25th Infantry Battalion AIF, (Qld), 7th Brigade, 2nd Division

Normal 4235829

About This Unit

Big thumb 25th battalion

The 25th Battalion was raised at Ennoggera, a suburb of Brisbane, in early 1915, to form the first Battalion of the 7th Brigade in the 2nd Division.  The 7th Brigade was drawn from the smaller States.  BY late May of 1915 thery were embarking for the Middle East but they had perecious little training.  On arrival in Egypt that deficit was made up and the 7th Brigade began landing at Gallipoli in early September too late for the August Offensive.

Their role was primarily defensive from September until the evacuation in mid December.

Following the extraction of the ANZAC force and its return to Egypt, a major re-structure of the AIF was undertaken. After the raising of the 4th and 5th Divisions (the so-called 'doubling of the AIF), the 2nd Division embarked for France arriving at Marseilles and then taking the long train journey north.

After a short period in 'The Nursery' near Armentieres  / Fleurbaix / Fromelles, the Battalion headed south for the great Somme offensive.  The focus of the AIF's endeavours was to be the capture of Pozieres on the right flank of the British front.

The 1st Division had cleared the pulverised remnants of the village all the while under relentless shelling.  Casualties mounted at a horrifying rate.   The 2nd Division’s job was to extend the line beyond the ruins of a windmill on a hill to the west of the town.

‘The Windmill’, or rather what was left of it was captured by the 2nd Division on 4th August and consolidated by the 4th Division, the direction of the Australian assault switched to Mouquet Farm, with the 1st Division leading once again.  The aim was to outflank Thiepval, the main impediment and key objective of the British advance.  Bean’s quote, now inscribed on a plinth near the ruins of the Windmill, state: 

The ruin of Pozières Windmill which lies here was the centre of the struggle in this part of the Somme battlefield in July and August 1916. It was captured on August 4 by Australian troops who fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war.

After Pozieres the battalion was sent to Flanders then returned to the Somme to endure the coldest and most bitter winter in living memory.  The 7th Brigade was committed to a series of attacks near Flers on a trench system called ‘The Maze’.  A repeat was ordered on the 17th November but as had happened on the 4th November,  the ground won was lost to subsequent German counter-attacks.

1917 began with a German consolidation of their Front Line and an orderly withdrawal through what were called 'The Outpost Villages'.  They used these as fortified posts to  conduct a delaying defence.  The AIF was tasked to follow this up and a series of engagements ensued around a number of these villages, with the intensity increasing as the Australians approached the main German defence line.

This culminated with their arrival and tasking to attack the German defensive line near Bullecourt.  April 11 saw ‘First Bullecourt’, an exclusively 4th Division attack which although successful in breaking in to the German line was not adequately supported and it subsequently failed.

Second Bullecourt followed in May and involved the 1st 2nd and 5th Divisions, with the 2nd Division leading 3-5 May.

Tactically it was very similar to First Bullecourt with a break-in being achieved, the tanks failing - again - and inadequate artillery  support because of difficulties getting the guns far enough forward.  From a casualty perspective, it was Pozieres all over again. 

The 2nd Division was reconstituted and reinforced during the period  May -end July, all of the AIF (for the first time including the 3rd Division) was committed to the Third Ypres campaign, an offensive aimed at clearing the high ground surrounding the city of Ypres to deny the enemy observation and the capacity to direct artillery fire on the town.  It began well.  The 2nd Division was committed to fighting at Menin Road in late September 1917 and at Broodseinde Ridge on 4th October, both of which were resounding successes complemented by Polygon Wood primarily involving the 4th and 5th Divisions on 24/5 September.

However the momentum could not be maintained with the weather playing a major part.  The Battalion was engaged in the Battle of Poelcapelle on 9th October, which was really a preliminary operation to capture Passchendaele.  Tragically, the The Third Ypres campaign bogged down in the misery of the 1st and 2nd Battles for Passchendaele in late October and November.  The 2nd Division played a minor role in the former and none in the latter.

Another winter shut proceedings down until March 1918 with the 2nd Division remaining in Flanders.

