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Australian 20th Battalion
20th Battalion NCOs June 1918 AWM E02593.jpeg
Non-commissioned officers of the 20th Battalion at Rivery, Somme, June 1918.
Active 1915–1919
Country Australia Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size 1,023 men
Part of 5th Brigade
Colors White over Green
Engagements World War I
Battle honours Suvla, Gallipoli 1915–1916, Egypt 1915–1917, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916–1918, Somme 1916, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde
Insignia
Unit colour patch 20th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 20th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Raised in 1915 as part of the 1st Australian Imperial Force, it was attached to the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division[1] that served during World War I. The battalion first saw action during the Gallipoli campaign, before being evacuated in December 1915. After that the 20th Battalion was sent to France where they served in the trenches along the Western Front as part of the Australian Corps. Over the course of the next two years, they fought in many major battles, including the battles of the Hundred Days Offensive at the end of the war. The 20th Battalion's last engagement was at Montbrehain in October 1918. Following the end of the war, it was disbanded in April 1919.[1]

Contents

History

Raised in March 1915 in Liverpool, New South Wales, a small number of the 20th Battalions' original recruits had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in New Guinea in 1914.[1] The battalion left Australia in June and after a period of training in Egypt they landed at Anzac Cove on 22 August 1915. They played only a minor part in the during the August Offensive which was coming to a close by the time they arrived and so for the majority of time that they were at Gallipoli, the battalion was deployed in the defence of Russell's Top.[1] They remained on the peninsula until the evacuation on 20 December 1915.[1]

Following further training in Egypt, the 20th Battalion was sent to France, arriving there on 22 March 1916.[1] From there it proceeded to a position near Pozieres, where it took up position in the trenches in April and, a month later, had the dubious honour of being the first Australian battalion to be raided by the Germans.[1] Later, in July and August the 20th took part in the Battle of Pozières, during which time it served in the line twice before moving to a quieter sector in Belgium for a period of rest. In October, however, the entire 2nd Division was moved to the south again and put back into the line in France once again and in November they launched an attack at Flers, in conditions that were so muddy that they were described by the official historian, Charles Bean, as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.[1]

Throughout 1917 the 20th Battalion was involved in three 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.[1] At Lagnicourt, on 15 April, along with other units from the 5th Brigade, they took part in a defensive action along with four other battalions, where they managed to defeat a counter-attack by a German force almost five times its size.[2] In 1918, the battalion was involved in repelling the German Spring Offensive, when the 20th was one of many Australian battalions that were hurried in to the line to stop it, and on 7 April 1918, they took part in a very sharp engagement at Hangard Wood.[1] Once the German offensive was defeated, the Allies launched their own, known as the Hundred Days Offensive which eventually brought about an end to the war. During this time the 20th 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.[1]

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.[1] It was disbanded on 20 April 1919 while at Montigny-le-Tilluel, Belgium, when most of its personnel, including the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Forbes, were marched out for repatriation to Australia.[3]

Battle Honours

For its service during the war, the 20th Battalion received the following battle honours:

Commanding Officers

  • LTCOL John Lamrock.[4]
  • LTCOL Alexander Windeyan Ralston.
  • LTCOL Alfred Joshua Bennett.
  • LTCOL Frederick William Dempster Forbes.[1]

Casualties

  • 848 killed, 3,143 wounded (this includes gas casualties).[1]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Unit Information—20th Battalion, AIF, World War I". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11207.asp. Retrieved 2009-03-04.  
  2. ^ "Battle of Lagnicourt". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/event_126.asp. Retrieved 2009-03-04.  
  3. ^ "AWM4, 23/37/45—20th Battalion War Diary, entry for 20 April 1919". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/diaries/ww1/folder.asp?folder=961. Retrieved 2009-03-04.  
  4. ^ Lamrock later achieved the rank of Brigadier General. See Brigadier General John Lamrock, CB, VD Australian War Memorial, accessdate 2009-03-04.

See also

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