Topic: BatzWF - Westn Front
The Battle of Polygon Wood
Belgium, 26 September 1917
Polygon Wood, fought on 26 September 1917, following the successful outcome of the British attack at Menin Road (q.v.). The two Australian divisions used in that attack were quickly relieved - on the right the 5th replacing the 1st, on the left the 4th replacing the 2nd - and preparations were put in train for the next blow in the sequence. Another advance of some 1,500 metres was intended, this time through the shattered remains of a young plantation.
The day before the scheduled operation, a German counter-thrust fell upon the British 10th Corps immediately south of the 5th Division's Flank. This was a potentially disastrous event, because although the 15th Brigade helped its neighbouring British units to fight off the attack and secure its own start-line for the next day, it was not possible to clear all the enemy from this area. Thus the Australian right faced the prospect of having its flank insecure when the time came for the advance.
At 5.50 a.m. on the 26th the protective artillery barrage descended as planned, and the two Australian divisions went forward behind it at the centre of a front extending nearly ten kilometres. All the objectives along the Australian front and points north were, with minor exceptions, quickly captured. On the exposed southern flank, the 15th Brigade - reinforced by two battalions of the 8th Brigade - managed to take not only its own final objective but also part of that of the 10th Corps. Again, any German counterattack was thwarted by the curtain of artillery fire lowered as soon as the troops had reached their positions. Australian losses in the action amounted to 5,770 men.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 131.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean, (1933), The Australian Imperial Force in France 1917, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
Citation: The Battle of Polygon Wood, Belgium, 26 September 1917, Outline