Memorials


Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 180-185
Eric Wren

The northward thrust behind the Mouquet Farm was now planned for the late evening of August 18th, and when, on the 17th, the artillery liaison officer gave notice that preliminary demolition fire would at 6 p.m. that day be opened by “heavies” on a line corresponding to points R.34, a.3.8 and 9.9 on the maps, an urgent warning was immediately dispatched by runner to brigade headquarters that the line indicated was actually a part of the 3rd Battalion’s front line! Telephone communication was out of the question; so furious was the enemy’s fire on every communication trench and track, that the signalers, toil as they might over their severed wires, were unable for nearly three whole days to get a line in working order. However, brave men – although they took two hours – ran the gauntlet with messages in an attempt to stay the artillery’s fire. Unfortunately they were too late, and at 6 o’clock the British heavy guns opened fire and a proportion of their shells duly exploded in the 3rd Battalion’s position with disastrous effect. Lieut R.F. [Richard Farley] BULKELEY was killed almost in the act of delivering a confirmation of his previous surveying observations.

While blame for this calamitous occurrence was hardly attachable to anyone, feeling in the battalion at the time was bitter. Only the skillful survey of Lieut BULKELEY, in an area from which every natural feature had been blasted, had detected the error in the accepted plan of the line, and, had telephone communication been possible, the disaster might not have occurred. As it was, the divisional staff only reluctantly accepted the correction after an aerial reconnaissance of the line, in which flares were lighted by the troops. Even so, there can be no doubt that, when the bombardment opened again on the evening of the 18th, there were still some British guns laid on to the line of the battalion’s trenches. It might be here noted that, as several British divisions also took part in the attack, the strength of the supporting artillery employed was really enormous. Consequently the rechecking of its detail orders was probably a task of some difficulty.

The preparations for the attack were completed on the afternoon of the 18th, when the 1st Battalion relived the three right companies of the 3rd and thus allowed them to concentrate further to the left front. This movement carried out in broad daylight over open ground, was undoubtedly observed by the enemy, for much sniping and low shrapnel-fire gave on indication of his ready alertness and boded ill for the success of the attack.

At 8 p.m. our bombardment opened, and the enemy guns at once countered heavily from the front and either side of the narrow salient. This shelling contained until 10 p.m. – the hour fixed for the ‘hop-over”. The assembly positions being badly wrecked, Lieut-Col [Owen Glendower] HOWELL-PRICE ordered the attacking lines to stand fast, and pushed forward strong fighting-patrols to test the activity of the enemy, at the same time supporting the 4th Battalion with a bombing dive on the left flank. His caution proved to be most wise. As soon as contact was made with the German listening-posts, the whole enemy front directed a heavy cross-fire with rifles and machine-guns on taped rages along the line of the objective.

The point of junction between the 16th and 24th German Divisions was directly opposite the 3rd Battalion’s right front, but the enemy commanders acted in close harmony in their plan of defence. They had  strict orders to prevent any further penetration in this area towards the “Fabeck Graben” – the line which guarded the Thiepval fortress – and their machine-guns were massed so as to bring intense enfilade fire to bear upon this already critical salient point. The 33 yards of extra ground which was inside the battalion’s new objective was, therefore, absolutely untenable for trench-digging troops, although the plan of infiltration into shell-hole posts was possible. This plan was followed with a ready initiative which might well have been copied elsewhere on the front at this time. A couple of old German gun-pits were seized and occupied on the right front of the new line. This gave adequate flank protection on the left to the 4th Battalion’s objectives, which were much deeper owing to its need to confirm with the 3rd Battalion’s already advanced line. But the 4th, meeting opposition similar to that experienced by the 3rd, could only filter forward into a line of shell-hole posts, most of which proved quite untenable in daylight hours. Further to the left, the British attacks were equally abortive.

