Heavy shelling had by now reduced Bullecourt to rubble and wire entanglements were becoming shredded, though because so extensive still posed a formidable obstacle. The use of Bangalore Torpedoes by the AIF 2nd Division were also partially successful in cutting a path through the wire.

18th April 1917: Heavy howitzers of British V Corps concentrated on Bullecourt and the sugar factory beyond it, while enemy shelling heavy at intervals on the 6th Brigade. Experiments held with Bangalore Torpedoes, partially successful.

16th April 1917: The First and Third British Armies were ordered to send to the I Anzac Corps twelve batteries of heavy artillery, and British V Corps to the Australians left in front of Bullecourt were similarly strengthened. Before the end of the month I Anzac Corps heavy artillery had grown from 15 to 31 batteries. The field artillery was also slightly increased. The British Fifth Army’s daily allowance of shells was also increased.

Lagnicourt - E01016.JPG15th April 1917: Before dawn the Germans mounted an attack on the whole front of the AIF 1st Division and the right company of the AIF 2nd Division in front of Lagnicourt. Due to the broad nature of the frontage, the Australians had to defend their isolated posts beating back the attackers by Lewis gun fire and by bombs when the attackers drew near to their positions. As with Bullecourt ammunition was becoming a major issue and messengers shot down as they attempted to make the journey back to the rear, often by German snipers that managed to encircle and then enfilade their positions. German infiltration also meant that the forward field artillery batteries were being threatened and orders were given to withdraw their breech blocks and dial sights and retire. The guns of all four batteries of the 2nd Brigade were abandoned followed shortly by three batteries of the 1st Brigade. By 5.30am the Germans had penetrated a mile and a half behind what was the Australian forward positions at the start of the day. However with daylight the task of the defenders became easier and were able to pour relentless Lewis gun and rifle fire from the rear defensive positions into the now faltering Germans, now caught between the defensive barrage falling to their rear and the advancing Australians.

Lagnicourt - E04577.JPGIn defeating this attack the I Anzac Corps had suffered 1,010 casualties of which approximately 300 were taken prisoner. The Germans suffered 2,313 casualties, and despite having been temporarily in possession of 36 artillery pieces, 31 were back in Australian operation that afternoon (photograph showing one of the destroyed guns). The attack was a failure, particularly as the Germans threw four times the amount attackers against the thinly spread 4,000 Australians holding the line, and did not disrupt the preparations for the next Allied attack at Bullecourt. For the Allies it also demonstrated the virtues of defence in depth.

13th April 1917: During the night the AIF 4th Division was relieved by the 2nd Division concentrated in the Noreuil sector. At the same time the AIF 1st Division farther east completed its approach further forward to within 1,000 yards of the Hindenburg Line, now responsible for a large 13,000 yards of frontage.

11th April 1917: The First Battle of Bullecourt – click on link below to Combat Areas > AIF Divisions > Bullecourt for a more detailed account.

Troops of the AIF 4th Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt in what was a poorly planned and executed attack. Instead of relying on the customary artillery barrage to destroy the thick belts of barbed wire, British commander General Hubert Gough decided to employ 12 tanks to advance ahead of the infantry in order to retain the element of surprise. On 10th April almost all of the tanks failed to arrive at the rendezvous point. The attack was delayed until following day, giving the Germans full warning of an imminent assault. The 4th and 12th Brigades set off to attack the Hindenburg Line with little support from the tanks. The infantry covered over 1,000 yards of no-man’s land without artillery support, in full view of German machine-gun crews, but still managed to negotiate thick belts of barbed wire and gain partial possession of the Hindenburg Line. The Australians quickly expended all their ammunition while holding the line against German counter-attacks. Ordered to withdraw, they negotiated a no-man’s land swept with German artillery and machine-gun fire. The battle cost the 4th Division over 3,000 casualties, of which 1,170 were taken prisoner – the largest capture of Australian troops on the Western Front.

Bullecourt - ART41022

Above diorama exhibited in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, depicting events of the 11th April 1917.

Meanwhile Australian artillery to the east of Bullecourt and situated in the valleys around Noreuil and Lagnicourt became targeted by the German artillery, particularly after the fighting at Bullecourt ceased.