Then in late March the Somme front erupted as the Germans unleashed their make or break Spring Offensive , intended to dislocate the French British front and cut Paris off from the Channel Ports to give the Germans the best possible position from which to sue for peace on their terms before the arrival of US forces in large numbers.  The 2nd Division defnded b=near the junction of the Somme and Ancre rivers. 

In May the Australian Corps was at last formed and General John Monash appointed as its commander, although not without a lot of opposition  and thinly veiled anti-Semitism. 

Le Hamel was the first test of the new structure, and each Division had at least a token representation in the Order of Battle.  It was a set-piece demonstration of the application of Combined Arms theory and it worked perfectly.  The 2nd Division contribution comprised elements of the 6th and 7th Brigades, including the 21st 23rd and 25th Battalions on the southern flank of the attack.  It was all over in 93 minutes, and Monash’s position as Corps Commander was secure.

A month later and it was time for the main event as the Battalion took its place in the Australian Corps for the Great Allied offensive, the "Last Hundred Days" campaign beginning on the 8th August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens.

The 2nd  Division started the Amiens offensive on the left hand flank, but its 'finest hour' would come three weeks later with the attack on Mont St Quentin from 30 August to 2nd September in concert with the 5th Division which cleared the town of Peronne after a risky river crossing of the Somme, and the 3rd Division which secured the Australian Corp's exposed northern flank. 

The 6th Brigade’s consolidation of the heights of the Mont was the turning point of the battle, and came only after the initial seizure of the heights was repelled by German counteraattacks.  

The Australian Corps was instrumental in the breaching of the Hindenburg Line and it was to be the 2nd Divisions task to finish the AIF's fight on the Beaurevoir line on 5th October 

After the 2nd Division attack on the Beaurevoir Line at Montbrehain on the 5th October, the AIF was withdrawn from the line to reinforce and refit following the accumulated losses it had sustained since 8th August.  It was still resting and reinforcing when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.

Commanding Officers

Ferguson, George Andrew
Travers, Reginald John Albert
Davis, William MacIntyre

Decorations

2 VC; 3 DSO, 1 bar; 1 MBE; 23 MC, 3 bars; 25 DCM; 92 MM, 4 bars; 4 MSM; 37 MID; 8 foreign awards

Battle /Campaign/ Involvement 

ANZAC (/explore/campaigns/1) Apr - Dec 15     

ANZAC - Gallipoli (/explore/campaigns/1) 25 April 1915 to 19 December 1915

Pozieres (/explore/campaigns/5) 23 July 1916 to 4 September 1916

Mouquet Farm (/explore/campaigns/103) 8 August 1916 to 5 September 1916

Flers / Guedecourt (/explore/campaigns/24) 4-11 November 1916

German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages (/explore/campaigns/21) 15 February 1917 to 3 April 1917

Second Bullecourt (/explore/campaigns/6) 3 May 1917 to 17 May 1917

Menin Road (/explore/campaigns/26) 20 September 1917 to 25 September 1917

Broodseinde (/explore/campaigns/18) 4 October 1917 to 5 October 1917

Battle of Poelcappelle (/explore/campaigns/27)9 October 1918

Amiens (/explore/campaigns/14) 8 August 1918 to 11 August 1918

Mont St Quentin (/explore/campaigns/15) - 30 August -2 September 1918

Beaurevoir / Montbrehain (/explore/campaigns/128) - 5 October 1918

 

Sources

AWM 224: MSS156-157 'History of 26 Battalion A.I.F.'
AWM4/23/43/1-23/43/46

Official History of Australia in the Great War Vols III, IV & V, C.E.W. Bean

Click on the link to learn more about the Battle  / campaign.  For particular detail you will need to refer to the battalion war diary - see link in sidebar.

 

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.

Compiled by Steve Larkins and updated Jan 2021

 

Read more...

