Fifth Division




In January 1916, Major General A. J. Godley, then commanding the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, put forward a proposal to use Australian reinforcements then training in Egypt to form two new divisions. The Australian government concurred and the Fifth Division began forming in Egypt in February 1916. The new division included some existing units: the 8th Infantry Brigade, 8th Field Company, 8th Field Ambulance and 10th Army Service Corps Company, but only the 8th Field Company had fought at Gallipoli. The 14th and 15th Infantry Brigades were formed by taking half the personnel of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades.

Initially, the division was stationed on the Suez Canal. In June 1916 it moved to France, taking over part of the "nursery" sector near Armentieres. There it became involved in the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July. In October it joined the First, Second and Fourth Divisions on the Somme around Flers.

In March 1917 a flying column of the Fifth Division pursued of the Germans to the Hindenburg Line, capturing Bapaume. In May the Division relieved the First Division in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, holding the breach thus gained against furious counterattacks. In September it managed to turn an allied defeat into a major victory at the Battle of Polygon Wood.

In March 1918 the Fifth Division was rushed to the Somme region to help stem the German Offensive. There it guarded the vital Somme River bridges. In April it counterattacked at Villers Bretonneux, recovering the town.  

The Fifth Division fought in the Battles of Hamel in July and Amiens in August. In September it forced the Somme River at Peronne and fought on to the Hindenburg Line.





Egypt: Defence of Egypt, Western Front: Fromelles, Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, Bullecourt, Polygon Wood, Villers Bretonneux, Morlancourt, Amiens, Peronne, Hindenburg Line





Polygon Wood



Fifth Division (Egypt, March 1916)



Fifth Division (France, July 1916)



Fifth Division (France, September 1917)




Fifth Division (France, September 1918)



Main 1st Division 2nd Division 3rd Division 4th Division 5th Division 6th Division NZ & Australian Division Anzac Mounted Division Australian Mounted Division

Page created by Ross Mallett
Last update 28 June 2010