10th April 1917: British Royal Engineers fire gas cylinders over Bullecourt in preparation for the attack. By 4.15am the attacking battalions of the 12th and 4th Brigades were in position to their tapes and assembly positions, but there was no sign of the tanks. Lying out in the snow, the two Brigades would be easily seen between Bullecourt and Queant once dawn arrived. At 5am the message arrived that the ‘stunt is off’, those lying on the tapes simply rose and walked back without formation like a crowd from a football match. But communication between the AIF 4th Division and the British 62nd Division was lacking, and the British pushed on with their attack but without support were forced to retire suffering some 162 casualties.

Later that day Field Marshall Haig’s Chief of Staff calls General Gough informing that the Third Army was going to resume the attack in the morning to the north and to press home their gains, and that the Fifth Army must support the effort, against Birdwood and White’s serious concerns, not least a heavy reliance upon the tanks and the tiredness of the troops.

9th April 1917: The main attack on the village of Boursies began at 4.45am and took place on the same day as the start of the Arras offensive, this action acting as a minor feint to the main battle taking place further north. The 10th and the 12th Battalions took the village at a cost of 341 casualties. The attack by the AIF 1st Division also included a successful attack on the village of Hermies by the 1st Brigade. Except for a few of the garrison, practically all of the Germans were either killed or taken prisoner, but at a loss of 253 officers and men for the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, of which a high proportion of 1 in 3 were killed. The 1st Battalion moved on Demicourt and occupied the village, sustaining 55 casualties.

By successive local advances made at night without serious opposition, the I Anzac line was over the next few nights pushed forward to within less than a mile of the Hindenburg defences. General Gough telegraphed his congratulations to the AIF 1st Division adding ‘Throughout the advance since the end of February the enterprise, tactical skill, and gallantry of the whole Anzac Corps has been remarkable and is deserving of the highest commendation.’

Meanwhile at dawn the British First and Third Armies launched their great offensive at Vimy and Arras respectively. It had been prepared by a massive artillery bombardment greater than that at the Somme, and the infantry advanced more effectively under a creeping barrage. The attack succeeded in most of the areas and at Arras was almost complete taking the first two defensive systems. With early reports of the success coming through and having received a bullish representation from the commander of the 11 British tanks, despite the doubts given by Birdwood and White, Gough gave the order for the attack at Bullecourt to be conducted by the AIF 4th Division in the I Anzac Corps sector begin at dawn on 10th April.

8th April 1917: The preliminary movement against the three remaining villages in the I Anzac Corps sector began with a movement to secure the high ground above Boursies. Two companies of the 12th Battalion and two from the 10th Battalion attacked at 3am and successfully created a small salient, though subject to bombing counter-attacks, and at a cost of 90 casualties.

7th April 1917: Later than planned, the bombardment of the German wire in front of the Hindenburg Line using the 4.5inch howitzers with the instantaneous fuses began. However the positioning of the German Line on the reverse slope meant that accurate bombardment of the trenches and the entanglements was difficult. That day two airmen reported that damage to the wire was uneven, and largely intact. General White requested a postponement of the attack until the wire was cut, and he was given to the 12th April, a delay of two days.

6th April 1917: After three weeks of rest and training the AIF 1st Division began taking over the front-line positions of the AIF 5th Division, plus a portion of the 4th at Lagnicourt to enable the AIF 4th Division to focus on the projected diversionary attack at Bullecourt in connection with the Arras offensive.

5th April 1917: To the west of Bullecourt the 49th Battalion reached the railway embankment that ran parallel to the Hindenburg Line about half a mile away.

Artillery Bullecourt - E00600.JPG4th April 1917: A limited number of batteries began their bombardment of the Hindenburg Line, their reduced number caused by delays in being able to bring the artillery forward and the limited obscured places available for them in this sector on account of the geography of the valleys running perpendicular to the front line. Furthermore, the supply of ammunition for the artillery was also limited by the difficulty of transporting it forward, though the Germans were surprised how much the British were able to bring in to their forward position given the destruction they had caused to the infrastructure during their withdrawal.

