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Category:1st AIF/Campaigns

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World War I - Western Front

By early 1916, recruiting in Australia had made it possible to replace the ANZAC losses. The AIF in Egypt was expanded to four divisions with a fifth being raised in Australia. The overseas divisions were organised into I ANZAC Corps (1st and 2nd Australian Divisions, and the New Zealand Division) and II ANZAC Corps (4th and 5th Australian Divisions).

Beginning in March the troops were moved to France, and by July and August were heavily involved on the Western Front. The 5th Division was the first to engage the Germans on 5 July 1916 in a small but bloody engagement at Fromelles in northern France. Shortly after, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions became embroiled in the first Somme offensive, at Pozieres and Moquet Farm.

3rd Division now entered the war and went on to perform extremely well under pressure.

In the following year, 1917, the Australians were again heavily engaged, in March at Bapaume, in May and June at Bullecourt and Messines, and from September to November in the great battles of the Ypres offensive - Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and Passchendaele.

In March and April 1918, the Australian Corps took a prominent part in preventing the capture of Amiens, Hazebrouck and Villers-Bretonneux, during the German 'Michael' offensive. During the final allied offensives of the war, it was engaged at Mont St Quentin and Albert, and in the penetration of the Hindenburg Line.

The AIF strength in France was maintained at some 117,000 men. 

  • Its battle casualties for the three years of trench warfare between 1916 and 18 were over 181,000; of whom over 46,000 died. Another 114,000 were wounded, 16,000 gassed and nearly 4,000 were taken prisoners of war. 

In terms of total deaths per 1000 men mobilised, the AIF figure was 145 - the highest of all the British Commonwealth armies.


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Click to go to the animation.

This is a portal or door to a well presented animation done by the BBC in the UK. It gives an animated view of the entire war on the Western Front. Click to go to the animation site
  • In their own inimitable way the Yanks, who did not enter the war until 1917, managed to convince themselves that they were "First In France" and "First to Fight".
  • To this day the Yanks feel, and say, that they "saved" Europe twice. That ignores the fact that had the Allies not beaten Germany on both occasions the US would have been in a terrible position.

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