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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

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Armament
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia



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:


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.


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
Gallipoli Campaign - 1915-16, Outline
Topic: BatzG - Gallipoli

Gallipoli Campaign - 1915-16



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
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Forts and Fixed Defences
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

Forts and Fixed Defences


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. 71 - 72:

Forts and Fixed Defences

Very early in the life of the Settlement, Officers of the Regular Army drew attention to the lack of sea-ward defences at the Ports, especially at Fremantle. Captain FC Irwin was the first to do so and at his instigation Captain Twiss, R.E., was sent from Tasmania in 1846 to inspect and report on barracks and defences. Captain Twiss recommended the mounting of five 32Pr. S.B. M.L. [32 pounder smooth bore muzzle loading] guns at Arthur's Head. Nothing resulted.

In 1854, Captain EYW Henderson, R.E., recommended the erection of a Martello Tower at Point Anglesea and five Batteries at supporting points with connecting roads. The Martello Tower was to be armed with three 8-in guns and each Battery was to consist of four 12Pr. howitzers. He later switched the Martello Tower site to Arthur's Head. The Tower was to cost £1,176/1/8, and the other works £390/12/7,-all at the Colony's expense. Again nothing resulted.

Lieutenant Colonel J Bruce raised the matter in 1861. In that year Sir Peter Scratchley came to inspect and report; his plan was to have two 7-in (6½ ton) and three 16Pr, guns (all muzzle-loaders of course) on travelling carriages at Fremantle. The War Office offered to provide the guns. Albany was to have only light armament. The proposal was shelved. Actually the two 7-in guns did arrive and after reposing uselessly on the sand at Karrakatta for some considerable time were sent to King's Park for decorative purposes.

No further action was taken until the question of a protective Fort for the Royal Naval coal reserves at Albany arose in 1892-93.

A joint Naval and Military Committee met on 4 October 1899 to consider Fremantle Defence requirements. There is no available record of this Committee's recommendations but it is significant that the erection of defences at Fremantle commenced in 1904.

An Artillery gun-shed was erected in Francis Street, Perth, in 1885. The Francis Street Headquarters building was erected in 1896; the Ordnance Store in Museum Street followed a little later and the adjacent Drill Hall was erected in 1901.

The "Barracks" erected at the western end of St. George's Terrace was in no way connected with the Volunteer Movement.


Previous:  Armament

Next: Rifle Ranges 


Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Forts and Fixed Defences

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 4 September 2009 6:54 PM EADT
El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, 8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account
Topic: AIF - 3B - 8 LHR

El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917

8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account


8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 1.


War Diary of the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF

The War Diary provides an excellent reference to the day to day activities of note that occurred within a particular unit. They were never designed to be histories in themselves but aids to future historians who wish to write about their deeds. The War Diary was often written up at the end of the day when most men were weary and seen as just another useless activity demanded by "the Heads" in far off places. It was only years later when unit histories were produced that the value of the War Diaries became to be realised by the men. The result is that the War Diary is usually light on detail. These details can be supplemented by Routine Orders and signals where these may exist.


The entry for Saturday, 1 December 1917 is transcribed below.

War Diary Entry

Saturday, 1 December 1917

8th Light Horse Regiment Location -

El Burj.

8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -

Line was all quiet until 0030 on 1 December 1917 when Captain Walker, MC, "B" Squadron, reported enemy concentration on his immediate front. Brigade Headquarters were wired immediately, priority, for reinforcements.

The enemy attacked about 250 strong with many bombs at 0045 and after half an hour's heavy fighting at very close quarters, "B" Squadron were compelled to fall back to (Major Crawford's) "C" Squadron's position. Here a fresh line was made, every available man being in the firing line.

48 men of the Gloucester Yeomanry, under Lieutenant Colonel Palmer, arrived at 0200 and the enemy just then made a fresh assault. One company of the 4th Royal Scottish Fusiliers under Captain Henry arrived at 0230 and all were immediately sent into the line.

The enemy made two distinct rushes with about 500 men, and were each time held off with a very heavy close range fire.

The fighting gradually diminished and the enemy position was rendered absolutely safe by the arrival at 0430 of another Royal Scottish Fusiliers company who were kept in supports. "B" Squadron took possession of their original position and touch was again made with 4th Light Horse Brigade on right flank.


