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.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 166-169
Eric Wren

Continued from Part 1….

Meanwhile, A and C Companies had lost their commanders. Shortly after leaving the jumping-off trench, Captain [Eric] WREN [the author of Randwick to Hargicourt] was severely wounded, and subsequently lost his right arm [Captain WREN was recommended for the French Croix de Guerre and the Military Cross for his actions at Pozieres]. Major [Arthur Rowland] EDWARDS [who was mentioned in dispatches for his actions at Pozieres], who went to WREN’s assistance, was also badly wounded while endeavoring to ascertain his injuries. That ended the service of these two officers with the battalion. Before the day was out the battalion also lost two of its best N.C.Os in Company Sergeant-Majors G. A. MORRIS and W. WOODS [unfortunately, 2442 WOODS, William is one of those who has no known grave]. Just a week before, MORRIS had been awarded the Military Cross, a rare-honour for an N.C.O. WOODS was a champion spring jumper, and had appeared in many countries as a vaudeville artist. During a sports’ meeting at Tel-el-Kebir, early in 1916, he gave an exhibition of trick jumping – in a standing jump he cleared the colonel’s horse. The regimental sergeant-major Sid RUDKIN, was wounded.

Lieutenant H. L. COOPER, a reinforcement officer, was another victim of the first phase of the attack. Both his legs had been injuried to such an extent that it was impossible to move him. Captain S. C. FITZPATRICK, the medical officer, went out through heavy shell-fire and made a desperate effort to save his life. But COOPER was too far gone [this is an interesting point because in the official record his date of death is 28 July 1916]. An eye-witness reported that FITZPATRICK tackled the job as coolly as if doing his ordinary hospital rounds.

Lieutenant A. O. DUPREZ took charge of A Company, while Lieut C. H. HOWIE assumed command of C [Coy]. DUPREZ was an officer who had seen service in the Matabele [South Africa] campaign. During the Boer War he achieved fame by winning the Queen’s Scarf – a very high honour [this too is an interesting point as the only Australian to be awarded the scarf was DUFRAYER, Alfred Henry].

Shortly after daybreak the first contact plane appered. It was flying low along the new front line at a height of about 200 feet, and green flares, in groups of three, were immediately lighted at intervals to indicate to it the extreme limit of the advance. Soon afterwards Lieut-Col HOWELL-RICE who, when his men were in the line, was seldom happy in any position in rear, came up and personally resumed the direction of affairs. Men belonging to other battalions were sorted out and sent to the rear and flanks, and, as the line was now adequately manned, the reinforcing platoon from A Company was sent back. C and D Companies, through retaining the reverse positions into which the confusion of the advance had thrown them, were as far as possible reorganized [sic] in their proper platoons and sections.

While the C.O. was discussing the general position with his officers, standing in the open in rear of the trench, a German sniper opened fire from the ruined cottages beyond the road. The party took cover without suffering any causalities, and patrols were sent out to search the ground across the road right up to and even through the barrage. A few Germans were hunted out and killed, and some prisoners were brought in.

And now followed one of those strange lulls which may be compared to the windless area in the centre of a cyclone. As so often happens when the artillery on either side is uncertain as to the position of its own front line, the barrage had almost completely died down. Our front trench was held by sentry-groups at fairly wide intervals, and worn out by the strenuous digging and the reaction from the excitement of the attack, having dropped in their tracks and fallen asleep. The front line took on almost the semblance of the peaceful Fluerbaix-Armentieres “nursery”, where the battalion had received its first introduction to active service conditions in France.

The whole of July 23rd was, in fact, comparatively uneventful in the front line. About 10 a.m. some fifty Germans, apparently without arms, were seen about 200 yards beyond the main road, running across the front from right to left. Several posts in the 3rd Battalion line opened fire, whereupon some of them dropped into shell-holes. The remainder ran back in a northerly direction until they disappeared below the slpoe of the hill in the direction of the cemetery.

