Arthur Robert BRAZIER

BRAZIER, Arthur Robert

Service Number: 2426
Enlisted: 9 February 1916, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Machine Gun Battalion
Born: Wondai, Queensland, Australia, 12 September 1896
Home Town: Wondai, South Burnett, Queensland
Schooling: Jandowae State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 2 September 1918, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Hem Farm Military Cemetery, Hem-Monacu. France
Plot II, Row J, Grave No. 15
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Boondooma Homestead Memorial Plaques, Gayndah District Honour Roll, Gayndah War Memorial, Wondai Shire Honour Roll WW1
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World War 1 Service

9 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2426, 41st Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Queensland
21 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2426, 41st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '18' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Boonah embarkation_ship_number: A48 public_note: ''
21 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2426, 41st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Boonah, Brisbane
2 Sep 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2426, 2nd Machine Gun Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 2426 awm_unit: 2nd Australian Machine Gun Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1918-09-02

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Son of Charles and Jane Brazier

Biography contributed by Ian Lang

#2426 BRAZIER Arthur Robert  5th MG Company / 2nd MG Battalion
Arthur Brazier was born at Jandowae on the Western Downs to Charles and Jane Brazier. Arthur attended school at Jandowae and then left to work on the family property. The family moved to Wondai to continue working on the land. Arthur’s father stated that Arthur was a stockman.
Arthur presented himself for enlistment at Gayndah on 9th February 1916, just two days after his elder brother William Thomas enlisted. He gave his occupation as labourer and address as ‘Waringa’ via Wondai. Arthur was 6’2” tall and at the time of his enlistment was 19 years old.
There was no immediate need for reinforcements in the AIF in early 1916 as the coverage of the Gallipoli Campaign had spurred a flood of recruits which were being organised into an expanded AIF in Egypt. Consequently, Arthur remained in camp at Enoggera until 21st October 1916 when he and the 4th echelon of reinforcements for the 41st Battalion boarded the ‘Boonah’ in Brisbane for a sea voyage to England, sailing via Durban, Capetown and Sierra Leone. After two and a half months at sea, the reinforcements landed at Plymouth on 10th January 1917 and then marched out to the 11th Training Battalion. Arthur became sick with influenza and bronchitis (due no doubt to the exposure to the British winter) and was hospitalised for three months before being discharged to the 3rd Division Training Base at Larkhill under the command of Maj Gen John Monash.
In July 1917, Arthur was transferred to the Machine Gun Training Depot at Grantham where he his record shows he was trained in the use of the Hotchkiss Machine Gun. The Hotchkiss, unlike the other heavy machine guns of that era was not water cooled but air cooled. It was the weapon of choice of the French infantry and also the US Army when the American troops arrived on the Western Front. The gun did not however see service in either the British or Australian Army where the weapon of choice was the Vickers Heavy Machine Gun. On 11th October, Arthur crossed over to France via Folkstone and reported to the MG Depot at Camiers near Havre. Arthur was taken on strength by the 5th Machine Gun Company on 16thOctober in the Ypres salient.
October 1917 brought about the end of the Flanders Campaign for the British when heavy rains turned the battlefield into a quagmire across which advancing troops exhausted themselves in attempting to move up to the line. The gunners of the 5th MG Company enjoyed a well earned rest in the rear area near Steenvoorde when the 22 reinforcements from Camiers, which included Arthur, marched in to the billets. After a few weeks of rest and replacement of equipment, much of which had been lost in the mud at Passchendaele, the gun teams went back into the front line near Messines to engage in nightly harassing fire of enemy positions.
The Vickers machine gun was a cumbersome weapon to deploy, requiring a team of six or more men to move it into position along with its tripod, cans of ammunition and water canister which cooled the barrel. However once positioned, a gun team could maintain a constant rate of fire almost indefinitely. Guns were usually sited in a battery of three or more guns with overlapping fields of fire and when employed in this way could put up withering fire against advancing infantry.
A peace treaty between Germany and Russia signed in December 1917released up to sixty German divisions which, once re-equipped and re-trained, could be used to press home a distinct advantage on the Western Front. The window for exploiting this advantage was however rather small as the entry of the United States into the war and an expected surge in troop numbers from July 1918 onwards would swing the advantage back to the Entente. The German commander, Ludendorff had only a short time to press home his advantage.
The British Commander, General Haig, was fully expecting a German assault in the spring of 1918 but he guessed incorrectly that the main thrust would be aimed at the Ypres salient in Belgium. When Operation Michael began on 21st March, the main assault was aimed along the line of the Somme River. The British 5thArmy, which was holding the line astride the Somme was unable to hold the German onslaught which in some places amounted to a five time numerical advantage. As the British retreated, often in disarray, the German Stormtroopers retook all of the gains made by the British in the Somme campaign of 1916 and were within a few days of capturing the vital communication city of Amiens. If Amiens fell, Haig might well have lost the war; the situation was deadly serious.
Haig ordered his most successful and battle hardened troops, four of the five divisions of the AIF in Belgium to race south to establish a defensive line in front of Amiens.
On 1st April 1918, the 5th MG Coy loaded up their wagons and joined the exodus south to take up defensive positions south east of Amiens at Gentilles where the gun teams set up their defensive positions facing the advancing German divisions. The war diary records frequent engagements with the enemy over the next month.
On 9th May, Arthur reported sick and was hospitalised in the US Army Hospital at Rouen with another bout of influenza. Upon discharge, Arthur returned to his unit. By June, the tide of the German assault had been dispersed by the British and Dominion Forces operating north and south of the Somme. A major counter strike was called for by the overall commander of the British and French Forces, Field Marshall Foch. The battle was timed for the 8th August. Much of the planning was done by the Australian Corps Commander Lieutenant General John Monash, incorporating many of the tactics he had used in a highly successful attack at Hamel one month before.
The machine gunners were tasked with following advancing infantry to set up enfilading fields of fire and to engage targets as they arose as the advance continued. Arthur’s Company continued to press eastwards as the German forces capitulated in the face of overwhelming fire power. The war diary reported that the 8 guns of the 5th MG Coy fired a combined barrage of 60,000 rounds on the 8th August, with similar expenditure of ammunition over the next week.
On 2nd September, the machine gunners were called up to support an attack by the 7th Infantry Brigade of the AIF at Cappy. The war diary reports that enemy aircraft were bombing their positions and heavy artillery shells fell along the line with the result that two men were killed and 8 wounded. One of those killed was Pte Brazier. The war graves record  shows his age as 24; but this does not align with his age at enlistment of 19 and a half. It is more likely that his true age was 21 when he was killed.
Arthur’s body was carried to the rear by a burial party and he was laid to rest in the Clery British Cemetery with the Reverend Smith in attendance. His few personal possessions, which included a broken wristwatch, a fountain pen and a gold ring, were delivered to Arthur’s father at Wondai.
At the end of the war, the Imperial War Graves Commission began to consolidate burials in small cemeteries into larger permanent locations. Arthur’s remains were exhumed and reinterred in the Hem Farm Military Cemetery outside Peronne. His family chose the following inscription for the permanent headstone: HIS DUTY BRAVELY DONE