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

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  • 23rd Battalion AIF (Victoria) [6th Infantry Brigade]
    Formed Victoria February 1915. Departed Melbourne Euripides 8 May 1915. 
    • 1st Reinforcement departed Melbourne Euripides 8 May 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 Ulysses 27 October 1915, 
    • 7th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Commonwealth 26 November 1915,
    •  8th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Afric 5 January 1916, 
    • 9th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Warilda 8 February 1916, 
    • 10th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Wiltshire 7 March 1916, 
    • 11th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Malwa 21 March 1916, 
    • 12th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Euripides 4 April 1916, 
    • 13th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Armadale 19 July 1916, 
    • 14th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Miltiades 1 August 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.

  • 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)

23rd Battalion

The 23rd Battalion was raised in Victoria in March 1915 as the third battalion of the 6th Brigade. After initial training, it left Australia in March and arrived in Egypt, where it would complete its advanced training, in June.

As part of the 2nd Australian Division, the 6th Brigade landed at ANZAC Cove in early September. The 23rd Battalion was soon manning one of the most trying parts of the Anzac front line – Lone Pine. The fighting here was so dangerous and exhausting that battalions were relieved every day. The 23rd manned Lone Pine, alternating with the 24th Battalion, until they left Gallipoli in December 1915.

The battalion was next “in the line” on 10 April 1916, when it occupied forward trenches of the Armentières sector in northern France. This relatively gentle introduction to the Western Front was followed in July by the horrific battles of Pozières and Mouquet Farm, after which it was estimated that the Battalion lost almost 90 per cent of its original members.

After manning the front line throughout the bleak winter of 1916–17, the battalion’s next trial came at the second battle of Bullecourt in May. After the failure of the first attempt to capture this town, by troops of the 4th Australian Division, this new attack was heavily rehearsed. The 23rd Battalion succeeded in capturing all of its objectives, and holding them until relieved, but, subjected to heavy counter-attacks, the first day of this battle was the battalion’s single most costly of the war. Later in 1917 the battalion moved with the rest of the AIF to the Ypres sector in Belgium, and in October participated in the battle to secure Broodseinde Ridge.

In April 1918 the 23rd helped to turn back the German spring offensive, and then took part 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 Private Robert Mactier.

The battalion fought its last battle around the town of Beaurevoir between 3 and 4 October. It left the front for the last time on the night of 5 October, and was resting when the armistice was declared on 11 November. The 23rd Battalion disbanded in Belgium on 30 April 1919. Text from AWM

  • 686 killed, 2317 wounded (including gassed)
  • Decorations

    • 1 VC
    • 1 CBE
    • 4 DSO, 1 bar
    • 2 MBE
    • 25 MC, 3 bars
    • 21 DCM
    • 147 MM, 11 bars
    • 6 MSM
    • 35 MID
    • 5 foreign awards

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