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Australian 13th Battalion
13thBattalionAIF Le Verguier.jpeg
Men of the 13th Battalion at Le Verguier, France, where Sergeant Buckley won the Victoria Cross in 1918.
Active 1914–1919
Country Australia
Allegiance Commonwealth of Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size ~1,000 officers and men
Part of 4th Brigade, New Zealand and Australian Division (later 4th Australian Division)
Engagements World War I
Battle honours Somme 1916, Somme 1918, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Arras 1918, Ancre 1918, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, Epehy, France and Flanders 1916-1918, ANZAC, Landing at ANZAC, Defence at ANZAC, Suvla, Sari Bair.
Commanders
Notable
commanders
James Murdoch Archer Durrant (later Maj. Gen.)
Insignia
Unit colour patch 13th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 13th Battalion was an infantry battalion raised for the 1st Australian Imperial Force during the First World War. Formed just six weeks after the start of the war, the 13th Battalion along with the 14th, 15th and 16th Battalions were recruited from New South Wales and formed the 4th Brigade. The battalion saw service initially at Gallipoli before being transferred to France in 1916. For the next two years it fought in the trenches of the Western Front, earning numerous battle honours in the process. Following the end of the war, it was demobilised in 1919.

Contents

History

Portrait of Australian World War I Victoria Cross recipient, Major Harry Murray. In February 1917, then-Captain Murray led 'A' company of the 13th Battalion in an attack on "Stormy Trench", capturing the position and defending it against three German counter-attacks.

The 13th Battalion was raised in late September 1914, only six weeks after the declaration of war, in New South Wales.[1] After training at the ANZAC Rifle Range in Long Bay, Sydney and Broadmeadows and Williamstown in Melbourne, it left Australia from Albany in late December and arrived in Egypt in February 1915.[2]

Along with the rest of the 4th Brigade, under the command of then Colonel John Monash, the 13th Battalion took part in the Landing at Anzac Cove, arriving late on 25 April 1915.[1] Between May to August, they were then heavily involved in operations to establish and defend the narrow beachhead against Turkish assaults, before being involved in the costly attack on Hill 971 in August.[1] The attack on Hill 60 later on 27 August also resulted in casualties for the battalion and after that they were mainly used in a defensive role until the final evacuation in December 1915.

From there, the battalion was sent to France, following a brief period of training and re-organisation in Egypt, where the 13th Battalion was split and provided experienced soldiers for the 45th Battalion, and the 4th Brigade was combined with the 12th and 13th Brigades to form the 4th Australian Division.[1] In June 1916, the battalion embarked for France, where for the next two years it would take up positions in the trenches along the Western Front.

From then until 1918, the 13th Battalion saw action in a number of major battles, the first of which came at Pozières in August 1916.[1] In February 1917, Captain Harry Murray, earned the Victoria Cross for his actions during an attack near Gueudecourt. Later, at Bullecourt in April, the battalion, along with most of the 4th Brigade, suffered heavy losses when they ran up against a strongly defended German position without the tank support that they had been promised.[1] After that, the 13th Battalion spent most of the remainder of 1917 in Belgium, as the Allied armies advancing towards the Hindenburg Line.[1]

In March and April 1918, the 13th Battalion was used to help stop the German spring offensive that nearly brought about a German victory. Later, following a brief lull in the fighting, they took part in the Allied counterstroke, known as the Hundred Days Offensive that ultimately brought about an end to the war.[1] During this time, the battalion was involved in the fighting around Amiens on 8 August 1918 that resulted in what has been described as one of the greatestest successes in a single day on the Western Front.[1] The 4th Brigade continued operations until late September, and it was on the 18th of that month that Sergeant Maurice Buckley, serving under the assumed name of Gerald Sexton, was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour near Le Verguier.[1]

Following the end of hostilities in November 1918, and over the course of the next five months the battalion returned to Australia for demobilisation and discharge before finallying being disbanded in May 1919.

Battle honours

  • World War I: Somme 1916, Somme 1918, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Arras 1918, Ancre 1918, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hindenburg Line, Epehy, France and Flanders 1916-1918, ANZAC, Landing at ANZAC, Defence at ANZAC, Suvla, Sari Bair.[1]

Commanding officers

Casualties

  • 1,090 men killed and 2,128 wounded.[1]

Notes

References

  • White, T.A. (1924). The history of the Thirteenth Battalion, A.I.F.. Sydney: 13th Battalion, A.I.F. Committee.

See also

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