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Category:1st AIF/2nd Div/5th Bde

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  • 19th Battalion AIF (New South Wales) [5th Infantry Brigade]
    Formed New South Wales February 1915. Departed Sydney Ceramic 25 June 1915 and Barambah 6 July 1915. 
    • 1st Reinforcements departed Sydney Themistocles 12 May 1915, 
    • 2nd Reinforcements departed Sydney Kanowna 19 June 1915, 
    • 3rd Reinforcements departed Sydney Runic 9 August 1915, 
    • 4th Reinforcements departed Sydney Argyllshire 30 September 1915, 
    • 5th Reinforcements departed Sydney Themistocles 5 October 1915, 
    • 6th Reinforcements departed Sydney Euripides 2 November 1915, 
    • 7th Reinforcements departed Sydney Suevic 23 December 1915, 
    • 8th Reinforcements departed Sydney Berrima 27 December 1915, 
    • 9th Reinforcements departed Sydney  Runic 21 January 1916, 
    • 10th Reinforcements departed Sydney Orsova 11 March 1916, 
    • 11th Reinforcements departed Sydney Nestor 9 April 1916, 
    • 12th Reinforcements departed Sydney Ceramic 14th April 1916, 
    • 13th Reinforcements departed Sydney Ajana 5 July 1916, 
    • 14th Reinforcements departed Sydney  Wiltshire 22 August 1916, 
    • 15th Reinforcements departed Sydney Euripides 9 September 1916, 
    • 16th Reinforcements departed Sydney Ceramic 7 October 1916, 
    • 17th Reinforcements departed Sydney Ascanius 25 October 1916, 
    • 18th Reinforcements departed Sydney Suevic 11 November 1916, 
    • 19th Reinforcements departed Sydney  Wiltshire 7 February 1917, 
    • 20th Reinforcements departed Sydney Port Melbourne 16 July 1917, 
    • 21st Reinforcements departed Melbourne Nestor 28 February 1918. 
  • Disbanded 10 October 1918.

  • Battle Honours: Suvla, Gallipoli 1915,  Egypt 1915-16, Somme 1916-18, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood,  Broodeseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Ancre 1918, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-18

  • Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

    by Ross Mallett (ADFA)


The 19th Battalion AIF was formed on 27th April, 1915, by Lieutenant Colonel W.K.S. MacKenzie, DSO, VD a Sydney barrister and former Commanding Officer of the 25th Infantry, as a unit of the 5th Infantry Brigade, Second Australian Division. After training in Egypt the Battalion arrived at ANZAC cove on 21st August 1915 and entered the line at Hill Sixty the following day. From the 18th September until the evacuation the unit was responsible for the defence of Popes Hill, one of the most critical points in the ANZAC defence system. After re-organisation in Egypt 19th Battalion was moved to France early in 1916. The first major action for the Battalion was Pozieres which was notable for the fact that the German shelling was the most intense ever experienced by the AIF during the war and was accompanied by nearly continuous German counter attacks to recover their vital ground. 19th Battalion created a record by holding its sector for a period of 12 days. Casualties suffered by 1 ANZAC Corps in this battle amounted to 23,000 over a period of about 40 days. Possibly the most notable action of the 19th Battalion was it's capture and defence of the notorious 'Maze' defence system at Flers on 14th November 1916. The failure of flanking Battalions to reach their objectives left the unit out on its own, holding a salient deep within the German lines.

For two days and nights the 19th Battalion held this position against counter attacks and intense shelling, using German weapons so that their own .303 ammunition could be used to maintain their Lewis guns in action. Of the 451 all ranks who went into the attack, 381 became casualties. Other notable actions were at Second Bullecourt and at Third Ypres. It was towards the end of this latter battle that the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel C.R.A. Pye, DSO was killed in action on 4th October 1917. Moved from the Messines area as a result of the great German break through on the Fifth Army front, 19th Battalion entered the line near Villers-Bretonneux on 6th April 1918.

The next day the unit launched a counter attack upon German positions in Hangard Wood and during the course of this action Lieutenant P. V. Storkey won the Victoria Cross for a daring series of acts which enabled the attack to succeed. 19th Battalion was constantly in the line during the period prior to the great British offensive, which was spearheaded by the Australian and Canadian Corps in the Amiens sector, on the 8th August 1918. This action was described by the German commander, Ludendorff, as "the black day of the German Army" and on this day and the days that followed as the German Army retreated fighting tenaciously for every position, 19th Battalion played an effective part.

