The 22nd Battalion left Querrieu at 3.30pm on 9th May 1918 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.
The northern most Australian division on the Somme, the 2nd Division (including the 22nd Battalion) was relieved by the British 18th (Eastern) Division and moved into reserve, ready to counter-attack should the Germans breakthrough in the sector. The Australian Corps held its now shortened line with three divisions – the 4th Division in front of Villers-Bretonneux, the 5th Division astride the river Somme, and the 3rd Division to a point half a mile south of the Ancre between Ville-sur-Ancre and Morlancourt.
A skillful German sniper opposite the Battalion’s right caused many casualties during this tour in the front line opposite Dernancourt. 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. While out on patrol Lieut. Armstrong was wounded and 2nd Lieut. Sutherland was wounded a few days later.
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.
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.
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 ascendancy over the enemy despite being heavily sniped at himself. Later in the day ‘A’ Company relieved ‘C’ Company in the outposts.
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.