Polygon Wood (World War 1, 26 September 1917 to 3 October 1917)

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About This Campaign

 

Polygon Wood 26 Sep 1917

The battle of Polygon Wood was the I ANZAC component of a larger British and Dominion operation staged as part of the third battle of Ypres. This operation was the second of the "Plumer battles", a serious of well-planned, limited advances supported by large volumes of artillery, masterminded by the British general Herbert Plumer.  He advocated and executed what was described as "Bite and Hold" tactics which were very successful in countering the tendency of British attacks to over-reach and become vulnerable to German counter-attack. The name "Polygon Wood" derived from a young plantation forest that lay along I ANZAC's axis of advance, the western extremity of which had been reached in the earlier Battle of Menin Road.

                              

Right Assault Division I ANZAC Corps

                             

Scheduled to begin on 26 September 1917, the operation was almost derailed by a German attack on the British X Corps to the south of I ANZAC. A day earlier, Australian troops of the 15th Brigade, preparing for their attack, took part in fending off the Germans; however, their advance the next day began with continuing uncertainty as to the security of their flank.

The British and Dominion advance began on schedule at 5.50 am on the 26th, with the 4th and 5th Divisions, on the left and right respectively, taking the lead in the I ANZAC sector. The infantry advanced behind a heavy artillery barrage - the noise of this was compared to a roaring bushfire - and they secured most of their objectives without difficulty. To the south, the 15th Brigade, which after its efforts the previous day had been reinforced by two battalions from the 8th, secured not only its own objectives but those allocated to the neighbouring 98th British Brigade. The Germans launched several counter-attacks but these were thwarted by the heavy defensive artillery barrages used to protect the infantry consolidating on their objectives; this was a feature of the Plumer battles. The battle cost 5,770 Australian casualties.

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Stories

Private A.V. Barber wrote:


Slowly we advance, keeping behind the creeping barrage, which churns up the whole country. The red flashes of bursting shells mark its progress. The men advance, not altogether as on parade, but sections grouped. As the creeping barrage reaches the first line of enemy trenches, the standing barrage lifts and falls on his support trenches, while the creeping barrage maintains its rate of 100 yards to the minute. As we approach the enemy’s front line, those who have survived that hell come running towards us, all their equipment gone, hands above their heads, crying “Kamerad!” Hastily they are grouped together, put in charge of one of our chaps and sent off to the rear. The front line simply doesn’t exist as a trench. Recognisable mostly by arms and legs showing above the surface, we can just make out its position.’ 5

Thanks to Neville Browning for sourcing this quote

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Names

Showing 8 people of interest from campaign

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PRITCHARD, Granville

Service number 7259
Lieutenant
5th Divisional Engineers
AIF WW1
Born 1 Jul 1888

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MOLE, John Joseph

Service number 167
Private
47th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 31 May 1891

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MUMFORD, William Owen

Service number 7271
Private
23rd Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 1897

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HURL, George

Service number S69736
Private
2nd (SA) Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC)
Australian Military Forces (Army WW2)
Born 25 Jan 1889

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PIGGOTT, Stephen Leslie

Service number 26103
Gunner
103rd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery
AIF WW1
Born 12 Dec 1888

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DORNAUF, Angus

Service number 2168
Private
32nd Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 27 Dec 1893

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BERGER, John Francis

Service number N438178
Private
53rd Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 9 Mar 1897

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HUGHES, Frederick Henry

Service number 4523
Private
58th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 22 May 1893

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