17th Battalion (Australia): Wikis

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Australian 17th Battalion
later 17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment
The 17th Battalion entraining at Maritina Italiana in 1915
The 17th Battalion entraining at Maritina Italiana in 1915
Active 1860–1878

1888–1893
1895–1944
1965–1987

Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Part of 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
Colors Black over Green
Engagements World War I

World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Henry Arthur Goddard, Edward Fowell Martin
Insignia
Unit colour patch 17th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 17th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Although its numerical designation was bestowed upon in during World War I, the 17th Battalion can trace its lineage back to 1860, when a unit of the New South Wales Volunteer Rifles was raised in St Leonards, New South Wales. This unit has since been disbanded and reformed a number times. Through its links with the units of the colonial NSW defence force, the battalion's history includes service in the Sudan and South Africa. During World War I, the 17th Battalion was raised for overseas service as part of the First Australian Imperial Force. Attached to the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division, the battalion was raised in 1915 and sent to Egypt initially, before taking part in the fighting at Gallipoli against the Turks. Later the battalion was sent to the Western Front in France, where it served in the trenches as part of the Australian Corps. Throughout the course of the war, the battalion won numerous battle honours and its members received many individual awards, however, at the end of the war the battalion was disbanded in April 1919.

In 1921 the battalion was reformed as a militia unit known as the 17th Battalion (North Sydney Regiment), before being disbanded in 1944. In 1948 the battalion was reformed as an amalgamated unit known as the 17th/18th Battalion (The North Shore Regiment), before being reduced to a company sized element in the 2nd Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment in 1960. In 1965, the battalion was reformed again as the 17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, before being amalgamated to form the 2nd/17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment in 1987.

Contents

History

The battalion's origins began when the St Leonards Volunteer Rifles was raised in 1860 in the northern suburbs of Sydney as part of the military forces of the New South Wales colonial defence force.[1] Members of this unit served overseas in 1885 in Sudan, and then again in South Africa during the Second Boer War. In 1903, following the Federation of Australia this unit became part of the Commonwealth Military Forces and was renamed the 1st Australian Infantry Regiment.[1]

In 1912 a system of compulsory military service was introduced and the unit was renamed the 18th Infantry, and then later, 1914, the 17th Infantry.[1] This scheme greatly expanded the army, however, when World War I began, due to the provisions of the Defence Act 1903 which precluded sending conscripts overseas to fight, it became necessary to raise an all volunteer force, separate to the militia, for service in the Middle East and Europe.[2]

This force was known as the First Australian Imperial Force. As a part of this, the 17th Battalion was raised in March 1915 in Liverpool, New South Wales. In May 1915 the battalion left Australia and after spending some time in Egypt training, they landed at Anzac Cove on 20 August 1915.[3] They took part in the August Offensive, during which time they were engaged in the attack on Hill 60. Following this they were mainly used in a defensive role, defending Quinn's Post, which was one of the most contested positions at Gallipoli.[3]

The battalion was withdrawn from the peninsula in December 1915, and following a further period of training in Egypt, it was sent to France. Arriving in March 1916, the battalion moved up to the front line in April and took over the forward position in the eastern Armentieres section of the Western Front.[3] It was in June, during the prelude to the Battle of the Somme, when the battalion was positioned in the line around Armentieres, that Private William Jackson earned the battalion's only Victoria Cross of the war.[1] Later, the 17th Battalion took part in the first major battle at Pozières, serving in the line twice at this time between July and August.[3]

In 1917 the 17th Battalion was involved in most of the major battles as the German Army was forced back towards the Hindenburg Line, seeing action at Bullecourt in May, Menin Road in September and Poelcappelle in October.[3] At Lagnicourt, on 15 April, the 17th took part in a defensive action along with four other battalions from the 5th Brigade, where they managed to defeat a counter-attack by a German force almost five times its size, recapturing the village that had been lost along with a number of guns that the German force had taken off the Australians earlier.[4] In 1918, the battalion was involved in repelling the German Spring Offensive, before taking part in the final Allied offensive that eventually brought about an end to the war. During this time they were involved in the battles at Amiens and Mont St Quentin in August, before participating in the attack on the "Beaurevoir Line" at Montbrehain in October.[3] This would be the battalion's last contribution to the war, as it was training out of the line when the Armistice was declared in November 1918. It was disbanded in April 1919, whilst at Montigny-le-Tilluel, Belgium, when most of its personnel were transferred to the 20th Battalion.[5]

