About This Unit
Formed in Melbourne, the 16th Battalion comprised 75% Western Australians and the balance of South Australians posted to it on formation. Soldiers from both States were subsequently assigned as reinforcements in similar proportions.
The 16th Battalion was raised to become the fourth Battalion of the fourth Brigade in the 1st Division. With the 13th, 14th and 15th Battalions it formed the 4th Brigade under the command of Colonel John Monash. The 4th Brigade comprised Battalions drawn from all States of Australia.
The 4th Brigade landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and went into combat the following week.
For most of the campaign it was detached from the 1st Division and placed under command of the New Zealand Australia Brigade under General Godley. In the August offensive at Gallipoli the 4th Brigade was tasked to attack Hill 971 at the top of the Sari Bair Range but the Brigade became lost in what was very complex and rough terrain, at night without proper navigation aids and with no effective communications. The attempt to capture the heights failed and doomed the campaign to stalemate.
It later became the nucleus of the 4th Division and was split to spawn the 12th Brigade with which it was to serve alongside in the 4th Division, raised in Egypt in March 1916. The 16th Battalion generated the 48th Battalion, which reflected the origins of the 16th but comprised a higher proportion (about 50%) of South Australians.
In 1916, as part of the 4th Australian Division, the 16th Battalion served on the Western Front in all of the major campaigns. Most notably it was engaged in some of the heaviest fighting of the war near Dernancourt in April 1918. The Battalion continued operations until late September 1918.
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Contributed by Steve Larkins August 2015
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