On August 19th the troops were mostly concerned with an intolerable sleeplessness and fatigue and with the ceaseless scream and crash of German shells from all sides. There was little laughter anywhere. The labour conditions, too, were almost intolerable. Communication avenues were repeatedly blown in, and frequent calls had to be made for more and yet more men to volunteer to keep them open. The front lines were little more than wide shallow ditches strewn with the sad, still bodies of comrades newly slain. But worse than all this was the rankling sense of bitterness engendered by the short shooting of some of our supporting artillery. The men were ready and willing to assault, but, because their faith in the trustworthiness of their own artillery had been shaken, there was in the mind of every one of them a depressing doubt as to the final outcome of the struggle.

Rain, in insidious soaking showers, was a final damper to the spirits of the men. Already the losses of the battalion in this second immersion on the Somme were nine officers and 151 other ranks killed and wounded.

At 6 p.m. on August 19th, with the sun still high in the west, the 10th Battalion began to relieve the 3rd from the trenches opposite Mouquet Farm. At the time the German artillery was laying a shrapnel barrage on all tracks and communication trenches, but the relief was completed by 11 p.m. and the 3rd escaped without a casualty.

A weariness, the inexpressible weariness of body and mind similar to that of an athlete who has run himself to a standstill, was the paramount feeling of every man in the much-battered battalion as it filed out by way of Sausage Valley and other tracks to Albert. At no other time it its history, perhaps, was the 3rd Battalion ever to know such a deep feeling of despondency. Tired and worn, and salient with the  memory of comrades who had fallen, there was a decided contracts between the feelings and appearance of these men and the strong companies which had moved forward over the same route four days before.

But this feeling of depression did not linger. Clear at last of the tumbled and chaotic ground of the Pozieres crater-fields, and moving at last with light steps down the broad highway of the old Roman road that led to Albert, some of the old gaiety returned and tired feet picked up the rhythm of the march once more. The Ursna Tara Hill was crossed and soon the light of the gun flashes disclosed spasmodic views in silhouette of the battered streets of Albert, where, after crossing the square that was over-hung by the now familiar golden virgin on the tower of the great basilica, the battalion turned right into the Rue de Aveluy to find bullets for the rest of the night, and an appetizing [sic] meal prepared by the cooks.

The battalion rested all that day in billets while Colonel HOWELL-PRICE and Lieuts [Giles Eyre] BLAKE and [Clifford Lister] STURT attended an inquiry at Divisional Headquarters into the artillery inaccuracies during the recent fighting. at 8.30 a.m. on the 21st we marched out of Albert, via Bouzincourt and Senlis, over the rolling Picardy uplands to Warloy nestling in its green cup in the hills, and took over billets for the night. Next day the march was continued in very hot and oppressive weather via Contay and Herissart to Val-de-Maison, where the battalion went under canvas about noon.

Here energetic plans for re-organization [sic] and recreation weer put in hand. The tented field the battalion now occupied had been Anzac rest camp, and the matter of absorbing 27 old hands (just returned from hospital) and 76 reinforcements, who were waiting there, was done at once. The more vital and delicate task of re-organzing [sic] the ranks of the battalion engaged the attention of the commander.

The men entered into the programme [sic] of sport and recreation with vim and vigour. At the concert held in the camp on that first evening, and at the sports meeting on the following day, the morale of the battalion was never better. To balance the sense of loss for comrades who had “gone west”, there was a strong conviction that the unit had upheld the traditions of Anzac, and [t]he men were able to laugh and sing and yet silently to prize their inner knowledge that all that courage and effort and self-sacrifice could do, had been done, and not in vain.

On the afternoon of August 23rd the whole brigade was reviewed at La Vicogne by General BIRDWOOD, who presented ribbons to those who had been awarded medals for distinguishing themselves during the first tour at Pozieres. The medical officer, Captain S.C. [Samuel Charles] FITZPATRICK, and the late Lieutenant R.F. BULKELEY were honoured with the Military Cross, and Sergeant [Bruce Alexander] DOUGLAS and Stretcher-bearer J.B. SAXBY received the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The corps commander acted in sympathy with the general feeling when he cut his usual laudatory peroration short on this occasion. Then the battalion quick-stepped it back to camp to entertain itself with another concert and with the general’s personal assurance that a move to Belbium was immediately imminent.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having died in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. Thirteen soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died on 17 August 1916, and six on the 18 August 1916, and have no known grave. All of their service records indicate they were buried “3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.)”.]

