1st Australian Infantry Battalion

1st Brigade, 1st Division
1914 – 1919
 
 
The Colours of the 1st Battalion Royal New South Wales Regiment are emblazoned with
the Battle Honours of the 1st Battalions WW1 - WW2
August 4th 1914. War.
 
{“We shall pledge our last man and last shilling” – Andrew Fisher, Prime Minister of Australia}
 
They arrived in thousands to defend the Empire.   From the shops, from the factories, from the offices men volunteered to fight. Miners and workmen laid down their tools. Out in the bush, men were setting out on the trek to the city by train, by horse and with their swag on their backs. Old and young, they were the foundations of a new army as they marched to Victoria Barracks Paddington, Sydney.
 
“I left home early in the morning and went to Victoria Barracks and had to wait outside the gates with about 1000 or more other recruits for about an hour. When the gates opened there was a big rush of men to get in. We were drafted into two batches with one body composed of those who had done soldiering before and those who had not. By 20th August over 10,000 men had enlisted.” (Pte C Lee KIA 5/6/1915 age 22)
The Broken Years by Bill Gammage page 6
 
The 1st Battalion was formed on the 17th August 1914 and on that day the men marched from Paddington to Randwick to begin their training. The history of the 1st Australian Infantry Battalion contains the names of many soldiers who served in the South Africa campaign of 1899 – 1902 with the 1st Regiment of NSW Infantry and in British units. In 1911 the Australian Government had introduced compulsory military training for young men. About 40% of the 1st Battalion had previous service either in the militia or in the Australian Military Force (AMF). At first married men were barred from enlisting but that proved unpopular and was revoked.
 
General Bridges, GOC 1st Division, inspected the battalion on the 14th September and on the 17th the men completed a route march to South Head and back. Rumours of an early departure had the men looking to say goodbye to friends and family. Many a ruse was tried. One group decided to send telegrams to themselves saying, ”Come at once. Mother dying.” This worked for the first couple but when about 30 telegrams arrived at once the game was up.
 
After marching through the streets of Sydney the battalion was embarked on HMT “Afric” on the 18th October bound for Albany, Western Australia. On 1st November the fleet totaling 36 ship carrying 29,500 men departed for Cairo, Egypt. The battalion strength was 1013 including officers.
 
Portrait of 490 Warrant Officer Robert Melville, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), 1st Battalion, sitting in a dugout. On his tunic sleeves RSM Melville is wearing white bands, which were used by Australian soldiers at Lone Pine and the next day at the Nek to help identify friend from foe.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/C01986  
 
 
D Coy 1st Battalion at Mena Camp, Cairo 1-1-1915
 
Training continued to improve the standard of soldiering and marksmanship and on the 4th April the battalion embarked on the “Minnewaska”. The ship carried about 1900 men and 500 horses plus a large quantity of timber to construct a wharf. The ships arrived in Lemnos on the 12th April where the battalion was practiced in small craft landings. More provisions were taken on board and some days later the ship moved out to sea.
 
1st Battalion at Lemos 1915
 
  
Rectangular horizontally aligned colour patch, for 1 Battalion, AIF, divided black over green, was worn with a brass letter 'A' in the centre, denoting service in Gallipoli.
Summary
Worn as a distinguishing unit indication at the head of each sleeve from 1915. A brass 'A' denotes service in Gallipoli peninsula. It was approved for wear in embroidered form in 1916 and in the form of a brass letter in 1917.
 
 
 
 
 
The 1st Australian Division led by the 3rd Brigade with the 9th, 10th and 11th battalions in formation with the 12th battalion in reserve was the first to land at ANZAC Cove. This force landed about 0420hrs on the 25th April and was immediately followed by the 2nd brigade about 0530hrs.
 
The 1st Brigade was the third wave to land on “ANZAC Beach”, Gallipoli. The 1st Battalion landed about 0740hrs and immediately started taking casualties. This was the beginning of a long campaign of decision and non-decision by the British commanders, which cost the Australian forces dearly. In the battle at Lone Pine two members of the battalion were awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.
 
 

 

 

 

 

Roll call of D Company, 1st Battalion, at Hell Spit after the fighting at the landing. This company went into action with six officers - Major B I Swannell, Captain H Jacobs, Lieutenants Fogden, Shout, Duchesne and Street and 213 other ranks. When reassembled, the muster was one officer, Captain H Jacobs, and 88 other ranks.   AWM.
 