During the great advance to the Hindenburg Line 19th Battalion, as part of the 5th Brigade, rushed the great fortress area of Mont St Quentin which was defended by the Prussian Guards. General Rawlinson, commanding the British Fourth Army, described this as the "finest single feat of the war". The last action fought by the Battalion was the capture of the Beaurevoir Switch Line which breached the great Hindenburg line on 4th October 1918. The Australian Corps was then withdrawn for rest and re-organisation, which involved the disbandment of that Battalion in each Brigade which was numerically the weakest in order that the remaining Battalions could be brought up to strength. On the 10th October 1918 the 19th Battalion was one of eleven Battalions of the AIF to suffer this unhappy fate. Throughout the war the Battalion suffered 3,333 casualties.

For its service in the First World War the 19th Battalion AIF was granted 20 Battle Honours which were inherited in 1927 by 19th Battalion (The South Sydney Regiment). The Honours are:
  • SOMME 1916-18
  • YPRES 1917
  • ALBERT 1918
  • EGYPT 1915-16

The following officers commanded the Battalion: Lieutenant Colonel W.K.S. MacKenzie DSO VD, Lieutenant Colonel H. Beiers MC, Major J.M. Maugham DSO, Major W.J.R. Scott DSO, Lieutenant Colonel C.R.A. Pye DSO, Major J.J. Walker, Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Bateman, Major S. Middleton DSO.

The last appearance of the 19th Battalion AIF was the great parade held in the Sydney Domain on 14th August 1920 when representatives of the old Battalion (in company with parties from each of the AIF Infantry Battalions raised in New South Wales) received the Union Flag presented to them on behalf of HM King George V. This was then placed in the custody of the 19th Battalion, AMF, there present with its sister battalions on parade for this purpose. This flag was subsequently converted into a Kings colour for the 19th Battalion, AMF.


19th Battalion

The 19th Battalion was raised at Liverpool in New South Wales in March 1915 as part of the 5th Brigade. A large number of the 19th’s original recruits had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) in the operations to capture German New Guinea in 1914. The 19th left Australia in late June, trained in Egypt from late July until mid-August, and on 21 August landed at ANZAC Cove.

At Gallipoli the Battalion participated in the last action of the August Offensive – the attack on Hill 60 – before settling into defensive routine in the trenches. From mid-September, until its withdrawal from the peninsula on the night of 19 December, the 19th Battalion was responsible for the defence of Pope’s Hill.

After further training in Egypt, the 19th Battalion proceeded to France. It took part in its first major offensive around Pozières between late July and the end of August 1916. After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, the 2nd Division, which included the 5th Brigade, came south again in October. The 19th Battalion attacked near Flers between 14 and 16 November, in conditions that Charles Bean described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.

In 1917, the 19th was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and was one of four battalions to defeat a counter-stroke by a German force, almost five times as strong, at Lagincourt. The Battalion took part in three major battles before the year was out, second Bullecourt (3-4 May) in France, and Menin Road (20-22 September) and Poelcappelle (9-10 October) in Belgium.

The spring of 1918 brought a major German offensive that the 19th Battalion helped to stop. For his actions during the fighting around Hangard Wood on 7 April, Lieutenant Percy Storkey was awarded the Victoria Cross. With this last desperate offensive defeated, the 19th participated in the battles that pushed the German Army ever closer to defeat: Amiens on 8 August, the legendary attack on Mont St Quentin on 31 August, and the forcing of the Beaurevoir Line around Montbrehain on 3 October. Montbrehain was the battalion’s last battle. The casualties of 1918, combined with long-term leave for 1914 enlistees, and dwindling new enlistments had sapped the strength of the AIF. On 10 October 1918 the 19th Battalion was disbanded to reinforce other battalions in the brigade. Text from AWM

  • 836 killed, 2067 wounded
  • Decorations

    • 1 VC
    • 5 DSO
    • 1 OBE
    • 29 MC, 2 bars
    • 20 DCM
    • 85 MM, 5 bars
    • 8 MSM
    • 19 MID
    • 6 foreign awards


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