German gas alarm klaxon captured at Suzanne : 39 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bray Proyart Area, Suzanne
Accession Number RELAWM04083
Collection type Technology
Object type Technology
Physical description Steel
Maker Unknown
Place made Germany
Date made c 1916-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Heavy duty, cast steel klaxon, comprising a heavy base with three mounting holes and a rising neck with a square profile locating hole. This hole accepts a long square lug from the gear unit, and is held in place with a hexagonal bolt. The gear unit is in two pieces - a cast, shaped rear, containing the gears, pivot point and winding shaft housing. A steel shaft or axle exits from the rear of the housing; this is missing its handle. An oil or grease nipple with pivoting dust cover is mounted at the top of the shaft housing. The front section closes the gear unit and mounts a heavy cast horn with six square cut-outs at the mounting end. Contained at this end is a rotating metal disc, bolted to the shaft, with six blocks around its circumference, spaced so that they alternatively block and reveal the horn cut-outs. A second oil or grease nipple on a long shaft, also with a pivoting dust cover, is located in a space over the forward end of the shaft, between the horn and housing.

Painted in white paint on the base are the words 'Captured at Suzanne by 39th Battn AIF 26/8/18'. The words 'Captured by 39th Batt AIF' are painted inside the horn in black paint.

History / Summary

This heavy duty gas alarm klaxon forms part of a collection of enemy equipment captured by 39 Battalion, AIF on 26 August 1918 during operations in the Suzanne area.

The capture was part of a rolling series of assaults made by the Australian Divisions along the Somme Valley heading eastwards during August 1918. The German Army was fighting a series of withdrawals under lowering morale and high casualty rates. The town of Bray was captured on 24-25 August and the German withdrew towards Suzanne and Ceylon Wood. The task of capturing the small peninsula defined by a bend in the Somme River, with Cappy at its southern point and Suzanne on its eastern side was assigned to 10 Brigade (37, 39 and 40 Battalions) and 11 Brigade (42, 43 and 44 Battalions), with 10 Brigade to the south, on 25 August. The brigade attacked behind a creeping barrage and met little resistance -'we walked slowly most of the time' reported Captain Lewis of 44 Battalion. (Bean Vol VI p 765)

The assault's middle section was meant to halt outside Suzanne, but as Charles Bean stated, so 'impressed by the enemy's disorganisation' was Australian Command that they decided to press ahead and take Maricourt to the northeast. Brief resistance was met at Ceylon Wood, but posed no threat. By 9 am on 26 August, 39 Battalion had sent patrols through the village of Suzanne and discovered it almost deserted, with German posts just beyond it. 37 Battalion then passed through 39 Battalion's positions to secure Vaux and Murray Woods, just to the east - they flushed out several hundred Germans who attempted to retreat back north across the Suzanne - Maricourt Valley. Maricourt was taken two days later, as the Australians approached Mont St Quentin.

The material captured at Suzanne was handed over to the Australian War Records Section on 27 September 1918 - there were seven groups of equipment, including a German sign board, a lamp, gas bell (see RELAWM04082), a 'bundle' of bayonets, five German rifles, and a Russian rifle.