3rd Australian Division

History

On 2 February 1916, after the AIF had withdrawn from Gallipoli and was being reorganised in Egypt, the Australian Government agreed to form a third Division. Assembly began in March 1916 and the Division began to arrive in England in July 1916. After intensive training it crossed to France in December 1916 and thereafter fought in many of the major actions of the war. The 3rd Australian Division was initially under the command of then Major General John Monash, who went on to command the Australian Corps and who is generally regarded as amongst the finest military commanders of the war. He was succeeded on 31 May 1918 by Major General John Gellibrand:

1917

  • The Battle of Messines (7-10 June)
  • The Third Battles of Ypres
    – The Battle of Broodseinde (4 Oct)
    – The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 Oct)

1918

Australian Divisions were not affected by the restructuring that took place in the British Divisions in February 1918 (in which the infantry brigades were reduced from four battalions down to three).

  • The First Battles of the Somme, 1918
    – The Battle of the Avre (4 April) (9th Australian Brigade)
    – The capture of Hamel (4 July) (11th Australian Brigade)
  • The Battle of Amiens (8-11 Aug)
  • The Second Battles of the Somme 1918
    – The Battle of Albert (21-23 Aug)
    – The Second Battle of Bapaume (31 Aug – 3 Sept)
  • The Battles of the Hindenburg Line
    – The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (29 Sep – 2 Oct)

The Division was not selected to advance into Germany.

Demobilisation commenced in early 1919 and by May 1919 the last troops of the Division had departed for home.

Order of battle

Divisional headquarters

Headquarters, under whose command came the Infantry Brigades and the other divisional troops listed below

9th Australian Brigade

33rd Australian Infantry

34th Australian Infantry

35th Australian Infantry

36th Australian Infantry

9th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 3rd Australian MG Battalion February 1918

9th Australian Trench Mortar Battery

10th Australian Brigade

37th Australian Infantry

38th Australian Infantry

39th Australian Infantry

40th Australian Infantry

10th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 3rd Australian MG Battalion February 1918

10th Australian Trench Mortar Battery

11th Australian Brigade

41st Australian Infantry

42nd Australian Infantry

43rd Australian Infantry

44th Australian Infantry

11th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 3rd Australian MG Battalion February 1918

11th Australian Trench Mortar Battery

Divisional Troops

3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion

207th Machine Gun Company. A British unit. Joined October 1916, left October 1917.

23rd Australian Machine Gun Company. Joined February 1917. Merged into 3rd Australian MG Battalion February 1918

3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion. Formed in February 1918 by merging the 9th, 10th, 11th and 23rd Australian Machine Gun Companies

3rd Australian Divisional Train. A unit of the Army Service Corps made up of 867, 868, 869 and 870 Companies ASC

3rd Australian Mobile Veterinary Section

3rd Australian Divisional Employment Company. Joined January 1917

Divisional Mounted Troops

3rd Australian Cyclist Company. Left July 1916

Divisional Royal Artillery

7th Australian Brigade RFA

8th Australian Brigade RFA

9th Australian Brigade RFA. Broken up in January 1917

23rd Australian (Howitzer) Brigade RFA. Absorbed into other units in January 1917

3rd Australian Divisional Ammunition Column RFA

V.3.A Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA. Formed in August 1916, left February 1918

X.3.A, Y.3.A and Z.3.A Medium Mortar Batteries RFA. Formed in August 1916; in February 1918, Z was broken up and the other batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each

Divisional Royal Engineers

9th Australian Field Company RE

10th Australian Field Company RE

11th Australian Field Company RE

3rd Australian Divisional Signal Company RE

Divisional Royal Army Medical Corps

9th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

10th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

11th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

Divisional memorial

The memorial to the 3rd Australian Division, which stands at Sailly-le-Sec on the road between the Somme towns of Corbie and Bray. This photograph is courtesy of the Frank Hatzman collection at flickr.com with my thanks

The memorial to the 3rd Australian Division, which stands at Sailly-le-Sec on the road between the Somme towns of Corbie and Bray. This photograph is courtesy of the Frank Hatzman collection at flickr.com with my thanks

Links

Other Divisions

Australian War Memorial

National Archives of Australia

Australians on the Western Front