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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

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Thursday, 2 July 2009
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, West Australian Highlanders
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

West Australian Highlanders

 

The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, p. 67:

 
West Australian Highlanders
Lieutenant Colonel J. Campbell (Headquarters Staff) an ex-member of the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, had long cherished the idea of raising a kilted corps in Western Australia. He found much local support and judicious inquiry revealed that the "Camerons" themselves were more than interested. Approached through the proper channels, the War Office approved and the Cameron Highland Regiment, through their Colonel, gave unqualified approval for the use of the Cameron Erract tartan to be used and for the copying of its uniform by the pro posed corps. It was a most graceful permission. It was soon decided that one Company of 60 all ranks should be raised in Perth and in March 1903 the corps came into being as the "West Australian Highlanders". Approval was given to form a Pipe Band additional to normal Establishment. The corps was administratively independent but was attached to the 4th Battalion W.A. Infantry Brigade for parade pur poses. Enlistment was for three years, the members serving without pay and paying for their own uniforms.

On 1 July 1903 the corps became "D" Company of the 1st Battalion W.A. Infantry Regiment. Several years later it lost its national character and in 1914 Highland Dress was discontinued. It is interesting to note that in 1907 a Scottish company was raised among Railway Department employees stationed at Fremantle; this one did not wear a scarlet tunic.

 

Previous:  18th Light Horse Regiment (W.A.M.I.)

Next: Armament

 

Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry

 


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, West Australian Highlanders

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 4 September 2009 6:57 PM EADT
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Gallipoli Campaign - 1915-16, Outline
Topic: BatzG - Gallipoli

Gallipoli Campaign - 1915-16

Outline

 

Turkish force dispositions at Anzac, 24 April 1915.

 

At the urging of Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, the Allies decided on a campaign to seize the strategic Dardanelles. A fleet commanded first by Vice Admiral Sackville Carden and then, after his physical breakdown, by Rear Admiral John de Robeck, began a blockade and bombardment of the forts guarding the entrance to and passage of the Dardanelles in February 1915. These Dardanelles defences included 176 medium and heavy guns, 11 mine belts containing 373 mines, and an antisubmarine net. Long-range bombardments on February 19 and 25 succeeded in silencing the Turkish outer works. On March 18 the Allied fleet tackled the main forts along the Narrows of the Dardanelles.

Twelve British and 4 French battle ships made the assault. The most powerful of the battleships was the super dreadnought Queen Elizabeth, carrying eight 15-inch guns. The Turkish batteries included 42 guns of 8-inch bore or more, 6 of which were 14-inch guns. The Allied battlewagons succeeded in largely silencing the Ottoman guns, but then 3 of the capital ships struck mines and sank. The French battleship Bouvet went under with all but 66 of her crew of 630 and the British battleships Ocean and Irresistible met the same fate. Two more battleships were damaged by mines and a third by Turkish coastal batteries and under with all but 66 of her crew of 630 and the British battleships Ocean and Irresistible met the same fate. Two more battleships were damaged by mines and a third by Turkish coastal batteries and 47 more Allied sailors were killed. The Allied naval command decided to with draw, unaware that the Turks had nearly exhausted their ammunition stocks, having fired about 1,600 rounds, and that the enemy's fire direction control, their communications, and many of their batteries had been demolished, aware only that they were suffering appalling and crippling losses from the mines. Turkish personnel losses in repulsing the Allied naval attack were 40 killed and 70 wounded.

On the western end of the Sea of Marmora, the Russian Black Sea Fleet of 5 battleships, 2 cruisers, and 10 destroyers attacked the Bosphorus forts on March. 28. The German battle cruiser Goeben defended Istanbul by sinking 2 Russian destroyers, thus forcing the rest of the Russian fleet to withdraw The battleships having failed, the Allies decided on an amphibious attack on Gallipoli, the small peninsula on the :north side of the Narrows. Turkey at the time of its declaration of war in October 1914 had 36 divisions, deployed thus: 12 around Constantinople, 1 on Gallipoli, 1 on the Asian side of the Dardanelles, 5 along the rest of the Asia Minor coast, 11 in the Caucasus, 2 in Yemen, 2 in the Hejaz, 2 in Mesopotamia. During the course of the conflict another 70 divisions would be raised by the Ottoman Empire. By the time that the Allied amphibious expedition, long delayed by logistical difficulties, approached Gallipoli, the Turkish Fifth Army, commanded by German General Liman von Sanders, deployed 84,000 men in 6 divisions on or near the peninsula.

The Allied expeditionary force, commanded by General Ian Hamilton, consisted of 84 ships, 75,056 troops, including 30,638 ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), commanded by General William Birdwood, and the men of 1 French division, 16,481 animals, and 3,104 vehicles. While the French division made a diversionary landing on the Asian side of the Narrows, the main landings were made on Gallipoli on April 25. The ANZACs landed at Ari Burnu, 15 miles north of the peninsula's tip on the west side. They then attempted to seize the Chunuk Bair height dominating the peninsula, but the Turkish 19th Division, commanded by General Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), the future father of the Turkish Republics, drove the ANZACs back to the beach. In six days of fighting that cost the men from "down under" 1,252 killed and 4,302 wounded.

At Cape Helles on the tip of the peninsula the 29th Division, commanded by General Alymer Hunter-Weston, came ashore in a poorly managed landing on five beaches. At W Beach 950 men of the Lancaster Fusiliers (who won six Victoria Crosses that day) landed from the steamer Euryalus and ran into murderous Turkish fire that killed 189 British soldiers, wounded 283, and left 61 more missing in action. At V Beach over 1,000 of the 2,000 men disgorged from the collier River Clyde were killed or wounded.