2nd April 1917: The I Anzac Corps envelopment attack on Noreuil was undertaken by the 50th and 51st Battalions of the 13th Brigade, with the 50th attacking from the captured village of Lagnicourt. The operations were still in open country, clear of all fortifications except the wire entanglements and trenches bent around the outskirts of the villages and a sprinkling of sentry posts, frequently in the sunken roads which were common in these parts of France. The sunken roads would not only provide cover but by scooping into the sides could provide shelter, and in some locations such as at Noreuil the Germans were able to tunnel deep dugouts in the road-banks.

jensen-h06203At 5.15am the supporting barrage started to fall on the enemy positions and the two battalions advanced together. The 51st met with machine-gun fire from the left, right and the sunken Noreuil-Longatte road ahead, causing eighty men to fall, before the position was taken and prisoners captured. The 50th were having difficulties as the suppressing barrage was too thin to be effective, and suffering enfilade fire from pockets of Germans behind the steep bank. During the fighting Pte Jensen (photograph right) rushed a position and bluffed more than forty Germans to surrender, and was awarded the Victoria Cross. With the Lewis gunners firing from the hip, the battalion advanced. However by 8.45 the position was becoming precarious. The Germans were holding the gullies in strength and the Australian casualties were mounting as the Germans started to attack with bombing parties. Fighting continued all day, but by dawn when the 51st were preparing to rush the German positions, they had found that they had retired during the night.

The attack by the British on the villages to the north had met with similar difficulties, but they too had succeeded. The two brigades of the 7th Division suffered about 400 casualties, but the loss to the 13th Brigade exceeded 600, with the 50th Battalion losing 360 of which about 100 were killed and 60 taken prisoner. Further south the AIF 5th NoreuilDivision’s 55th Battalion captured Doignies with limited casualties, whereas the attack on Louverval by the 56th Battalion wasmore problematic and resulted in 484 casualties for the 14th Brigade, many as a result of subsequent shelling of Doignies, Louverval and Beaumetz. Only twelve prisoners were taken in this area.

Thus on the left half of the Fifth Army’s front the last obstacle to Gough’s projected diversion against the Hindenburg Line had been removed, and all divisions began pushing their posts closer to the main defences which scarred the open country a mile or so ahead of them.

1st April 1917: It was decided that the British Fifth Army and the right of the Third should attack on the same day the string of villages that lay as outposts before the Hindenburg Line. The taking of Noreuil would fall to I Anzac Corps. The next village in the Australian sector, Lagnicourt, had already been taken, leaving the right hand column tasked with seizing Louvrel and Doignes. The villages of Boursies, Demicourt and Hermies also lay in this chain but they were considered less of an objective as no serious attempt against the Hindenburg Line would be made behind them.

29th March 1917: The 7th Division in the British Third Army to the left tried for a third time to take the villages of Croisilles and Ecoust in front of the Hindenburg Line but again failed.

26th March 1917: The British Fifth Army and the right of the Third which was to take part in the great Arras offensive were separated from the Hindenburg by a chain of villages. One such village was Lagnicourt and the 26th and 27th Battalions were tasked with attacking the village, supported by Elliott’s 15th Brigade on the right flank. The village was the first of this line to be taken but at a cost of 377 casualties. The Germans did not try to retake the village but heavily shelled the buildings and it was from a shell bursting in a sunken road that Capt. Cherry (photograph below left) of the 26th Battalion, who through his good work earlier in the day had been awarded the Victoria Cross, was killed. After the capture of Lagnicourt the AIF 2nd Division was relieved by the 4th which came into the line fresh from a month’s rest and training.

Cherry - H06507.JPGGeneral Gough informed his corps commanders that the sector to be seized by the British Fifth Army during the attack on the Hindenburg Line and supporting the main Arras Offensive on their left would be at Bullecourt, with British V Corps attacking to the west of the village and I Anzac Corps to the east. With time short and the date for the offensive approaching the infantry would be attacking in the open since there would be no time to dig a trench system, and the artillery would have just enough time if they fired hard in the week leading up to the attack. Furthermore the line that they would be attacking lay between the German salients of Bullecourt and Queant giving the Australian commanders cause for concern facing fire from three sides.

24th March 1917: General Gough orders his corps commanders to bring forward all their heavy artillery as soon as the roads permit in preparation for the bombardment of the Hindenburg Line in April. This would be in preparation for a flanking attack as part of the great Arras Offensive now deep into its preparation scheduled for the 8th April

23rd March 1917: With Elliott’s 15th Brigade progressing faster than the rest of the front, the Germans – including a company of storm-troops – attempted to retake the village of Beaumetz but were beaten back. This attack was evidence of Ludendorff and Hindenburg’s plan to hit back hard at the following troops, and justified Haig’s precautionary and cautious approach of not over exposing his advancing armies.

