ENTRENCHED: Australian troops waiting for their orders while in their trench. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony
Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 19-25 March 1917
BAPAUME CAPTUREDThe British have captured Bapaume. Field-marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commander, reports: “Bapaume has been captured after stiff fighting with the German rearguards. The town has been systematically pillaged by the enemy, who destroyed private houses and public buildings, and carried off or burnt everything of value. Our advance proceeded rapidly. Astride of the Somme, southwards of the river, we entered the enemy position on a sixteen miles front, and occupied Fresnes, Horgny, Villers, Carbonnel, Barleux, Eterpigny, and La Maisonette. Northwards of the river, in addition to Bapaume, we hold Le Transloy, Biefvillers, Bihucourt, Achiet le Grand, Achiet le Petit, Ablainzeville, Bucquoy, and Essarts, and also Quesnoy Farm, 1500 yards south-westward of the Iastnamed, and gained the western and north-western defences of Monchy au Bois. We carried out successful raids eastward and northward of Arras, reaching the support line. Our aeroplanes encountered sixteen of the enemy, and broke up the hostile formation in twenty minutes. They destroyed two German machines, and drove down two damaged. All ours returned.”
FIRST TO ENTER BAPAUMEA cable message announcing that the Australian troops were the first to enter Bapaume was received in the first instance by the Commonwealth Government, from Mr Long, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who was requested to send it by Field-marshal, Sir Douglas Haig. It is as follows: March 17th. “This morning the Australian troops fought their way into Bapaume. The casualties were very slight, but in order that the splendid successes already gained by the Australian Forces in the war may be continued right to the end, all ranks hope that a steady flow of reinforcements may be obtained.”
DESTRUCTION IN PERONNEMr Philip Gibbs, the Daily Chroniclecorrespondent, writes:“The enemy is refusing battle, and further retired to the open country east of Bapaume. Our cavalry patrols are in touch with the Uhlans on a line west of Cambrai St. Quentin. The exact location is vague, as the movement continues. Our cavalry is moving cautiously between a large number of villages, which are everywhere burning with widespread destruction. Everything is being done to impede pursuit. Bridges are being destroyed and trees in the streets are being cut down, forming barricades. The houses were wantonly ignited, and were burning fiercely when the British entered Peronne.”
REINFORCEMENTS NEEDEDNews from the western front shows that the Australian divisions are playing a great part in the operations there. It was the Australians who first entered Bapaume, and it is evident that they are being given a big share of the fighting in the forward movement of the Allies. They are given that position because, from the first day they landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula they have proved themselves to be troops of great courage and resource. All sections of the community must feel honoured when the cable messages are read. The best way to reciprocate is for the energy of the nation to be used in securing and equipping reinforcements. It is evident that during the coming European summer the operations of the Allies are to be on a scale of unprecedented magnitude. That means that the physical strain must be greater and the casualties much more numerous than during the comparative quiet of the winter months. Those who read with admiration of the deeds of the Australians on the western front should remember that thousands of the men who bear the burden today, enlisted in the very early days of the war, and that they have been fighting ever since the landing at Gallipoli. To ease the strain there must be reinforcements. The fit and eligible man who refuses to enlist says in effect that he is quite prepared to let these men continue to bear the burden almost to breaking point so that he may enjoy his leisure in Australia. It is impossible to escape from that position. The refusal of the eligible men to go to the assistance of those now at the front vastly increases the burden placed on every officer and man of the Australian divisions. There is a false feeling abroad in the Commonwealth that reinforcements are not needed. Some people actually say that the man who stays behind and produces foodstuffs is rendering a greater service to the Empire than if he went to the front. The place where the fit man can render the best service is where the fighting is to be done. That is where the call comes from, and it is made by Australians who have borne so much.
LIEUTENANT HARRIS, MCLieutenant Harris, MC, a returned officer, is endeavouring to raise a reinforcement company of 150 recruits to take with him to the front, on his return there. The men in this unit will be trained together, will embark together, and will, as far as the exigencies of war will permit, fight together. Lieutenant Harris is a married man, with family responsibilities, and one who has “done his bit,” Yet he is anxious to return to the seat of war as early as possible. He will be in Newcastle on Monday, and will speak at night in front of the post-office. Lieutenant Harris is attached to the 54th Battalion, to which many men of the Newcastle district belong, and it is felt that he can make a strong appeal for recruits at the present juncture.
BRITISH ADVANCEField-marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the west front, reports: “We advanced rapidly south-eastward and eastward of Peronne, reaching points ten miles eastward of the Somme, and occupied another forty villages in this area. The enemy is developing considerable resistance at a number of places between Nurlu and Arras, but the rearguards were steadily expelled from their positions. Our progress continues. We carried out successful raids eastward of Arras, and north-eastward of Nouville St. Vaast, and repulsed a raiding party eastward of the latter. The enemy blew up a mine south-eastward of Ypres, damaging his own trenches.”
