24th Australian Infantry Battalion
|The 24th Battalion was raised in a hurry. The original intent was to raise the fourth battalion of the 6th Brigade from the "outer states", but a surplus of recruits at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria lead to a decision being made to raise it there. The battalion was formed during the first week of May 1915, and sailed from Melbourne at the end of that week. |
Training shortfalls were made up in Egypt in July and August, and on 4 September 1915 the Battalion went ashore at Gallipoli. It spent the next 16 weeks sharing duty in the Lone Pine trenches with the 23rd Battalion. The fighting at Lone Pine was so dangerous and exhausting that battalions rotated every day. While the bulk of the battalion was at Gallipoli, a small party of 52, trained as packhorse handlers, served with the British force in Salonika.
The Battalion was reunited in Egypt in early 1916 and proceeded to France in March. It took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July and August 1917. The Battalion got little rest during the bleak winter of 1916-17 alternating between the front and labouring tasks. When patrolling no-man's land the men of the 24th adopted a unique form of snow camouflage - large white nighties bought in Amiens.
In May 1917 the battalion participated in the successful, but costly, second battle of Bullecourt. It was involved for only a single day ' 3 May ' but suffered almost 80 per cent casualties. The AIF's focus for the rest of the year was the Ypres sector in Belgium, and the 24th's major engagement there was the seizure of Broodseinde Ridge.
Like many AIF battalions, the 24th was very weak at the beginning of 1918, but still played its part in turning back the German offensive in April. When the Allies took to the offensive, the 24th fulfilled supporting roles during the battles of Hamel and Amiens. At Mont St Quentin, however, it played a major role by recapturing the main German strong point atop the summit on 1 September. A diorama at the Australian War Memorial depicts this attack.
The battalion's last battles of the war were at Beaurevoir on 3 October and Montbrehain on 5 October. It left the front line for the last time on 6 October 1918 and disbanded in May 1919.
|Related conflicts||First World War, 1914-1918|
|Decorations||1 VC; 1 CB; 6 DSO, 1 bar; 1 OBE; 1 MBE; 29 MC, 3 bars; 23 DCM, 1 bar; 127 MM, 12 bars; 7 MSM; 31 MID; 7 foreign awards|