Notebook of Captain WJ CAWTHORN

Date of enlistment 3rd February 1915
Age at enlistment 18
Profession School Teacher
Town Gippsland
Status Single
Rank at enlistment Sergeant
Significant events while with the AIF Sailed with the first contingent on ‘Ulysses’

Served in Gallipoli, Egypt, France ad Belgium

Wounded in Action 27th June 1916, Bois Grenier

Promoted to RSM in Gallipoli, 2nd Lieut, Lieut and then Captain 31st May 1917

Joined the Indian Army 12th February 1918 with rank of Major

Capt. Cawthorn’s full WW1 service record can be located in the National Archives of Australia. Full details are available online, NAA Series B2455.

The following battle orders extracts are taken from the notebook of Capt. Cawthorn ahead of the 4th October 1917 attack at Broodseinde. The notebook is stored in the Australian War Memorial research centre in Canberra. Acknowledgement goes to the family of Capt. Cawthorn and the AWM enabling the subsequent publishing within this commemorative project.


30th September 1917: Broodseinde battle orders briefing:

Operation: On a day to be notified, 1st Anzac, simultaneously with Corps on each flank will continue its advance. On the 2nd Division front the 6th Brigade attack on the right, 7th Brigade on the left. Before midnight prior to the attack the 22nd Battalion in support will change places with the 23rd Battalion in the line. The 22nd will carry and consolidate the Red Line. The Blue Line will be captured by the 24th Battalion on the right and the 21st Battalion on the left after passing through the 22nd. The Battalion will attack on a 4 Company frontage, each Company on a Platoon frontage. The 3rd Platoon of each Coy will be moppers up.

Artillery: At zero hour a barrage will be put down 150 yards in front of our front line. At plus 3 minutes it moves 200 yards at the rate of 100 yards every 4 minutes, thence to the Red Protective Barrage (200 yards beyond the Red Line), it moves 100 yards every 6 minutes. At plus 130 minutes it moves 100 yards every 8 minutes, finally resting on the Blue Protective Barrage (200 yards beyond the Blue Line). One smoke round per gun will be fired when the Barrage reaches each of the Protective Lines. A number of Batteries of FA, at the disposal of the Divisional Commander, can be switched on to any point holding up the attack, on particulars being furnished.

Consolidation: About 150 yards behind the Red Protective Barrage, shell holes are to be linked up. If sufficient men are not available to complete a continuous trench, sections of trench are to be dug so that a continuous line may be completed later.

1st October 1917: The positions at Muhle were heavily shelled, the Coy there sustaining severe casualties.

2nd/3rd October 1917: The battn relieved the 23rd.

3rd October 1917: Our artillery caused 30 casualties and destroyed 2 Lewis guns by ‘shorts’.


Published as ‘news’ 100 years on to the day, follow the 22nd Battalion on the project website and via Facebook and Twitter

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