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Category:1st AIF/5th Div/8th Bde

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  • 32nd Battalion AIF (South Australia and Western Australia) [8th Infantry Brigade]
    Formed Australia June 1915. Departed Adelaide Geelong 8 November 1915 and Katuna 24 November 1915. 
    • 1st Reinforcements departed Adelaide Geelong 8 November 1915, 
    • 2nd Reinforcements departed Adelaide Borda 11 January 1916, 
    • 3rd Reinforcements departed Adelaide Miltiades 7 February 1916 and 
    • 4th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Anchises 16 March 1916, 
    • 5th Reinforcements departed Adelaide  Shropshire 23 March 1916, 
    • 6th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Aeneas 11 April 1916, 
    • 7th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Malakuta 27 June 1916, 
    • 8th Reinforcements departed Adelaide  Ballarat 12 August 1916, 
    • 9th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Commonwealth 21 September 1916, 
    • 10th Reinforcements departed Fremantle Port Melbourne 28 October 1916, 
    • 11th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Afric 7 November 1916, 
    • 12th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Berrima 16 December 1916, 
    • 13th Reinforcements departed Adelaide Borda 23 June 1917, 
    • 14th Reinforcements departed Melbourne Ulysses 22 December 1917.
  • Battle Honours: Egypt 1915-16, Somme 1916-18, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood,  Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Ancre 1918, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal, France and Flanders 1916-18
  • Egypt, Western Front

by Ross Mallett (ADFA)

32nd Battalion

The 32nd Battalion was raised as part of the 8th Brigade at Mitcham, on the outskirts of Adelaide, on 9 August 1915. Only two companies were raised from South Australian enlistees – another two were formed in Western Australia and joined the battalion at the end of September. The battalion sailed from Adelaide on 18 November 1915.

The 8th Brigade joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt, and proceeded to France, destined for the Western Front, in June 1916. The 32nd Battalion fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, having only entered the front-line trenches 3 days previously. The attack was a disastrous introduction to battle for the 32nd – it suffered 718 casualties, almost 75 per cent of the battalion’s total strength, but closer to 90 per cent of its actual fighting strength. Although it still spent periods in the front line, the 32nd played no major offensive role for the rest of the year.

In early 1917, the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line allowing the British front to be advanced and the 32nd Battalion participated in the follow-up operations. The battalion subsequently missed the heavy fighting to breach the Hindenburg Line during the second battle of Bullecourt as the 8th Brigade was deployed to protect the division’s flank. The only large battle in 1917 in which the 32nd Battalion played a major role was Polygon Wood, fought in the Ypres sector in Belgium on 26 September.

Unlike some AIF battalions, the 32nd had a relatively quiet time during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 as the 5th Division was largely kept in reserve. The Allies launched their own offensive with the battle of Amiens on 8 August, in which the 32nd Battalion participated. It was subsequently involved in the operations that continued to press the retreating Germans through August and into September. The 32nd fought its last major action of the war between 29 September and 1 October when the 5th and 3rd Australian Divisions and two American divisions attacked the Hindenburg Line across the top of the 6-kilometre-long St Quentin Canal tunnel; the canal was a major obstacle in the German defensive scheme.

The 32nd was resting and retraining out of the line when the war ended on 11 November 1918. On 8 March 1919, after the gradual repatriation of men to Australia, the remnants of the 32nd Battalion were merged with the 30th Battalion. Text from AWM

  • 613 killed, 1466 wounded
  • Decorations

    • 1 VC
    • 1 DSO
    • 1 MBE
    • 3 OBE
    • 27 MC and 2 bars
    • 16 DCM
    • 66 MM and 4 bars
    • 7 MSM
    • 26 MID
    • 10 foreign awards


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