Monday, 5 August 2013

Fromelles to Nauroy – A Military History Book of the 31st Battalion AIF 1915-1919 By Neville Browning

Fromelles to Nauroy – A History of the 31st Battalion AIF 1915 - 1919 By Neville Browning

A dedicated Military History Book has never before been written about the 31st Battalion AIF involvement in WWI. It’s interesting to reflect as to why it has taken near a century before the Story of such a courageous band of men was told.
The Battalion was raised in August 1915 at Enoggera Brisbane with members being recruited from throughout Queensland. Two further Companies were formed at Broadmeadows in Victoria. In October 1915, the Qld and Victorian Contingents were combined at Broadmeadows before the Battalion sailed for Egypt in November.
In the post Gallipoli reconstruction of the AIF the 31st Battalion formed part of the 5th Division AIF.  During July 1916, the 31st Battalion entered the trenches on the Western Front. Being immediately, thrust into readiness for the Battle of Fromelles on the 19th July 1916. 

Battle of Fromelles and the 31st Battalion
The 31st Battalion’s advance at Fromelles was courageously undertaken by its men – their story is one that all Australians should read and be proud.
The 31st Battalion, CO Lieut.-Col. Fred W. Toll who was from Charters Towers lead from the front in the advance. Toll was a highly experienced leader who had completed two tours during the Boer War. One of which was served with the British Army and the other 2IC 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen. Earlier in WWI, he was the Major to command the 3rd Battalion of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) at Rabaul.
Sadly, the 31st Battalion suffered heavy casualties before leaving their Fromelles trenches due to Australian artillery dropping short – Toll was himself wounded in the head.

Fred Toll wrote of the 31st Battalion advance at the Fromelles:
Many officers were struck down in the early stage together with senior NCOs and in many instances were without leaders. Our wire was well cut and there was no difficulty in getting through. No-man’s land was fairly easy to cross, although badly cut up by large carters and ditches full of water. No Man’s land was swept mostly by MG fire. The enemy’s first line was won and thoroughly cleared, many Germans were killed and prisoners taken…The remainder [of the 31st Battalion] swept on with the intention of capturing the second and third trenches…but we went on but no trace could be found of the same….’
Toll and his staff advanced another 400 yards which was probably the furthest Australians went forward
Fred Toll center pictured with
Officers of 31st Battalion
during the Battle of Fromelles. The Battalion was under fire from the Germans on three sides and was suffering once again from being bombed by their own artillery. Further German trenches could not be located so Toll had to retire to the first German trench. Toll sent a message at 7.14 pm that ammunition was urgently required. The situation never bettered and ammunition could not be brought forward in the quantity required (the Australian ammunition dump had caught fire).   Eventually at great cost, they had to retire back to the original Australian trenches. Toll was awarded the DSO medal for his gallant command of the 31st Battalion at Fromelles. The Battle of Fromelles was a disaster for the 31st Battalion suffering 572 casualties, over half of its strength. Due to the Fromelles loss, the Battalion did not take part in another major battle until September 1917 at Polygon Wood where the 31st Bn soldier Paddy Bugden was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross medal.

The Battalion participated in the Battle of Ameins on 8 August 1918 and the following attacks on the Hindenburg Line and Villers-Carbonnel. The 31st Bn fought its last major action of the war in September 1918 when the 5th and 3rd Australian Divisions, and two American divisions attacked the Hindenburg Line located on top of the St Quentin Canal tunnel near Nauroy.

The author, Neville Browning is a highly experienced Australian Military Author. He has written a large detailed history. Like all his books,
FROMELLES TO NAUROY is superbly produced to the highest standards - 464 pages printed on higher quality anti-aging paper, case bound, wibelyn (cloth) covered with a dust jacket – a true collector’s volume.
Neville Browning other available military books include:
King and Cobbers: Battalion History Book of the 51st Battalion AIF WWI.
Leane's Battalion: Battalion History Book of the 48th Battalion AIF WW1.
The Blue and White Diamond: Infantry Unit History of the 28th Battalion AIFWWI.
Click to see more details
of the above military book
Fromelles to Nauroy – 31st Battalion AIF 1915 - 1919 By Neville Browning