 
3735 Pte Harold Grant 1st Battalion 1915
  
 
Lt Alfred Shout 1st Battalion 1915
 
*******************************************
 
Major Blair Inskip Swannell
1st Battalion
 
Blair Inskip Swannell was born on 20 August 1875, in Weston Underwood,
Buckinghamshire, the son of Mr William and Mrs Charlotte Swannell.   He was educated on the Thames Nautical Training College where he played 116 times for Northampton RFC, scoring 16 tries and 6 conversions, and was selected for the Great Britain tour of Australia in 1899.
 
During the 1899-1902 South African War he served as a Lieutenant in the Buckinghamshire Imperial Yeomanry; he returned to the United Kingdom as a Captain in the 35th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. He also served in the Royal Naval Reserve. He was selected for the 1904 Great Britain tour of Australia and New Zealand. After the tour, he settled in Australia in 1905 and played for Sydney, then North Sydney, as well as NSW and Australia.
 
War service: Major, “D” Company, 1st (New South Wales) Battalion, 1st Brigade, Australian Imperial Force

Swannell was commissioned in the Australian Militia as a Lieutenant in 1912, and promoted to Captain in 1914. He applied for a commission in the AIF on 1 September 1914, and was appointed as a Captain in Q Company, 1st Bn, 1st Bde on 3 September. On 1 January 1915, after travelling to Egypt on the transport A19 The Afric, he was promoted to Major. While travelling to Gallipoli on the troopship SS Minnewaska, he said that he felt sure that he would be killed, but that he would play this game as he had played Rugby – with his whole heart. He was killed in action on 25 April 1915, at Gallipoli, during the assault on Turkish positions at the hill named Baby 700.
 
Major Swannell’s “D” Company of the 1st Battalion was led forward into Rest Gully and up Russell’s Top by the Battalion’s second in Command, Major Kindon, in support of the 3rd Brigade. His platoon commanders were Lt A J Shout [later Captain Shout VC MC; who died of wounds on 11 August 1915], Lt G A Street [later Brigadier General Street MC; Australian Minister for the Army and Minister for Repatriation 1938-1940, killed when RAAF Lockheed Hudson A16-97 crashed between Canberra and Queanbeyan on 13 August 1940] and Captain H Jacobs [later Major]. The company reached the remnants of the 3rd Brigade at the base of Baby 700 just before 11.00; there were only about seventy men of the 3rd Brigade at the position. Swannell’s company deployed and, with the 3rd Brigade men, charged the Turks, sweeping over the top of Baby 700. When on the inland slope of the Hill, the Australians came under heavy fire and found it very difficult to reply. Major Swannell was shot dead while kneeling to show his men how to return fire.
 
 
Officers of the 1st Battalion (New South Wales) outside their tents at Mena Camp, Egypt, during training, March 1915. Sitting on the left in the back row is Major Blair Swannell, a rugby international who, according to one witness, had ‘his head half blown off’ on the day of the Gallipoli landings. Also killed that day was the man sitting in front of Swannell, Lieutenant William Duchesne. Next to Swannell sits Lieutenant Alfred Shout, who received the Victoria Cross for bravery at Lone Pine, but died on 11 August 1915 of wounds received in the fighting. Captain Harold Jacobs, seated in front on the right, was the only one to survive the war.
 
The 1st Battalion landed with a unit strength of 30 officers and 942 other ranks. After the first day 366 were killed or wounded.
 
The Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, told the nation on the 29th of April 1915 that Australian troops were in action in the Dardanelles but what he did not know was the horrific cost the nation was to pay.
 
Arrival of the Australian Troopships in the Suez Canal guarded by French Warships
 
Church Service before the landing
 

“The paid dearly for their glory. For a week after the landing exhausted men fought a hundred fights: attack and counter attack followed in wearying succession, and at the Daisy Patch, on Johnstone’s Jolly, at Steele’s Post, at Courtney’s and at Quinn’s, at the Bloody Angle, at Pope’s Hill and at the Nek the dead spread thickly over the ground.”

The Broken Years by Bill Gammage page 58

First Day – Allied Forces – 2000 killed and 5000 wounded

Turkish Forces – 2000 killed and 6000 wounded
 
Anzac Beach, Gallipoli. 1915. Looking north along Anzac Cove after Anzac Corps had landed and members were settling in on the slopes of the hills.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/H02316
 
 
The Austraian camp on the Suez Canal
 On the 24th May a truce was negotiated to allow the recovery and burial of thousand of Turkish and Australian and New Zealand soldiers whose bodies lay rotting in no-man’s land. The bodies were swollen and covered with flies and maggots. The only way to identify them was by searching for their pay book or identification discs. In one gully about 4000 Turks lay dead.
 
