5th Australian Division

History

This Division began to form in Egypt in February 1916, after a decision to essentially duplicate the original AIF which had now withdrawn from Gallipoli. Delays in assembling the artillery meant that the Division could not depart for France before June 1916:

1916

  • The attack at Fromelles (1920 July)
    – a diversionary action to the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917

  • Operations on the Ancre
  • German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
  • The Arras offensive
    – The Battle of Bullecourt (3-17 May)
  • The Third Battles of Ypres
    – The Battle of the Menin Road (20 – 25 Sep)
    – The Battle of Polygon Wood (26 Sep – 3 Oct)
    – The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 Oct)
    – The Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 Oct – 10 Nov)

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) 8th and 15th Brigades)
    – The actions of Villers-Bretonneux (24-25 Apr)
  • 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 Division occupied Peronne)
  • The Battles of the Hindenburg Line
    – The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (29 Sep – 2 Oct) (the Division captured Bellicourt Tunnel, along with 30th United States Division)

The Division was not selected to advance into Germany. Demobilisation commenced in late 1918 and in March 1919 the Division merged with 1st Australian Division.

Order of Battle

Divisional headquarters

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

8th Australian Brigade. Joined in Egypt in December 1915

29th Australian Infantry

30th Australian Infantry

31st Australian Infantry

32nd Australian Infantry

8th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 5th Australian MG Battalion February 1918

8th Australian Trench Mortar Battery. Formed in France in July 1916

14th Australian Brigade. Formed in Egypt

53rd Australian Infantry

54th Australian Infantry

55th Australian Infantry

56th Australian Infantry

14th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 5th Australian MG Battalion February 1918

14th Australian Trench Mortar Battery. Formed in July 1916

15th Australian Brigade. Formed in Egypt

57th Australian Infantry

58th Australian Infantry

59th Australian Infantry

60th Australian Infantry

15th Australian Machine Gun Company. Left to move into 5th Australian MG Battalion February 1918

15th Australian Trench Mortar Battery. Formed in July 1916

Divisional Troops

5th Australian Pioneer Battalion. Formed in Egypt in March 1916

25th Australian Machine Gun Company. Joined September 1917. Merged into 5th Australian MG Battalion February 1918

5th Australian Machine Gun Battalion. Formed in February 1918 by merging the 8th, 14th, 15th and 25th Australian Machine Gun Companies

5th Australian Divisional Train. A unit of the Army Service Corps made up of 757, 758, 759 and 760 Companies ASC

5th Australian Mobile Veterinary Section

5th Australian Divisional Employment Company. Joined January 1917

Divisional Mounted Troops

C Squadron, 13th Australian Light Horse. Joined March 1916, left July 1916

5th Australian Cyclist Company. Left June 1916

Divisional Royal Artillery

13th Australian Brigade RFA

14th Australian Brigade RFA

15th Australian Brigade RFA. Broken up in January 1917

25th Australian (Howitzer) Brigade RFA. Absorbed into other units in January 1917

5th Australian Divisional Ammunition Column RFA

V.5.A Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA. Formed in July 1916, left February 1918

X.5.A, Y.5.A and Z.5.A Medium Mortar Batteries RFA. Formed in July 1916; in February 1918, Z was broken up and the other batteries reorganised to have 6 x 6-inch weapons each

Divisional Royal Engineers

8th Australian Field Company RE

14th Australian Field Company RE

15th Australian Field Company RE

5th Australian Divisional Signal Company RE

Divisional Royal Army Medical Corps

8th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

14th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

15th Australian Field Ambulance RAMC

Divisional memorial

This memorial to the 5th Australian Division stands on the site of the Butte at Polgyon Wood, overlooking the military cemetery there. This photograph is courtesy of firstworldwar.com with my thanks.

This memorial to the 5th Australian Division stands on the site of the Butte at Polgyon Wood, Ypres, overlooking the military cemetery there. This photograph is courtesy of firstworldwar.com with my thanks.

Links

Other Divisions

Australian War Memorial

National Archives of Australia

Australians on the Western Front