Following Britain's declaration of war on Germany on 4 August 1914, Australia and the other members of the British Empire became automatically involved, with Prime Minister Joseph Cook stating on 5 August 1914 that "...when the Empire is at war, so also is Australia."
The 10th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. The battalion was recruited in South Australia, and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions, formed the 3rd Brigade.
10th Battalion Colour Patch courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
The battalion was raised within weeks of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked for overseas just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving in early December.
Lines of the 9th and 10th Battalions at Mena Camp, Egypt, December 1914, looking towards the Pyramids. The soldier in the foreground is playing with a kangaroo, the regimental mascot. (Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial).
The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 and so was the first ashore at around 4:30 am. Two soldiers of the 10th Battalion, Lance Corporal Philip Robin and Private Arthur Blackburn, are believed to have penetrated further inland than any other Australians at Anzac. Robin was killed later on 28 April and Blackburn soldiered on to be commissioned as an officer and awarded the Victoria Cross at Pozières, the battalion’s first major battle in France. The 10th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac position, and served there until the evacuation in December.
After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the 10th Battalion returned to Egypt and, in March 1916, sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918, the battalion took part in bitter trench warfare. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley in July. After Pozières the battalion fought at Ypres in Flanders before returning to the Somme for winter. In 1917, the battalion returned to Belgium to take part in the major British offensive of that year - the Third Battle of Ypres. For his valorous actions at Polygon Wood east of Ypres in September 1917, Private Roy Inwood was awarded the Victoria Cross. His brother Robert had been killed at Pozières and another brother, Harold, had been badly wounded and invalided to Australia in November 1917.
In March and April 1918 the 10th Battalion helped stop the German spring offensive and was then involved in the operations leading up to the Allied counter-stroke. In June, during an attack near Merris in France, Corporal Phillip Davey became the third member of the battalion to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Davey had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery near Messines in January. His brothers Claude and Richard were also members of the battalion and both had been awarded Military Medals in 1917.
The battalion participated in the great allied offensive of 1918, fighting near Amiens on 8 August 1918. This advance by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff described as “the black day of the German Army in this war”.
The battalion continued operations until late September 1918. At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent. In November 1918, members of the AIF began returning to Australia. At 8 am on 5 September 1919, the final detachment of the 10th Battalion arrived at Adelaide, aboard the transport Takada.
By the end of the war 2,136 South Australians were wounded in action and 1,015 never returned home.
The 10th Battalion was trained at Morphettville Racecourse. After 4 weeks of basic training the Battalion was presented to the people of South Australia for the first time. In mid September 1914 the 4 week old 10th Battalion marched from Morphettville to Glenelg to be inspected by the South Australian Governor General Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Galway, KCMG DSO. The people of Adelaide cheered their men.
It was this event that the Veteran Car Club of South Australia was asked to assist in the 100th anniversary reinactment. About 60 troops representing the 10th Battalion and elements of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment (another South Australian regiment) gathered at the former training ground at Morphettville Racecourse. Together with about a dozen ANZAC nurses they marched and rode to Glenelg to remember the occasion. Once more, our Governor General His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le, AO "inspected" our troops.
The story of our ANZAC Nurses has only just begun to be told with the making of a wonderful series called “ANZAC Girls” just aired on our ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission).
They too were amazing members of our armed forces. Amongst many other organisations, the Veteran Car Club of South Australia proudly had a number of period vehicles used in the series.
Reinactments are probably the same all over the world. Morphettville Racecourse once more woke to the sound of the bugle and the raising of our flag.
An ANZAC Nurse, a part of their brave story has just been told in the TV series "ANZAC Girls". Sorry, I could not help myself for a photo. This lovley "nurse" came from Mount Gambier to help in the celebrations.
Our job on the day for the Veteran Car Club was to take the ANZAC Nurses to save them marching the 2½ miles to Glenelg.
Two beautiful ANZAC nurses and a private soldier all came from Melbourne to assist in the weekend. The soldier sat in the middle and kept "chatting up" the nurses!! The crowds loved it.
Elements representing the 3rd Light Horse Regiment lining up on ANZAC Highway prior to marching in to the parade. Some of the horses were a little frisky, one in particular did not like the car horns!!! Yes, we did run over some horse poo. My wife is an ex-racing strapper and says running over the horse poo is "good luck". In that case then we managed to snare a heap of it!!!
ANZAC nurses are sneaky women. Here is one taking a photo of me when I was taking a photo of her! No nonsense in her ward I bet!!!
Formed up on the parade ground for "inspection". Only sworn in 2 weeks ago, our new South Australian Governor General His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le, AO represented "King & Country".
A corporal from the 10th and a 3rd Light Horse Trooper posed with the cars.
It was a great day and well worth the effort. We had lots of fun helping celebrate this anniversary of such an auspicious occasion.
Lest we forget.
Thank you for posting this, David. My great-uncle was killed in April 1917 with the 5th Infantry Battalion (Canada) at Vimy Ridge. The Commonwealth countries gave much in that war. So many people have no idea any more.
Dick many of the CEF records are available, or soon will become available online. I downloaded my great uncle's entire service record. He was wounded three times at the Somme.
My great-uncle was also killed in the Great War. He was a merchant marine officer, James U. McBain (Scotland, another Commonwealth country that is still trying for independence), and was torpedoed within sight of the coast of Newfoundland. I have his BWM, MMM and death penny
I'm wondering if they checked to see if all those SMLE's were made at Lithgow or OA ???
I watched ANZAC Girls on the ABC, great series, highly recommended to all that can see, download or buy.
Hopefully all the rifles were Lithgow Small Arms.
Cheers, Paul (Lithgow)