The landings at the other beaches were more successful, but on their way to occupy the commanding height of Achi Baba the men of the 29th Division stopped to brew tea. That teatime cost the British dearly, for the Turks beat them to the height and, as a consequence, kept the landing force pinned to a narrow beach perimeter through all the miserable months ahead. Total British Empire losses for the day were 2,000 at Cape Helles and 2,000 at what was thereafter called ANZAC Cove.

The French landed at Kum Kale on the Asian side of the Dardanelles across from Gallipoli. They killed or wounded 1,700 Turks and captured 500 at a cost of 800 casualties of their own, but were then withdrawn on April 26.

There followed three months of at tack and counterattack, of attrition and stalemate. Allied attempts to break out of their beachheads failed utterly. Their losses in the first four days after the landings were 8,900, including 2,650 killed.

The litany of loss went on. The First Battle of Krithia (also called the Battle of Achi Baba Hill), April 28-30, cost the Allies 3,000 casualties out of 14,000 engaged. The Second Battle of Krithia, May 6-8, added another 6,500 casualties (from 25,000 engaged to the attackers' toll. The Australian 2nd Brigade alone lost 1,056 out of 2,900 engaged. The third battle, June 4, cost the British 4,500 killed or wounded out of 16,000 initiating the attack, including 1,600 lost out of a naval brigade of 2,850 (2 battalions from that brigade lost 60 of its 70 officers). French losses (from 14,000 engaged) in this Third Battle of Krithia added 2,000 more names to this bloody measurement of Allied failure and frustration. (Between April 25-May 12 the French had already lost 12,610 of 22,450 men landed.) Other attacks at Cape Helles on June 21, June 28, and July 12-13 cost 7,700 British and 4,600 French casualties. Turkish counterattacks were no more successful. The Ottoman army lost 10,000 men of 40,000 engaged in attacks on May 1 and May 19, compared to only 600 ANZAC casualties out of 17,000 engaged. Another Ottoman counterattack, June 6, also failed, with total Turkish losses from June 4-6 numbering 9,000.

At sea the situation was no more favourable for the Allies as they lost 3 more battleships to enemy destroyers or subs.

The Goliath was put under on the night of May 12 by torpedoes from a Turkish destroyer, with 570 crewmen dying. The Triumph was sunk on May 25 by U-21, with 73 deaths. And the Majestic fell victim to another U-boat on May 27 and sank with 40 of its crew. The Allies got in a few blows at sea. On May 1 a British sub sank the Turkish troopship Guj Djemal, drowning 2,000 soldiers.

The Allied influx of troops onto the peninsula continued, but some attempts at reinforcement met with disaster. Far from Gallipoli, the 7th Battalion, Royal Scots was shattered before it left En gland. In the worst railroad disaster in British history, the troop train carrying the battalion for eventual service on Gallipoli crashed at Gretna Green on May 22, 1915, killing 214 soldiers and 12 other people, and injuring 246. In the Aegean, on September 17, a U-boat sank the troop transport Ramazan and 311 Indian soldiers drowned.

Reinforced by 3 more divisions, Hamilton determined to break the stale mate by outflanking the Turks with a landing at Suvla Bay farther to the north.

To hold the enemy's attention, Hamilton attacked at Cape Helles on August 6, sending 4 British divisions, totalling 26,000 men, and 13,000 French soldiers against 40,000 Turks. British losses at Cape Helles, Krithia, and Achi Baba on the first day numbered 3,480; the Turks lost 7,510. By August 22 Allied losses surpassed 6,000.

The ANZACs also attacked, one Australian unit of 1,250 losing 650 in an assault on a position called The Nek on August 7. The 600 men of the 8th and 10th Light Horsemen lost 234 killed and 141 wounded. Another 1,700 Aussies fell and seven Victoria Crosses were won on August 6 in fighting around Lone Pine, where 5,000 Turks were also killed or wounded. The general ANZAC assault on Chunuk Bair and Sari Bair Ridge (of which the actions at The Nek and Lone Pine were a part) ended in failure and cumulative casualties of 14,000 by August 22.

The landings at Suvla Bay, August 6-8, commanded by general Frederick Stopford, were at first successful, but the 22,000 attackers in 25 battalions failed to exploit their initial success and were soon bogged down before Chocolate Hill. On August 12, 267 men of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Norfolk Regiment (mostly men from the king's staff at Sandringham Palace) disappeared in the mist during an attack at Suvla. Their fate was unknown for more than 70 years, before evidence was discovered that those who did not die in the attack were executed after capture by the Turks.

A resumption of the Suvla offensive on August 15 went nowhere. On August 21, 14,300 Allied troops assaulted Turkish positions at Hill 60 and Scimitar Hill. One Australian unit of 150 men lost 110 killed or wounded on the slopes of Hill 60. Lord Longford, commanding the attack on Scimitar Hill, fell fatally wounded. Total Allied losses in the Suvla attacks on August 21 were 0 the Turks lost 2,500. Total Allied losses on all the Gallipoli battlegrounds, August 6-29, were 29,000 out of 126,700 engaged. The 37,000 ANZACs taking part in the battles accounted for 7,000 of the Allied toll. The 76,000 Ottoman soldiers engaged suffered 10,000 casualties.