Towards midday our scouts patrolled the ruins of the village north of the road and brought in 15 or 16 Germans. The leader, an N.C.O. who was wearing the black and white ribbon of the Iron Cross, was interrogated in French by one of the officers. He had been a school-master in civil life, and he volunteered the information that his men had experienced a very bad time, our bombardments having cut off all communications with the rear. For the previous three or four days they had subsisted mostly on soda-water and cigars. Though their uniforms were neat and clean, they certainly looked pale and haggard and showed emphatic traces of the intense mental and physical strain they must have endured.

Though the new front line was as yet almost entirely free from bombardment, the approaches and communication trenches leading to it from the rear were heavily shelled throughout the day. with the result that it was a very difficult matter to get rations and stores forward, or to send messages by runner either way. This interruption was doubtless responsible for the following extraordinary circumstances: At 4 p.m. Captain HARRIS, who was in command of the 3rd Battalion’s front line companies, was visited by Lieut-Col J. HEANE, of the 1st Battalion. Lieut-Col HEANE, who said that he was in command of the front line of the 1st Brigade, gave Captain HARRIS verbal orders to push forward an attack through the village north of the road at 5 p.m. Preparations for this attack had already been indicated by an intensification of the barrage, which had been falling lightly all day just across the road. but HARRIS refused to carry out the order unless it was confirmed by instructions from 3rd Battalion Headquarters, and when the barrage lifted at 5 p.m., in the absence of more definite orders, no advance was made by the 3rd Battalion. Two Lewis gun posts were, however, established in the ruins of cottages about 100 yards north of the main road.

[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-four (24) have their date of death recorded as 23 July 1916.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 163-166
Eric Wren

At 12.28 a.m., two minutes before zero, the full force of the British and Australian barrage fell on the German front line with an intensity not hitherto experienced or contemplated by our men. The flashes of the exploding shells were so close and continuous that they formed an almost unbroken wall of flame crowned by rolling columns of smoke illuminating the inferno below. The noise could only be described as tremendous. Separate explosions were quite indistinguishable, being fused into one continuous roar. No order could be head unless shouted into the ear.

Punctually at 12.30 the first line went over, the forms of the men silhouetted for a moment against the fiery background. In a few minutes – they seemed like hours – news filtered back that the first objective had been captured without resistance. The second line moved out and disappeared. Then, at 1 a.m., the attacking companies of the 3rd Battalion received the signal to advance, the scouts having already gone forward. But partly owing to the din and confusion, partly to the eagerness of the line of carriers to be “in at the death”, the instructions to advance in two lines were disregarded. All attempts to straighten out the line and swing it to the left were found to be wholly impracticable, and the men moved across No-Man’s Land in small groups which kept edging to the left in an effort to keep touch. The result was that Captain HARRIS [maybe HARRIS, John Redford Oberlin, later Major], who moved out on the extreme right of the battalion in order to keep that flank extended as far as the line of telegraph poles which marked the boundary of the battalion sector, found himself deserted by all except his batman.

However, before the barrage lifted from the third objective (the main Albert-Bapaume road), the men of the 3rd;s attacking companies generally were posted along the light railway, which served as a rallying line for the final assault. In fact,  some of D Company’s No. 13 Platoon, including its commander, Lieut Paul WHITE, and Sergeant “Denny” CAMPBELL, overran the railway line and were caught by their own barrage, sustaining some casualties. The successful organization [sic] of the final attack was largely due to WHITE and the intelligence officer, Lieut R.F. BULKELEY.

In this sector there was no semblance of resistance on the part of the Germans. No regular trench-line was discovered, either on the second or third objective, and the few casualties sustained were due to distant machine-gun fire or to men running into our own barrage. So great had been the confusion of the advance that C and D Companies were found practically to have changed places. D was now on the left and C on the right; and  the line included men from almost every company of the 1st and 3rd Brigades.