Listed below are the names of all soldiers of the 3rd Battalion listed as missing from Pozieries fighting between 9-23 August 1916. Nearly all of these men have red writing in their service record the same as those missing at Maricourt Wood. Specifically, the majority have the phrase “Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE)” inscribed in their service record. This location will form the focus of a future post.

Service Number

Name DoD

Notes

2562A BELL, William John 16-Aug-16 Service Record states Buried 3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.).
2399 MOORE, Leo Paul 16-Aug-16 Red Cross file states killed alongside 2 others (SWANSSON). Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
4614 RECKLESS, Henry William 16-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3206 SWANSSON, Egbert Isendale 16-Aug-16 Red Cross file states killed alongside MOORE. Red Cross file states 12 in total buried at the same time on 17/08/1916. Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
2838 WOODWARD, William 16-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3937 WEBSTER, Robert 16-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
1007 BARROW, Edward Victor 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
4964 CAMPBELL, Archibald Duncan 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
4447 CHRISTIAN, Colin Campbell 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
2575 CURRANS, David Lutton 17-Aug-16 Service Record states Buried 3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.). Also refer to CURRAN, John (2457) Red Cross File
3075 GRANT, John Macdonald 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
4486 HOTCHKIES, Andrew Duncan 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3361 JOHNSON, Thomas Alfred 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3125 KENNEDY, Leo George 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3118 KIELY, Thomas 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3883A PICKERING, Roland Taaffe 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
1813 STEVENS, Elijah Ellis 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
1645 WALKER, George Henry 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
4578 WRIGHT, Percy 17-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
1306 BOSWORTH, Arthur 18-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
2558 BUTTERS, Roy Bernard 18-Aug-16 Service Record states Buried 3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.).
1333 GIDDINGS, Oliver Thomas 18-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
3114A JOHNSON, Victor St. Clair 18-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
2056 MERCER, Albert Victor 18-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).
1145 MURRAY, Stanley Walter 18-Aug-16 Service record states Buried 3/4 mls N of Pozieres and 4 1/4 mls NE of Albert (57C SE).

Lest We Forget

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 177-180
Eric Wren

On August 9th the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade retraced its steps to the line. BY La Vicogne-Herissart-Valdencourt Wood the unit moved in stages that led to a bivouac on the brickfields near Albert. AMoung the new officers who now led platoons were Second-Lieuts C. O. CLARK, H. FERGUSON, R. B. ALLPORT, C. BULMER, H. M. BISHOP, J. V. PESTELL, H. D. ROBB, B. C. BERRY, C. LESLIE, and C. STURT (all ex-sergeants), F. T. MAISEY, E. R. SHELLEY, and C. T. CLIFTON (ex-privates). All subordinate ranks were again in full complement.

At Albert packs were dumped and “battle order” was donned. On the evening of August 15th began the long approach march, via Tara Hill and shelter trenches in the old British front line, where a brief halt was made, to the new front line in the Pozieres Ridge – Monquet Farm Sector. Rain was falling in torrents, and the chalky, shell-churned soil was soon a slippery quagmire that caused many hard falls and made the relief, begun before 1 a.m. on the 16th, a movement of singular hardship. Most of the troops were unable to reach the front before daylight, and found it the most grotesque sector of the fighting front it had so far been their fortune to inhabit. Utterly featureless, a dun-coloured wilderness of inter-lipping craters strewn with corpses, this north-north-eastward slope of the Pozieres ridge had become the most active section of the Anzac front.