Prince Friedrich of Prussia.jpg21st March 1917: The 7th Brigade having relieved the 6th witnessed an aerial combat between four British and five German aeroplanes. A German plane came to ground in front of their posts, and several Queenslanders rushed forward shooting the pilot as he tried to run away. The pilot happened to be Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia (photograph right), and though carried to the aid post he died of his wounds in hospital a few days later.

20th March 1917: 6th Brigade’s Maj-Gen.  Gellibrand working on his own initiative attempted to take Noreuil. The 21st and 23rd Battalions met with heavy resistance from machine guns in the surrounding villages supported by artillery. The first that Divisional HQ knew about it was when Gellibrand sent messages including falling back. To Generals Birdwood and Smythe the unexpected news of this engagement and the casualties suffered – which was eventually found to be more than twice as Gellibrand at first believed, totalling 13 Officers and 318 other ranks – came as a shock. As a result Gellibrand never regained the high opinion and confidence with General Birdwood which his vigour in previous stages of the pursuit had won.

Meanwhile, General Gough met with his two Corps commanders to lay out the plan to assist the Third Army with the infantry and not just artillery. Gough’s belief was that the German’s were occupying the Hindenburg Line merely as a rear-guard operation, and that the Line should be attacked on 8th April on a front of 3,000 – 4,000 yards, with the Cavalry exploiting the breach and meeting up with the Third’s cavalry coming through at Vimy. Twelve tanks were also allotted to Gough.

18th March 1917: The 6th (Gellibrand) and 15th (Elliott) Brigades were selected as the force to drive forward, supported by troops from the 13th Light Horse and a battery of field artillery. The advance columns would be advancing without the main body of troops behind them, therefore incurring increased risk as they approached the Hindenburg Line. In this new phase of open warfare the infantry progressed cautiously, uncomfortable crossing open countryside despite there being only few of the enemy around, and weighed down by their heavy packs. However spirits were raised as they were away from the trenches and mud of the Somme battlefields and winter was turning to spring. The infantry were also becoming practiced in the art of enveloping or surrounding a village before effecting its capture.

To the north at Messines, the British 2nd Army’s plan for the capture of the ridge was explained to General Godley who in turn briefed his II Anzac Corps Divisional commanders.

Bapaume - E00797.JPG17th March 1917: Brigade Commanders Gellibrand (6th) and Smith (5th – and former 22nd Battalion commander) drew up plans for a simultaneous attack on the expected German rear guard, but by the time the advance the enemy had gone. Bapaume (photograph right), the objective for the great 1916 Somme offensive, was entered. As the Allies followed the Germans in a period of cautious open warfare against the German rear-guards, bitterness grew not just amongst the French but also in world opinion against the excesses of the German military in destroying everything in its wake for little military advantage.

15th March 1917: Vigorous patrolling continued with a view to ascertain the strength of enemy opposite the Brigades’s front. Aeroplanes active that day.

13th March 1917: The second large raid conducted by the AIF 3rd Division in the Messines area is a disaster and ends with Lieut. Taylor and 19 other ranks from the 11th Brigade being killed with another 45 wounded.

12th March 1917: Patrols from the 5th and 6th Brigades report that German front line RI, which had recently been heavily bombarded, was empty in expectation of an attack, though the 8th Brigade to the right was meeting with resistance. The 5th and 6th Brigades were now operating in almost entirely green countryside, raising the spirits of the men, as they moved to within 300 yards of the RII line.

11th March 1917: Aeroplanes on both sides very active. Four British planes brought to earth, with one German plane crashed in Loupart Wood.

10th March 1917: On the left of the 25th Battalion, the British II Corps attacked the German outpost in Grevillers Trench with 370 prisoners being taken.

5th March 1917: Heavy plumes of smoke rose from the town of Bapaume indicating that the Germans would be retreating further, while British airmen reported a greatly increased amount of train movement eastwards.

3rd March 1917: Expecting that the withdrawal of the German Divisions was in preparation for a major offensive in Flanders, any British Divisions that could be spared from the front-line should be withdrawn, and the AIF 1st Division was duly withdrawn and their frontage taken over by the AIF 2nd and 5th Divisions. 