The Gallipoli campaign ground on through the fall of 1915, becoming a smaller version of the Western Front, with all its trenches and torment and a day-to day terror so common that it became al most mundane. A thunderstorm accompanied by hail, for example, drowned 100 men on November 27. General Charles Monro replaced Hamilton on October 15 and, together with General William Birdwood, made plans for an evacuation from the peninsula. That evacuation was carried out in stages from December 10 to the night of January 8-9, 1916, with the Turks successfully deceived and the last 35,268 troops pulled out without loss.

The statistics of the Gallipoli side show are appalling. Of 410,000 soldiers of the British Empire who served on that peninsula in purgatory, 31,389 were killed in battle, 9,708 were reported missing most of whom were believed to have died and 78,749 were wounded. Including the sick, British casualties totalled 198,340. The 29th Infantry Division alone suffered 34,012 casualties - 9,042 KIA and MIA, 10,993 WIA, 13,977 sick. (In all of the Great War the 29th Division suffered cumulative casualties seven times its original strength.) Out of the British Empire and Commonwealth total, Australian casualties totalled 26,094, including 7,594 battle deaths. New Zealand losses were 7,571, including 2,431 battle deaths. The 79,000 French troops who served in Gallipoli suffered 27,000 combat casualties, including 9,000 dead, and 20,000 illnesses. Altogether, including the sick, Allied losses in the Dardanelles endeavour were about 252,000, including 46,000 battle deaths.

Of some 500,000 Turks in 14 divisions who fought in the campaign, 251,309 became casualties - 55,127 KIA, 100,177 WIA, 10,067 MIA, 21,498 dead of disease, 64,440 sick who recovered.

 

[From: Michael Clodfelter, Warfare and Armed Conflicts, 2nd Edition, pp. 464-5.]

 

Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

Light Horse Battles

Gallipoli Campaign 

 


Citation: Gallipoli Campaign - 1915-16, Outline

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2009 3:50 PM EADT
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Armament
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

Armament

 

The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, pp. 68 - 70:

 
Armament

The Volunteers of Western Australia were destined, in common with most Australian Volunteers, to be armed with weapons which had become obsolete elsewhere. The British Army necessarily kept abreast with foreign armies as regards armament and rapidly accumulated stocks of obsolete and discarded weapons. The necessity to keep abreast did not apply so strongly in the Colonies and in any case it was a question of finance. Replacements were costly and the Colonies were glad to accept at a lower price weapons no longer standard in the British Army. Whatever came was a step-up on what they had and represented progress.


Artillery

Smooth-bore muzzle-loading guns of various types and sizes were carried by most ships arriving at Australian Ports and dumped there. Advertisements appeared offering guns for sale as suitable anchors for buoys, navigation marks, etc.

The first mention of Field Artillery occurs in connection with the W.A. Troop of Volunteer Horse Artillery formed on 1 July 1872. The Troop was armed with two 12Pr. B. L. [12 pounder breach loading] Armstrong-Whitworth guns, complete with limbers and stores. This type of gun was quite new and was then on trial in the British Army : it was not finally adopted, having to make way for the 9Pr. R.M.L. [9 pounder rifled muzzle loading.] These two guns appear to have belonged to the Enrolled Pensioner Force, although no record as to how or when they were received can be traced. The guns were unsuitable being too heavy for the type of corps but as the Commander of the corps was a "Horse Artilleryman" and no other guns were available, the guns had no choice. A photo taken about 1870 shows the guns, manned by Enrolled Pensioners, firing a Salute. They remained on issue until 1894 when they were replaced by two 9Prs; they remained in obscurity until World War II when they were used as dummy anti-aircraft guns on the local sea-front. (It is believed they are now in the loving care of a sentimental old-time gunner).

The next outbreak of artillery ardour occurred at Fremantle when the newly formed Naval Artillery Volunteers, in 1879, proudly paraded with two 6Pr. smooth-bore muzzle-loading guns (minus limbers or other form of draught). So far as can be traced these pieces left their depot on only one occasion, i.e., the 1884 Camp at Albion; they were replaced in 1889 by two 9Pr. R.M.L. [9 pounder rifled muzzle loading.] guns, valued with limbers and wagons at over £850, a gift from the War Office.

In 1902 the 9Pdrs on issue at Perth and Fremantle were replaced by 15Pdr B.L. [15 pounder breach loading] guns of the type in general use by the British Forces through the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

Coast or Heavy Artillery first appeared in 1893 when a Fort was erected at Albany. Mounted at that time were two 6in. R.B.L. [rifled breach loading.] guns plus some light pieces. It was to assist with the manning of these guns that the Albany Volunteer Garrison Artillery was raised in 1899.


Muskets and Rifles

In the Commissariat Store maintained by the British Government at Perth were 40-50 muskets (including "flintlocks") which that Government magnanimously (?) presented to the Colony. One hundred new Enfield M.L. Rifles received as a gift from England were issued to the Perth corps in June 1862, the Commissariat stock going to the Fremantle corps.

Whenever the Colony could afford to buy new weapons it did so and issued them to the more needy of the Perth and Fremantle corps, the displaced weapons being handed down to those more recently formed. Thus it happened that within some of the corps different types of firearms were in use at one and the same time.

