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10th Battalion (Australia)
Australian 9th and 10th battalions Egypt December 1914 AWM C02588
Lines of the 9th and 10th Battalions at Mena Camp, Egypt, December 1914, looking towards the Pyramids. The soldier in the foreground is playing with a kangaroo, the regimental mascot
Country Flag of Australia.svg Australia
Branch Australian Army
Service history
Active 1914–1919
Part of 3rd Brigade, 1st Division
Nickname The Fighting 10th
Motto Pro Patria
Colors Purple over Light Blue
Battles World War I
Insignia 10th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch

The 10th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army, which served as part of the Australian Imperial Force during World War I. The battalion was completely recruited from South Australia in August 1914 and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions, it formed part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. It served at Gallipoli from April to December 1915, before being transferred to the Western Front in France in March 1916 where it took part in bitter trench warfare until the Armistice in 1918. The last detachment of men from the 10th Battalion returned to Australia in September 1919. Following the war, the battalion became a part-time unit and despite being disbanded and merged on a number of occasions, remained on the order of battle until 1987 when it was amalgamated with the 27th Battalion to form the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment.


World War IEdit

The 10th Battalion was raised shortly after the outbreak of World War I as part of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), which was an all volunteer force raised by Australia for overseas service. Drawing personnel from South Australia, it came into being on 17 August 1914 at the Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Price Weir, it was attached to the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division, along with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions,[1] and was among the first units of the AIF raised for the war. With an establishment of 31 officers and 974 other ranks spread across eight companies,[2] the battalion conducted a short period of individual training throughout September, culminating the presentation of the regimental colours on 17 September and a march past the state Parliament House on 21 September.[3] The following month collective training was undertaken at Belair National Park and at Glenelg, South Australia. On 20 October the battalion embarked on the ex-passenger liner, HMAT Ascanius; they were the first South Australian infantry unit during the war to deploy overseas.[4]

After briefly stopping in Albany, where their convoy was delayed due to concerns over the presence of German warships en route,[5] the battalion departed Australian waters in November and proceeded towards Egypt.[1] Initially the plan had been for the battalion to proceed through to the United Kingdom; however, poor conditions and overcrowding in the training camps that that they had been destined, resulted in the decision to disembark the Australians in Alexandria instead.[6] Arriving there on 4 December 1914, the battalion was sent into camp at Mena, near Cairo.[7]

A period of desert training followed in January and February 1915 during which the battalion was reorganised around a four company structure. Designated 'A' to 'D', each company consisted of 228 men that were spread across four platoons.[8] In late February, the 3rd Infantry Brigade received orders that it was being committed to an operation in the Dardanelles and, after moving by rail to Alexandria, they boarded Ionian, a Greek steamer on 1 March.[9] After reaching Lemnos, a shortage of fresh water on the island meant that the battalion was housed on the ship for the next seven weeks, although this was spent ashore conducting exercises and mounting guard duty. In early April, planning for a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula began and as this went ahead, on 15 April the battalion was issued its distinctive blue and purple Unit Colour Patch.[10]

On 24 April, the 10th Battalion embarked for Gallipoli. Two companies and the battalion headquarters were allocated to the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, while the other two companies proceeded on board two destroyers, Scourge and Foxhound.[11] At around 4:30 am on 25 April 1915, the 10th Battalion was one of the first units to come ashore at Anzac Cove as part of the covering force – drawn from Colonel Ewen Sinclair-Maclagan's 3rd Brigade – for the main Anzac landing.[1] Troops from the battalion landed near the centre of the cove and, ascending the Ariburnu ridge, attempted to push inland towards the Sari Bair Range.[12] They are believed to have penetrated further inland than any other Australian unit.[1][13]

Following this, the battalion remained at Gallipoli until the evacuation in December, taking part in defending the beachhead before being withdrawn from the peninsula along with the rest of the Allied forces and returning to Egypt. They remained in Egypt until early 1916 as the AIF was expanded and re-organised in preparation for its deployment to the European battlefield.[14] As a part of this process, the 10th Battalion provided a cadre of experienced personnel to the newly raised 50th Battalion, which was assigned to the 13th Brigade, 4th Division, and was brought up to strength with fresh recruits from Australia.[15][16]

