Topic: BatzWF - Westn Front
The Battle of Menin Road
Belgium, 20 September 1917
Menin Road, the first operation of the Third Battle of Ypres in which Australians took part, was fought on 20 September 1917. In preparation for this attack, the 1st and 2nd Australian divisions took over a portion of the front-line east of the town, on the main ridge at Glencorse Wood and a spur just north of there called Westhoek Ridge. I Anzac Corps formed the left flank of the Second Army for this attack, while north of the Australians would be three divisions of the Fifth Army-thus making for an attack frontage of thirteen kilometres.
Following an intense artillery barrage, the two Australian divisions advanced at 5.40 a.m., the first time two AIF formations had attacked side by side. Moving in two bounds with a one-hour and a two-hour pause in between, they covered the 1,500 metres to their final objective and were able to secure this with minimal interference from the enemy, who were unable to deliver counter-attacks because of the British standing barrage. Despite the effective cover thus provided the infantry, the troops still had much hard fighting against pillboxes and other strong points. Enemy artillery fire was also brought to bear, and at one stage the Australians were accidentally hit by their own guns. While this battle proved the worth of step-by-step tactics, the two AIF divisions still sustained 5,013 casualties and the total British loss was between 20,000 - 27,000 men. The Germans had suffered to about an equal extent, but whereas the attackers were elated the effect on the enemy was practically crushing.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 130.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean, (1933), The Australian Imperial Force in France 1917, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
P.A. Pedersen, (1985), Monash as Military Commander, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press.
Citation: The Battle of Menin Road, Belgium, 20 September 1917, Outline