1916.08.15 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.6
Situation Map – Morning of August 15th 1916
AWM25 G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.6

General Gough’s [General Sir Hubert GOUGH] tactics directed that the 1 Anzac Corps should continue to exploit the valuable ground gained on the Pozieres heights by making northward thrusts along the old German third line, in order to seize the ground behind the large isolated Mouquet Farm and so command the rear of the stubborn bastion at Thiepval. To this end the 4th Australian Division had already struggled for more than a week against the redoubtable 16th (Rhineland) Division, which was supported on its flank by the 24th (Saxon). These German troops, supported by favorable ground and the most fantastic situation of the attackers, had stoutly met every assault and had yielded ground only after the most bitter struggles. Evidence of this was apparent on all sides, and the 3rd Battalion stretcher-bearers were kept busy removing wounded of the 49th and 51st Battalions from isolated holes in No-Man’s Land. Privates R. PATTINSON and C. CLUTTERBUCK, in particular, were conspicuous at this work in all the daylight hours, braving a very troublesome sniping fire. PATTINSON was awarded the Military Medal for his work at Pozieres.

The general situation was most dangerously obscure. The position held by the 3rd Battalion was the point of a sharp salient, some 1200 yards deep, that trust like a horn into the left flank of the Monquet Farm defences. On the left, fronting the farm – which was visible only as a heap of reddish rubble and tumbled wooden beams on the distant northward skyline – the 4th Battalion occupied the only really habitable trench in the whole Australian sector. The remainder of our defences, for the most part, were merely remnants of the churned-up German lines, fortified with such T-head saps as could be hastily constructed in the face of practically continuous artillery-fire. The lack of any natural feature from which trustworthy bearings could be taken made the recognition of map reference points extremely difficult, and this grave danger was immediately recognised by Lt-Col HOWELL-PRICE and his scout officer, Lieut R. F. BULKELEY, whose excellent survey work in the face of danger had been repeatedly commended. Here again, as in the first tour at Pozieres, Lieut BULKELEY, supplied his information with an exactitude that was invaluable to his commanding officer, and was certainly the means of saving some lives, although, alas, not in time to save all.

The first suspicion that something was amiss came on the evening of the 16th, when, in answer to a call for fire on the battalion S.O.S. line on the occasion of a determined enemy counter-attack at 7.30 p.m., many of the shells of our side harassed the front and rear of the battalion’s most forward lines. In spite of this and the heavy German barrage, our left company (A) assisted the 4th Battalion to drive off the attackers, but the losses were so heavy that, in order to strengthen the line, A Company was moved up from support on the afternoon of the 17th to take over portion of the 4th Battalion right flank.

This movement was immediately detected by the ever watchful enemy, and the curtain of fire – which, hour by hour, normally harassed the long and difficult lines of communication on this front – was immediately thickened, and progress of any sort towards the front line was almost entirely stopped. Troops could filter through only by short rushes, and this led to much confusion and loss. Less than one-third of A Company personnel was reassembled in the line. Moreover, this movement doubtless put the enemy on the alert for the attack which was impending at this critical point. Much activity was observed along his shell-hole line, and his snipers, unusually aggressive along this front, added an extra spice of risk to all open movement in daylight. On the other hand our own riflemen accepted the German challenge, and found many fine targets. Our line, from left to right, was now held by A, B, C, and D Companies, under Lieuts Paul WHITE, C. H. HOWIE, Captain J. G. TYSON and Lieut G. E. BLAKE respectively.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having died in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. Six soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died on 16 August 1916 and have no known grave. They were: 2562A BELL, William John; 2399 MOORE, Leo Paul; 4614 RECKLESS, Henry William; 3206 SWANSSON, Egbert Isendale; 2838 WOODWARD, William; and 3937 WEBSTER, Robert. All three of their service records indicate they were buried “3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.)”. In addition, SWANSSON’s Red Cross file states that he was buried alongside 12 others on 17 August 1916. There are a total of 19 men missing from the 16th and 17th, but given their proximity to the 4th Battalion it is difficult to assume that only those of the 3rd Battalion were buried together. All of the 25 missing soldiers from this action in August have “3/4 mile N of Pozieres & 4 1/4 Miles N.E. Of Albert (57C S.E.)” recorded in their service record.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 174-177
Eric Wren

