Australians in the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge – October 4, 1917

The photograph above is of Private Robert Burton.

Private Burton was from Yankalilla, South Australia.

He enlisted in February 1916 and served on the Western Front as a member of the original 43rd Battalion which left Australia in June 1916.

Private Burton was taking cover in a shell hole during the attack on Broodseinde Ridge on the 4th of October in 1917 when a shell landed nearby, killing him instantly. He was only 19.

Private Burton’s photograph is also included in the video below titled ‘You never came home’.

The video below entitled ‘You never came home’ is a memorial to the Australians who died on the Western Front in WW1. From 1916 to 1918, nearly half of all Australians that died in all wars and battles (including WW2), died on the Western Front in less than two and a half years. The image you see for the video are Australian stretcher bearers and dressers lying utterly exhausted in the mud after 60 hours without rest.  Lest We Forget.

Western Front WW1.

The battle of Broodseinde Ridge (in Belgium) was the third operation in the Passchendaele campaign (3rd Battle of Ypres) of 1917.

The attack to capture the village of Broodseinde began before dawn on the 4th of October 1917. It  was a large operation, involving twelve divisions, which included British, Australian and a New Zealand Division, attacking along a 10 kilometre front. In the centre was I and II Anzac Corps, composed of three Australian divisions and the New Zealand Division.

Before the attack began, a seventh of Australians soldiers became casualties through heavily enemy shelling. The Germans had also launched an attack of their own and the Australians were confronted with enemy troops coming towards them.  Our soldiers proceeded on through the German assault waves and gained all their objectives along the ridge. The cost was heavy with the enemy’s pillboxes difficult to overcome. The  Australian divisions suffered 6,500 casualties.

The push for Passchendaele Ridge on the 12th of October also cost 845 New Zealand lives and 2700 were wounded. It was the New Zealand Division’s greatest disaster.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery and contains the largest number of Australians in any one cemetery. It is situated at the top of Broodseinde Ridge and has two intact German pillboxes.

Around 300,000 Australians served on The Western Front in atrocious conditions
, many of them having survived the Gallipoli campaign. More than 46,000 died in France and Belgium.  About 11,000 have no known grave.

There were more than 132,000 Australians wounded – many soldiers being wounded more than once. Australia’s casualty rate was around 65 per cent and was the highest in the British Empire. Australian army nurses also caught trench diseases like dysentery, measles, typhus, influenza and mumps.

The words to ‘You never came home’ on the video above were wrtten by Peter Barnes the author of ‘Can You Hear Australia’s Heroes Marching?’ Music is Chopin’s Funeral March. Photographs from the Australian War Memorial.

You can download the words to ‘You never came home’ HERE

Aussie Paintings – paintings by Peter Barnes.