Regiments/units involved Australia’s 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions and Britain’s 48th Division
Pozieres is a small village in the valley of the Somme and is the resting place of many Australian soldiers who fought in the Battle of Pozieres. This was a very important battle because Pozieres Ridge was a prime, first-rate observation point to the surrounding countryside.
The BEF ( British Expeditionary Force) had already tried five times to capture Pozieres – without success and the task was then given to the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions, with the help of the British 48th division, hoping that it would fall in a day, however after two weeks of tiresome fighting and many casualties it was finally seized.
The actual capture of Pozieres went from 23rd July to 7th August 1916, even though it was intended to be captured on the first day of battle. The initial attack began at 12.30 am in which the Australians seized the German front line then went on to reach the main road through Pozieres. The rest of Pozières fell on the night of 23rd –24th July and further gains were made on the night of 24th –25th July.
The real trouble was when the Germans started to react to the seizure of Pozieres. They concentrated the bulk of their artillery on the Australians, which resulted in many losses.
In five days the Australian first division suffered 5285 casualties, killed and wounded, so by the 27th July the 2nd Division had to take over.
The overall commander of British operations in this sector, General Sir Hubert Gough, now ordered the 2nd Division to take the Old German (OG) lines on Pozières heights. The attack commenced at 12.15 am on 29th July but the German machine-gunners were ready and their fire was terrific. The attack, except on the right flank, failed at a cost of 3500 casualties.
Despite the losses, Major General Legge, the commander of the 2nd Division , asked that his men attack again, rather than be withdrawn after failure. Eventually the Australians advanced, in the attack, to be almost among their own falling shells which meant the Germans had insufficient time to leave their dugouts and set up their machine guns. The Australians captured a windmill that stood on an artillery-torn hummock, enabling them to overlook the German defensive positions.
However because the casualties were so great the 2nd Division had to be relieved by the 4th Division The 4th Division then defeated the German counter-attack, with ease, as all of Pozieres, and the high ground surrounding it, was held.
The claiming of Pozieres was a great victory, and is primarily seen as an Australian battle because the attacks were mainly made by Aussies. However this was a very costly battle, as the casualties suffered were around 23, 000. Compared to the amount of soldiers that the Australians had started with, this was a significant loss and thus will be a battle that will always be remembered.
The Granite Belt of Southern QLD also has a township called Pozieres; this started as one of the soldier settlement programmes following WW1.Pozieres area includes Bullecourt and Fleurbaix and is approximately 17 km form Stanthorpe on the Armistice Way tourist drive. It has a school that opened in 1921, and is still in use today. Our Aussie Pozieres has a population of 350 and is surrounded by orchards and vineyards, and is a very beautiful area.
Sadly, these soldier settlements were unsuccessful for a number of reasons including the ground was too hard to farm, as lots of boulders and rock surround the area, a lack of water supply, lack of support to the new farmers and then eventually the great depression.
Photograph: The village of Pozieres, via the Rue de Bapaume, 25 August 1914.
Taken from google images – Website: http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/1883642/pozieres-france-july-23-to-august-5-1916/
Photograph: The village of Pozieres after the Battle, August 1916.
Taken from Google Images – Website: http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/1883642/pozieres-france-july-23-to-august-5-1916/
Photograph: This is the site where the Pikedale railway passed through, obviously named after the French Pozieres. Signs from the town stations still exist at Bapaume, Amiens, Passchendaele, Messines and Bullecourt.
Photograph: The local school again named for the Pozieres over in France. Yes, it was wet and rainy, thus why I don’t look too impressed.
Australian War Memorial - document
First World War.com – document http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/pozieres.htm
Australian’s on the Western Front – document http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/battlefields/pozieres-july-august-1916.html
The Battle of Pozieres – document http://historywarsweapons.com/the-battle-of-pozieres/