At the muster parade held near Becourt Wood on the 27th the losses were shown to be: – *

Officers: 3 killed, 9 wounded, 2 died of wounds
Other Ranks: 101 killed, 366 wounded, 43 missing

In addition to those already mentioned, the officers who fell included Lieut J.T. PHILPOT, who succumbed to his wounds on July 25th. PHILPOT, who had been a chemist at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, was one of the many Gallipoli veterans who perished at Pozieres, others being Sergeants [1089 Richard Walters] Dick ROSSER (a Coronation cadet) [], [1870 Herbert Victor] Victor SPELLER, [352 Frederick Hugh MATHESON] F.H. MATHIESON, [10 Lindsay Stuart MACCALLUM] L.S. MCCALLUM, and Corporal H.T. [736 Herbert Thomas] HARRIS – all men with fine records.

[ROSSER, SPELLER, MATHESON, and MACCALLUM all have their burial location recorded in their service record as being “in vicinity of Pozieres (57c S.E. X.4)”, and HARRIS as being “buried in Sausage Valley in vicinity of Pozieres B1056 Sheet 11″].

*Footnote: The Official History (Vol III, p. 593) shows the loss of the 3rd Battalions as 13 officers and 484 men. The battalion diary on July 14 gives the stength of the unit as 27 offices and 1063 other ranks, and on July 31 as 13 and 562, a difference of 14 and 501.

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Chapter XXIII
The Second Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 175-177
Eric Wren

The march back from Pozieres is described by Signaller Len JONES” on July 27th the battalion moved to woods at the rear of Warloy-Baillon, arriving at 10 p.m. Next day the battalion marched out for La Vicogne. Warloy was packed with troops, either waiting their turn to go into the line, or, like the 3rd Battalion, on the way out. The 4th Australian Division was in waiting. Scottish and English units were everywhere.

“The men had now been able to remove, to an extent, some of the dirt and traces of Pozieres trenches. With equipment straightened up the battalion moved along the inevitable sunken road. What a difference our entrance into Warloy now compared with the 16th! Headquarters signallers and pioneers had been reduced to a few men. The companies were minus old commanders and platoons were just skeletons. Barbed-wire had taken its toll of uniforms. Faces were grey and lined and many men were suffering stomach trouble caused by gases from the devastating enemy barrage. But they marched as the 3rd Battalion could march when it wanted to.

‘On the road bank stood a lone Scotchman, dressed in his pitureesque kilt with khaki apron. Surveying the passing troops with a critical eye, he called out, ‘Where ye froom, chooms?’ Someone answered, ‘From the other side of Pozieres’. Turning round, the Scotty yelled to some pals, ‘Hi! Coom and see the Aussies whoo’ve taken Pozzaires’. One man became a crowd. Troops came running from all directions. In a manner of seconds the bank was lined with thousands of troops. Someone called out, ‘Give these boys three cheers.’  The cheering was taken up right along the line and the battalion marched out to La Vicogne through an avenue of shouting troops. Lieut-Col HOWELL-PRICE obviously was pleased and looked back proudly at his men. Faces brightened, shoulders straightened, and arms gave an extra inch to the swing, but nevertheless the men marched silently. Gone for the moment their usual flippancy and buoyancy and desire for humerous repartee will all comers, there were so many still on the other side of Thiepval Ridge. All ranks were, it seemed, relieved when the battalion reached the open country and faced the ten miles’ trudge to La Vicogne. Here the battalion slept for the night under apple and pear trees in an orchard”.

On July 29th the backward trek was continued by route march to Bonneville, and the following day a four-hour march brought the 3rd to the picturesque Picardy village of Pernois. Here the task of reorganizing [sic] the battalion was continued, and the inevitable training operations were soon in full swing. While there were reasonable periods of rest, the men were not allowed to feel that this respite would be of long duration. Indications were many that the battalion would shortly be called upon to do some more “scrapping”.

