France and Belgium

This listing refers to all the battles fought by the AIF in northern France and Belgium from March 1916 through to the breaking of the Hindenburg Line in October 1918.  After the Gallipoli campaign, the AIF was doubled in size from two divisions to four and deployed from Egypt to the Western Front in early 1916 to become part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).  Here the Australians would be confronted with a better-equipped and resolute enemy in the appalling conditions of trench warfare which included massed artillery attacks and poison gas.  To make matters worse, they would endure fierce northern European winters, all of which they were unaccustomed to.  These four divisions, the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th were initially sent to a quiet sector near the Belgian border to learn the rudiments of fighting against the German army.  In the meantime, the 3rd Division had been raised in Australia and proceeded to England where a series of training camps had been established on the Salisbury Plain, close to Channel ports which enabled rapid transfer by ship to French ports.  In France, a series of Base Depots was established to facilitate the movement of men both into and out of the front line.  In all, five Australian infantry divisions fought on the Western Front, along with a variety of other specialist units such as heavy artillery, engineers and aviation units.  In the three years in this theatre the total numbers of Australian casualties were around 180,000 with 45,000 dead.  Many men who survived to return home suffered from mental and physical wounds, particularly from gas, which affected them for the rest of their lives.

The major campaigns, battles or areas of operation listed on this niche of remembrance are:

Somme 1916

This listing refers to the Australian involvement in the Somme Campaign which was fought in northern France between July and November 1916.  Read more...

Bullecourt

This listing refers to two major battles fought near the village of Bullecourt in northern France in April and May 1917.  Read more...

Messines

This listing remembers the Australian contribution to the great victory at Messines in West Flanders, Belgium in June 1917 Read more...

Ypres

 This listing remembers the battles of the Ypres salient in Belgium from the end of July to November 1917.  Read more...

Amiens

This listing recalls the Australian contribution to a major offensive battle near the strategically important city of Amiens in northern France in August 1918. Read more...

Somme 1918

This listing recalls several battles conducted by the Australian Corps along the general axis of the Somme River in northern France between March and September 1918. Read more...

Hindenburg Line

This listing refers to operations carried out by the Australian Corps to breach the final German defensive line in its allocated sector between September and early October 1918. Read more...

 

On this day

On this day
8 July

1941 — Troops of 17 Brigade continued fighting against Vichy French troops in Syria, leading to the capture of Beirut

1942 — 13 Wellington bombers of 460 Squadron, RAAF, took part in a night-time bombing raid on the major German port of Wilhelmshaven, severely damaging the ship-building yards