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5th Bn A.I.F. History and War Diary

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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Aug 2010 at 17:34

5th Battalion

The 5th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions it was recruited from Victoria and, together with these battalions, formed the 2nd Brigade.

The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. It later took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915, as part of the second wave. It was led by Lieutenant Colonel D. S. Wanliss, the officer who had raised the battalion. Ten days after the landing the 2nd Brigade was transferred from ANZAC to Cape Helles to help in the attack on the village of Krithia. The attack captured little ground but cost the brigade almost a third of its strength. The Victorian battalions forming the 2nd Brigade returned to ANZAC to help defend the beachhead, and in August the 2nd Brigade fought at the battle of Lone Pine. The battalion served at ANZAC until the evacuation in December.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt and, in March 1916, sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918 the battalion was heavily involved in operations against the German Army. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley in July 1916. After Pozières the battalion fought at Ypres in Flanders then returning to the Somme for winter.

In 1917, the battalion participated in the operations that followed-up the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, and then returned to Belgium to join the great offensive launched to the east of Ypres. In March and April 1918, the battalion helped to stop the German spring offensive. It subsequently participated in the great Allied offensive launched near Amiens on 8 August 1918. The advance by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff described as “the black day of the German Army in this war”.

The battalion continued operations until late September 1918. At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent. The November armistice was followed by the peace treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919.

In November 1918 members of the AIF began to return to Australia for demobilisation and discharge. In April, the battalion was so reduced that it and the 8th Battalion were amalgamated to form a composite battalion. In turn, this battalion was amalgamated with another, formed from the 6th and 7th Battalions, to form the 2nd Brigade Battalion.

Colour Patch

Colour patch for 5th Battalion

War Diary Link

Edited by Mal Murray - 27 Aug 2010 at 17:36
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Peter Trounson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Trounson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2012 at 20:11
Interesting extracts from the 5th Battalions Diary


157 Tunnels

In the tunnels in which hostile picking can be heard the listener or worker will always have with him a loaded firearm & revolver if available. If either side break through a continuous guard will be mounted on the hole until a responsible officer arrives to take charge.


194 Tunnels

Extract from Brigade Order -:

There is still talking in tunnels. Talking in tunnels except to ask for or give instructions is prohibited. Instructions must be asked for & given in a whisper. Any offender is to be reported and sent for trial by F.G.C.M. Any officer or NCO who fail to report any case of talking above forbidden is to be sent for trial by Field General Court Martial.

195 Punishment Part 2

1346 Pte J. W.Searle "B" Coy

Conduct to the prejudice of good order & military discipline - eg throwing the contents of a ? tin over the parapet of fire trench.
Awarded 14 days field punishment No.2
Dated 6-7-15


206 Gift Tobacco

Men receiving gift tobacco will acknowledge the gift by the use of the cards placed therein by the donors.


228 Lights

The hour at which lights should be extinguished is altered from 2100 to 2130


233 Bad Language

The G.O.C. has noticed with regret the widespread use among the troops of bad language which is certainly not Australian in character. Officers and NCOs will rigorously put down obscene and blasphemous language, which is becoming an ingrained habit.



All ranks having duties on ships or about the beach are warned that the latest Austrian torpedos have very sensitive percussion firing gear. When recovered on being found floating, extreme care should be taken.

264 Sentries and Patrols
On three occasions lately the enemy have been able to place small distinguishing flags between their trenches and ours. This shows that they are able to move about in front of their works without being seen by our own sentries or patrols. The Brigadier desires that all ranks be impressed with the absolute necessity of constant and careful lookout being kept during the night particularly during this, the enemies religious months. It should be impressed upon all that the success of our operations and the lines of hundreds of our comrades may be jeopardised by the carelessness for a single moment of one of our sentries.

267 Gambling 

All ranks are reminded that gambling is forbidden, and anybody found so offending will be 
Court-martialled for deliberate disobedience of orders which when on active service in the field is a very serious offence. N.C.O.s who fail to report breaches of this order will likewise be court-martialled.

270 Rifles 

The practice of placing these rifles on top of the parapet at any time is forbidden. The utmost care is to be taken of these rifles also telescopic rifles on issue.



No. 1669  Pte T. H. Harrison "B"Coy 5th Bn
        420   "    G. Schmahl   "B"Coy 5th Bn

Each charged with "When a soldier acting as sentinel on active service he was asleep on his post.
Each sentenced by the Court to 5 years penal servitude. This sentence reduced in each case to two years imprisonment with hard labour, by order of confirming officer.
Gen Sir Ian Hamilton  Dated 17-7-15


282 Part 2 Punishments

No. 1669  Pte T. H. Harrison "B"Coy 5th Bn
        420   "    G. Schmahl   "B"Coy 5th Bn

The G.O.C. under date 17.7.15 has directed the sentence of F.G.C.M. which he reduced to two years imprisonment with hard labour be suspended.



No 1845 Pte. A.M. Curtis 'A' Coy when a soldier acting as sentinel on active service sleeping on his post in that he as Anzac in No 1 Section Lone Pine Trenches on the 19th August 1915 at 04.30 when sentry on No.2 post was asleep. Found guilty and sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment by F.G.C.M. dated 25th August 1915.

No 1834 Pte. A. Shaw 'A' Coy Same offence as above. Found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment as above.

No 2143 Pte. A. Downward 'A' Coy Same offence as above between 0430 & 0435 on the 27th August 1915. Found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment .

The G.O.C. has directed that these men be not committed to prison until further orders.

217 Holy Communion 

On Sunday 11th inst. Chaplain Dexter will conduct Holy Communion for Protestants at 5th Bn Hqrs at 6.30am & Church Service on 5th Bn bivouac at 10.15.

Edited by Peter Trounson - 07 Mar 2012 at 12:11
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