The Truce
 
The Turks and the Australians at Quinn’s Post were about 12 metres apart and bombs were thrown when-ever a sound was heard. The bombs were jam tins filled with stones, bits of metal, a stick of gelignite and a fuse of about four seconds. 
 

 

An Australian soldier lies wounded in the foreground, as hundreds of other soldiers move among the dead and wounded on the beach at Anzac Cove on the day of the landing. The soldiers wearing Red Cross arm-bands are tending to the wounded. Boxes of equipment are stacked among the men and the beach is also littered with discarded personal equipment. This scene is looking along the beach to the north.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/PS1659
 
 Teams of tunnellers would dig towards the Turks and could often hear the Turks tunneling towards them. The hole was filled with explosive and detonated just before a planned assault. Sometimes the tunnel roof would show bits of the bodies of the dead buried days before.
 
Bodies of dead soldiers, probably all Australian, killed during the Battle of Lone Pine in August 1915, lie on the ground as they fell. This area in front of the Lone Pine trenches was too exposed for any of the bodies to be recovered. Captain (Capt) H R Poate, a doctor serving in the 1st Field Ambulance, noted in his diary for 6 September 1915, "walked to Lone Pine", his only visit. This one of two photographs taken by Capt Poate from the first of the captured Turkish trenches looking west over the area the Australians attacked from on the 6 August 1915. AWM
 
 The men of the 1st Brigade faced the enemy at Lone Pine in trenches only 50 to 70 metres apart. The fighting was hand to hand, bayonet and bomb and man to man. Trench by trench the 1st Brigade fought and held, repelling counter attacks and not giving ground. After three days the area was littered with thousand of corpses and the Australians held the ground. The Brigade attacked with 2000 men but was reduced to 900. The Turks losses were estimated at over 5000. Seven Victoria Crosses were won at Lone Pine.
 
THE ATTACK ON THE LONE PINE TRENCHES.
 
The most simple method of developing this complicated series of operations will be first to take the frontal attacks from the existing Anzac position, and afterwards to go on to the assault on the more distant ridges.
 
During the 4th, 5th and 6th of August the works on the enemy's left and centre were subjected to a slow bombardment, and on the after­noon of August 6th an assault was made upon the formid­able Lone Pine entrenchment. Although, in its essence, a diversion to draw the enemy's attention and reserves from the grand attack impending upon hisright, yet, in itself, Lone Pine was a distinct step on the way across to Maidos. It commanded one of the main sources of the Turkish water supply, and was a work, or, rather, a series of works, for the safety of which the enemy had always evinced a certain nervousness. The attack was designed to heighten this impression.
 
The work consisted of a strong point d'appui on the south-western end of a plateau, where it confronted, at distances varying from 6o to 120 yards, the salient in the line of our trenches named by us the Pimple. The en­trenchment was evidently very strong; it was entangled with wire and provided with overhead cover, and it was connected by numerous communication trenches with another point d'appui known as Johnston's Jolly on the north, as well as with two other works on the east and south. The frontage for attack amounted at most to some 220 yards, and the approaches lay open to heavy enfilade fire, both from the north and from the south.
 
The detailed scheme of attack was worked out with care and forethought by Major-General H. B. Walker, com­manding 1st Australian Division, and his thoroughness contributed, I consider, largely to the success of the enter­prise.
 
The action commenced at 4.30 p.m. with a continuous and heavy bombardment of the Lone Pine and adjacent trenches, H.M.S. Bacchante assisting by searching the valleys to the north-east and east, and the Monitors by shelling the enemy's batteries south of Gaba Tepe. The assault had been entrusted to the 1st Australian Brigade (Brigadier-General N. M. Smyth), and punctually at 5.30 p.m. it was carried out by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Aus­tralian Battalions, the 1st Battalion forming the Brigade reserve.
 
THE INVINCIBILITY OF THE AUSTRALIANS.
 