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Fighting 13th Battalion - The Military History Book of the Boy Colonel Battalion AIF 1914-18

FIGHTING THIRTEENTH The History of the 13th Battalion A.I.F.  by Captain Thomas A.White.
General John Monash wrote of this Battalion, ‘In no other unit in the AIF was the spirit of Unit consciousness stronger than in the 13th Battalion. It is a golden example of patriotic duty. Its record for service, for discipline for distinguished achievement stands second to none other. This book is the story of its birth, its training and its war life. Battle scarred as is its record, it came out of the ordeal with the highest battle honours….
13th Battalion Book
The Author, Captain Thomas Alexander White was married and near 30 years old when he joined the AIF on the 17th June 1916. He had completed a degree at Sydney University and prior to the war was a teacher. During his time at Sydney University he had joined the University Scouts and the 13th Battalion Militia. Men of such academic and military background were keenly sought by the AIF.  Therefore, upon joining he attained an Officer’s commission of a 2nd Lieutenant. He was a Bombing Officer and while out of the line a Billets Officer with the Battalion. At Villers Bretonneax on the 20th May 1918, he was wounded by a bomb dropped from a German aircraft.  He remained with the 13th Battalion throughout WWI.
He returned to Australia in 1919 and continued his teaching career as Headmaster at Gresford Public School. Gresford is a rural town located northwest of Newcastle in NSW. In 1921, he published a military book of his war experiences titled, “Diggers Abroad”. He completed writing this history in 1923. He died in 1962.

The 13th Bn first saw active service at Gallipoli where it took part in the famous Landing on 25th April 1915. The Battalion was actively engaged in the defence of Anzac, the Chessboard attack and the August Offensive Battle of Sari Bair. On the Western Front the Fighting 13th Bn suffered heavy losses during theBattle of the Somme 1916 where it fought at Pozieres, Mouguet Farm  and Stormy Trench. It was a
13th Battalion Book
13th Battalion 1917 Article
Sydney Morning Herald
frontline attacking Battalion at 1st Battle of Bullecourt and took part in the Battle of Messines, Polygon Woods and on the 4th July 1918 Monash’s brilliant capture of Hamel and later the outstanding success at the

Battle of Amiens.
The Victoria Cross Medal for supreme gallantry was awarded to two members of the Battalion, Capt. H. W. 'Mad Harry' Murray and Sgt. M. V. Buckley.
' Mad Harry ' Murray VC CMG DSO (Bar) DCM Croix de Guerre was also distinguished as the most decorated soldier in the British Allied infantry in WWI.
At the end of World War One the 13th Battalion had suffered casualties of 1,090
killed and 2,128 wounded.

The 13th Battalion Members dedicated The Fighting 13th Battalion Book to two Commanders of the Battalion. They were Colonel G.J. Burnage CB VD  ‘The Gamest Old Man our First Commander’ and to the ‘Memory of our Gallant Young Colonel the late Douglas Gray Marks DSO MC Serbian Eagle’. Marks was the youngest Colonel to command a Battalion in the AIF. As fate has it, he survived the war only to drown at Palm Beach Sydney while attempting a rescue in 1920 – he was only 24 years old.
His life story is now the subject of a book titled ‘ The Boy Colonel by Will Davies.
click here for details
of the 13th Battalion History
Boy colonel will davies
Click here for details of
The Boy Colonel

Victoria’s Famous 7th Battalion Military History Books

Two Battalion Histories have been written about Victoria’s famous 7th Battalion in World War One.
The first 7th Battalion History book was published in 1933.Titled the
'Resume of Activities of the Seventh Battalion in the Great War 1914-1918 ' by A. Dean & E. Gutteridge.
The second 7th Battalion History Book,‘ Our Dear Old Battalion The story of the 7th Battalion AIF 1914-1919‘ was published in 2004 being written by Victorian Military Book author, Ron Austin.
Recent Reprint
The 1933 7th Battalion
Gutteridge was a Medical Officer with the 7th Battalion during World War One. He served with the 7th Battalion on Gallipoli and the Western Front. Dean joined the 7th Bn in July 1915 later being commissioned as a Lieutenant. He was twice wounded, at the Battle of Broodseinde in 1917 where he suffered a gunshot wound and  was later gassed. After the war he was admitted to the Bar, becoming a High Court Judge in 1949. He was Knighted in 1960 and died in 1970.