There was a certain amount of grumbling, as always, by a few – the “hard heads”; but the orders of the army commander – “Get the men into fighting trim and make every man physically fit” – were inexorable. There was no alternative. Now but a very small unit in a colossal assembly of troops, the battalion moved almost automatically according to a fixed schedule of days, hours, and minutes, which was plotted weeks in advance. An exacting high command had learned to calculate accurately just how long an infantry division could be expected to stand the strain of the fighting now in progress – so many days in the initial attack, so many in reserve, so many in attack again. There was no escape.

The great battle of the Somme had now reached a stage when the conflicting armies might have been compared with giant wrestlers who, locked together in fierce and evenly-matched dispute, pause and fumble breathlessly for the decisive hold that will bring mastery. The tactical situation was such as almost to brand the British offensive as a total failure. The impregnable resistance of the German flanking fortress-positions at Thiepval and Guillemont was casting a shadowy eclipse upon hope of a decisive victory. British bllod had been poured out like water, the utmost of sacrifice and heroism had been demanded and made by the flower of Empire troops. Yet, although the enemy appeared to be staggering and ready for the knock-out blow, there was not yet available to British arms any decisive answer to the German massed artillery and bravely served machine-guns.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having fought in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. One hundred and four (104) soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died between 22-27 July 1916 and have no known grave.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 173-174
Eric Wren

And so ended the 3rd Battalion’s share of the fighting in the grim struggle for the village of Pozieres. At 1 a.m. on July 26th, the 2nd Brigade commended the relief of the worn-out warriors. By dawn the majority of the survivors were sitting round the company cookers at the bivouac in Becourt Wood, where the cooks served out a very welcome hot meal. Many of the men were badly shaken by their experiences, and more than a few were observed with bandages on roughly dressed wounds. Some of the lads were so tired that they just dropped off to sleep, fatigue quite overcoming their desire for food. As the day brightened, a miscellany of dusty, clustering figures slept profoundly in the poppy-dappled fields above the bivouac camp.

1916.07.26 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1
Situation Map – Morning of July 26th 1916
AWM25 G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having fought in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. One hundred and four (104) soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died between 22-27 July 1916 and have no known grave. Of these, three (3) have their date of death recorded as 26 July 1916.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 172-173
Eric Wren

July 25th opened with a tornado of shells from the German “heavies”,  and losses continued at such a rapid rate that Lieut-Col HOWELL-PRICE, after a personal reconnaissance, ordered a forward move close up to the 8th Battalion line, hoping thus to escape the worst of the barrage. It was at this stage that Captain R.O. MIDDLETON [buried in Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La Boisselle, Pozieres, Pozieres Area, France] and Lieut J.S.F. [James Stanley Forbes] BARTLETT [there are no details of BARTLETT’s final resting place in either his Red Cross file or Service Record], both acting as company commanders, were killed. They had gone back for the purpose of guiding their companies forward but were caught in the curtain of gun-fire. HOWELL-PRICE there-upon led the survivors forward himself. By 10 a.m. this manoeuvre was completed.

1916.07.25 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1
Situation Map – Morning of July 25th 1916
AWM25 G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1

Just prior to the advance, Lieut H.S. [Henry Stanley] CHAPMAN [there are no details of CHAPMAN’s final resting place in his Service Record], the battalion signalling officer, was examining a map in company with Major D.T. MOORE [was not killed and would later become Lieut-Colonel] and several signallers, when a high velocity shell hit the hack of the trench. CHAPMAN was killed by the concussion and Signaller W.A. [William Aubrey] OATES was blown to pieces [OATES’ service record states his burial location as being “in vicinity of Pozieres (57c SE X.4)”]. The same shell killed Signallers [2166 Clarence Garfield] Clarrie PAGE, [3192 Frank Hessell] “Snow” PICKERING, and [3048] Rupert CLARKE [CLARK]. Strange to relate, OATES predicted, while at Gallipoli, the actual date of his death.