Inwood H06193

Roy Inwood, who received the Victoria Cross for actions at Polygon Wood

In March 1916, the 10th Battalion sailed to France along with the rest of the 1st Division and deployed to the Somme.[1] The battalion's first major action on the Western Front came in July 1916 when they were involved in the Battle of Pozières. For his actions during this battle Second Lieutenant Arthur Blackburn, an original member of the battalion who had served with it during the Gallipoli campaign, was awarded the Victoria Cross.[17][18] Later the 10th Battalion fought at Ypres, in Belgium, before returning to the Somme in the winter where they were deployed to defend the trenches.[1] In 1917, the battalion returned to Belgium to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres. It was during this battle, at Polygon Wood in September, that Private Roy Inwood performed the deeds that resulted him receiving the Victoria Cross.[1][19]

In March and April 1918, the 10th Battalion took part in defensive operations during the German spring offensive, before taking part in the preliminary operations leading up to the Allied Hundred Days Offensive that ultimately brought about an end to the war. It was at this stage in the fighting, in June, while participating in an attack near Merris in France, that Corporal Phillip Davey became the third member of the battalion to be awarded the Victoria Cross.[1][20] The attack so impressed the British Inspector General that he described it as "the best show ever done by a battalion in France".[21]

On 8 August, when the Allies launched the final offensive of the war, the battalion took part in an attack on Amiens that has since been described as one of the most successful for the Allies on the Western Front and, in the words of Erich Ludendorff, the "...blackest day for the German Army".[1] The battalion continued to conduct operations until late September 1918; its last battle came at Jeancourt, during which the battalion suffered a further 140 casualties.[1][22] Later in the month, the Australian Corps, having been severely depleted due to heavy casualties and the dwindling supply of reinforcements from Australia, was withdrawn from the line for rest and re-organisation.[23][24] As a result, the battalion took no further part in the fighting and when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918 it was still out of the line.[1] During the course of the battalion's service during the war, over 9,000 men served in its ranks.[25] They lost 1,015 men killed and 2,136 wounded.[1]

Following the end of the war, the Australian government decided that it would not contribute to the Allied occupation force that was being set up and would begin the process of demobilisation of the AIF as soon as possible.[26] Due to the large number of soldiers deployed overseas, this process took some time[27] and it was decided to progressively return men from each battalion, rather than send them home as a formed unit. As numbers dwindled, units were amalgamated for administrative purposes, as a consequence the 9th and 10th Battalions were merged on 5 February 1919; however, the final contingent of troops from the 10th Battalion did not return home until September 1919 when they disembarked in Adelaide from the transport Takada.[1]

Inter war years and World War IIEdit

The battalion as disbanded shortly afterwards, although some of its personnel were used to raise the Adelaide-based 1st Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, which was a part-time unit of the Citizens Force (later known as the Militia).[28] This unit drew its lineage from the 78th Infantry Regiment, which could trace its lineage back to 1854 when two battalions of the Adelaide Rifles were formed.[28] Later, in 1921, when the AIF was officially disbanded and the part-time military forces were reorganised to perpetuate the AIF's numerical designations,[29] the 10th Battalion was re-raised in its own right in Adelaide drawing personnel from the 2nd Battalions of the 10th, 32nd and 50th Infantry Regiments.[28] At this time they were allocated to the 3rd Brigade, which was part of the 4th Military District.[30]

The battalion received a King's Colour in 1925 in recognition of its service during World War I. Two years later, in 1927, territorial titles were introduced and the battalion assumed the designation of "The Adelaide Rifles". The motto Pro Patria was adopted at this time.[31] In 1930, amidst the austerity of the Great Depression and following the election of the Scullin Labor government and the subsequent suspension of the compulsory training scheme, the decision was made to amalgamate the battalion due to a decline in the numbers of volunteers. At this time it was merged with the 50th Battalion, with whom they had a shared history, to become the 10th/50th Battalion.[28] Again, they were assigned to the 3rd Brigade.[32]