During World War I, the battalion suffered 3,280 casualties, of which 845 were killed.[3] Members from the battalion also received the following decorations: 1 VC, 1 CMG, 7 DSOs, 19 DCMs, 33 MCs, 138 MMs, 10 MSMs and 41 MIDs.[3][6]

In April 1921 the AIF was officially disbanded and the decision was made to reorganise the units of the militia in order to perpetuate the designations and battle honours of the AIF.[7] As a result of this, the 17th Infantry, a militia unit that could trace its lineage back to 1860, was reformed as the 17th Battalion (The North Sydney Regiment).[1]

This unit remained on the Australian order of battle until 1944 when it was disbanded, having not seen active service.[1] In 1948, the battalion was re-raised as part of the Citizens Military Force, and was amalgamated with the 18th Battalion to form the 17th/18th Battalion (The North Shore Regiment).[1] Upon reforming, the battalion was entrusted with the World War II battle honours of the 2/17th Battalion, in which many members of North Sydney Regiment had enlisted.[1][8]

In 1960, the Australian Army was reorganised along Pentropic lines and the battalion became 'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment. When the Pentropic divisional structure was abandoned in 1965, however, the battalion was reformed in its own right as the 17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment. This lasted until 1987, when another reorganisation of the Australian Army Reserve led to the unit's amalgamation to form the 2nd/17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment.[1]

Battle honours

Lineage

1860–1868 — 1st Regiment New South Wales Rifle Volunteers (St Leonards Volunteer Rifles)
1868–1876 — The Suburban Battalion, New South Wales Volunteer Rifles
1876–1878 — 2nd Regiment Volunteer Rifles
1888–1893 — St Leonards Reserve Rifle Company
1895–1901 — North Sydney Company, 1st Regiment New South Wales Volunteer Infantry
1901–1903 — 1st Infantry Regiment
1903–1908 — 1st Australian Infantry Regiment
1908–1912 — 1st Battalion, 1st Australian Infantry Regiment
1912–1913 — 18th Infantry Regiment
1913–1914 — 18th (North Sydney) Infantry
1914–1918 — 17th Infantry
1918–1921 — 5th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment
1921–1927 — 17th Battalion
1927–1944 — 17th Battalion (The North Sydney Regiment)
1948–1960 — 17th/18th Battalion (The North Shore Regiment)
1960–1965 — 'B' Coy, 2nd Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment
1965–1987 — 17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment.[11]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Harris, Ted. "Royal New South Wales Regiment Battalions Off Orbat". Digger History.org. Archived from the original on 2009-05-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5gsJqCZuK. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  
  2. ^ Grey 2008, p. 85.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "AWM Unit Information – 17th Battalion, AIF". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 2009-05-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5gsJqb3dm. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  
  4. ^ See http://www.awm.gov.au/units/event_126.asp.
  5. ^ AWM4, 23/34/45, entry for 11 April 1919.
  6. ^ The figure for the MC include one Bar. The figure for the MM includes 11 Bars. The AWM figures include 8 foreign awards. These are not specified and are therefore not included here.
  7. ^ Grey 2008, p. 125.
  8. ^ Grey 2001, p. 172.
  9. ^ "AWM Unit Information – 2/17th Battalion, AIF, World War II". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 2009-05-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5gsJr2Lbu. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  
  10. ^ Note, these battle honours were conferred on the 17th Battalion after World War II to perpetuate the 2/17th Battalion, in which many members of the unit had served during the war.
  11. ^ Harris, Ted. "Lineage of the Royal New South Wales Regiment". Digger History.org. Archived from the original on 2009-05-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5gsJrQL5F. Retrieved 2009-05-15.  

References

See also

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