Stories

The 'A' ANZAC motif

'ANZAC' insignia

Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli will be entitled to wear over the Unit “Colour Patch” on both sleeves of the Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” an indication that the wearer had taken part in the operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula. - Military Order 354 of 1917

Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli or the Islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos, or who have served on transports or hospital ships at or off Gallipoli or the Islands above-named, or in AIF lines of communication Units in Egypt will be entitled to wear over their Unit “Colour Patches” on both sleeves of their Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” as an indication that the wearer had taken part in the Gallipoli operations. - Military Order 20 of 1918

Read more...

Interpreting AIF Colour Patches

The colour patches which identified units in the AIF were designed to show what division or service they belonged to, and also, in the case of infantry units, their brigade and the sequence of the Battalion in that Brigade.

The shape of a colour patch indicated the division or service -
1st Division - horizontal rectangle split horizontally
2nd Division - diamond shape split horizontally
3rd Division - horizontal ellipse
4th Division - circle split horizontally
5th Division - vertical rectangle split vertically.

The lower colour denoted the brigade's sequence in the Division. Usually (but not always!) these colours were:
Green - first brigade in the division
Red - second
Light Blue - third

The 4th Brigade, originally in the 1st Division , had a dark Blue lower half. Its reallocation to the 4th Division after Gallipoli threw both the brigade / battalion numbering sequence (the most logical at any time in the history of the ADF) and the colour patch structure into disarray!

In the first AIF there were four infantry battalions to each brigade, and the upper section (or LHS in the case of the 5th Division) of the colour patch identified each one. Usually (but not always!) these colours were:
Black - first
Purple - second
Brown - third
White - fourth

Thus every battalion had a unique colour patch.

Other Arms and Service Corps had variations but those attached to the five divisions generally incorporated the shape of their parent Ddvision.

Source: Text taken from The 27th Battalion Centenary: The Historical Record of the 27th Battalions 13th August 1877-1977 and Programme of Centenary Celebrations, Unley SA, 1977

Notes:
1. Strictly speaking there was no such thing as the 'First AIF'. The term is often used unofficially to distinguish the Australian Imperial Force of the First World War from the Second AIF raised to fight in World War 2.

2. The colour patch scheme was first introduced into the AIF in March 1915, just in time for the initial Gallipoli landings. The 2nd Division received its patches in August 1915, and gradually the scheme was expanded to include the whole AIF.

Read more...

Interpreting AIF Colour Patches

The colour patches which identified units in the AIF were designed to show what division or service they belonged to, and also, in the case of infantry units, their brigade and the sequence of the Battalion in that Brigade.

The shape of a colour patch indicated the division or service -
1st Division - horizontal rectangle split horizontally
2nd Division - diamond shape split horizontally
3rd Division - horizontal ellipse
4th Division - circle split horizontally
5th Division - vertical rectangle split vertically.

The lower colour denoted the brigade's sequence in the Division. Usually (but not always!) these colours were:
Green - first brigade in the division
Red - second
Light Blue - third

The 4th Brigade, originally in the 1st Division , had a dark Blue lower half. Its reallocation to the 4th Division after Gallipoli threw both the brigade / battalion numbering sequence (the most logical at any time in the history of the ADF) and the colour patch structure into disarray!

In the first AIF there were four infantry battalions to each brigade, and the upper section (or LHS in the case of the 5th Division) of the colour patch identified each one. Usually (but not always!) these colours were:
Black - first
Purple - second
Brown - third
White - fourth

Thus every battalion had a unique colour patch.

Other Arms and Service Corps had variations but those attached to the five divisions generally incorporated the shape of their parent Ddvision.

Source: Text taken from The 27th Battalion Centenary: The Historical Record of the 27th Battalions 13th August 1877-1977 and Programme of Centenary Celebrations, Unley SA, 1977

Notes:
1. Strictly speaking there was no such thing as the 'First AIF'. The term is often used unofficially to distinguish the Australian Imperial Force of the First World War from the Second AIF raised to fight in World War 2.

2. The colour patch scheme was first introduced into the AIF in March 1915, just in time for the initial Gallipoli landings. The 2nd Division received its patches in August 1915, and gradually the scheme was expanded to include the whole AIF.

Read more...
Showing 3 of 3 stories