4th Field Artillery Brigade

The 4th Field Artillery Brigade was raised on 23 September 1915, following the formation of the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the raising of the 2nd Division in Egypt in 1915. It comprised of recruits from the pre-war militia’s 7th Field Artillery Brigade, based at St Kilda, Vic., and the 8th Field Artillery Brigade. The brigade went into camp at Albert Park, Melbourne, where it did its initial training. It consisted of three artillery batteries: 10, 11, and 12 Batteries.

In November the brigade embarked for overseas service and sail to Egypt, where it joined the 2nd Division and the older AIF units following the Gallipoli campaign. A fourth battery, 19 Battery, was formed from the brigade’s ammunition column. In March 1916 the brigade embarked at Alexandria for France, as the AIF moved to the Western Front.

Arriving at the port of Marseilles, the brigade travelled 800 kilometres by train to Le Havre, where it drew its 18-pounder guns and vehicles, before continuing to Armentieres, near the French - Belgium border, on 8 April. The fighting at Armentieres was not as intense as other places along the Western Front and the allies used the location as a “nursery sector” where new units could be “blooded”. In May, 19 Battery was replaced by the 104th Howitzer Battery.

The 2nd Division’s, and the 4th Field Brigade’s, first major offensive was the battle of the Somme. The Somme offensive was partly designed to relieve the pressure on the French at Verdun. The 4th was deployed south of Sausage Valley, near Pozières, in late July, where it was involved in constant action against the Germans.

In September the brigade was given some relief, as it moved to Flanders, Ypres, but in November it returned to the Somme, to the Bapaume area, ten kilometres north-east of Pozières. As the harsh winter began to set in, the brigade experienced its first gas attacks.

In March 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line and the 4th moved forward to Bullecourt. The brigade moved to Flanders in June and was in constant action to Novemeber, supporting allied attacks on Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, and then Passchendaele, as part of the Third Battle of Ypres. During this period, the brigade suffered its heaviest casualties of the war - 151 in October and 145 in November - including killed, wounded, and evacuated ill.

When the Germans launched their Spring Offensive in March 1918, the brigade supported the I Australia Corps as it absorbed the German push. When the Germans broke through to Villers-Brettoneux the next month, the 4th consequently moved to the Somme. In August, when the Australian offensive began, the brigade supported the infantry, as the I Australia Corps moved through Peronne, Mont St Quentin, Bellicourt,and the Hindenburg Line. Exhausted from combat and illness, the brigade was relieved on 18 October.

The 4th was moving through Peronne on 11 November when it received news of the Armistice. The brigade’s war diary recorded that the “news was taken quietly by the troops”.

Glossary

1st Australian Imperial Force ; 2 Division ; Battle of Amiens ; Battle of Broodseinde Ridge ; Battle of Messines ; Battle of Pozières ; First Battle for Passchendaele ; Pozières ; Somme Valley ; German Spring Offensive ; Hindenburg Line ; Third Battle of Ypres ; Western Front

    Battle Honours

    • nil

    Casualties

    • 104 died
    • 583 wounded

    For more information please see the Roll of Honour, Wounded and Missing, First World War Nominal Roll and Embarkation Roll databases.

    Commanding Officers

    Decorations

    • 1 DSO
    • 9 MC
    • 2 DCM
    • 3 MSM
    • 3MID
    • 6 foreign awards

    For more information please see Honours and Awards database

    Collection Items

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    References