This year, 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the first commemoration of Anzac Day as well as the 1916 campaign
on the Western Front. The following battles are covered in
greater depth in Section 4 of this publication.
7 April 1916—the Australians, having recovered in Egypt from
the rigours of service at Gallipoli, reach the Western Front and take up
positions at Armentieres, France.
19–20 July 1916—the first battle for the Australians on the
Western Front was the Battle
of Fromelles. It resulted in 5,533 Australians being killed or wounded, and
rendered the 5th Australian Division incapable of offensive action for many
23 July–7 August 1916—the first protracted battle for the
Australians on the Western Front was Pozieres (part of the Somme battlefield). There were more than 17,000 Australian casualties
from the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Division in the course of this battle.
3–4 August 1916—whilst the Australian infantry deployed to
France in 1916, the Light Horse remained in Egypt. The Battle of Romani, Egypt,
involving the Australian Light Horse,
finally put a stop to the Turkish threat to the Suez Canal. After Romani, the Allies
went on the offensive and, led by the Australian Light Horse, reached Gaza and
Beersheeba (in Palestine) by early 1917.
22 November 1916—in the winter of 1916–17 the 3rd Australian
Division, under the command of the legendary Australian General, Sir John
Monash, arrives in France from England to join its fellow Australian divisions
in the line in Flanders.
1916 Anzac Day commemorations
The first Anzac Day was commemorated by members of the AIF
in various parts of the world as much as it was in Australia, but circumstances
often meant a different approach to commemoration.
personnel serving in Egypt
diaries indicate that for the AIF units serving at Serapeum in Egypt, the anniversary
of Anzac Day was commemorated with a memorial service held at 7 am, followed by
a full day holiday of sports and swimming at the Suez Canal. Participants
included the 4th, 8th and 12th Infantry Brigades and the 13th, 14th and 51st Infantry Battalions. Of those attending, the 12th Infantry Brigade’s diary
entry was the most detailed, stating:
Anzac Day. Memorial service at 700, after which a whole holiday.
Most of the Brigade went to the canal to attend water sports. Brigade
competitions held in the morning, Divisional in the afternoon. The Brigade
carried off 5 prizes out of 12 events. The day was fine. There was a great
gathering of Australian troops on the banks of the Canal, which afforded a
unique sight. The Prince of Wales and the Army Corps Commander attended the
sports; the latter gave away the prizes.
personnel serving on the Western Front
The diary entries of AIF units in Belgium and northern
France for 25 April 1916 revealed further varying responses to the Anzac
anniversary. At Steenwerck in northern France, the 7th and 8th Infantry Battalions participated in sports following an inspection by the
General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1st Australian Division. The 7th Infantry
The GOC, 1st Australian Division inspected 7th Battalion on
this birthday of ours. It is hard to realize that is 12 months ago today that
Australians made such a name for themselves on that pitiless shore of Anzac and
this glowing regiment of ours lost its finest, bravest and best men. Greetings
were received from different people from all parts of the globe.
At Sailly sur la Lys, also in northern France, the 9th, 11th and 12th Infantry Battalions also commemorated Anzac Day with an inspection by the
British General Herbert Plumer and an address by Brigadier-General
Ewen George Sinclair-Maclagan, who himself landed at Gallipoli on 25 April
the year before with the 9th Battalion. That Battalion’s diary also recorded that Company sports were held in the afternoon, with £50 in total prize money
Other units at the frontline trenches made no mention of the
Anzac Day anniversary in their diary entries. For example, the 20th Infantry
Battalion at Bois Grenier in northern France, simply remarked ‘In front trenches. Improvement of defences continued. Aerial activity. Three …
wounded’. The 23rd Infantry Battalion at Fleurbaix in northern France similarly recorded that ‘Battalion in trenches. Enemy ineffectively shelled our communication
trench. Uneventful day. Our patrol established a listening post … in front of
our line. Enemy patrol dispersed by our machine guns during the night’. Further
north at Petillion in Belgium, the 4th Infantry Battalion observed in its diary entry that ‘Early this morning Private G. Gibb, D. Co., killed by
rifle bullet while on fatigue duty. Later in [the] day another casualty,
Private Smith, slightly wounded. Today is anniversary of Anzac landing 1915 and
special issue of cake made’.
articles describing the 1916 anniversary of the Anzac landings
The following articles, sourced from the National Library of
Australia’s Trove database, describe the various events held in
Australia commemorating the first anniversary of the Anzac landings at
Gallipoli in 1915. These activities generally included memorial church services,
parades and fundraising activities.
25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald —Defence
Minister’s message of appreciation on Anzac Day
25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald —Anzac
Day parade and church services
25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald— full
page article on the anniversary of Anzac Day
30 April 1916, Sunday Times (Sydney)—Anzac
Day increase in recruiting
29 April 1916, The Cobargo Chronicle— Anzac
Day commemorations at Cobargo
29 April 1916, The Scrutineer and Berrima District Press—Anzac
Day memorials at Moss Vale and Berrima
29 April 1916, The Ulladulla and Milton Times—Anzac
Day memorial at Ulladulla
29 April 1916, The Port Macquarie and Hastings River
Day commemorations at Port Macquarie
29 April 1916, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers
Day memorial at Parramatta
29 April 1916, Western Herald (Bourke, NSW)—Anzac
Day commemorations in Bourke
29 April 1916, Nepean Times (Penrith)—Anzac
Day commemorations in Penrith
29 April 1916, The Armidale Chronicle—Anzac
Day memorial at Armidale
29 April 1916, The Ballarat Star—Anzac
Day commemorations at Ballarat
29 April 1916, Darling Downs Gazette—Anzac
Day commemoration in Melbourne with Acting Prime Minister, Senator George
29 April 1916, Footscray Chronicle—Anzac
Day memorial service at Footscray church
29 April 1916, The Prahran Telegraph—Anzac
Day commemorations at St Kilda
29 April 1916, Cairns Post—Anzac
Day memorial at Gordonvale
29 April 1916, Townsville Daily Bulletin—Anzac
Day memorial at Ingham
29 April 1916, The Capricornian (Rockhampton)—Prime
Minister Hughes’ Anzac Day messages and reporting of memorials at London,
Melbourne and Brisbane
29 April 1916, The Observer (Adelaide)—Official
Anzac Day ceremony in Adelaide
29 April 1916, The Observer (Adelaide)—Anzac
Day commemorations at Broken Hill
29 April 1916, The Kadina and Wallaroo Times—Anzac
Day commemorations at Wallaroo
30 April 1916, Sunday Times (Perth)—Anzac
Day commemorations in Perth
29 April 1916, Great Southern Herald (Katanning)—Anzac
Day commemorations at Katanning
29 April 1916, The W.A. Record (Perth)—Anzac
Day memorial at Perth Catholic Cathedral
29 April 1916, The Mercury (Hobart)—Anzac
Day memorial in Hobart
29 April 1916, The Mercury (Hobart)—Anzac
Day commemorations in Hobart
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