Montbrehain - the Beaurevoir Line 5th October 1918
The last major operation took pace on the 5th October near Montbrehain. The AIF was by this stage 'bled white' by casualties and so spent that some Battalions numbered only 250 men or so. It was rested out of the line where it remained until the cessation of hostilities on the 11th November.
The Australian attack on 5 October was the last in which Australian troops would participate in the Great War. 2nd Australian Division had been brought forward following the successes of 3rd and 5th Divisions in breaking through the two forward defensive lines and the exhausted Australian were taken out of the line to rest.
The 6th Australian Infantry Brigade (/explore/units/54) was chosen to be the last Australian brigade to be employed on operations on the Western Front when, after a delayed handover to II American Corps the brigade fought for and took Montbrehain village. This highly successful attack is considered to be one of the greatest Australian actions of the war.
On the misty morning of 5 October, the assault battalions – 21st and 24th bolstered by Pioneers from 2nd Pioneer Battalion fighting as Infantry – attacked uphill from the little village of Ramicourt across five hundred metres of fire-swept ground. They scrambled through barbed wire entanglements, captured trenches, cleared dugouts and repeatedly assaulted machine gun positions “riding them down in a manner which delighted our men” according the 24 Battalions Diary. By capturing Montbrehain and holding it against determined German counter attacks the much vaunted Hindenburg Line was completely broken. The defence of this sector was then handed over to Americans troops, while the Australians, exhausted and depleted, were withdrawn for a rest.
By this time, most Australian troops had been fighting for six months without a break, 11 out of 60 battalions were disbanded because there were so few men left in them, and 27,000 men had been killed or wounded since the Battle of Amiens. The troops were tired, worn out and war weary.
Captain Francis Fairweather wrote in late September:
Unless one understands the position it would seem that the Australians are being worked to death as we have been going continuously since 27th March but they are the only troops that would have the initiative for this type of warfare.