Two lines left their trenches simultaneously, and were closely followed up by a third. The rush across the open was a regular race against death, which came in the shape of a hail of shell and rifle bullets from front and from either flank. But the Australians had firmly resolved to reach the enemy's trenches, and in this determination they became for the moment invincible. The barbed wire entanglement was reached and was surmounted. Then came a terrible moment, when it seemed as though it would be physically impossible to penetrate into the trenches. The overhead cover of stout pine beams resisted all individual efforts to move it, and the loopholes continued to spit fire. Groups of our men then bodily lifted up the beams and individual soldiers leaped down into the semi-darkened galleries amongst the Turks. By 5.47pm the 3rd and 4th Bat­talions were well into the enemy's vitals, and a few minutes later the reserves of the 2nd Battalion advanced over their parados and driving out, killing, or capturing the occu­pants, made good the whole of the trenches. The reserve companies of the 3rd and 4th Battalions followed, and at 6.20pm the 1st Battalion (in reserve) was launched to consolidate the position.
 
At once the Turks made it plain, as they have never ceased to do since, that they had no intention of acquiescing in the capture of this capital work. At 7pm a determined and violent counter-attack began, both from the north and from the south. Wave upon wave the enemy swept forward with the bayonet. Here and there a well-directed salvo of bombs emptied a section of a trench, but whenever this occurred the gap was quickly filled by the initiative of the officers and the gallantry of the men.
 
CONTINUOUS FIGHTING BY DAY AND NIGHT.
 
The enemy allowed small respite. At 1.30 that night the battle broke out afresh. Strong parties of Turks swarmed out of the communication trenches, preceded by showers of bombs. For seven hours these counter-attacks con­tinued. All this time consolidation was being attempted, although the presence of so many Turkish prisoners hampered movement and constituted an actual danger. In beating off these desperate counter-attacks very heavy casualties were suffered by the Australians. Part of the 12th Battalion, the reserve of the 3rd Brigade, had there­fore to be thrown into the melee.
 
Twelve hours later, at 1.30pm on the 7th, another effort was made by the enemy, lasting uninterruptedly at closest quarters till 5pm, then being resumed at midnight and proceeding intermittently till dawn. At an early period of this last counter-attack the 4th Battalion were forced by bombs to relinquish portion of a trench, but later on, led by their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel McNaghten, they killed every Turk who had got in.
 
During August 8th advantage was taken of every cessation in the enemy's bombing to consolidate. The 2nd Battalion, which had lost its commanding officer and suffered especially severely, was withdrawn and replaced by the 7th Battalion, the reserve to the 2nd Infantry Brigade.
 
At 5 a.m. on August 9th the enemy made a sudden attempt to storm from the east and south-east after a feint of fire attack from the north. The 7th Battalion bore the brunt of the shock, and handled the attack so vigorously that by 7.45am there were clear signs of demoralisation in the enemy's ranks. But, although this marked the end of counter-attacks on the large scale, the bombing and sniping continued, though in less volume, throughout this day and night, and lasted till August 12th, when it at last became manifest that we had gained complete ascendency. During the final grand assault our losses from artillery fire were large, and ever since the work has passed into our hands it has been a favourite daily and nightly mark for heavy shells and bombs.
 
MEN WHO WERE A GLORY TO AUSTRALIA.
 
Thus was Lone Pine taken and held. The Turks were in great force and very full of fight, yet one weak Australian Brigade, numbering at the outset but 2000 rifles, and supported only by two weak battalions, carried the work under the eyes of a whole enemy division, and maintained their grip upon it like a vice during six days successive counter-attacks. High praise is due to Brigadier-General N. M.Smyth and to his battalion commanders. The irre­sistible dash and daring of officers and men in the initial charge were a glory to Australia. The stout-heartedness with which they clung to the captured ground in spite of fatigue, severe losses, and the continual strain of shellfire and bomb attacks, may seem less striking to the civilian;it is even more admirable to the soldier. From start to finish the artillery support was untiring and vigilant. Owing to the rapid, accurate fire of the 2nd New Zealand Battery, under Major Sykes, several of the Turkish on­slaughts were altogether defeated in their attempts to get to grips with the Australians. Not a chance was lost by these gunners, although time and again the enemy's artillery made direct hits on their shields. The hand-to­-hand fighting in the semi-obscurity of the trenches was prolonged and very bitterly contested.
 
In one corner eight Turks and six Australians were found lying as they had bayoneted one another. To make room for the fighting men the dead were ranged in rows on either side of the gangway. After the first violence of the counter-attacks had abated, 1000 corpses, our own and Turkish, were dragged out from the trenches.
 