The various types of firearm made their first appearance among the Volunteers on the following dates:

Enfield musket (from stock) - 1861

Enfield rifle - 1862

Martini-Henri rifle - 1874

Snider rifle - 1883

Martini-Metford rifle - 1892

Martini-Enfield rifle - 1898

Lee-Speed Magazine rifle - 1898

 

Previous:  West Australian Highlanders 

Next: Forts and Fixed Defences 

 

Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry

 


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Armament

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 4 September 2009 6:56 PM EADT
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Détachement Français de Palestine et Syrie, Contents
Topic: AIF - DMC - French

Détachement Français de Palestine et Syrie

Contents

 

Items

Détachement Français de Palestine et Syrie, Order of Battle, September 1918 

1er Regiment Mixte de Cavalerie Du Levant

 


 

Further Reading:

AIF, MEF and the EEF

Détachement Français de Palestine et Syrie

 


Citation: Détachement Français de Palestine et Syrie, Contents

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 20 July 2009 11:30 AM EADT
AIF & MEF & EEF, Glossary of Australian Military Terms
Topic: AIF & MEF & EEF

AIF & MEF & EEF

Glossary of Australian Military Terms

 

The following Glossary is extracted from the First World War Official Histories, a specific volume written by CEW Bean called, Volume I - The Story of Anzac: the first phase, (11th edition, 1941),  at pp. 609 - 618:

 

GLOSSARY

The strength and composition of formations and units varied considerably during the War. Those given below are based mainly on the establishments of 1914-16.

ACCOUTREMENTS:

Comprise belts, pouches, bandoliers, slings, mess tins, haversacks, water-bottles and similar articles (other than arm) carried by a soldier outside his clothing.


ADJUTANT:

The assistant to the commander of certain units - practically his staff officer, who issues orders, keeps records, etc.


ADJUTANT-GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT:

The branch dealing mainly with personnel.


ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF:

The staff dealing with personnel, supplies, transport. etc.


AMMUNITION PARK:

A mechanical transport unit on the Lines of Communication; also the space occupied by the motor-lorries, ammunition, ordnance stores, etc., under the control of, or for distribution by, that unit.


ANTI-TANKGUN:

A field gun or light cannon placed in a forward position in order to fire direct upon tanks.


ANZAC:

(1) Originally, code name for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps;
(2) Name given to the beach where the A. & N Z. Army Corps landed on Gallipoli;
(3) Official name of the two A. & N.Z. Army Corps in France (1st Anzac Corps,
2nd Anzac Corps);
(4) Term universally applied by British troops in France to the Australians and New Zealanders of the two Anzac Corps (the Anzacs);
(5) In Palestine, often used to denote men of the Anzac Mounted Division as distinguished from those of the Australian Mounted Division;
(6) In Australia (and eventually in the A.I.F.), used to denote Australians and New Zealanders who served on Gallipoli. The generally accepted uses of the term are (1), (2). (3), and (6).


APPROACH MARCH:

The march of troops to the positions from which they are to attack. In France this generally took place during the night before the attack.


ARM OFFICER:

The officer responsible for training and administration within any one of the “areas” into which the Australian districts were subdivided under the Kitchener Defence Scheme.


ARMY:

A formation containing two or more Army Corps, usually commanded by a general.


ARMY CORPS:

A formation containing two or more divisions, usually commanded by a lieutenant-general.


ARMY SERVICE CORPS:

The corps whose duty is to supply and transport the army.


ARTILLERY FORMATION:

A formation of infantry (or mounted troops) used when passing through a zone subject to shell-fire. The troops advance in small groups, extended in line and depth (i.e., with wide spaces between the groups).


ASSISTANT PROVOST MARSHAL:

See PROVOST MARSHAL.


BAIR (Turkish):

Slope or spur.


BASE:

A place where the main stores for an army in the field are situated, organised, and controlled, and from which lines of communication lead.


BARRAGE:

A wall of shell-fire, thrown either to assist or to prevent the advance of troops; loosely applied to any bombardment thrown against troops. See CREEPING BARRAGE.


BATTALION:

The chief unit of infantry (full strength with transport. etc, 1,017; full fighting strength, 895; normal fighting strength probably about 550) ; Australian battalions from Jan. 1915, consisted of four companies and a headquarters; usually commanded by a lieutenant-colonel.


BATTERY OF FIELD ARTILLERY:

The unit of combat of field artillery; during the war generally consisted of four or six guns: usually commanded by a major. Full strength, 4 gun battery, 18 men, fighting strength, 138.


BATTLECRUISER:

A large cruiser of great speed, lightly armoured and usually armed with eight or more heavy guns, all of the same calibre.


BATTLESHIP:

The most powerful type of warship, intended to lie in the line of battle.


BAY:

A section between two traverses of a fire trench; length usually about eight yards.


BELT:

Usually a belt by which ammunition is fed to a machine-gun


BIR (Arabic):

A well.


BIVOUAC:

An encampment without tents or huts.


BLUE CROSS SHELL:

A gas shell used by the Germans, filled with a chemical compound which caused sneezing, and often known as a “sneezing gas shell.” Less harmful than other gas shells.


BOMBS:

Strictly speaking, explosive missiles thrown from a trench mortar or an aeroplane; loosely used for explosive missiles thrown by hand. See GRENADE


BOMB STOP:

A barrier (usually of earth or sandbags) built across a trench.


BRIGADE OF FIELD ARTILLERY:

(British, Australian, etc.), four (or three) batteries of field guns and field howitzers, usually commanded by a lieutenant-colonel.


BRIGADE OF INFANTRY:

(British, Australian, etc.), until 1918, a formation of four infantry battalions (full strength with transport, etc.. 4,080: full fighting strength, 3,584: normal fighting strength, probably about 2,500). usually under a brigadier-general. In 1918 British brigades, and some Australian brigades, were reduced to three battalions. In the field a British brigade corresponds roughly to a foreign “regiment”.