[PAGE and CLARK are buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Peronne, France. PICKERING’s Red Cross file confirms killed alongside CLARK and his Service Record states as being “buried in vicinity of Pozieres (57c S.E. X.4)”].

“I decided to push forward one company”, wrote HOWELL-PRICE in his report on this day. “But when I returned to my trenches I found they were quite untenable. A Company had been practically wiped out, and as the enemy shells were going over the first line at the time I decided to move forward close up to the 8th Battalion line. As soon as this movement commenced the enemy artillery shortened range and we were obliged to pass through a terrific barrage of high explosive. My officers and N.C.O.’s had been greatly reduced, especially the most experienced being killed and wounded, and a great number of men had been buried. May brave actions were performed, especially by the most experienced stretcher-bearers who attended the wounded without hesitation, and for whose work I am unable to speak in high enough terms. I was reduced to less than one officer per company and after advancing I collected my battalion about a ‘strong point’ and commenced to consolidate, which work was done in splendid style.Two companies of the 6th Battalion reported to me and were put on digging in and connecting the brigade line with the ‘strong point’ above, and from there to the cemetery, with the result that when I was relieved practically the whole of the line was completed with a good firing line and communication to the rear”.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having fought in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. One hundred and four (104) soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died between 22-27 July 1916 and have no known grave. Of these, twelve (12) have their date of death recorded as 25 July 1916.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 169-172
Eric Wren

The difficulty of maintaining communication with the front was still more emphatically indicated by the events of the following night. The commander of the 1st Brigade had received the 8th Battalion (2nd Brigade) as a reinforcement, and decided to utilize [sic] it in establishing a series of posts on the north-western edge of Pozieres village. But the front-line battalions received no notification of this intended movement. Shortly before midnight the commander of the front-line companies (Capt. HARRIS) of the 3rd [Battalion] received a message from the C.O. of the 4th [Battalion] {Lieut-Col I. G. MACKAY) that a German counter-attack was to be expected during the night. The 3rd immediately stood to arms.

Just after midnight shadowy forms were seen quietly stealing across the front from right to left*, about fifty yards away. The men of the 3rd, who, naturally, were inclined to be “jumpy” as a result of the alarm, had their fingers on the triggers, and a catastrophe was only averted by the peremptory orders of the officers and the courage of Lance-Cpl C. DOWLING of D Company, who, on instructions from the company commander, moved out from the trench and ascertained the identity of the newcomers. The rest of the night passed quietly without further incident.

1916.07.24 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1
Situation Map – Morning of July 24th 1916
AWM25 G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1

At 6.30 a.m. next day, July 24th, the German artillery (5.9’s mostly) opened on the 3rd Battalion trench, now the support line, as the new front line had been formed by posts from the 8th and 12th Battalions. At this stage the obvious folly of siting a trench along a main road and of packing it with men became apparent. It should be explained, however, that the battalion and company commanders had had no choice in the matter; their orders as to objectives had been quite definite.

An easy target, it was bombarded from front, right, and rear. The shells from the front, while they repeatedly caved the trench in and buried the occupants, were not as deadly as those coming from the right. The latter, dropping almost perpendicularly, were visible during the last movement of flight. As there were no dugouts – indeed no shelter of any kind from the fire of these enfilading batteries – casualties soon mounted up. There was nothing to do but to try abd keep the trenches clear and dig out the men who were buried. In spite of most heroic efforts, the stretcher-bearers could not keep pace with the casualties.

D Company was unfortunate in losing C.S.M. [539] H.F. [Harold Fenton] STEAD and its fours platoon sergeants ([929] S. [Samuel Sawrey] GARRARD and [6540] R. [Robert Gunn a.k.a. Robert Gillam] MACDONALD, killed; R.Y.V MACDONALD and W.H. SPICER, wounded). [GARRARD and STEAD were both killed at Pozieres and have no known grave and MACDONALD at Vaulx-Vraucourt. GARRARD’s service record states his burial location as being “close to road from Contalmaision to Pozieres just SE of Pozieres 3 3/4 miles NE of Albert”, and STEAD’s service record states his burial location as being “Pozieres 3 3/4 miles NE of Albert”.] The company commander had called a meeting of platoon sergeants, who, owing to casualties among officers, were commanding their platoons. Fortunately for Captain HARRIS he was a few minutes late in returning from the other end of the line, which he had been inspecting. On arrival he found that a large shell  (probably of 9-inch calibre) had fallen right on company headquarters with disastrous results for his N.C.O.’s [this incident is not mentioned in the Unit Diaries for this period].

