In the dim light of the breaking dawn the enemy were often mistaken for our own men. Lieut Loveday, commanding B Company, anxiously guiding the direction of the troops, mistook a party of Germans for Australians. Calling out “Keep to the left” – “Keep to the left”, he suddenly found himself in a life and death struggle with a German under-officer.He was getting by no means the best of the encounter when one of his men managed to work his bayonet between the struggling figures and dispatched the Germans.

Another deadly duel took place between Private W. H. Nicholson and a powerfully built German bayonet-man, the latter protected by heavy armour. Nicholson thought the German was about to surrender when the Hun suddenly lunged at him with his bayonet. Nicholson automatically parried the thrust and was being overpowered when two shots from Sergeant Scully’s revolver ended the German’s life.

A remarkable incident occurred while the battalion was lying out on the tape waiting for the signal to advance [Battle of Broodseinde Ridge]. One of the men fell asleep. When the artillery barrage opened he woke with a start, grabbed his rifle, and charged the Germans all on his own. It so happened the enemy were massed for attack, so the solitary Australian soldier was received with open arms. Two men escorted him to a neighbouring pill-box. From their action one of the them wanted to cut his throat, but the other was equally emphatic about saving his life. Before the issue had been decided the Australian attack was launched, the pill-box and its occupants were captured. Then, by signs and gesticulations, the one German made it clear that it was up to the Australian to now save his life. And so he did. There is no record of the fate of the other man.

The 3rd Battalion, with the 8th [Battalion] on its left and the 8th Devons on the right, reached the first objective on time, and consolidation began at 7 a.m. Battalion headquarters was established in one of the row of pill-boxes where the bomb-fight occurred. But the enemy batteries had these well registered, and they came in for a good deal of shelling throughout the day. During the night an entire ration party and some prisoners were all either killed  or wounded just outside Colonel Moore’s head-quarters.

After the companies had reached the objective, Lieut Shelley was making his way to the 8th Battalion head-quarters., when he came upon a badly wounded German sergeant. This man asked him in good English: “Did the whole b_____y Australian Army attack this morning?”. Poor chap, he was just about done for, his right leg having been almost severed by shell-fire.

Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt (pages 261-262).

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