BRIGADE OF LIGHT HORSE (OR CAVALRY):

Comprises three regiments; full strength, with brigade headquarters and signallers, about 1,700 men.


BRIGADE-MAJOR:

In infantry, the chief staff-officer of a brigade.


BRIGADIER-GENERAL, GENERAL STAFF:

Usually the chief general staff officer of an army corps.


BRIGADIER-GENERAL ROYAL ARTILLERY:

Usually the commander of the artillery of an army corps. In the earlier years of the war this officer was merely a staff -officer who advised the corps-commander in regard to the artillery.


BURNU (Turkish):

Cape or point


CACOLET:

A litter in which sick or wounded are carried upon mules or camels.


CALIBRE:

The diameter of the bore of a firearm.


CAMOUFLAGE:

Screening or painting objects to render them invisible, or to deceive as to their nature.


CAMOUFLET:

A small mine, intended not to break the surface of the ground, but to blow in the enemy’s underground galleries.


CASUALTY CLEARING STATION:

The hospital (generally at railhead) charged with clearing the wounded to the base.


CHATEAU:

A country residence in France.


CHORD:

A straight line which forms the base of a salient; a trench or other line affording a further position of defence in the event of the salient being lost.


CLOUD GAS:

Gas emitted from cylinders and carried by the wind (as opposed to gas fired in shells).


COMMUNICATION TRENCH:

A trench leading from the rear to the fire- trenches (or fighting trenches).


COMPANY:

A body of men about 200-250 strong, usually commanded by a captain, who is responsible for the training and discipline of his officers and men. 111 the infantry a company is a portion of a battalion (full strength, 127; normal fighting strength, from 100-150; four companies in each battalion; four platoons in each company); in the engineers, signal service, army service corps, etc., it is a separate unit usually commanded by a major.


CONVOY (of ships):

A number of ships sailing together under escort for protection.


COVERING FIRE:

Fire delivered by troops from the rear or flanks in order to keep the enemy suppressed while other troops advance or retire.


CREEPING BARRAGE:

A barrage which gradually advances, usually to cover the advance of troops who follow immediately behind it. See BARRAGE.


DEAD GROUND:

Ground which, though within range, cannot be seen or reached by direct fire.


DECAUVILLE:

A light railway in ready-made lengths of rails and sleepers


DERE (Turkish):

Valley.


DESTROYER (Short for Torpedo-boat Destroyer):

Long, light, swift craft, usually of from 500 to 1,000 tons displacement and 25 to 30 knots speed.


DIGGER:

The slang term for an Australian or New Zealand private soldier. This word (said to have been used originally among gum- diggers, especially in New Zealand) became common among New Zealand and Australian soldiers in 1917 It displaced “cobber” (comrade) and “mate” as a form of address. During the third battle of Ypres it came to denote an Australian private, much as “Tommy” denoted a British soldier


DIRECT LAYING:

Aiming a gun by looking over or through the sights, when the target is actually within view from the gun position.


DIVISION:

The smallest formation of army organisation which contains all the essential branches of the military service. Infantry Division - British, three infantry brigades (till 1918 twelve battalions) with two, three, or four brigades of artillery (about 70 guns), etc, under a major-general; until the last of the war 18,000 men ; French, three infantry regiments (nine battalions), about 40 guns, 16,000 men; American, two brigades, each of two regiments, 72 guns, 260 machine-guns, 28,000 men; German, three infantry regiments (nine battalions), artillery (about 70 guns), etc., 15,000 men; Turkish, three infantry regiments (usually nine battalions), 40 guns, about 11,000 men. Division of Cavalry or Light Horse-three brigades; full strength, with divisional headquarters, two brigades of horse artillery, engineers, ambulances, etc., about 80,000 men.


DIVISIONAL TRAIN:

The horse-drawn supply organisation of a division.


DIXIE:

A metal pot in which food is cooked.


DRESSING STATION:

A centre behind the lines to which the wounded are sent from the regimental aid posts to have their wounds dressed before being carried to the casualty clearing station.


DRUM (of Lewis gun):

The disc on which ammunition was fed to the gun.


DUCKBOARD:

A section of wooden pathway (built ladder like) for use in muddy areas.


DUGOUT:

A cave or roofed shelter dug under the soil for protection from fire; its ceiling may be anything from a few inches to 20 feet underground; even raised bomb-proof shelters are often known as dugouts.


ECHELON:

Generally a formation in which troops are disposed to the left or right rear of the leading troops, but facing in the same direction.


EGG BOMB.

A small German grenade which could be thrown by hand farther than most grenades.


EIGHTEEN-POUNDER:

The ordinary British field gun of 3.3-inch bore, throwing an 18½lb. shell.


EMPLACEMENT:

A position in a trench or fortification prepared for a gun.


ENFILADE FIRE:

Fire bearing upon a line from its flank, so as to play along its length.


EPAULMENT:

A side-work (e.g., mound of earth) to afford cover, usually to a gun position, from flanking fire.


ESTAMINET (French):

An inn.


EXPLOSIVE BULLETS:

Bullets containing an explosive. These were never used by or against Australian infantry; expanding bullets (i.e., those so manufactured or tampered with as to expand upon impact) were sometimes loosely spoken of as "explosive."


EXTENDED ORDER:

Usually a formation in which men (and often successive lines of men) are separated by wide intervals.


FANTASS:

A flat tank used for the carriage of water on camel-back.


