First Australian Division Memorial - Pozieres, France
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member MeerRescue
N 50° 02.288 E 002° 43.294
31U E 480061 N 5542907
Quick Description: A memorial to the First Australian Division at Pozieres, France.
Location: Picardie, France
Date Posted: 4/18/2012 8:21:54 AM
Waymark Code: WME8G2
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 1

Long Description:

The First Australian Division Memorial, a stone obelisk, stands on the edge of the town of Pozieres. It replaces a wooden cross originally unveiled in what is now the Pozieres British Cemetery nearby. A plaque on the front of the memorial reads;

TO THE OFFICERS NON-COMMISSIONED/ OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE/ FIRST AUSTRALIAN DIVISION/ WHO FOUGHT IN/ FRANCE AND BELGIUM/1916 1917 1918

It then lists battles the 1st Division participated in;

POZIERES - MOUQUET FARM - LE BARQUE - THILLOY - BOURSIES  DEMICOURT - HERMIES - LAGNICOURT - BULLECOURT - 3rd BATTLE OF YPRES - MENIN ROAD - BROODSEINDE RIDGE - PASSCHENDALE - BATTLE OF THE LYS - 2nd BATTLE OF THE SOMME - LIHONS - CHUIGNOLLES - HINDENBURG LINE.

Between 13 and 17 July, the British Fourth Army under Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, made four, small-scale attacks against Pozieres with no success and some 24,000 casualties. In this period the village was subjected to a heavy bombardment and reduced to rubble. On two occasions the attacking infantry got into the trench that looped around the south and western edge of the village, known as "Pozieres trench", but both times were driven out.

The Australian First Division had only arrived in France from Gallipoli shortly before being moved to the town of Albert on the 18th July 1916 under the command of Lieutenant-General Herbert Gough. He told the 1st Divisions commander, Major General Harold Walker, to attack the village of Pozieres the following night. Walker, a tough and experienced English officer who had led the Division since Gallipoli, would have none of it and insisted that he would only make the attack once his Division had made adequate preparation. As a result, the Division went into action with the main attack by the British Fourth Army on night of the 22nd- 23rd July 1916. The Australians succeeded in capturing the village inside an hour, and continued to fight their way across the main road at the western edge of the village towards a German bunker they had named 'Gibraltar'. Only 200 yards separated the Australians from the attacks main objective, Pozieres Ridge itself.  Meanwhile the attack of the 48th Division on the German trenches west of Pozieres achieved some success. However, the main attack by the Fourth Army between Pozieres and Guillemot was a complete and costly failure.  As a consequence of being the sole British gain on 23 July, Pozieres became a focus of attention for the German artillery. The Division clung to it's gains despite almost continues enemy artillery fire and counter attacks.  When the exhausted men of the Australian 1st Division were relieved, they had suffered 5,285 casualties, so it is no wonder that the first engagement of Australian troops on the Somme became imprinted in their memories, with some veterans of the Gallipoli campaign stating "that" (Gallipoli) was a walk in the park compared to Pozieres. As can be seen from the Divisions involvement in many of the great battles of the Great War, the explanation as to why they erected their memorial here at Pozieres can be found in their records;

As the scene of the first operation on a large scale undertaken by the 1st Division in France, because of its strategical importance in the Battle of the Somme, 1916, and on account of the intensity of the fighting and gallantry shown by both sides in its capture and retention, Pozieres so impressed itself on the minds of the members of the 1st Australian Division that its selection as the site of the memorial to be erected to the fallen of the Division was unanimously endorsed.

Private or Public Monument?: Other

Name of the Private Organization or Government Entity that built this Monument: 1st Division Australian Imperial Force

Geographic Region where the Monument is located: Europe

Website for this Monument: [Web Link]

Physical Address of Monument:
First Australian Division Memorial
First Australian Division Street
Pozieres, Picarde France


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Date the Monument or Memorial was built or dedicated: Not listed

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