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.
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.
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.
At 9pm the 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion 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.
Enemy shelling of the country immediately behind a considerable part of the British front began to noticeably increase. In the Australian Corps sector in Flanders this shelling fell mainly in the Douve Valley and in the battery areas which were bombarded with gas. Large Gotha planes also bombed Bailleul along with German long range guns shelling the town and the dumps and villages behind the lines. This intensity included the use of ‘minnies’ on the front line trenches, and at La Basse Ville, where the 22nd Battalion were holding the front line, 2nd Lieut. Robbins of the 5th/22nd having only just returned with his commission from the Officers Cadet Battalion in England, was killed in action along with three other ranks.
The AIF 2nd Division relieved the AIF 3rd Division and took over the southern section of the Australian Corps front in the vicinity of Ploegsteert, with the 3rd Division retiring to the Reserve in the countryside at Nielles-lez-Blequin not far from Boulogne. 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.
After a month in the rear the 22nd Battalion began its journey back to the front line. Reveille was sounded at 2.30am 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.
After detraining at Lottinghem in the early hours and marching for six kilometres, the 22nd Battalion arrived at Selles, about 20km from Boulogne. There was no sign of a village but just widely scattered huts of differing quality. However 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.
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.
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].