“The extreme difficulty of clearing the wounded” says Dr BEAN, in Vol. III of the Official History, “was in that part, met by the resource of a middle-aged private named JENKINS”. Quoting from an account written by Captain HARRIS, Dr DEAN continues: “During the heaviest of the bombardment this man constituted himself the attendant of those wounded men who could not be removed. Under heavy shell-fire he raised a shelter for them where there was a little more protection than in the trench, and took them over one by one across the open. He looked after them with the utmost tenderness, expended the last drop in his bottle to alleviate their thirst, and, when a small quantity of fresh water was brought up, refused a drink himself in order that his patients  might have more. He cheered them up by telling them that the stretcher-bearers would soon be along…and I firmly believe kept several of them alive by his efforts. Every single one of these wounded men was eventually taken out and recovered; but at the end of the day he himself, while taking along a dixie of tea to the sufferers, was blown to pieces by a shell.

[There were two soldiers by the name of JENKINS killed at Pozieres: 2622 JENKINS Edward; and 3116 JENKINS Harold Edwin. It is the former to which HARRIS and BEAN refer due to his description as being “middle-aged”. 2622 JENKINS was 44 (whereas 3116 JENKINS was only 23) when he joined the Battalion in 1915. Interestingly, even though his demise is recorded here as being “blown to pieces” his Red Cross file and Service Record indicate that he was buried. His Red Cross files states he was killed alongside three or four others (thought to be 3960 CLARK, 1124 GRAFF, 2675 HARDING, and 2701A KENNY) and his service record states burial location as being “close to road from Contalmaison to Pozieres just SE of Pozieres 3/34 Mls NE of Albert” – similar to GARRARD, STEAD, GRAFF, HARDING, and KENNY – and also states as “buried in Pozieres British Cemetery” (also same for KENNY). There is a note in GRAFF’s service record that his burial location was recorded by “Director of Graves 10/10/1917″ and there is a note in CLARK’s Red Cross file that states he was being carried by GRAFF (as strecher-bearer) at the time they were killed. The main difficulty in confirming these accounts is that the official records have these men as not all being killed on the same day].

Lieut-Col HOWELL-PRICE, invariably to be found in the hottest places, stayed in the front line all this day, doing his best to keep up the spirits of the men, who were almost without intermission for nearly twelve hours. The ration- and water-parties sent up from time to time during the day were almost  all destroyed by the heavy shelling, the only food that arrived consisting of two cold dixies of boiled onions. Once culd hardly have imagined a more nauseous and unpalatable form of sustenance in the circumstances.

Towards 6 p.m. the bombardment slackened, and the parched and exhausted survivors, whose strength had been reduced to half both in the front and support lines, gained a short respite from their troubles. About this time there arrived a little water, most of which was commandeered by JENKINS for this patients. The remainder was sparingly doled out  in the proportions of about one-eighth of a pint to a man. Advantage was taken of the lull to evacuate the wounded, but the survivors were too few and twoo weary to clear out the trench, which had been almost flattened by the ferocious shelling.

*Footnote: Dr. C.E.W. BEAN in the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 (in the map on p.538, Vol. III) represents the party as moving from left to right. The company commander, however, says that he has an intimate recollection of the incident, as he sent L/Cpl DOWLING out, and is sure that they traveled from right to left.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having fought in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. One hundred and four (104) soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died between 22-27 July 1916 and have no known grave. Of these twenty (20) have their date of death recorded as 24 July 1916.]

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