Foward
Major-General Sir Nevill M. Smyth, V.C., K.C.B.,
In command of the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade from May, 1915 to December, 1916.

The valour, endurance and intelligence of the Australian soldier shone conspicuously under the most trying conditions of the war of 1914 to 1919, and the authentic record of the 3rd Australia Battalion reveals deeds so heroic and so prodigious that I commend its perusal to every Australian and to every person who revers the noble deeds of our forebears, and draws inspiration from the pictures which fill the imagination when we read the actions of such men as Abercromby, Lord Nelson, Broke, Livingstone, General Gordon, and others to whose noble characters, unheard of by the world, are only known to a few.

I feel confident that the labours of those who have contributed to this memoir will be crowned with great usefulness.

The 3rd Battalion exemplifying the proverb of the Romans, Fortis cadere, cedere non potest – “the brave man may fall, he cannot yield,” lost more men killed in action than any other Australian regiment, but it played a leading part in every epic victory of the Infantry of the Commonwealth.

“Always do what you are afraid to do” might have been the high counsel of those stalwart soldiers of the Third had we not often doubted whether they knew what fear was.

It is a coincidence that the figure three seems to be associated with immutable resolution. Our thoughts naturally turn to the old Third Foot, The Bluffs, which is the Allied Regiment of the old Regular Army to the Third Australians, and we recall their part in 1811 at Albuera. They entered the battle with 24 officers and 750 other ranks, and on the morrow 5 officers and 35 men answered the roll-call. Again the 3rd Dragon Guards in the last war lost more in killed than any other cavalry regiment, but they never lost a trench or a prisoner to the enemy.

As I have the privilege of referring to the illustrious victories of my brother officers and comrades of the 3rd Battalion, I wish to dispel a fallacy which may still prevail that the Australian soldier owed his supremacy in action to sudden bursts of undisciplined valour, and I venture to state definitely that the victories of the brigade could never have been won without a high sense of battle discipline, and in the 3rd Battalion precision, skill, steadiness and co-ordination were unsurpassed. In proof of this statement I may mention that the troops of the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade practiced an irresistible combined attack on enemy trenches, which involved the co-ordination of a laterally rolling barrage by field artillery; of trench mortars and cross-fire of machine-guns, covering a progressive advance from bay to bay of men armed with rifle grenades and hand grenades and bayonets. Only the most  highly drilled tropps could carry out such complex tactics successfully.

As one of the innumerable examples of the stubborn courage of the men of the battalion, whose whole being was concentrated on devotion to duty, I remember Sergeant Folley received no less than seven wounds in the war, and on 6 August 1915, after he had been wounded three times in the Capture of Lone Pine, he and four others were waiting for their wounds to be dressed, when at a call for reinforcements one of the exclaimed, “I’ll go.” Foley said, “If you can go, I shall, too,” and they pushed back into the thick of the fray. Foley then received a fourth wound which necessitated his being reluctantly borne off the field.

The “boys” carried their sunshine with them, and many were the gleams of humour which brought gaiety in the sinister surroundings. They fulfilled Wordsworth’s ideal of

The happy warrior. . . .
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright.

And those high endeavours were not for themselves but for others, and for the cause of justice which is eternal.

We feel a thrill when we see the young soldiers to-day who inherit the glorious tradition of the battalion. Guardians of the Commonwealth, you are trusted and honoured!

Abroad in arms, at home in studious kind
Who seeks with painful toil shall soonest honour find
In woods, in waves, in wars, she wonts to dwell
And will be found with peril and with pain.
He can, the man that moulds in idle cell,
Unto her happy mansion attain.

Nevill M. Smyth

“Kongbool”
Hamilton,
Victoria.
21st March, 1934.

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