For the severity of our own casualties some partial consolation may be found in the facts, first, that those of the enemy were much heavier, our guns and machine guns having taken toll of them as they advanced in mass for­mation along the reverse slopes; secondly, that the Lone Pine attack drew all the local enemy reserves towards it, and may be held, more than any other cause, to have been the reason that the Suvla Bay landing was so lightly opposed, and that comparatively few of the enemy were available at first to reinforce against our attack on Sari Bair. Our captures in this feat of arms amounted to 134 prisoners, seven machine-guns, and a large quantity of ammunition and equipment.
 
An extract from the “Description of Operations” from General Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch
 
 
Pte Ronald Thompson Munn 1st Battalion KIA 24/11/1915
 
. The bodies of Australian soldiers in Southern Trench at Lone Pine. Note the guns with bayonets attached leaning against the parapet.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/A04029
The evacuation of the ANZAC Forces was difficult for some of the soldiers who had begun to look upon the ground as a sacred place where many of their mates had died and they wanted victory not retreat. 
Informal group portrait of three 1st Battalion officers at their camp outside Cairo. Identified left to right: Captain Albert George Mcguire, who later died of wounds in Egypt on 7 May 1915; Major Blair Inskip Swannell, who was killed during the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915; Lieutenant Alfred John Shout, (later VC, MC) who died at sea on 11 August 1915 of wounds sustained at Lone Pine on 9 August.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/C01998
 
The "Aquitania" with 4,500 wounded on board
 

 

War medals and death medalion

  

  

ANZAC Cove 2008

  

ANZAC Cove 2008

`Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives .. .
you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country,
therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours .. .
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears,
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well. Ataturk. 1934'

 

The remains of soldiers of the 1st Battalion taken in 1919

. Group portrait of the 19th Reinforcements of the 1st Battalion, at Liverpool Camp, NSW. Present among the men are Lieutenant Arthur Dudley Moss, Officer Commanding of the 19th Reinforcements, and 6009 Private (Pte) Francis Gell; both later killed in action at Bullecourt, France, on 5 May 1917.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/P03786.001

By January 1916 the 1st battalion was back in Egypt and had been reinforced and was in continuous training. This included duties guarding the Suez Canal.

 On the 21st March the 1st Division left for France. The bloodiest battleground of the war was waiting and during the next three years the ANZAC Corps was to pay a high price. The first battle of Pozieres 23rd July 1916, attack on Bayonet and Hilt Trenches 5th November 1916, attack on Hermies 7th April 1917, Bullecourt 3rd May 1917, attack on Broodscinde Ridge 4th October 1917 and many others saw the 1st Battalion strength reduced by hundreds.
 

  

The village of Pozieres before the attack

 

The village of Pozieres after the attack 

 
 Pozieres was a small village on the Bapaume road and was a German strong point. It had been attacked several times without any success and as this was the first major engagement for the 1st Battalion in France, the men were eager to succeed. The Australians took the village and then held on until relieved. Losses were high with 7 Officers and 100 Other Ranks killed and 4 Officers and 376 Other Ranks wounded and 48 missing. 
 
  
Pte James Morrison                                        
KIA Pozieres 22nd July 1916
Age 19 years – No known grave
  
                                        Cpl Andrew Anderson
KIA Pozieres 21 July 1916                      Age 33 years – No known grave
 
 
“When the barrage began, it seemed as though the earth had opened with a crash. The ground shook and trembled and the concussion made our ears ring. It was impossible to hear or speak to the next man. They dug trenches: the guns obliterated them. They crouched in holes but the guns found them and blew them to oblivion. The relieving units found dead men by the dozen with the look of horror on their faces as the storm of shells buried men alive leaving the place looking like a ploughed field.”
The Broken Years by Bill Gammage page 162-164
 
SEVEN TIMES THE AUSTRALIANS WERE USED AS A BATTERING RAM
against the German defences at Mouquet Farm, Pozieres. In separate exploits Lieutenant A. C. Blackburn and Private John Leak displayed outstanding valour. Both Blackburn and Leak were awarded the VICTORIA CROSS.
 
