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Category: Western Front

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Mouquet Farm: a deadly end to the 1916 Somme campaign
  • This page should be considered in conjunction with Somme 1916, which gives an overview. 
    • to go there.
Mouquet Farm, France - prewar
The remains of the cellars under Mouquet Farm, near Courcelette Road. Mouquet Farm was used by the Germans as a brigade headquarters, and had accommodation for two companies. Practically a fortress, very fierce fighting took place for its possession, and it changed hands several times
The field of battle, seen from the communication trench known as Centre Way and looking towards Mouquet Farm. In the distance three shells are bursting within the German lines. Two soldiers wearing steel helmets are crouching in a trench on the far right. In the foreground are some sandbags. Between 23 July and early September 1916, as part of the Somme Offensive, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions between them launched 19 attacks on German positions in and around the ruins of Pozieres.
Colonel James addressing troops of the 24th Battalion around the Memorial erected in memory of members killed at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. (donated by Mr.. E. Basling.)
Lieutenant (Lt) William Thomas McDonald, 4th Battalion of Forest Lodge, NSW. Honorary Lt McDonald embarked at Sydney on 20 October 1914 on HMAT Euripides, and landed at Gallipoli on 25 August 1915, on which date his rank as lieutenant was confirmed in the field. He was wounded twice in August, the second time at Lone Pine from a gun shot wound to his right shoulder, necessitating his evacuation to Malta then London for further medical treatment. He was Mentioned In Despatches for services in the field at Gallipoli by Sir Ian Hamilton. He rejoined his unit at Tel-el-Kebir on 24 February 1916 and received his promotion to the rank of Captain on 12 March 1916. On 16 August 1916, four and a half months after the unit went to France, he was killed in action at Mouquet Farm. Prior to his enlistment in the First World War, he served for nineteen years with the NSW Scottish Rifles and the 25th Infantry, four years at the rank of Warrant Officer. He saw sixteen months service in South Africa as a corporal in the 1st NSW Mounted Infantry during the Boer War. Major (Maj) Henry William Murray VC DSO and bar DCM, 13th Battalion. Maj Murray was awarded the Victoria Cross as a Captain (Capt) for "most conspicuous bravery" on 4 - 5 February 1917 at Stormy Trench, France. 

Capt Murray led his company in an attack and quickly captured the enemy position, fighting back three heavy counter attacks by the enemy. He encouraged his men, led bombing and bayonet parties and carried wounded men to safety. 

He landed at Gallipoli as a Gunner on 25 April 1915 and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in June 1915. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his work at Mouquet Farm in August 1916, and in April 1917 received the bar to the DSO for his part in the battle at the Hindenburg Line. 

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in March 1918 and in May 1919 was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. (Donor R. Arman)


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces