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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6632
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Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/27/2018 7:24:11 AM
our experienced Australian divisions of I ANZAC Corps were part of the British 5th Army under Sir Hubert Gough. The general wanted to attack at Bullecourt to support an important offensive by the adjoining British 3rd Army to the north and the French Army further to the south.

Relatively young, Gough was an energetic commander. However his aggressive spirit coupled with poor planning resulted in heavy losses. His attack launched at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917 was a disaster. Despite this a further attack across the same ground was ordered for 3 May.

The Australians broke into and took part of the Hindenburg Line but no important strategic advantage was ever gained; in the two battles the AIF lost 10,000 men

[URL]https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/the-battles-for-bullecourt[/URL]

rEGARDS

jIM
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 7192

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/27/2018 8:24:06 AM
Gough was noted to be a pusher but a poor planner.

I don't know how the Aussies felt about him after Bullecourt but I can tell you that when Haig ordered Canadian Corps commander Arthur Currie to take Passchendaele, that Currie requested that his Corps would not fight under Gough but under Plumer.

Currie didn't like Gough personally but also felt that his men would not be well served under his command. He felt that his planning was inadequate too.

But I suppose it is fair to ask how much operational input the Aussies had at Bullecourt. Were they happy with Gough?

Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6632
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/27/2018 9:32:19 AM
Line and the fortress village of Bullecourt. Despite using the new wonder ‘tank’ and the fearless Anzacs, Gough’s first attack in April ended in disaster and bitter recriminations.

Swift retaliations by the Germans followed at Lagnicourt. But on 3 May, Gough launched a second massive British-Australian attack on Bullecourt.

For the next two weeks, the Battle of Bullecourt dominated British offensive action on the Western Front. Pitted against Stormtroopers and some of the finest units in the German Army, seven British and Australian divisions were sucked in before the battle reached its bloody climax.

It was the excessive brutality and ferocity of the hand-to-hand fighting that earned Bullecourt the name ‘Blood Tub’.The ANZAC were determined they would never fight under Gough agan .By the end of the day the horrific losses became apparent: the Australian 4th Brigade had lost 2,229 soldiers out of 3,000 and 1,170 Australians had been taken prisoner; all the battalions had been put out of action.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2960

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/27/2018 3:42:55 PM
Bullecourt was Australia’s contribution to the battle of Arras as surely as Vimy Ridge was Canada’s.

The fate of the Australian 4th Brigade on 11 April was grotesque : it was described by the Australian Medical History as A situation entirely analogous to that which faced the Light Brigade at Balaclava .

It was also described as an experiment of extreme rashness .

The casualties suffered by the Australians that day speak for themselves, not only in the numbers, but also in how those numbers were made up.

Killed : 825

Died of Wounds : 32

Wounded : 1,059


Prisoners : 1,275.

Total : 3,191.

Look at the extraordinary fact that the killed almost equalled the wounded. That says a lot about how merciless the fighting was. The Medical History elaborates :

....a very large number, especially in the 4th Brigade, were killed on the wire, or were wounded and lay about till captured,or, as the Australian Official Historian properly sates were put to death by a merciful enemy .

Overall, in the Bullecourt fighting from 11 April to 17 May , there were 13,782 Australian casuaties ; of these, 3,013 were killed, 685 died from wounds, 8338 wounded ( or gassed ) and 1,746 taken prisoner.

The character of this fighting was truly ghastly, and the aforementioned Medical History tried to do it justice The battle itself was a prolonged Homeric hand to hand struggle in which each side fought beserk... . The Germans made seven major and perhaps a dozen minor counter attacks.

Cyril Falls, a British veteran of the Great War and a military historian noted for his restrained tone, described Bullecourt thus :

Both sides fought like furies under tremendous bombardment concentrated on a stip of ground less than a mile and a half long. Savage combats lasted a fortnight. Up and down the Hindenburg Line swept parties of bombers in attack and counterattack .....The conditions were appalling, with unburied corpses littering the ground.

If ever a battle deserves the word nightmare, this is it.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

wazza
Sydney , Australia
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 436

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 2:14:58 AM
It was pure butchery, murder even and the diary accounts of this battle are truly heart breaking.

We did win the 2nd Bullecourt for what its worth.

As an aside. I walked this battlefield in 2015 with my family. The amount of shrapnel pellets and artillery shell nose cone casing fragments were littered everywhere in the fields!

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2960

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 3:16:29 AM
Thinking of Dominion soldiers , and reflecting on the dreadful casualty breakdowns that I’ve cited above, it occurs to me that the experience of that Australian division on 11 April 1917 at Bullecourt - preponderantly suffered by a single brigade - resulted in a total of casualties, and a remarkably similar total of deaths , to that suffered by the Canadian division that was slaughtered at Dieppe just over twenty five years later.

Dieppe was a uniquely bloody repulse suffered by the British Commonwealth in WW2, and was, thank goodness, a “ one off “.

But the Australian debacle at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917 was just the first episode in a series of murderous encounters that went on for weeks.

Dieppe 1942 was unique. Bullecourt 1917 was but one example of what happened again and again in the Great War.