FIELD AMBULANCE:

The first medical unit behind the regimental medical detachments - in the case of infantry, about 250 strong, under a lieutenant-colonel; provided with stretcher-bearers, horse ambulances, and tents


FIELD COMPANY OF ENGINEERS:

The main unit of engineers with an infantry division, for ordinary military work (bridge-building, trench-siting, etc.), as opposed to railway companies, signal companies, tunnelling companies, etc. Usually about 220 strong, under a major. The corresponding unit with a cavalry division is a FIELD SQUADRON (subdivided into four FIELD TROOPS) of Engineers.


FIELD GUN:

The ordinary mobile gun used on the battlefield (for low-trajectory, high-velocity fire).


FIRE STEP:

The step in a fire-trench on which men stand in order to fire over the parapet.


FIRE-TRENCH:

A trench from which men fire (as opposed to communication trenches); if properly made, consists of a series of short fire-bays with traverses between them.


FIRST FIELD DRESSING:

The small packet containing bandage, dressing, etc, which each soldier carries inside his tunic.


“FIVEPOINT NINE”:

Usually the 5.9-inch (15 cm.) howitzer, considered by many the most effective German weapon.


FLAMMENWERFER:

Flame-thrower, a German weapon consisting of a cylinder carried on the back, containing inflammable oil, which is projected by compressed gas and ignites in the air.


FLANKS “IN THE AIR”:

A force is in the air when its flanks are ex- posed and unsupported by any friendly force.


FLARE:

A light generally used for illuminating the ground in front of the firing-line; usually a firework; sometimes tow dipped in petroleum. Very Lights throwing one white star, like that from a ’’Roman candle,” were chiefly used by the British. Coloured flares were largely used by German artillery observers and infantry, as signals to their artillery.


FORWARD OBSERVING OFFICER:

An artillery officer sent forward (with telephone and other signals) to a position from which he can observe and direct the fire of his battery.


FOOD-CONTAINER:

A closed and insulated can in which food is carried hot to front-line troops


FOUR POINT FIVE:

The ordinary British 4.5in. field howitzer, which throws a 35-lb. projectile.


FOUR POINT TWO:

The ordinary German 4.2in. (10.5 cm.) field howitzer.


FURPHY:

A camp rumour.


FUSE:

The device for detonating a shell. A “percussion fuse” detonates the shell when it strikes a target; a “time fuse” detonates it (generally in the air) a certain time after leaving the gun: an “instantaneous fuse” or “sensitive fuse” (first used in 1917) is a percussion fuse which detonates a shell more swiftly than previous percussion fuses, so that it bursts before penetrating the ground (or other target): a “delayed-action” fuse allows time for the shell to penetrate deeply before detonation.


GARLAND GUN:

A primitive trench mortar by which a “jam-tin” bomb was fired from a short piece of piping.


GAS GONG, GAS HORN:

The means employed to warn troops of a gas attack.


GAS HELMET:

An impregnated woollen hood with eye and mouth pieces to protect the wearer against poison gas. The first protection invented was a gas-respirator to be tied over the mouth; improvements were the gas-helmet, and later the gas-mask attached by a tube to a box-respirator slung on the chest.


GAS SHELL:

Shell containing substances producing poison-gases or other injurious chemicals, which are released when the shell explodes.


GENERAL HEADQUARTERS:

The main headquarters of an expeditionary force; usually referred to by the initial letters - G.H.Q.


GENERAL HOSPITAL:

The main hospital to which sick and wounded are brought for final treatment.


GENERAL STAFF:

The branch of the Staff dealing chiefly with operations (also with information about the enemy and with training)


GREEN CROSS SHELL:

A type of German gas-shell mainly containing phosgene.


GRENADE:

A hand-thrown bomb. See also RIFLE GRENADE.


GUN:

See HIGH VELOCITY CANNON.


GUN PIT:

The pit usually dug as an emplacement for a gun.


HIGH EXPLOSIVE:

Nitro-glycerine compounds with powerful explosive properties.


HIGH-EXPLOSIVE SHELL:

Shell filled with a high explosive.


HIGH-VELOCITY CANNON:

A gun as distinguished from a howitzer; it throws its projectile swiftly with a comparatively low trajectory.


HOD (Arabic):

Depression in desert containing palm trees and water


HOTCHKISS MACHINE-GUN:

A light air-cooled machine-gun used by cavalry and tanks, fed by strips containing 30, 14 or 9 rounds. Not to be confused with the light Hotchkiss field gun, e.g, those temporarily captured on April 25 at Anzac.


HOWITZER:

A short-barrelled cannon which ‘‘lobs’’ its projectile slowly with a high trajectory.


INDIRECT FIRE:

Fire at a target which cannot be seen from the gun position.


IRON RATION:

The emergency ration; normally issued in small bags to troops going into battle, to be opened only if other rations fail to reach them.


JAM-TIN BOMBS:

Bombs made by filling jam-tins with explosive and fragments of iron, etc


JAPANESE BOMB MORTAR:

A small well-designed trench mortar throwing a large high-explosive bomb.


JUMPING-OFF TRENCH (or Jumping-off Tapes):

A trench or line of tapes, usually sited in advance of the front line, to serve as a starting-point in an attack.


KITCHENER’S ARMY:

The army raised by Great Britain on Lord Kitchener’s appeal in 1914-15 for special service in the War, as distinguished from the Regular and Territorial armies.


KLAXON:

Term often loosely used of any horn sounded to warn troops of a gas attack.


KUVU (Turkish):

A well.


LACRIMATORY SHELL:

See “TEAR-GAS” SHELL.