8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, Saturday, 1 December 1917, page 2.


Throughout the hours of fighting there was much heavy bombing, especially on the part of the enemy who were evidently well supplied. Our Mills Grenades were very superior and effective. The 9th Light Horse Regiment had managed to get a rearguard machine gun fire and this partly had the effect of cutting the enemy off from Shilta Village.

At daybreak the survivors surrendered amounting approximately to:-

6 Officers (including the Battalion Commander), and 112 Other Ranks, and about 20 wounded.
The enemy dead amounted to approximately 100. (20 on "B" Squadron's ridge and 80 on "C" Squadron's ridge.) 
The Royal Scottish Fusiliers and Yeomanry did splendid work and had it not been for their very quick arrival after the alarm, the Regiment would have received a very severe handling.
Our casualties were (approximately) 2 Officers - Captain Fay and Lieutenant SK Moore killed and 5 Other Ranks and 2 Officers and 35 Other Ranks wounded (one of them since died). All ranks displayed great intrepidity and dash throughout.
Major General Hodgson visited the Regiment next morning and personally expressed his pleasure and congratulations. The two attached telegrams are copies of those received from Desert Corps and 20th Army Corps.
During the morning the Royal Scottish Fusiliers were withdrawn and the Regiment continued to hold the line with the Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. Much booty was collected throughout the day included in which were 8 new type automatic rifles.

The 6th Nottinghamshire Battalion (2 Companies) reported to Regimental Headquarters as reserves at 2030 and retired at 0500 on 2 December 1917.

During the day a wire was received containing the following awards:

405 Lance Corporal J Kerr, Military Medal
1176 Trooper ES Ackland, Military Medal
3103 Trooper L Taylor, Military Medal

Regiment held firing line as taken over on night of 30 November / 1 December, with Gloucester Yeomanry in supports. At 0230, 1 Company South Nottinghamshires reported at Reserve Troops and remained in vicinity of Regimental Headquarters until 0500, 2 December 1917.


Roll of Honour

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Ernest Bell

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, James Egan

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, George Fay

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Charles John Grachan

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Thomas Lister Grove

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Alexander McKinnon

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Samuel Vincent Moore

8th LHR, AIF, Roll of Honour, Stanley John Turner

Lest we forget


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

The Battle of El Burj, 1 December 1917

8th Light Horse Regiment, AIF


The War Diary of the 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF is held by the Australian War Memorial and available online at no cost.


Citation: El Burj, Palestine, 1 December 1917, 8th Light Horse Regiment War Diary Account

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 13 July 2009 10:54 PM EADT
AIF & MEF & EEF, Glossary of Australian Military Terms
Topic: 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:



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.


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


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


The branch dealing mainly with personnel.


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


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.


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


(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).


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.


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.


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


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


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


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).



BAIR (Turkish):

Slope or spur.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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

BIR (Arabic):

A well.


An encampment without tents or huts.


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.


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


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


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


(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”.


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


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


Usually the chief general staff officer of an army corps.


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


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


The diameter of the bore of a firearm.


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


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


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


A country residence in France.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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

DERE (Turkish):


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.


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


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


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.


The horse-drawn supply organisation of a division.


A metal pot in which food is cooked.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


An inn.


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."


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


A camp rumour.


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.


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


The means employed to warn troops of a gas attack.


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.


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


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


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


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


A type of German gas-shell mainly containing phosgene.


A hand-thrown bomb. See also RIFLE GRENADE.




The pit usually dug as an emplacement for a gun.


Nitro-glycerine compounds with powerful explosive properties.


Shell filled with a high explosive.


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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

KUVU (Turkish):

A well.




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.


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


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


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.


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.).


A signaller sent out to repair field-telegraph lines.


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.


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


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


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


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.


German for “trench mortar".


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


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


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


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.


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


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


A gully or dried up stream-bed.


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


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


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..


A knapsack (carried on the back).


The earth thrown up at the back of a trench.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


The 75-millimetre field gun of the French army.


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


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.


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


Ammunition for rifles, machine-guns, and revolvers.


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


A sally by body of besieged troops upon their besiegers.


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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


A trench immediately behind the front fire-trench.


Armoured motor-cars propelled by a caterpillar tractor system.


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


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.






The curve described by a projectile while in the air.


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


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


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.


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


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.


A light form of “tank.”


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


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):


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.”


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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