Editing : I’ve just checked, and the figures are almost identical . 4th Australian Division in a single day at Bullecourt 1917 : 3,191 casualties, of whom 857 were killed or died from wounds. Canadian Division at Dieppe : 3,369 casualties of whom 907 were killed or died from wounds. In both cases there were large numbers of prisoners . Bullecourt was not the worst day of the Great War for Australia : twice as many Australians died in a 24 hour period at Fromelles in mid July 1916, and their dead lay thickest of all at Pozieres on the Somme.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3547

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 9:40:57 AM

Quote:
our experienced Australian divisions of I ANZAC Corps were part of the British 5th Army under Sir Hubert Gough. The general wanted to attack at Bullecourt to support an important offensive by the adjoining British 3rd Army to the north and the French Army further to the south.

Relatively young, Gough was an energetic commander. However his aggressive spirit coupled with poor planning resulted in heavy losses. His attack launched at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917 was a disaster. Despite this a further attack across the same ground was ordered for 3 May.

The Australians broke into and took part of the Hindenburg Line but no important strategic advantage was ever gained; in the two battles the AIF lost 10,000 men

[URL]https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/the-battles-for-bullecourt[/URL]

rEGARDS

jIM
--anemone





Was General Gough, ever reprimanded in any way? It always irks me when a command's bad decisions send men to their deaths!?

What was he thinking!!!???

Poor Aussies!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2960

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 9:52:44 AM
A triumphant narrative can do so much to ameliorate the reputation of a battle, even if it costs a great number of lives.

It’s clear that Vimy cost Canada as many lives as Bullecourt cost Australia ; but the memory of the latter is so much more evil, because of the unsatisfactory outcome.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2960

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 1:23:00 PM
Another thing needs to be said here....and forgive me for stating the bleeding obvious.

These Dominion contingents, whether Canadian, Australian or New Zealander, came from nations with populations that seem sparse by today’s standards.

Canada in 1914 had about the same number of people as the city of London in the UK. Australia had fewer than five million people ; New Zealand barely one million.

Set these numbers against those terrible casualty figures that these cohorts suffered, and the thing looks stunning in its impact.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3547

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 1:24:16 PM
The ceremony commemorating Bullecourt!

[Read More]

least we forget,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 7192

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 3:01:47 PM

Quote:
Another thing needs to be said here....and forgive me for stating the bleeding obvious.

These Dominion contingents, whether Canadian, Australian or New Zealander, came from nations with populations that seem sparse by today’s standards.

Canada in 1914 had about the same number of people as the city of London in the UK. Australia had fewer than five million people ; New Zealand barely one million.

Set these numbers against those terrible casualty figures that these cohorts suffered, and the thing looks stunning in its impact.

Regards, Phil
--Phil andrade


Indeed, dependent upon the source, Canada suffered 60-66 thousand killed. I do not know why the numbers vary so much.

There is no accurate count on the number of Canadians who served in the RN or the British army. Many Canadians flew in the flying services too.

An additional 1388 Canadians died as part of the two flying services.

Another 172,000 were wounded during the war.

And this in a country of less than 8 million people. 620,000 volunteered. Until just near the end, everyone was a volunteer.

The people were shocked and not a little angry in some cases at the slaughter. Some, including some veterans tried to blame General Currie for the carnage but that was unfair. Currie did everything that he could to save lives. His preparation was impeccable.

We have talked about the importance of Vimy Ridge to the Canadians identity but that attachment was very slow to develop. It wasn't until 1936 that the Vimy Memorial was opened and a large pilgrimage of Canadians made their way to see it. If the government had not selected Vimy for the site, I am not sure that that battle would have been considered the birth of the nation. The mythology surrounding Vima had to be cultured.

I was just reading a story about a small street in Toronto that was called Vimy Ridge Ave. In 1928 the residents of that street petitioned the city to change the name to Glenhurst. They no longer wanted it called Vimy Ridge Ave.

One of the home owners had stormed that ridge but we do not know whether he signed the petition.

We can only speculate but some feel that the wounds of the Great War were still raw and people did not wish to be reminded every day of the horrors of the Great War.

[Read More]

General Currie was maligned by his enemies and that was in the news too. He had sued for libel in 1928 and did win but I think that illustrates that for some Canadians, this war may not have been worth it and there was anger directed at Currie. Former Defence Minister Hughes and his son Garnet were at the root of it.


I always try to acknowledge the tiny colony of Newfoundland, now the 10th province in Canada.


Quote:
A total of 8,707 men enlisted in the dominion's three services - the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, and the Newfoundland Forestry Corps. Another 3,296 joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). These 11,988 men represented nearly 10 per cent of the dominion's total male population, or 35.6 per cent of all men of military age (between 19 and 35 years old). Smaller numbers also served in a variety of other forces, such as the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force.



Quote:
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians sustained high fatality and casualty rates during the First World War. Fatalities claimed 1,281 (some accounts say 1,305) of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's men. Another 2,284 were wounded. Rates for the Royal Naval Reserve were lower, but still far too high - about nine per cent of those who enlisted died in the war.


All volunteers. Incredible.

BTW, the Australians had a higher enlistment rate than did Canada. Nearly 39% of the men between the ages of 18-44 signed up.


This is about Bullecourt and Australia but I could not resist plugging the contribution of the Dominions, and colonies to the British war effort when given the opening. Thanks Phil.

Cheers,

George


Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 2960

Re: Australians at the Battle of Bullecourt--10-11 A pril 1917
Posted on: 2/28/2018 5:09:07 PM
The highest death rate among Dominion contingents was suffered by New Zealand; its per capita fatality closely rivalled that of the UK itself.

When you see the inscription on the NZ memorials to the missing in France and Flanders you gulp a bit...

THEY CAME FROM THE UTTERMOST ENDS OF THE EARTH


Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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