Lieutenant Blackburn 10th Battalion (South Australia) was sent with 50 men to capture a German machinegun post. He made two attacks, and on each occasion all four men with him were killed. On the third attempt he captured an enemy trench and in a fourth movement he gained and held 200 metres of German trench. Fighting since 5.20am, he was finally relieved at 2pm. Private Leak 9th Battalion (Queensland) was of the do-or-die type for which Australians became famous after Pozieres. During his company's assault, the German lighter grenades were outranging the Australian bombs. Leak jumped out of his trench exposing himself to machinegun fire at close range, and running forward threw three bombs into the enemy bombing post. Then he leapt into the pit and bayoneted the three unwounded enemy bombers. German reinforcements drove the Australians back from trench to trench and on each occasion Leak was the last to withdraw, all the time throwing grenades. Faced with this recurrent resistance, the trench was recaptured. Throughout July 23, Australian activity was incessant and Captain F. E. Herrod 2nd Battalion (NSW) found a way of capturing a strong point known as GIBRALTAR, previously considered impregnable. While he and a few men fired from the front, Lieutenant W. L. Waterhouse and 10 men worked their way to the far side and rushed Gibraltar. They captured 3 officers, 23 men and much equipment. The fight for a trench system known as OG 1 was ferocious. The Australians stuck to it with courage nothing short of sublime. In 3 days the 1st Division lost 5285 officers and men. The 2nd Division replaced the 1st Division in the line, spent 4 days and lost 6848 men before being relieved by the 4th Division.

 The ANZAC CORPS in 6 weeks lost more than 22,000 officers and men in the fighting at Pozieres.

 The 1st Division 7000 – 2nd Division 8100 – 4th Division 7100

 This was 50 per cent of their original fighting strength. Withdrawn from the Somme by 5th September, the Australian were sent 120 klms north of Ypres Salient in Belgium. It is by the experience of Pozieres that all Australian Infantry activity in France and Belgium must be judged. It was by the standards of soldierly behavior set at Pozieres that the AIF judged its courage, enterprise and fortitude to the end of the war.

Lt Robert Cassidy, 1st Battalion KIA 9/4/1917 at Demicourt France

 The list of Battle Honours of the 1st Battalion is reflected in the casualties list. 

 During its four and a half years of active service 286 Officers and upward of 6,000 Other Ranks passed through the battalion. The memory of their deeds and their sacrifice will never fade.
 
1st Battalion casualties were:
 
Battalion strength: Officers 32, Other Ranks 1013 (departing Sydney 18th Oct 1914)
Killed: Officers 49, Other Ranks 1116
Wounded: Officers 111, Other Ranks 2052
 
 
Decorations: 3 VC
                       2 CMG
                       7 DSO, 1 Bar
                       40 MC, 1 Bar
                       29 DCM
                       131 MM
                       9MSM
                       57 MID

 

1917. Portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) Leonard Keysor VC, 1st Battalion. Lt Keysor was awarded the Victoria Cross as a lance corporal (LCpl) for "most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Lone Pine Trenches, in the Gallipoli Peninsula" on 7 August 1915. LCpl Keysor, in a trench under enemy bomb attack, picked up two live bombs and threw them back at the enemy, and although he was wounded continued to throw bombs until the trench was secure. The next day, he successfully bombed the enemy out of a strategically important part of the trench. He was again wounded and, refusing to leave, volunteered to throw bombs for another company which had lost all of their bomb throwers. In 1918 Lt Keysor returned to Australia to assist in the recruiting campaign, before being discharged on medical grounds on 12 December 1918. In 1920 he returned to London, where he died on 12 October 1951. (Donor R. Arman)

 

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. June 1915. Portrait of Lieutenant A. J. Shout VC, 1st Battalion.
 
 Shout served in the Boer War with the New Zealand contingent and later served in the AIF with the 1st Battalion at Gallipoli. He was awarded the Military Cross (MC) and Victoria Cross (VC) for actions at Gallipoli. Shout received the MC for gallantry in leading a bayonet charge in operations near Gaba Tepe on 27 April 1915. He was later awarded the VC for bravery in actions at Sasse's Sap, Lone Pine, where Shout charged the trench found to be occupied by Turks. After killing eight Turks and capturing sections of the trench, Shout threw a bomb which exploded in his hand, fatally wounding him. Shout died on the hospital ship on 11 August 1915. (Original print housed in AWM Archive Store). (Donor J Archibald)
 

 

 

Captain Alfred John Shout was born in Wellington, New Zealand on 8 August 1881. In 1900 he joined the New Zealand Contingent to the Boer War as a Lance Corporal rising to sergeant serving with the Border Horse at Wittebergen, Transvaal and Cape Colony until 1902. Records suggest that he also served with the Stellenbosch District Mounted Troop. For his actions at Thabaksberg on 29 January 1901 he was awarded a Mention in Despatches.

