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Category:1st AIF/2nd Div/6th Bde

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  • 21st Battalion AIF (Victoria) [6th Infantry Brigade]
    Formed Victoria February 1915. Departed Melbourne Ulysses 3 May 1915. 
    • 1st Reinforcement departed Melbourne Berrima   28 June 1915, 
    • 2nd Reinforcements departed Melbourne Demosthenes 16 July 1915, 
    • 3rd Reinforcements departed Melbourne Anchises 26 August 1915, 
    • 4th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Hororata 27 September 1915, 
    • 5th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Osterley 29 September 1915, 
    • 6th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Moldavia 5 October 1915, 
    • 7th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Wiltshire 18 November 1915, 
    • 8th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Demosthenes 29 December 1915, 
    • 9th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Warilda 8 February 1916, 
    • 10th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Wiltshire 7 March 1916, 
    • 11th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Orontes 29 March 1916, 
    • 12th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Euripides 4 April 1916, 
    • 13th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Ayrshire 3 July 1916, 
    • 14th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Themistocles 28 July 1916, 
    • 15th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Shropshire 25 September 1916, 
    • 16th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Nestor 2 October 1916, 
    • 17th Reinforcements departed Sydney Argyllshire 31 October 1916, 
    • 18th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Hororata 23 November 1916, 
    • 19th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Ascanius 11 May 1917, 
    • 20th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Nestor 21 November 1917. 
  • Disbanded 23 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)

21st Battalion

The 21st Battalion was raised, as part of the 6th Brigade, at Broadmeadows in Victoria in February 1915. Its recruits hailed from all over the state. The later enlistment of these men, and their average age of 29, would seem to indicate a more considered decision to enlist that set them apart from those who did so amidst the heady enthusiasm of late 1914.

The 21st Battalion arrived in Egypt in June 1915. As part of the newly raised 2nd Australian Division, it proceeded to Gallipoli in late August. It was an eventful trip – the battalion’s transport was torpedoed near the island of Lemnos and had to be abandoned. The battalion finally landed at ANZAC Cove on 7 September. It had a relatively quiet time at Gallipoli, as the last major Allied offensives had been defeated in August.

After evacuation from Gallipoli in December 1915, the 21st Battalion arrived in France in March 1916. In April, it was the first Australian battalion to commence active operations on the Western Front. During the battle of Pozières it was engaged mainly on carrying duties, but suffered its heaviest casualties of the war during the fighting around Mouquet Farm.

In early May 1917, the battalion fought at Bullecourt, and then in October participated in the 3-kilometre advance that captured Broodseinde Ridge, east of Ypres. Like the rest of the AIF the battalion saw out the year recuperating from the trials of the Ypres sector.

After helping to blunt the German spring offensive of April 1918, the 21st battalion participated in the battles that would mark the beginning of Germany’s defeat – Hamel, Amiens and Mont St. Quentin. The fighting for Mont St Quentin resulted in the battalion’s only Victoria Cross, awarded to Sergeant Albert Lowerson.

Like many Australian battalions, the 21st could barely muster a company after the 1918 offensive. It was ordered to disband and reinforce its sister battalions. In response, the men of the 21st mutinied on 25 September 1918. By the end of that day, the order was withdrawn, and the battalion fought its last battle at Montbrehain on 5 October. The following day it became the last Australian battalion to withdraw from active operations on the Western Front. The 21st Battalion was disbanded on 13 October 1918. Text from AWM

  • 872 killed, 2434 wounded (including gassed)
  • Decorations

    • 1 VC
    • 5 DSO, 1 bar
    • 1 OBE
    • 22 MC, 7 bars
    • 29 DCM
    • 117 MM, 7 bars
    • 7 MSM
    • 24 MID
    • 8 foreign awards

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