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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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Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Kut el Amara, Mesopotamia, December 3, 1915, to April 29, 1916
Topic: BatzM - Kut el Amara

Kut el Amara

Mesopotamia, 3 December 1915 to 29 April 1916


A view of Kut el Amara prior to the battles.


Kut el Amara, scene in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) of the capitulation of 13,000 British and Indian soldiers under Major-General Charles townshend to Turkish forces on 29 April 1916, after a five-month siege. Townshend's successful campaign up the Tigris turned sour in late November 1915, when his troops were less than 30 kilometres from Baghdad (see Ctesiphon), and by 3 December he was back in Kut which he had captured in September. Withdrawal further down the river was out of the question, both because of the exhausted state of his 6th Indian Division and the pursuit of his men by a greatly superior enemy force. The latter made a few attempts to carry the town by assault, before settling down to starve out the defenders.

The fate of Townshend's command was sealed when attempts to break the siege from the south in January and February 1916 both failed. The number of Turks investing the place only became progressively stronger, as forces released after the ending of the Dardanelles campaign began arriving. The garrison had already experienced deaths from starvation when Townshend was forced to open the negotiations which resulted in unconditional surrender. Among the troops who passed into Turkish captivity were more than 40 members of No.30 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps-mostly ground staff and mechanics left behind after all flyable aircraft were sent out on 7 December 1915. Included in this group were nine Australian Flying Corps personnel who were serving with the unit; only two of these men were among the 2,000 members of the Kut garrison who survived their captivity.


Official History Map of the first Battle of Kut


Part of No. 30 Squadron was not locked up in Kut, including eight other mechanics and one pilot of the AFC. These played a notable part in attempts to meet part of the beleaguered garrison's food requirements by aerial delivery. The pilot, Captain Henry Petre, flew several missions to air-drop grain and other essentials within the perimeter, while a corporal manufactured parachutes for the safe delivery of breakables - including a millstone for grinding corn. The appearance of German Fokker fighters, however, put a stop to this effort, after some five tonnes of supplies had been thus delivered. With the outcome at Kut now inevitable, Petre and the AFC men were returned to Basra (350 kilometres away to the south-east) and all were transferred to Egypt in early 1916. Their departure ended the involvement of Australian airmen in this theatre.


From left: Capt H A Petre, Capt T W White, Lt H Christian (Indian 119th) and Lt GP Merz of No. 30 Squadron.


Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 112.

Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

F.M. Cutlack, (1923), The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914 - 1918, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

George Odgers, ( 1984), The Royal Australian Air Force: An Illustrated History, Brookvale, NSW Child & Henry.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Kut el Amara, Mesopotamia, December 3, 1915, to April 29, 1916

Posted by Project Leader at 9:45 PM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 1:25 PM EADT
Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia, November 22 to 25, 1915
Topic: BatzM - Ctesiphon


Mesopotamia, 22 to 25 November 1915


Ctesiphon ruins of King Chosroes's palace


Ctesiphon, fought on 22-25 November 1915 between British and Turkish forces on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), only 25 kilometres south-east of Baghdad. After a long but cleverly conducted advance up the Tigris from the Persian Gulf (see Kurna), Major-General Charles Townshend prepared to send his 6th Indian Division against the last major enemy obstacle to Baghdad. This was an extensive and well-defended position lying east of the Tigris, dominated by the huge facade of the ruined palace of the Persian King Chosroes which sat like 'a giant airship hangar' in the centre of the Turkish lines.

Unknown to Townshend, however, the defenders had been strengthened by a fresh Anatolian division before he could begin his attack. While the severe fighting of the first day succeeded in turning the Turks out of both their first and second lines of trenches, with losses of eight guns and 9,000 men (including 1,300 prisoners), this result cost Townshend some 4,500 casualties of his own - about one-third of his force. Not only was Townshend's force too weak to renew the attack the next day, but by that evening he found himself beset by counter-attacks mounted by the Turks. These battles continued on 24 November, and by the following day had gathered impetus from the arrival of still further fresh troops from the Caucasus. Facing markedly superior enemy numbers, the British had no alternative but to begin a retreat which culminated in defeat at Kut el Amara (see Kut el Amara).

The Australian role in this action involved several airmen who were active both in the preparatory phase and during the battle itself. These were members of the Australian Flying Corps serving with No. 30 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps - the new name given to Mesopotamian Flight, RFC, from August. To cut off Baghdad's communication links with outlying bases, a decision was made to attempt to blow up the telegraph line running north and west of the capital. This required an aircraft to fly nearly 100 kilometres from Azizieh to beyond Baghdad, carrying explosives and fuel for the return flight.

Official History Map of the Ctesiphon battle.


The mission was attempted on 13 November (the day the 6th Division began its forward march) by an aircraft piloted by Captain Thomas White, AFC. The task was successfully accomplished but resulted in the aircraft and its two-man crew being captured on the ground by Turks and Arabs who were unexpectedly encountered in the vicinity. This was particularly unfortunate as White and his observer had noted the presence of large bodies of troops indicating 'apparent reinforcement', which might have given Townshend sufficient forewarning of the difficulties he could expect at Ctesiphon.