Gutteridge completed the Gallipoli section while Dean wrote the history of the Battalion’s activities on the Western Front. Although, both Authors had served with the Battalion during WWI they were somewhat disadvantaged due to the destruction of Battalion records during a bombing raid in 1918. Remembering, that the book could only be produced to the best standards available in the 1920’s / 1930’s. No doubt the Depression would have had an influence on the production of the book.
Ron Austin in the Preface to his book, ‘ Our Dear Old Battalion ‘ says that his task of writing the expanded history was made so much easier due to the 60 years of devotion to the Battalion by Bill Jamieson and his Seventh Battalion magazine called ‘Despatches’. Despatches was written by
7th Bn Aif Military book Battalion History Our Dear Old Battalion
Ron Austin's Our Dear Old Battalion
Jamieson and other members of the 7th Battalion. Not withstanding, that the magnificent collection of Australian War Memorial is available to todays researchers. Computer printing techniques obviously allow for low cost reproduction of photographs. Not to forget, Ron Austin’s dedication, knowledge and experience as a military book author. Thus the ‘ Our Dear Old Battalion ‘ Battalion History is greatly expanded in detail including numerous photographs, maps, and complete rolls. Appendix include POW Roll, Honour Roll, Medal Awards Roll, Citizen Enlistments Roll, Nominal Roll, and is fully Indexed.

Why compare buy both of these military books ! 

Short 7th Battalion AIF Anzac WWI  History.
Australia declared war with Germany on the 4th August 1914.  A patriotic fever had gripped the nation. The newly formed Australian Imperial Force (AIF) quickly organised the already existing local Militia/Citizen Military Forces, AMF units to join the AIF.
Lieut-Colonel Harold E. Elliott was given command of the 7th Battalion AIF. Elliott from Ballarat, had been awarded for gallantry with a DCM medal during the Boer War.  He was said to be as ‘straight as a rule’, outspoken, intensely headstrong, a dour fighter and was well known for his impulsive nature.
As a Commander he was loved by his men who nicknamed him Pompey Elliott.
The newly formed 7th Battalion was a Victorian Battalion, with members coming from Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Echuca, Bacchus Marsh, Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley with several companies coming from the inner suburbs of Melbourne.
Training was carried out at Broadmeadows Camp, on the 20th October 1914 the Battalion set sail for England as part of the 1st Contingent. During the trip over, it was decided for several reasons, that the AIF should be based in Egypt. Further desert training was undertaken for several months.
battalion landing at gallipoli
In preparation for the Gallipoli Landing the 7th Battalion arrived at Lemnos Island on the 11th April 1915. Here the Battalion trained embarking and disembarking from rowboats.  The Battalion’s landing at Gallipoli was made around 5.30am on the 25th April 1915.  About an hour after the 3rd Brigade had landed.
The Battalion was to secure the northern or left flank of Anzac Cove.
A tragedy occurred when B Company rowboats, making for the Fisherman’s Hut, came under heavy fire from rifle and machine gun. In one boat, carrying 140 men only 16 made it ashore. Those 16 then made a gallant bayonet charge against the Turkish trench – they succeeded in taking the trench.
At 8.30 am Pompey Elliott was shot in the ankle and was forced to retire (the very boot that Elliott was wearing that morning is located in the Australian War Memorial). 
On the 8th May 1915 the Battalion took part in the Charge on Krithia. It was 7th Battalion men that  Brigade Commander McCay led forward crying “Come On Australians!”. The machine gun fire was so fierce that 7th Battalion soldiers were seen going forward holding their spade in front as a shield.
The Battalion had sustained heavy losses the strength being only 8 officers and 366 men.
Elliott, recovered from his wounds, returned to Command the 7th Battalion on the 3rd June 1915.

7th Battalion VC Action At Battle Lone Pine
7th Battalion VC
Action At
Battle Lone Pine
On the 9th August 1915, during the Battle of Lone Pine the Battalion was distinguished when four members, Corporal Alexander Burton, Corporal William Dunstan, Lieutenant Frederick Tubb and Lieutenant William Symons were awarded the Victoria Cross.