Flers/Gueudecourt (World War 1, 18 October 1916 to 16 November 1916)

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About This Campaign

Flers / Guedecourt   18 October - 16 November 1916

Following Pozières / Mouquet Farm, the Australian 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Divisions were moved to Flanders. The 3rd Division meanwhile was in the UK, training, yet to deploy to the Front.

On October 9 the men of the 2nd Division received word they would be moving back to the Somme as winter approached. They found themselves moving into the line just east of Pozières on the British right flank where they were to form a key part of planned 'winter offensive' as the cold came early in 1916. 

The soldiers noted that the British line had advanced some 3km since September but autumn rain had turned the place into a quagmire.  Much worse was to come - the coldest winter in living memory.

With an imminent attack at Flers, the Second Division was to be the 'the spear' thrust into the enemy.  The men of the the 7th Brigade were to be its tip.

 

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Stories

"....getting killed like flies.."

Guedecourt

Private W Lewis wrote:

‘Our officers gave the order, so we started. There were many who could not get out of the mud. I was one of them, so some of my cobbers gave me a hand and we got up on the parapet and had to stand there and scrape off the mud before we could go, not only me but everybody. While they were doing this, they were getting killed like flies. The fellow alongside of me got a bullet through his head.’


Private E Morrow wrote:


‘The road was sloppy, slippery mud and slush pitted with shell-holes filled to the level of the road with mud. We could only stagger and slide into them knee and thigh deep. Slimy, horrible mud! Ammunition limbers and G.S. wagons were lying beside the road shattered and broken. Dead mules and horses lay half covered with slush – a depressing sight calculated to make us curse the war with every carcass we passed. They died in harness as thousands of men did, but it was not of their own choosing or will.

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Private D.B. Harford wrote:

‘At six o’clock this morning I shot a Hun, an observer, at 400 yards. I happened to spot him with a pair of field glasses I had borrowed. He was all alone, looking through a pair of field glasses with his head and shoulders above the parapet (foolish fellow). My loophole was well hidden, a plate of steel (or iron, I am not certain which). About three eighths of an inch thick, set into the parapet, with a hole just big enough to put the rifle through. There was a big bush of giant nettles growing around the loophole, which added to its invisibility. Took careful but quick aim and pulled the trigger. He spread his arms out and fell backwards, throwing his glasses in the air as he fell. When I saw him fall a queer thrill shot through me, it was a different feeling to that which I had when I shot my first kangaroo, when I was a boy. For one instant I felt sick and faint, but the feeling soon passed and I was my normal self again and looking for more shots, which I did not get that day.’ 2

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Names

Showing 8 people of interest from campaign

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BUTCHER, Reginald George

Service number 4674
Private
27th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 12 Oct 1892

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OLDFIELD, Earl

Service number 660
Sergeant
27th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1

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ARNOLD, William Henry

Service number 1129
Second Lieutenant
21st Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 19 Nov 1895

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MCNEIL, James Robert

Service number 4483
Private
27th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 7 Feb 1878

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CURVEY, Archibald John

Service number 4675
Lance Corporal
20th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 13 Jun 1886

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MILLAR, William

Service number 759
Private
12th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born Jun 1879

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TEVELEIN, Eric Laidlaw

Service number 29
Corporal
18th Infantry Battalion
AIF WW1
Born 15 Aug 1890

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THOMAS, Edward Courtney

Service number 3282
Private
6th Field Ambulance
AIF WW1
Born 1893

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