As a result of White's capture only one AFC pilot remained available to take part in the battle itself. This officer did useful service flying reconnaissance patrols which kept Townshend's headquarters informed of the attack's progress.

Lieutenant Harold William Treloar, No. 30 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps



Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 111.

Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

F.M. Cutlack, (1923), The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914 - 1918, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

T.W White, (1928), Guests of the Unspeakable, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia, November 22 to 25, 1915

Posted by Project Leader at 8:55 PM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 1:26 PM EADT
The Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900, Roll of Honour
Topic: BatzB - Paardeberg

The Battle of Paardeberg

South Africa, 17-27 February 1900

Allied Forces

Roll of Honour


Poppies on the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra


The Roll of Honour contains the names of all the Allied forces known to have served and lost their lives during the Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900.


Roll of Honour


The Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900, Roll of Honour


Lest we forget



Further Reading:

The Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900

The Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900, Roll of Honour

Boer War, 1899 - 1902  

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, 17-27 February 1900, Roll of Honour

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Thursday, 7 April 2011 9:52 AM EADT
Bert Schramm's Diary, 17 February 1919
Topic: Diary - Schramm

Diaries of AIF Servicemen

Bert Schramm


During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.

 Bert Schramm's Diary, 17 February 1919


Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 14 - 17 February 1919

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Monday, February 17, 1919

Bert Schramm's Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

Bert Schramm's Diary - Every day now seems to be getting more monotonous and this seems now the worst part of the war. It seems rotten to be wasting as much valuable time here now. But expect one ought to be more patient and ought to be thankful he is alive and well.



9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -  1000 - 1100 Ceremonial dismounted drill.

Squadrons and headquarters shoot off for Regimental Representative in the Brigade shoot.



Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

No Entry

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Next: Bert Schramm's Diary, 18 February 1919


Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF War Diary - Complete day by day list

Bert Schramm Diary

Bert Schramm Diary - Complete day by day list


Additional Reading:

Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.


Citation: Bert Schramm's Diary, 17 February 1919

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 3 May 2009 9:24 PM EADT
Monday, 16 February 2009
Hazebrouck, France, April 14 to 17, 1918
Topic: BatzWF - Westn Front


France, 14-17 April 1918


Hazebrouck, an action during what is more generally called the Battle of the Lys in April 1918, caused when the Germans launched an extension of their offensive begun on 21 A-larch. The enemy aimed their blow between Armentieres and La Bassee, at a section of the front held by the Portuguese Corps-who they rightly assessed had little commitment to fighting for the Allies' cause. When attacked on 9 April, the Portuguese broke. A second stroke the next day, falling north of Armentieres, carried the German offensive towards Messines and placed in peril the whole of the British Front in Flanders. Also threatened was Hazebrouck, a crucial rail centre, some 30 kilometres west of Armentieres.

The defences of the Messines sector had been vacated barely a week earlier by the 1st and 2nd Australian divisions, these being sent to follow the rest of the Australian Corps towards Amiens. Even so, some Australian units which remained-artillery and tunnellers mostly-became caught up in this fighting associated with the British withdrawal. The 1st Division, under Major General Harold Walker, was hastily re-entrained and returned north. Arriving on 12 April, the Australians became part of the British Second Army reserve and took up defensive positions about eight kilometres east of Hazebrouck, extending south from Strazeele to in front of the Nieppe Forest. By dusk the next day, all retreating troops had passed through and the Australian posts were effectively_ the new front line; both the division's flanks touched with British formations--on the left the 33rd Division, on the right the 5th Division.

After an artillery barrage beginning at 6.30 a.m. on 14 April, the Germans launched their attacks. These were broken up by answering British guns, and by devastating rifle and machine-gun fire whenever the enemy ranks reached close range. Nowhere were the Australian posts seriously threatened. When the enemy attacks against the 33rd Division saw the town of Meteren fall on 16 April, the 1st Brigade (holding the left of the Australian front) was required to push out its flank in this direction, to support a counter-attack ordered to be made at dusk by the French 133rd Division but which never took place.

While the Australian front was thus extended, the next morning it was subjected to another heavy bombardment foretelling an attack to follow. The enemy were easily driven off, however, and repeated attempts to advance throughout the day were defeated before they could get underway. The next day, 18 April, the Australian Division was ordered to sideslip further north and relieve the French at Meteren. This was accomplished by inserting the 3rd Brigade (under Brig.-General Gordon Bennett), until then in reserve, on the 1st Brigade's left, and withdrawing the 2nd Brigade from the right into reserve after its positions were taken over by the 31st Division. Following this adjustment, an attempt was made by the 3rd Brigade to recapture Meteren in a two phase operation carried out over successive nights. The first phase (on 22-23 April) went smoothly, but the second was sharply repulsed-bringing casualties in the failed attempt to about 200. Nonetheless the Allied line in this area had been stabilised, and the Germans confined their efforts to seizing high ground west of Messines.


Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 142-143.


Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:

C.E.W. Bean (1937) The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Main German Offensive, 1918, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Hazebrouck, France, April 14 to 17, 1918

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2009 12:16 PM EADT

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