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The Last in the Line.
The Last in the Line. 
 

Western Mail, Thursday 29 March 1933, page 2

The Last in the Line.

Which of the AIF infantry battalions was last in the front line in France?

According to the history, of the 22nd Battalion, by Captain E. Gorman, M.C.; the 22nd can claim to- haw been “one of the last - if not the last.” The 22nd was engaged In the final fighting in which the Australian infantry took part in the Beaurevoir-Montbehain sector, and was not relieved until the small hours of October 6. Among members of the 22nd who fell in the last engagement were Private "Scotty" McAlpine, whose leave pass to Blighty arrived at battalion headquarters just as the news of his death came through from his company; and Second Lieutenant P. J. Dawsett, who had rejoined from the O.T.C., with his commission, only a few days before he was killed.

After the armistice, when the battalion was billeted at Marcinelle, suburb of Charleroi, the regimental colours were sent up to Cologne to be dipped in the waters of the Rhine. The diggers of the 22nd were determined that if they could not cross the Rhine as a complete force, the colours would do it for them: The first flag was dipped near the Hohenzollern Bridge by the C.O. on February 19, 1919, and two others were dipped at the same spot, a month later, by Lieutenant H. Smith, M.C., M.M., and Lieutenant E. Thewlis, M.C. German civilians congregated and gazed with interest at the ceremony. The flags were brought back to Australia, and two of them were presented to the Australian War Museum.

Of the 8,009 men who passed through the 22nd Battalion, 46 officers and 798 other ranks were killed, while the total casualties - killed, wounded, gassed, sick, and prisoners of war – amounted to 5,406. Sergeant (later Lieutenant) W. Ruthven was the 22nd’s V.C. winner, and there were 252 other decorations awarded, including D.S.O., 4; M.C., 36 (two bars); D.C.M., 22 (one bar); M.M., 151 (11 bars).

It was at Kemmel that some industrious statistician was able to prove that throughout all the 22nd’s eventful history, No. 13 Platoon had enjoyed phenomenal good fortune, and suffered far few losses than any other platoon in the battalion. On the other hand, No. 16 Platoon had been extremely unfortunate, both as regards men and officers. Thirteen is always reputed to be an unlucky number, but in the 22nd it was the-reverse.