29th Australian Infantry Battalion
|The 29th Battalion was raised as part of the 8th Brigade at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria on 10 August 1915. Having enlisted as part of the recruitment drive that followed the landing at Gallipoli, and having seen the casualty lists, these were men who had offered themselves in full knowledge of their potential fate. |
The 8th Brigade joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt and proceeded to France, destined for the Western Front, in June 1916. The 29th Battalion fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. The nature of this battle was summed up by one 29th soldier: "the novelty of being a soldier wore off in about five seconds, it was like a bloody butcher's shop". Although it still spent periods in the front line, the 29th played no major offensive role for the rest of the year.
In early 1917, the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, allowing the British front to be advanced. The Germans, however, made selected stands to delay this advance and the 28th Battalion was involved in defeating a counter-attack at Beaumetz on 23 March. The battalion subsequently missed the heavy fighting to breach the Hindenburg Line during the second battle of Bullecourt as the 8th Brigade was deployed to protect the Division's flank. The only large battle in 1917 in which the 29th Battalion played a major role was Polygon Wood, fought in the Ypres sector in Belgium on 26 September.
Unlike some AIF battalions, the 29th had a relatively quiet time during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 as the 5th Division was in reserve for a lot of the time. When the Allies took to the offensive again, the 29th fought in a minor attack at Morlancourt on 29 July, and then in August and September took part in the great advance that followed the battle of Amiens. The 29th fought its last major action in September when the 5th and 3rd Australian Divisions, and two American divisions attacked the Hindenburg Line across the top of the 6-kilometre-long St Quentin Canal tunnel; the canal was a major obstacle in the German defensive scheme. The offensive of 1918, however, had strained the AIF almost to breaking point. On 12 October the 29th Battalion was disbanded to provide reinforcements for other 8th Brigade units.
|Related conflicts||First World War, 1914-1918|
|Decorations||3 DSO, 1 bar; 1 MBE; 20 MC; 17 DCM; 94 MM, 3 bars; 3 MSM; 17 MID; 5 foreign awards|