Officers quickly laid out a trench-line among the shell-holes and mounds of rubbish – all that was left of the cottages on the south side of the road – and the men began digging-in feverishly with their entrenching tools. They bitterly regretted the lack of picks, which had been jettisoned in the advance.

Patrols quickly linked up with the 4th Battalion on the left flank. On the right, however, there was, for a time, a perilous gap, caused partly by D Company having edged to the left during the advance, and partly by reason of the fact that the left-flank companies of the 3rd Brigade had either not yet reached, or had considerably overrun, the third objective in their sector. To obviate the danger of a German counter-attack driving a wedge through this gap, a Lewis gun post was established on the 3rd Battalion’s extreme right flank, and a patrol was sent out with orders to range wide in the hope of making contact with the 3rd Brigade. In addition, in case of need two platoons were brougth up from A Company; before their arrival, however, connections had been established on that flank also, and at daybreak, the division was strongly entrenched on the third objective.

1916.07.23 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1
Situation Map – Morning of July 23rd 1916
AWM25 – G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1

In the meantime the heterogeneous mass of men had been organized [sic] in temporary platoons and sections, and sufficient supplies of ammunition and bombs had been collected to repel any counter-attack. But, if we had only known what was happening on “the other side of the hill”, we would have been spared any anxiety about an immediate counter-attack. For the time being the Germans had had all the fight knocked out of them by the fierceness of the preliminary bombardments, and, except in O.G. 1 and O.G. 2, they were on the run all along the divisional line. Moreover, additional protection was being afforded us by the artillery barrage, which was still falling, if in greatly diminished strength, about 100 yards beyond the main road.

[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-four (24) have their date of death recorded as 23 July 1916.]

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 162-163
Eric Wren

July 22nd [1916] was spent in making final arrangements and in giving instructions for the operations of the ensuing night. The fact that the three waves of each attacking line – scouts, attackers, and carriers – had to issue from the same assembly trench, made it necessary to effect a change in the organization [sic] of the sections on either flank. While this somewhat complicated  movement was being carried out in a trench, the narrowness of which hardly allowed men to pass each other, further confusion was caused by a German 5.9 (the only shell to fall in the trench while we occupied it), which killed Lance-Corporal A.D. HAMILTON [558] and wounded most of his section. HAMILTON’s death was greatly mourned by D Company. He had been a vaudeville artist, and his songs and cheerful humour had done much to enliven route marches and battalion concerts.

At the appointed time, 8 p.m., the companies moved off in single file and reached the front line without incident, except in the case of the rear half of D Company, which was neatly cut in two by a traffic-control man, who misdirected it to the right. After wandering in the “outer darkness” somewhere in the 3rd Brigade area, the “tourists” were eventually discovered by a patrol sent out by the company commander, and were re-united with their company. Though the 3rd Battalion had nearly four hours (from 9 p.m. to 1 .a.m.) to wait, almost the whole time was occupied in sorting out and reorganizing [sic] the attacking lines. This task was carried out under moderate to heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, which rather rattled the men and made it impossible to carry out the precises details of the plan. As it happened, the right company (D), escaped serious sheeling, but the left (C) and supporting companies (A and B) suffered severely, the loss in the two last mentioned being mainly due to the shallowness of their assembly trench.

[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. 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 only three have their date of death recorded as 22 July 1916].

Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 159-162
Eric Wren

The lines of the three objectives were not parallel, but converged and met on the south-west side of the village. To the north-east, where the main road intersected at right angles, they were about 300-400 yards apart. The distance from the Australian front line to the final objective in the 3rd Battalion sector was from 800 to 1000 yards.

Each battalion was to attack on a two-company frontage. The rear battalions taking the third objective would utilize [sic] two of their companies for the purpose, holding the other two as local reserves. The operation was one to which the term “leap-frogging” was applied, because, after the leading companies had captured the first objective, the two lines in rear would pass through and over them to the more distant objectives.

