australian shells

July 20, 1916 - The Somme: Australians Thrown Back at Fromelles

Pictured - The war is over for these captured Australians.

Australian soldiers’ first action on the Western Front were two diversionary attacks at Fromelles and Pozières during the Battle of the Somme.  The Pozières battle was delayed until July 22, but the Fromelles attack went forward on July 19.  Its purpose was to divert German attention from a British break-out attack.  Neither Australian effort succeeded however; both became some of the worst fighting in Australian history.

The focus of the Fromelles attack was a point two miles south of the town called Aubers Ridge, upon which the Germans had built a strong complex of trenches and dugouts called the Sugar Loaf.  The attack on July 19 started poorly when Australian shells fell too short, causing casualties among the infantry waiting to step off into No-Man’s Land.  This unlucky start proved indicative of the course of the battle.

German machine-guns tore holes in the Australian ranks;  General Elliot, the senior Anzac officer at Fromelles, recorded that, “Every man who rises is being shot down.  Reports from the wounded indicate that the attack is failing from want of support.”  A British attack launched to aid the Australians was also repelled with heavy casualties.

The Australians captured one German trench in desperate bayonet fighting during the evening; “It terminated,” wrote a Captain Ellis, “as all such hand-to-hand fighting terminated throughout the war, in the absolute triumph of the Australians and the extinction or termination of the Germans.” The Australians had had become veterans in the Gallipoli campaign, and would soon earn a deserved reputation on the Western Front, to both their allies and their enemies, as fearsome shock troops.  But although they attacked the Sugar Loaf all night, they could not capture it.

In the morning No Man’s Land was littered with dead and wounded Australians.  Many of the wounded men tried to crawl back to their trenches, noted Sergeant H.R. Williams, “and in doing so mad themselves a target for the German machine-gunners.”  The few who managed to get back were like “men awakened from a nightmare,” the sergeant wrote.  “The ordeal of the night was plainly visible on all faces, ghastly white showing through masks of grime and dried sweat, eyes glassy, protruding and full of that horror seen only on the face of men who have lived through a heavy bombardment.”

A German counterattack on the 20th re-captured the positions lost the night before to the Australians.  The whole battle had proved a dismal failure, and had hardly distracted the Germans attention from elsewhere.  The cemetery at Fromelles today contains the casualties of the battle, including 410 Australian graves and inscriptions for a further 1,298 missing.  The final losses were at least 1,708 Australians dead and almost 4,000 wounded, plus 400 British dead.  The Germans had lost less than 1,5000 dead and wounded.  A further 400 Australians were captured by the Germans, who marched them through Lille. 

bobdown84  asked:

Howfy, do you have any photos of Australian troops in Korea, I only seem to find officer photos or USA troops? My dad and uncles served in Aussie infantry, dad done three tours

An Australian soldier takes aim with his M2 Carbine during the Korean war.

Canberra, Australia Korean War Memorial

Troops of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) in Korea

Ian Robertson: Members of 3RAR (Royal Australian Regiment)in a shallow trench, Hill 614 area, February 1951 Korea

General Van Fleet, General Officer Commanding, 8th US Army (far left) inspects members of the 3rd Battalion (3RAR), when bestowing the Presidential citation in recognition of the Unit’s action at Kapyong, Korea. US Major General John W O’Daniel is to Van Fleet’s left. [AWM 083857]

AWM HOBJ2068 Korea. c 1951. Troops of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment

Australian soldiers load shells onto a Patton Tank after clearing an enemy road block near Chonju, Korea, in December 1950. It is not implied that these soldiers participated in any atrocities. Source: News Limited 

A private in the Australian Army holds his Bren at the ready, as a dead North Korean soldier lies in the background in Korea in 1952.

RAN Firefly aircraft on board HMAS Sydney off Korea

Members of the Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) wash in a river before they advance into North Korea, October 1950.

International troops in the Korean War.

Between 930,000 and 1,100,000,

Flag of South Korea 590 911,
Flag of the United States 480,000
British Flag 63,000,
Flag of Canada, 26,791,
Flag of Australia 17,000,
Flag of the Philippines 7430,
Flag of Turkey, 5.455,
Flag of the Netherlands 9,972,
Flag of France 3,421,
Greece flag 2,163,
New Zealand flag. 1,389,
Thailand flag 1,294,
Flag of Ethiopia.svg 1,271,
Colombia flag 1,068,
Flag of Belgium (civil) .svg 900,
Luxembourg flag 826,
Flag of the Netherlands 44


A Hug