THE GERMAN MOVEA special correspondent of the Central News says: “The real nature of the German move in the west is slowly becoming apparent. The first object is a new orientation of the front south of Lille, giving a more southerly aspect. Military experts favour the theory that there will be a still more extensive straightening of the line, with a fresh German effort in Flanders, but they are unlikely to sacrifice the advantages which the possession of the railheads in Laon and Montmedy confer.
LATE SERGT-MAJOR HILLIERThe following is an extract from a letter received by Mr W. Scott, of Scott’s, Ltd, from his brother-in-law, Lieutenant R. P. Walker, serving with the troops in France:“You will have heard by now of Major Sneddon’s serious wounds, and the death of A Company’s Sergeant-major Hillier. He was a well-known Newcastle lad, I believe, and well respected in the battalion. He was an honest, straight, clean living youth, and his loss will be felt very much. I was able to arrange a party to attend his funeral. I had to get special permission, as this is against regulations; but my representations were respected, and I took charge of a party of 20 of his best pals. Will you please convoy to Sergeant-major Hillier’s parents my deepest sympathy. He died as game as any man ever did, and was assisting the sergeant-major who relieved our company much longer than was the usual case. His devotion to duty was the reason of his being cut off so soon.”
NSW FIELD FORCE FUNDThe committee of the NSW Field Force Fund (Newcastle subdivision of the Australian Comforts Fund) makes an urgent appeal for socks, clothing, and handkerchiefs for the troops. Much has been sent from Australia, but, unfortunately, there is not enough to reach every man every time; therefore, united effort is necessary in order to keep the men in good health and spirits. The whole output of the Field Force depot is sent for “general distribution,” and Mr Budden, the ACF Commissioner, says that cases so marked reach the front sooner than cases marked for a special battalion or unit. Though the committee, if so desired, will send eases earmarked for any unit, all those who so contribute are urged to confine such gifts to games, literature, or groceries, and to send socks, etc, for general distribution.
TOBACCO FUND“Something to smoke” is the comfort frequently asked for in letters from the front. The demand of our ever-increasing army and navy for tobacco is enormous; the Australian Imperial Force alone requires £1500 worth daily. The Southern Cross Tobacco Fund, organised by the Overseas Club, is praiseworthily continuing its efforts to meet the needs of soldiers on active service, but these are now so extensive that the management are forced to make a more general appeal to the friends of the nation’s fighting men for the assistance that will enable them to continue forwarding the parcels that are received by those in the trenches and elsewhere with the greatest delight. The fund is as broad as the Empire itself. Wherever a British soldier or sailor is to be found, his heart is gladdened by the kindly thoughts of his friends as he smokes his pipe or cigarette, which helps him to forget his weariness. More than a million and half gift parcels have already been sent to the firing line by the Overseas Club, whose aim is to keep up the supplies during the whole time the war lasts. The destination of all parcels is left entirely to the donor. They can be sent to any British regiment or Australian, New Zealand, or other overseas contingent serving at the front, and for every shilling donation, actually 3s worth of tobacco is sent. The tobacco and cigarettes are manufactured in bond, and admitted everywhere free of duty. Every penny contributed is spent in actually purchasing tobacco, and the entire cost of organisation, postage, correspondence, etc., is borne by the Overseas Club Headquarters’ funds. Although any or all gifts can be ear-marked for Australian or New Zealand troops, this is intended to be an Imperial Fund for the benefit of all men on active service. Citizens can give the name of the unit for whom they desire their gifts, but in any case they should state whether their donations are intended for Imperial, Australian, or New Zealand troops.
ENLISTMENTSHarry Carroll, Glendon Brook; Horace William Clarke, Scone; Geoffrey Edward Clift, East Maitland; Randall Alva Davies, East Kurri Kurri; Leslie George Doran, Maryville; Fred Elliott, Lambton; Samuel John Evill, Merewether; William Lindsay Frances, Singleton; Ernest David Freund, Plattsburg; George William Holstein, Wards River; Hugh Humphreys, Kurri Kurri; Reginald Johns, Cooks Hill; William Edward Johns, Pelaw Main; Richard McDonald Leslie, Newcastle; John Matchett, Carrington; John Fawcett McDonald, Kurri Kurri; Cyril McGann, Cessnock; Montagu Mein Moon, Toronto; Arthur William Myers, Broadmeadow; Thomas Phillip Prince, Mayfield; Thomas Stewart, Newcastle; William John Stratten, Stockton; Peter Traynor, Newcastle; Henry Schofield Verdon, Wickham; Leslie George Walker, Dungog; Joseph Wallace, Adamstown; Charles Keith Wood, Murrurundi; Clive Charles Wynn, East Maitland.
DEATHSPte Wilfred Campbell Bailey, Cardiff; Pte Arthur John Burns, Mayfield; Pte William Henry Greenlands, Waratah; Pte Rufus Charles Lansdown, Teralba; Pte George Edward Richardson, Merewether; Pte Roy Edward Tranter, Glen Oak; Pte George Henry Turner, Singleton; Sgt Arnold Lambert Worboys, Lorn.
David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian. Follow him at facebook南京桑拿/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory