Australians in the Capture Of Boursies – April 8-15, 1917

The photograph above is of Lieutenant Raymond Sherwin MC.

Lieutenant Sherwin was a 23 year old clerk from Launceston, Tasmania.

He was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the AIF on the 24th of June 1915. He then embarked for overseas with the 14th Reinforcements from Melbourne on the 8th of February 1916 aboard HMAT Warilda. While serving on the Western Front, he was awarded a Military Cross for gallantry during operations at Pozieres, France between the 23rd and 26th of July 1916 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 31st of July 1916.

Lieutenant Sherwin was killed in action at Boursies, France on the 8th of April 1917 and is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France with others who have no known grave.

Lieutenant Sherwin’s photograph is included on the video ‘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.

In late March 1917, the German Army was withdrawing back to its new fortress, the Hindenburg Line, which stretched from Arras towards Bullecourt.

Elements of the AIF pursued the enemy towards the Hindenburg Line and fought in a series of villages as the enemy used rearguard actions to allow as much work as possible to be completed on the Hindenburg Line.

Australians lives were lost in places such as Boursies, Lagnicourt and Hermies.

On the 8th of April 1917, the 12th Battalion was tasked with the capture of Boursies, on the Bapaume-Cambrai road.

The attack was a deceptive thrust to mislead the German forces on the direction from which Hermies was to be attacked.

Throughout the 8th of April, the Australian soldiers were subjected to heavy shellfire from German forces. Under heavy machine gun fire the Australian soldiers captured Boursies.

Other villages captured by the Australian soldiers were Hermies and Demicourt.

The 12th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War.

Half of the battalion was recruited in Tasmania, a quarter was recruited in South Australia, and a quarter from Western Australia. With the 9th, 10th and 11th Battalions it formed the 3rd Brigade.

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.

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

Australian Paintings – Series of paintings of Australians in war time by Peter Barnes.