LEWIS GUN:

A magazine gun fed with cartridges in discs or drums containing 47 rounds - the light machine-gun of the British infantry, carried by one man. The “team” of each Lewis Gun is normally from three to five men.


LIAISON:

Communication between units or arms; liaison officer, an officer sent to another unit to keep touch with it.


LIGHT MACHINE-GUN:

Usually the light German machine-gun, a water- cooled, belt-fed weapon, heavier than a Lewis Gun, but also carried by one man.


LINES OF COMMUNICATION:

The systems of communication by rail, road, and navigable waterways between an army and its base or bases inclusive, together with the district through which they pass. Usually referred to as L. of C.


L. OF C. UNITS:

Administrative units of the L. of C. (dealing with records and transport of men and supplies; hospitals, repairs, butcheries, bakeries, railways, reinforcements, remounts, postal services etc.).


LINESMAN:

A signaller sent out to repair field-telegraph lines.


MACHINE-GUN:

A gun constructed to discharge continuously, by action of the recoil, ammunition fed to it on a belt or by other mechanism. See VICKERS GUN, LEWIS GUN, LIGHT MACHINE-GUN, and HOTCHKISS MACHINE-GUN.


MALTESE CART:

A small two-wheeled cart, part of the medical equipment of a battalion.


MECHANICAL TRANSPORT:

Motor-driven vehicles of transport ; also the branch of the service connected with them.


MESS-TIN:

A small metal pan carried by each soldier, in which food can be cooked; consists of two parts serving for both plate and dish.


MILLS GRENADE, or MILLS BOMB:

An oval cast-iron grenade serrated so as to split into numerous small fragments on bursting; the lever that holds back the striking-pin is itself secured by a safety pin, which is removed immediately before throwing.


MINENWERFER:

German for “trench mortar".


MOBILISATION:

The process by which an armed force passes from a peace to a war footing.


MONITOR:

A warship of shallow draft and low freeboard, intended for use in coastal defence or attack.


MOUNTAIN GUN:

A small cannon constructed for transport, along with its carriage, in several pieces upon pack animals.


NISSEN HUT:

Largely used in camps instead of tents, or for offices, etc.; constructed of semicircular sheets of galvanised iron, which thus form both walls and roof.


NO-MAN’S LAND:

The space between the two opposing front trenches or front lines.


NORDENFELDT GUN:

An early type of machine-gun firing a 1-inch projectile.


NULLAH:

A gully or dried up stream-bed.


OBSERVATION POST:

A position commanding some desired view of the enemy’s positions; occupied by observers for artillery, etc.


OBSERVER:

One sent out to observe the enemy’s line or movements, the fire of guns upon targets, etc.


ORDER OF BATTLE:

A statement or list of the composition and organisation of the parts and units of an army; sometimes including their position in the fighting line.


ORDNANCE (Department):

The department which supplies great and small arms, equipment, clothing, etc..


PACK:

A knapsack (carried on the back).


PARADOS:

The earth thrown up at the back of a trench.


PARAPET:

The earth (loose or in bags) thrown up along the front of a trench.


PATROL:

A body of men sent out to reconnoitre, or to guard against surprise.


PHOSGENE:

A poisonous gas, affecting the heart, used by the Germans, especially in Green Cross shells.


PILLBOX:

A small covered shelter of concrete, mainly used by the Germans in Flanders, where deep dugouts were impossible.


PINEAPPLE BOMB:

A serrated bomb, not unlike a pineapple, thrown from a small German bomb-thrower.


PLATOON:

The quarter of a company of infantry (full strength, 60; normal fighting strength, from 25-40), under a lieutenant; itself subdivided into four sections, each under a sergeant.


PROVOST MARSHAL:

The officer commanding the corps of military police attached to British armies abroad. An assistant provost marshal commands the police of each division.


QUARTER MASTER GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT:

The branch of the staff responsible for supplies and the transport of troops and material.


RAILHEAD:

A locality on the railway (usually at the nearest point to the force which is to be served) where ammunition and supplies are transferred to ammunition parks and supply columns.


REDOUBT:

A work entirely enclosed by a defensible parapet, which gives rifle-fire all round.


RE-ENTRANT:

Usually a concave curve in the line of battle; the reverse of a salient. Also, a valley or Indentation receding into higher ground.


REGIMENT OF CAVALRY (British):

The unit of cavalry (or light horse) corresponding to a battalion of infantry; full strength of a light horse regiment, 546; full fighting strength, 510; normal strength about 340; normal rifle strength, dismounted, excluding horse- holders, 250.


REGIMENT OF INFANTRY:

A corps of men usually raised in the same locality or by the same organisation. An infantry regiment generally consists of several battalions. Under the British system the battalions as a rule fight separately in diverse brigades; under the system of the French, Americans, Germans, Turks, etc. three battalions compose a regiment and these fight together under a colonel, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd battalions of a regiment thus corresponding roughly to the four (in 1918 three) battalions of a British brigade under its brigadier-general.


REGIMENTAL AID POST:

The post in or close behind the line where the regimental surgeon and details give first treatment.


REVETMENT:

A buttress of wood, sandbags, or other material to hold up the steep side of trenches or open works.


RIFLE GRENADE:

A grenade or bomb fired from a rifle by special contrivances-sometimes by the insertion of a rod into the rifle- barrel ; sometimes operated by the firing of an ordinary cartridge.


RIFLE-PIT:

Shallow pits dug by soldiers, usually under fire in battle, from which they can fire their rifles; the first stage of a trench.


