29th Infantry Battalion (Vic), 8th Brigade, 5th Division, AIF

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About This Unit

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The 29th Battalion was raised in Victoria. Its colour patch indicates that it is part of the 5th Division by the vertical rectangle. The yellow sidebar is unique to the 8th Brigade.  The black sidebar indicates it is the first battalion of the four that belong to the Brigade.

The 29th was embarked to become the first battalion in the 8th Brigade of the 5th Division when the latter was raised in Egypt during the  the 'doubling of the AIF' in early 1916.   The 8th Brigade was a composite Brigade with a Battalion each from Victoria, New South Wales, and two 'outer States' Battalions, one drawn from Queensland / Victoria and the other from Western and South Australia. Until that point the Brigade composition was numerically sequential but that went somewhat awry with the 8th Brigade.

The 29th and its sister Battalions of the 8th Brigade began embarkation for France from Egypt in May 1916.  They were destined for an area known as "The Nursery" in the Armentieres sector of norther France, near two villages either side of the front line;  Fleurbaix on the Allied side and Fromelles (/explore/campaigns/2)on the German side.

Little did they realise that the Brigade's first major action would be recorded as one of the most costly in Australia's military history.  The 8th Brigade was on the left of the 5th Division attack.  Many of the men broke through the forward lines of German trenches looking for what they had been taold was a second. Instead all they found were a series of shallow drainage ditches.  As the attack was alted to their right, they became exposed in a salient jutting into the German lines and were quickly enfoladed by German machine guns, and subject to counter-attacks and then clearnace operations.  In the end they basically had to fight their way back to their own lines, 'run for it', or be killed wounded or captured.

Many of the fallen of the 8th Brigade lay behind German lines and were buried in mass graves.  One of them became famous in 2008, when the Pheasant Wood mass grave was discovered.  In it lay the remains of many 8th Brigade men, previously listed as "Missing" "No Known Grave" or "Known unto God".  The nearby Pheasant Wood (/explore/cemeteries/17) cemetery was established to receive the remains of these men.

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We would particularly like to encourage individual historians researchers or members of unit associations to contribute to the development of a more detailed history and photographs pertaining to this unit and its members.

Please contact admin@vwma.org.au (mailto:admin@vwma.org.au) for details on how to contribute.