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5th Div to The Somme

21 OCT 1916: The 5th Australian Division entered the western front line near Flers on the Somme. By October the Somme battlefield was a waste of mud-bound craters. The troops’ misery is depicted in the Somme Winter diorama in the Memorial’s galleries.

The Division began to form in Egypt in February 1916, after a decision to essentially duplicate the original AIF which had now withdrawn from Gallipoli. Delays in assembling the artillery meant that the Division could not depart for France before June 1916:


The attack at Fromelles (1920 July)
– a diversionary action to the Battles of the Somme 1916


Operations on the Ancre
German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
The Arras offensive
– The Battle of Bullecourt (3-17 May)
The Third Battles of Ypres
– The Battle of the Menin Road (20 – 25 Sep)
– The Battle of Polygon Wood (26 Sep – 3 Oct)
– The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 Oct)
– The Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 Oct – 10 Nov)


Australian Divisions were not affected by the restructuring that took place in the British Divisions in February 1918 (in which the infantry brigades were reduced from four battalions down to three).

The First Battles of the Somme, 1918
– The Battle of the Avre (4 April) 8th and 15th Brigades)
– The actions of Villers-Bretonneux (24-25 Apr)
The Battle of Amiens (8-11 Aug)
The Second Battles of the Somme 1918
– The Battle of Albert (21-23 Aug)
– The Second Battle of Bapaume (31 Aug – 3 Sept) (the Division occupied Peronne)
The Battles of the Hindenburg Line
– The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (29 Sep – 2 Oct) (the Division captured Bellicourt Tunnel, along with 30th United States Division)

The Division was not selected to advance into Germany. Demobilisation commenced in late 1918 and in March 1919 the Division merged with 1st Australian Division. Photo: This memorial to the 5th Australian Division stands on the site of the Butte at Polgyon Wood, Ypres, overlooking the military cemetery. More;

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