46th Australian Infantry Battalion


The 46th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 24 February 1916 as part of the "doubling" of the AIF. Approximately half of its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 14th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 14th, the new battalion was composed mostly of men from Victoria, although some of the reinforcements hailed from New South Wales and Western Australia.

As part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division, the 46th Battalion arrived in France on 8 June 1916, destined for the Western Front. It participated in its first major battle at Pozieres. Initially, the battalion provided carrying parties for supplies and ammunition during the 2nd Division's attack on 4 August, and then, with its own division, defended the ground that had been captured. The 46th endured two stints in the heavily contested trenches of Pozieres, as well as a period in reserve.

After Pozieres, the battalion spent the period up until March 1917 alternating between duty in the trenches and training and rest behind the lines. On 11 April it took part in the attack mounted against the heavily defended village of Bullecourt - part of the formidable Hindenburg Line to which the Germans had retreated during February and March. Devoid of surprise, and dependent upon the support of unreliable tanks, the attack had little chance of success; after managing to fight through to it's objectives, the 46th was forced to withdraw with heavy casualties. Later in the year, the focus of the AIF's operations switched to the Ypres sector in Belgium where the 46th took part in the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

The 46th rotated in and out of the front line throughout the winter of 1917-18. In the spring of 1918, it played a role in turning the great German offensive by defeating attacks around Dernancourt in the first days of April. During the Allied offensive that commenced in August, the 46th also played an active part, fighting in the battle of Amiens on 8 August and in the battle to secure the Hindenburg "outpost line" on 18 September. The battalion was out of the line when the war ended on 11 November, and disbanded in April 1919.

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