World War I - Western
By early 1916, recruiting in Australia
had made it possible to replace the ANZAC losses. The AIF in Egypt was
expanded to four divisions with a fifth being raised in Australia. The
overseas divisions were organised into I ANZAC Corps (1st and 2nd
Australian Divisions, and the New Zealand Division) and II ANZAC Corps
(4th and 5th Australian Divisions).
Beginning in March the troops were
moved to France, and by July and August were heavily involved on the
Western Front. The 5th Division was the first to engage the Germans on 5
July 1916 in a small but bloody engagement at Fromelles in northern
France. Shortly after, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions became embroiled
in the first Somme offensive, at Pozieres and Moquet Farm.
3rd Division now entered the war and
went on to perform extremely well under pressure.
In the following year, 1917, the
Australians were again heavily engaged, in March at Bapaume, in May and
June at Bullecourt and Messines, and from September to November in the
great battles of the Ypres offensive - Menin Road, Polygon Wood,
Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and Passchendaele.
In March and April 1918, the
Australian Corps took a prominent part in preventing the capture of
Amiens, Hazebrouck and Villers-Bretonneux, during the German 'Michael'
offensive. During the final allied offensives of the war, it was engaged
at Mont St Quentin and Albert, and in the penetration of the Hindenburg
The AIF strength in France was
maintained at some 117,000 men.
- Its battle casualties for the three
years of trench warfare between 1916 and 18 were over 181,000; of whom
over 46,000 died. Another 114,000 were wounded, 16,000 gassed and nearly
4,000 were taken prisoners of war.
In terms of total deaths per 1000 men
mobilised, the AIF figure was 145 - the highest of all the British
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