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Category:1st AIF/3rd Div/11th Bde

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  • 44th Battalion AIF (Western Australia) [11th Infantry Brigade]
    Formed Western Australia February 1916. Departed Fremantle Suevic 6 June 1916. 
    • 1st Reinforcements departed Fremantle Suevic 6 June 1916, 
    • 2nd Reinforcements departed Fremantle Miltiades 9 August 1916, 
    • 3rd Reinforcements departed Fremantle Suffolk 10 October 1916, 
    • 4th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Port Macquarie 13 October 1916, 
    • 5th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Argyllshire 9 November 1916,
    • 6th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Beltana 6 December 1916, and
    • 7th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Miltiades 29 January 1917, 
    • 8th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Borda 29 June 1917, 
    • 9th Reinforcements departed Albany Port Melbourne 24 July 1917.
  • Battle Honours: Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Polygon Wood,  Broodeseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Somme 1918, Ancre 1918, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal, France and Flanders 1916-18
  • England, Western Front

by Ross Mallett (ADFA)

44th Battalion

The 44th Battalion was raised at Claremont, Western Australia in February 1916. It formed part of the 11th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division, and soon became known as “Old Bill’s Thousand” after its first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel William Mansbridge. The battalion left Australia on 6 June and proceeded to Britain for further training. It arrived in France on 27 November and entered the front line trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 29 December.

The 44th spent the bleak winter of 1916–17 alternating between service in the front line, and training and labouring in the rear areas. This routine was broken by only one major raid, an ill-fated effort involving almost half the battalion on 13 March 1917. The battalion fought in its first major battle at Messines, in Belgium, between 7 and 10 June. In the months that followed it was heavily employed in the Ypres sector, taking part in another major battle to capture Broodseinde Ridge on 7 June, and participating in costly defensive operations in horrendous conditions. Of the 992 men from the battalion who were involved in the Ypres operations, only 158 emerged unwounded when it was relieved for a rest on 21 October.

Belgium remained the focus of the 44th Battalion’s activities for another five months as it was rotated between service in the rear areas and the front line. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in March 1918, the battalion was rushed south to France and played a role in blunting the drive towards the vital railway junction of Amiens.

With the Germans’ last effort defeated the Allies began planning their own great offensive. The 44th took part in the preparatory battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918, and was part of the first wave when the offensive itself was launched on 8 August. Its involvement continued during the long advance that followed throughout August and into September. The 44th’s last major action of the war was fought between 29 September and 3 October 1918 as part of the Australian-American operation that breached the formidable defences of the Hindenburg Line along the St Quentin Canal. By this stage, the 44th was just about spent. It had crossed the Hamel start-line approximately 600-strong, but just on 80 men were relieved on 3 October. The battalion was out of the line when the war ended, and was disbanded in May 1919. Text from AWM

  • 437 killed ,1346 wounded (including gassed)
  • Decorations

    • 3 DSO
    • 1 MBE
    • 16 MC, 1 bar
    • 13 DCM, 1 bar
    • 91 MM, 1 bar
    • 5 MSM
    • 21 MID
    • 11 foreign awards

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