Each attacking line was to be still further divided into three waves – first, a line of scouts and wire-cutters; second, at a distance of 50 yards , the main attacking force; third, 20 yards farther back still, a party carrying picks and shovels, extra sand-bags, ammunition, bombs, and other stores. As all three waves composing one line of attack had shelter in the same assembly trench, the difficulties of arrangement were considerable.

On the night before the attack, the 1st Brigade battalions in support (the 3rd and 4th) received orders to move forward and prepare, immediately in rear of the fire trench, assembly trenches for the attacking companies, and, along the road leading through the front, similar positions for those in support. The front-line battalions (1st and 2nd) also dug assembly trenches in No-Man’s Land in front of the line, so that there were three parallel lines of trenches to shelter the attacking troops. The whole of this work was successfully carried out, except the trenches along the road for the support companies. Here the digging troops quickly struck rock, with the result that the trenches reached only to a depth of two feet, a fact that had serious consequences for the support companies at the time of the attack.

Two circumstances added considerably to the difficulties of the 3rd Battalion in its attack: (a) the front line in the middle of the right-company sector bent sharply at a right-angle to the south; (b) the line of the third objective was not parallel even to part of the jumping-off trench. In consequence the 3rd’s attacking companies received instructions to straighten out, on moving into No-Man’s Land, the kink caused by the right-angle bend in the trench, and secondly, to swing their whole line quarter left till it was parallel to the third objective-two maneuvers difficult enough in daylight under peace conditions, but absolutely impossible, as it proved, in the darkness and confusion of battle. However, it was said that after the battalion crossed the second objective a suitable rallying line would be found in a partially demolished light-railway line (continuation of the line intersecting the 3rd Battalion trenches in the support position), which was roughly parallel to and about 200 yards from the third objective.

To make the above explanation of the battle dispositions clearer, two sketches are appended. No 1 shows the village of Pozieres, the main Albert-Bapaume road, and the three objectives of the 1st Division.

Pozieres Objective Map

No. 2 shows the dispositions of the 1st and 3rd Battalions immediately before the attack.


Although the construction of the assembly trenches was carried out without serious interference from the enemy machine-gun or artillery fire, the area immediately in rear of the front line was subjected to a heavy bombardment of gas-shell. These were distinguishable from ordinary shells by the “wobbly” sound of their flight and by the faint “plop” of their explosion on impact, the charge being just sufficient to split the case without widely dispersing the gas content and thus weakening the deadly effect.

An officer of the battalion, passing through the gassed area on his way back to the support trenches, had hastily to don his helmet, for the ground was smoking with phosgene. Blinded by the dimness of the eye pieces, he promptly fell into two deep shell-holes. Deciding that it was better to be partially gassed than to break his neck, he compromised by taking off the mask and covering his nose and mouth with the impregnated material, leaving his eyes clear.

[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. Seven soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died on 21 July 1916 and have no known grave.

They were: 3235 BARTLETT, William Godfrey; 699 BOURKE, Charles; 1122 GILL, Thomas Ethelbert; 3786 HICKIN (a.k.a. HICKEN), Alexander; 3823 LEYSHON, Benjamin Alfred; 2671 RYAN, Andrew; 4565 STUDDERT, Jack.

BOURKE and HICKIN both have recorded in their service record the red writing ‘Buried in vicinity of Pozieres (57.c S.E. X4)’. This same map location is indicated against almost all of the 139 missing soldiers from this period, and will form the focus of the coming posts.

The others have various notations recorded indicating their “burial” but only BARTLETT and STUDDERT have specific details noted.

BARTLETT’s service record states “Buried 3/4 miles NW of Contalmasion, 3 1/4 miles ENE of Albert by Capt (Chap) Wilson, 3rd Battalion”.

STUDDERT’s red cross file states buried by Pioneers in the Reserve Trench  with 4 or 5 others.]