The citation for the award reads: 'Displayed great courage and assisted greatly in keeping men together. Under a heavy fire he brought out of the firing line a wounded man of the 17th Battery, RFA, and took him to a place of safety.'

During his service in South Africa he was wounded in the chest, some reports say twice, but made a full recovery. He chose to remain in South Africa at the end of hostilities, becoming a sergeant with Captain MacDonald's Squadron, Cape Colonial Forces. He married Australian-born Rose Howe in Cape Town in 1905. Their daughter, Florence Agnes Maud, was born soon afterwards.

The Shouts emigrated to Sydney in 1907, where Alfred was employed as a carpenter at Resch's Brewery. He joined 29 Infantry Regiment soon after emigrating and obtained a commission on 16 June 1914. Enlisting with the AIF on 27 August 1914 as a second lieutenant with 1 Battalion, he embarked for the Middle East on 18 October.

Shout was promoted to lieutenant on 1 February 1915 during the training period in Egypt. His battalion landed at Gallipoli on 25 April and Lieutenant Shout immediately displayed the leadership and bravery that came to characterise his service on the peninsula. He and his company managed to advance and assist in holding the left flank of the feature 'Baby 700' throughout the day of 25 April but a determined Turkish advance forced their retirement at 4.30 pm.

The first days on Gallipoli were disastrous for 1 Battalion. Over four days the battalion suffered 366 casualties and were scattered throughout the Australian front. Indicative of the esteem to which Shout was held, even at this early stage in the fighting, is the following account:

'He was the bravest of many brave men that revealed themselves that day', recalled Private Bethel, 'I saw him first on the Tuesday morning after the landing. There were only two officers left, Lieutenants Shout and Harrison, and our position was desperate. The gallantry of both was remarkable, but Lieutenant Shout was a hero. Wounded himself several times, he kept picking up wounded men and carrying them out of the firing line. I saw him carry fully a dozen men away. Then another bullet struck him in the arm, and it fell useless by his side. Still he would not go to the rear.'

Following a month of recuperation on a hospital ship, Shout rejoined his battalion on 26 May. For his actions two days after the landing, Shout was awarded the Military Cross.

On 29 July he was promoted to captain. His contribution during the first months of the fighting was further recognised with a Mention in Despatches in early August. A few days later the battalion took part in the Battle for Lone Pine. It was during the fighting on 9 August that Shout was mortally wounded in the action for which he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

In the fourteen weeks that Shout was on Gallipoli he attained an almost legendary reputation among his peers. Between 25 April and his death three days after his 33rd birthday, he had won a Victoria Cross and a Military Cross as well as a Mention in Despatches, becoming Australia's most decorated soldier on the peninsula.

 

1917. Studio portrait of Sergeant (Sgt) George Julian (Snowy) Howell VC MM, 1st Battalion. Sgt Howell was awarded the Victoria Cross as a Corporal (Cpl) for "conspicuous bravery" on 6 May 1917, near Bullecourt, France. Cpl Howell climbed onto the top of a parapet and under heavy fire proceded to bomb the enemy, pressing them back along the trench. After he exhausted his stock of bombs, he continued to attack the enemy with his bayonet, before being severely wounded. A month before this action he was awarded the Military Medal "for courage and devotion to duty while leading a rifle bombing section" during the battalion's capture of the village of Demicourt. He returned to Australia and was discharged on 5 June 1918. He later served as a Staff Sergeant at Headquarters, Eastern Command, during the Second World War before joining the United States Sea Transport Service in August 1944. Note he has three wound stripes on his left sleeve. (Donor R. Arman)

 

. Group portrait of the officers of the 1st Battalion at Meteren. Left to right, back row: Lieutenant (Lt) K. C. Mortlock MC: Lt Robert D. Humphreys MM (killed in action 16 April 1918); Lt F. A. Presnell; Lt T. J. Richards MC; Captain (Capt) Chaplain Redmond; Lt W. H. Parkinson; Lt R. H. Jensen; Lt A. J. H. Stobo. Middle row: Lt F. P. Shannon; Lt C. J. Waugh; Lt G. Bitmead; Lt F. W. Wells; Lt A. T. H. Brownlie; Lt H. H. Davis MC; Lt R. W. Sampson MC; Lt B. W. Champion; Lt C. A. Clark; Lt C. R. Morley MC; Lt D. J. Burrin (killed in action 23 August 1918). Front row: Capt P. O'Shea MC; Lt F. A. Graham; Capt W. L. Walker; Capt R. J. Forrest MC; Capt C. B. Withy MC; Lieutenant Colonel B. V. Stacy CMG DSO; Lt H. Broadman; Lt A. E. Symons; Lt H. E. a'Beckett MC; Capt J. C. Bootle; Lt F. Griffiths.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/E01630
A group of 1st Battalion officers resting. Identified left to right: unidentified; Major William Davidson, who died of wounds on 19 August 1915; Captain Clive Wentworth Thompson, Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC); unidentified (obscured); Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Dobbin; Major Frederick James Kindon; Captain Philip Geoffrey Hill who later died of wounds on 9 June 1915 at Malta.
 