Malt Trench.jpg2nd March 1917: Three battalions of the 7th Brigade, with the 5th supporting on the right, attacked towards Malt Trench. Despite bombing attacks, artillery and counter-attacks the 2nd Division had established itself on the Loupart bastion and in position to create a ‘jumping off’ line for Gough’s intended assault on the next main German R.I. Line. The AIF 1st Division to the east had been digging in when came a series of counter-attacks, with the Germans penetrating behind the Australian lines. Both sides had men killed and captured, though the loses to the German attackers had been greater.

Warlencourt.jpg28th February 1917: By the morning of the 28th the villages of Thilloy, Ligny-Thilloy and Le Barque were within the AIF 1st Division’s line, which now lay in comparatively green country and a distance of some 500 – 800 yards from the German main position, Till Trench. On the right the 15th Brigade of the AIF 5th Division had cleared the enemy from Barley Trench to the German pivot point at Le Transloy. To the west the 7th Brigade made seven attacks to Malt Trench but all were bombed back with heavy loss on both sides. British Fifth Army commanding officer General Gough visited the area and seeing the importance of Malt Trench gave the order for the bombardment of the German wire to begin at once.

27th February 1917: Preceded by a program of smaller raids through January and February, the AIF 3rd Division conducted its first major raid at Houplines on the French/Belgium border outside of Armentieres. Carried out by a composite battalion of the 10th Brigade of 20 Officers and 804 other ranks, the large successful raid was preceded by a bombardment which included gas and smoke shells, a tactic that AIF 3rd Division Commanding Officer General Monash would use to great effect later in the war when commanding the AIF.

25th February 1917: Advancing under the partial cover of fog from the sporadic threat of enemy machine gun fire from harassing rear-parties, snipers in villages, and artillery, I Anzac Corps began occupying the forward and support positions abandoned by the Germans. The German rear-parties would fire then run, and this advance was the nearest approach to open warfare that most of the men had yet experienced. The dugout entrances in the support trenches had been systematically blown in and care had to be taken to avoid booby-traps left particularly under loose duck-boards. The German withdrawal appeared to pivot on the front being explored by I Anzac Corps as the 14th Brigade (5th Division) on the far right observed that the German trenches around Le Transloy had been fully garrisoned. To the Australian troops advancing the sight ahead of comparatively green valleys with buildings and trees would have been a welcome lift after the months of the grey and mud.

hindenburg-line-i060-hi24th February 1917: Reports came in from British V Corps that the Germans had abandoned their forward trenches. I Anzac Corps along with British II Corps were ordered that night to probe and from their discoveries and prisoners taken it became apparent that the Germans had made a massive change in their strategic plans and what was being observed was the voluntary abandonment by the Germans of their great salient between Arras and Aisne. The German plan was thus for their naval campaign waged through submarines to force victory and for their land forces to hold out as long as possible. With the prospect of an Allied breakthrough on the Somme in 1916 a possibility, construction was started in September on a new 100 mile defensive line across the base of a great salient from Arras in the north to Soissons in the south, and it was to this location that the decision was made to fall back. The withdrawal decision would have two immediate effects: a shortening of the line saving a large number of divisions; secondly it would disrupt the Allied plans of attack and buy the submarines more time to have a decisive impact. The new line, being constructed in quiet surroundings and chosen for their defensive qualities would offer stronger and more comfortable shelter for the German troops in deep concrete shelters, protected by deep belts of wire entanglements.

The depth of the withdrawal to what would be known as the Hindenburg Line would vary between twelve miles near Bapaume to nearly thirty near Roye. In front of the line a 15 kilometre belt was laid bare of houses and trees for shelter, and the roads, railways, bridges and wells all rendered useless.

22nd February 1917: The 45th Battalion captured another length of trench along with thirty-two prisoners. Meanwhile in preparation for the impending British offensive that would be happening further north, General Birdwood ordered the withdrawal of the AIF 4th Division from the front-line to refresh and be ready to support a possible flanking attack by I Anzac Corps west of Bapaume northwards in the direction of Arras.

21st February 1917: Wireless messages intercepted by the British Fifth Army from the rear of the three German divisions facing it ‘to dismantle and be prepared to move with all material, and not to leave anything behind’.