SALIENT:

A curve in the line of battle, projecting towards or into the enemy’s line.


SALVO:

A single discharge of the guns of a battery in succession.


SANGAR:

A wall of loose stones piled so as to form a small breastwork.


SAP:

A work similar to a trench, but dug forward from an existing trench or cavity by men working below the level of the surface.


SECTION (of infantry):

Full strength, 16 men; normal strength, 8 to 12, under a sergeant.


SECTION (of a battery of artillery):

Two guns.


“SEVENTY-FIVE”:

The 75-millimetre field gun of the French army.


“SEVENTY-SEVEN”:

The 77-millimetre field gun of the German army - in soldier’s slang the “whizz-bang.”


SHRAPNEL:

A shell containing a number of pellets, which are usually set free from the shell case by a slight timed-burst in the air, and thrown forward upon the ground by the speed of the shell.


SIXTY-POUNDER:

The “heavy” field gun of the British army, a long-barrelled gun of 5 inch bore.


SMALL-ARMS AMMUNITION:

Ammunition for rifles, machine-guns, and revolvers.


SNIPER:

One who shoots at individual enemies, usually from cover and as a rule at long range.

 
SORTIE:

A sally by body of besieged troops upon their besiegers.

 
SQUADRON OF CAVALRY, etc.:

The third part of a regiment; full strength, 158; normal rifle strength, dismounted, excluding horse-holders, 80; it consists of four troops.


STAFF-CAPTAIN (of an infantry brigade):

The junior of the two chief staff-officers of a brigade. In battle he deals largely with the provision of supplies to the troops of the brigade in the firing line.


“STAND TO”:

An order given in the trenches to man the fire-step at the hour when an attack may usually be expected.


STARSHELL:

A shell which bursts into brilliant stars, and is sometimes used to illumine an enemy’s position at night.


STATIONARY HOSPITAL:

A hospital originally intended to be intermediate between the casualty clearing-station and the general hospital.


STICKBOMB:

A grenade used by the Germans, consisting of a small canister filled with high explosive and fitted with a wooden handle to facilitate throwing.


STOKES “GUN”:

A British trench mortar, consisting of a tube into the muzzle of which a high-explosive bomb is inserted. The cartridge which projects the bomb forms part of the bomb itself, and is detonated by the impact resulting from the fall of the bomb to the bottom of the tube.


STORMTROOPS (German, Stürmtruppen):

Troops specially trained and maintained by the Germans to lead attacks.


SUPPORTS:

Troops maintained immediately behind the firing-line for the purpose of immediate reinforcement in attack or defence.


SUPPORT TRENCH:

A trench immediately behind the front fire-trench.


TANKS:

Armoured motor-cars propelled by a caterpillar tractor system.


TAPES:

Usually the tapes laid down to give alignment or direction to troops moving to or forming for an attack.


“TEAR-GAS’’ SHELL:

A shell filled with a sweet-smelling compound, causing the eyes to water profusely; largely used by Germans in 1916 for shelling observation posts, etc.


TEL(Arabic):

Hill.


TEPE(Turkish):

Hill.


TRAJECTORY:

The curve described by a projectile while in the air.


TRAVERSES:

The buttresses interposed between successive bays of a trench as a harrier against enfilading fire.


TRENCH:

A defensive work dug into the ground by troops working from the surface.


TRENCH MORTAR:

A light form of artillery of short range, usually moved on the field by manpower; firing a light, medium or heavy thin-walled bomb which contains explosive in high proportion to its weight.


TROOP OF CAVALRY, etc.;

The fourth part of a squadron. Normal mounted strength, 27, dismounted, excluding horse-holders, 20.


VERY LIGHT:

A bright white firework fired from a pistol, generally used at night to illumine the ground in front of the line.


VICKERS MACHINE-GUN (commonly known as Vickers Gun):

The British “heavy” water-cooled machine-gun, which superseded the “Maxim” used early in the war; its belt contains 250 rounds. The “team” of a Vickers Gun is normally six men.


WADI (Arabic):

A watercourse only temporarily containing water.


WHIPPET:

A light form of “tank.”


WIRE:

Usually barbed-wire entanglement of which one or more belts are, where possible, constructed in front of the fire-trenches.


YELLOW CROSS SHELL:

A German “gas” shell containing an oil of which the usual effect is to blister the eyes, mouth, armpits, crutch, and other delicate surfaces. The most effective of Ger- man “gas” shells: first used in 1917. Often known as “mustard gas” shell.


YERE (Turkish):

Hill.


YILDIRIM (Group, Headquarters, Troops, etc.):

Name given by the Turks to the striking force, formed on 15th July 1917 commanded by General von Falkenhayn and intended for the recapture of Baghdad. Its headquarters, however, and some of its troops were almost immediately diverted to Palestine where, on 1st March, 1918, Marshal Liman von Sanders took over command in succession to von Falkenhayn. Yildirim was the name applied to the Sultan Bayazid in the 14th century, and means “lightning.”


ZERO:

The hour fixed for the launching of troops in an attack. Time, in battle, is sometimes calculated by reference to this moment; e g., if “zero” is 3.20 a.m., 3.05 a m. may be known as “zero minus 15.” or 5 a.m. as “zero plus 100 often shortened to “plus 100”.

 

Further Reading:

B103, Index to Common Terms

Battles where Australians Fought

AIF, MEF and the EEF

 


Citation: AIF & MEF & EEF, Glossary of Australian Military Terms

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 9 July 2009 7:28 PM EADT

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