AWM item C01940
Brigadier General James Heane, CB, CMG, DSO, MID (x6), General Heane commanded the 2nd Brigade Australian Imperial Force during all its campaigns on the Western Front, from 1916 to the end of the war. He served at Gallipoli with the 4th Battalion and commanded the 1st Battalion during its first year in France.
Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/ART03345

 

SALUTE TO THE FIRST BATTALION
Extract from an article by Ross McMullin, Courtesy Adelaide Advertiser 11/8/98
 
Eighty years ago, during the climax of World War I, two Australian Soldiers - 23 year old Jack Hayes, a railwayman from the Sydney suburb of Newtown and 21 year old Harold Andrews, a farmer from Wauchope made a spur of the moment decision to look for souvenirs. They didn't know they were about to make history.
 
It was early on August 5 when the enterprising Australian Sergeants embarked on their souvenir hunt. They made for a bridge over the Somme River. As they walked across this bridge into the British sector, the enemy's defensive presence seemed minimal. With Chipilly itself the best bet for souvenirs in the vicinity, they felt emboldened to head towards the village. German resistance, from what they could discern, still seemed surprisingly un­formidable. They collected a rifle each and an enemy machine gun, before returning to their battalion with a recommendation that formal reconnaissance in that direction was warranted.
 
Later that day, they were authorised to lead a patrol themselves towards Chipilly.
 
They set off about 6pm, accompanied by four privates. All belonged to the 1st Battalion, a New South Wales unit.
 
They called initially at the most advanced British company in front of Chipilly. Its commander advised them not to go any further forward. Ignoring this advice, they spread themselves out and rushed the village. Enemy fire was heavy, but they managed to reach it safely. They split up and cleared it methodically. Leaving two privates to guard the village entrance, the other four proceeded farther into German occupied territory.
 
Ahead of them were a number of German positions. With dash and dexterity, the small AIF patrol overwhelmed each one in turn, even though outnumbered. In one encounter, Hayes had a lucky escape. Maneuvering round to rush a strong point from the flank while Andrews and a private provided covering fire from the front, Hayes came across another enemy post; in a sharp exchange with the occupants, he shot one and the others fled - only to be immediately captured by Andrews and the private as they raced forward to rescue him.
 
This brought them within sight of a more substantial stronghold. The four charged it, and the Germans dived into their dugouts. When the attackers threatened to bomb the dugouts, an officer and 31 men surrendered. The privates handed these prisoners to the British coming up behind, and pressed on. Another batch of prisoners was soon captured, together with machine guns.
 
When the Australians saw Germans farther ahead retiring in response to their activities, Sergeant Andrews set up an enemy machine gun and blazed away to good effect. His resourcefulness enabled the privates to capture 30 more Germans. At one stage, the intrepid half dozen had penetrated so far ahead in their remarkable exploit that Americans sent forward to consolidate in their wake assumed they were Germans and fired at them.
 
The astonishing upshot was that these six Australians managed to do what the British III Corps could not. They drove the Germans out of Chipilly heights, capturing weaponry and hundreds of prisoners in the process and enabled the AIF advance to proceed without harassment from that quarter.
 
What happened 80 years ago was immensely significant. As Ludendorff himself admitted, it was the beginning of the end. The meticulous planning of General Monash, the commander of the Australian Corps, and his masterly co-ordination of infantry, tanks artillery and aircraft paid handsome dividends. And, as the astounding feat of the 1st Battalion patrol at Chipilly showed, he had superbly proficient soldiers at his disposal.
 
For their distinguished gallantry, Sergeants Andrews and Hayes were each awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The privates all received the Military Medal. All six managed to survive until the Armistice.

 Source -

AWM

The Official History of Australia in the War 1914 - 1918, CEW Bean

The History of the 1st Australian Infantry Battalion AIF 1914 - 1918, 1st  Battalion History Committee