16th February 1917: The weather turned warmer and the frost of the last month ended. Within days the communication trenches had returned to a quagmire hindering the supply of bombs to the front for further attacks.

Gough.jpg15th February 1917: The I Anzac Corps is transferred from the British Fourth Army to the Fifth Army (formerly Reserve Army) under the command of General Sir Hubert Gough (photograph right). Meanwhile back in England and following the agreement by the Australian Government to form a 6th infantry division, the creation of a new brigade, the 16th, was begun consisting mostly of men having recovered from their wounds or sickness.

14th February 1917: Following the lessons learned by Nivelle’s French forces at Verdun, the new British drill of attack was formally authorised, though could not at this stage be practiced by the AIF as they were in the front line. This included placing specialists such as bombers and Lewis guns into the platoons to make them more self-sufficient.

11th February 1917: At midnight the 46th Battalion launched an assault covered by a shower of rifle-grenades and captured 150 yards of enemy trench. The small wearing down operations on the Somme were now in full swing, and three days later the 46th launch another attack and capture a further 25 yards.

10th February 1917: Raids of the AIF 1st Division against Bayonet Trench and the point of The Maze were repulsed by strong wire entanglements and stubborn German defence, despite signs witnessed along the front that morale within the German army was starting to weaken.

4th February 1917: The 13th Battalion was tasked in attacking Stormy Trench again. In order to meet the chief danger of the German counter-attack 12,000 bombs were carried forward to the ‘jumping-off’ position, plus 1,000 rifle grenades to combat the greater range of the enemy egg bombs. The field murray-h00009artillery was also to double its expenditure of shells. To avoid noise during assembly the men’s feet were muffled with sandbags. As with the previous attack good progress was made and the trench easily captured along with a number of deep dug-outs. The counter attack came and desperate bombing fights ensued, followed by a swift, heavy and accurate German barrage on the supporting and bomb-carrying troops. The success of the attack was largely due to Capt. Murray’s (photograph right) leadership on the right for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross, though the operation had cost the Australians about 350 casualties against the German losses of 250 including 100 missing.

1st February 1917: The 15th Battalion of the AIF 4th Division moving swiftly following a short barrage took the enemy by surprise and captured Cloudy Trench, a German salient north-east of Gueudecourt. However an insufficient defensive barrage resulted in a successful German counter-attack which forced the attackers back. In this action the 15th Battalion lost 144 officers and men, of whom 42 were missing. Meanwhile with the plan to take over more of the French line, the British Government asked for the formation of a 6th Australian infantry division, along with an additional New Zealand and more Canadian Divisions.

28th January 1917: General Legge falls ill with the flu and the opportunity is taken to relieve him of his command of the AIF 2nd Division, where upon he returned to Australia. Legge was replaced by Brig-Gen Smyth, VC. 

22nd January 1917: A successful German raiding party on 36th Battalion AIF 3rd Division to the south of the Lys in Flanders leaves 11 Australian killed, 36 wounded and 4 taken prisoner. This was one of only two successful raids out of eight by the Germans against the AIF 3rd Division from the beginning of the New Year until 13th March.

18th January 1917: General McCay of the AIF 5th Division was relieved and became the GOC AIF depots on the Salisbury Plain in England and was replaced by Brig-Gen Hobbs.

christmas-1916-wchposh17th January 1917: A heavy fall of snow fell which lasted in the bitter cold for exactly a month. Food was carried forward but water had to be melted from the ice in shell holes. However the cold was preferable to the mud. The ground was dry, trench walls ceased to fall in and men could move around and stamp their feet without creating a quagmire. It was also easier to bring food up to the front. At this time the number of cases of trench feet diminished. However, it also became more obvious which trenches were manned and posts garrisoned, this harassing fire became more precise. [Painting: ‘Christmas 1916’ by William Barnes Wollen – an Australian outpost at Fleurbaix.]

14th January 1917: The wet weather that had prevailed since October gave way to bitter frosts.

10th January 1917: General Rawlinson asked his Fourth Army Corps commanders to plan for  a series of attacks to keep the enemy under strain.

2nd January 1917: To support Nivelle’s plan for the 1917 offensive, the British Fourth Army extended its front requiring I Anzac Corps to put all four of its divisions (1st, 2nd, 4th & 5th) into the front-line.

Events Archive 1916

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