35th Australian Infantry Battalion
The 35th Battalion was formed in December 1915 in Newcastle, New South Wales. The bulk of the battalion's recruits were drawn from the Newcastle region and thus it was dubbed "Newcastle's Own". Reflecting the demographics of the area, there were a high proportion of miners among the battalion's original members.
The 35th Battalion became part of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division. It left Sydney, bound for the United Kingdom in May 1916. Arriving there in early July, the battalion spent the next four months training. It crossed to France in late November, and moved into the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 26 November, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17.
The battalion had to wait until the emphasis of British and Dominion operations switched to the Ypres Sector of Belgium in mid-1917 to take part in its first major battle; this was the battle of Messines, launched on 7 June. The 35th's next major battle was around Passchendaele on 12 October. Heavy rain, though, had deluged the battlefield, and thick mud tugged at the advancing troops and fouled their weapons. The battle was a disaster for the 35th; 508 men crossed the start line but only 90 remained unwounded at the end.
For the next five months the 35th alternated between periods of rest, training, labouring, and service in the line. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in the spring of 1918, the battalion was part of the force deployed to defend the approaches to Amiens around Villers-Bretonneux. It took part in a counter-attack at Hangard Wood on 30 March, and helped to defeat a major drive on Villers- Bretonneux on 4 April. The desperate nature of the fighting at this time is revealed by the fact that the 35th Battalion suffered nearly 70 per cent casualties during these operations.
Later in 1918, the 35th also played a role in the Allies' own offensive. It took part in the battle of Amiens on 8 August; fought several small battles during the rapid advance that followed; and at the end of September provided reserves for the joint Australian-American operation that breached the Hindenburg Line, thus sealing Germany's defeat. The 35th Battalion disbanded in March 1919.
|Conflict||First World War, 1914-1918|