The 1st Battalion was the first infantry unit recruited for the AIF in New South Wales during the First World War.

The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. The battalion took part in the Anzac landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves, and served there until the evacuation in December. Its most notable engagement at Gallipoli was the battle of Lone Pine in August. Two members of the battalion, Captain A. J. Shout and Lieutenant L.M. Keysor were awarded Victoria Crosses for their valour at Lone Pine, Captain Shout posthumously.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the battalion returned to Egypt. In March 1916, it sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918 the battalion took part in operations against the German Army, principally in the Somme Valley in France and around Ypres in Belgium. At Bullecourt in May 1917, Corporal G. J. Howell became the third member of the battalion to be awarded the Victoria Cross. The battalion participated in the battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. This advance by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff described as “the black day of the German Army in this war”.

The battalion continued operations until late September 1918. At 11 am on 11 November, 1918, the guns fell silent. The November armistice was followed by the peace treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919. Between November 1918 and May 1919 the men of the 1st Battalion returned to Australia for demobilisation and discharge.

Colour Patch

Colour patch for 1st Battalion

Glossary

Battle Honours

Battle Honours source: Australian Army Orders (112), 1927. Army Head-Quarters, 9 March 1927. 'Award of Battle Honours for the Great War to Cavalry and Infantry Units.'

Casualties

  • 1165 killed, 2363 wounded (including gassed)

For more information please see the Roll of Honour, Wounded and Missing, First World War Nominal Roll and Embarkation Roll databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 3 VC
  • 2 CMG
  • 7 DSO, 1 bar
  • 40 MC, 1 bar
  • 29 DCM
  • 131 MM
  • 9 MSM
  • 57 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • AWM4/23/18/1: August 1914 - June 1915 unit diary
  • 1st Battalion AIF Historical Committee, the history of the First Battalion AIF 1914-1919 (Sydney: James J. Lee 1931).
  • D.J. Blair, Dinkum diggers: an Australian battalion at war (Carlton; Melbourne University Press, 2001).