These battalions remained linked until 1936 when,[28] in response to fears of a possible war in Europe following the reoccupation of the Rhineland, it was decided to expand the size of the Militia.[33] As a result, on 1 October 1936 the 10th/50th Battalion was split and the 10th Battalion was re-raised as a separate unit. At the outbreak of World War II, the battalion was part of the 3rd Brigade and assigned to the 4th Military District.[34] They were later mobilised and undertook garrison duties in Australia; after the 3rd Brigade was attached to the Northern Territory Force,[35] the 10th Battalion was sent to Darwin to defend the port against a possible Japanese invasion. They remained there until 27 August 1942 when personnel shortages that had come about due to an overmobilisation of the Australian military resulted in the amalgamation of a number of Militia units. The 10th was subsequently joined with the 48th Battalion to form the 10th/48th Battalion. This battalion was itself disbanded in August 1945.[28][31]

Post World War IIEdit

In 1948, when Australia's part-time military force was re-raised as the Citizens Military Force (CMF),[36] the 10th Battalion returned to the order of battle, readopting the designation of The Adelaide Rifles. Throughout the 1950s, as part of Central Command,[37] the battalion provided training for national servicemen until 1960 when a widespread re-organisation of the CMF saw the creation of six State-based multi-battalion regiments as the smaller, regional regiments of the past were consolidated.[38] As a result, the 10th Battalion became subsumed into the Pentropic 1st Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment, providing two companies: 'D' (The Adelaide Company) and 'E' (The Port Adelaide Company).[28]

In 1965, the Australian Army decided to end its brief experiment with the Pentropic divisional establishment and as a result, on 1 July 1965, the 10th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment, was re-raised as a unit in its own right. This battalion remained on the order of battle as a Reserve unit until 29 November 1987 when it was amalgamated with the 27th Battalion, to form the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment (10/27 RSAR).[28] This battalion has adopted the 10th Battalion's Unit Colour Patch, carries the colours of both the 10th and 27th Battalions and perpetuates the battle honours of both of these units as well as a number of South Australian battalions of the Second Australian Imperial Force that was raised for service during World War II.[39]

Battle honoursEdit

The 10th Battalion received the following battle honours from its service in World War I:

  • Somme, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Ypres, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Lys, Hazebrouck, Kemmel, Amiens, Albert, Hindenburg Line, Epehy, France and Flanders 1916–1918, ANZAC, Landing at ANZAC, Defence at ANZAC, Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli, Egypt.[1]

Commanding officersEdit

The 10th Battalion's commanding officers during World War I were as follows:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Price Weir;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Wilder-Neligan;
  • Major Frederick William Hurcombe;
  • Major George Dorricutt Shaw;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Miles Fitzroy Beevor;
  • Lieutenant Colonel James Samuel Denton;
  • Major Felix Gordon Giles (son of explorer Alfred Giles);
  • Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Anstice Rafferty;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ross Blyth Jacob;
  • Major Alexander Steele;
  • Captain Gordon Cathcart Campbell;
  • Major Clarence Rumball;
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Newman;
  • Major William Francis James McCann.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 "10th Battalion". First World War, 1914–1918 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  2. Kearney 2005, p. 23 & 61.
  3. Kearney 2005, p. 37.
  4. Kearney 2005, p. 38.
  5. Grey 2008, p. 91.
  6. Kearney 2005, p. 53.
  7. Kearney 2005, pp. 55–56.
  8. Kearney 2005, p. 61.
  9. Kearney 2005, pp. 66–69.
  10. Kearney 2005, p. 75.
  11. Kearney 2005, p. 77.
  12. Broadbent 2005, pp. 61 & 63.
  13. Kearney 2005, p. 84.
  14. Grey 2008, p. 98.
  15. Bean 1941, p. 42.
  16. "50th Battalion". First World War, 1914–1918 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  17. "Brigadier Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, VC, CMG, CBE". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  18. Kearney 2005, pp. 23 & 185.
  19. Kearney 2005, p. 250.
  20. Kearney 2005, p. 308.
  21. Stevenson 2007, p. 192
  22. Kearney 2005, p. 342.
  23. Odgers 1994, p. 127.
  24. Grey 2008, pp. 111–112.
  25. Kearney 2005, p. 344.
  26. Grey 2008, p. 120.
  27. Scott 1941, p. 827.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 28.7 Mills, T.F. "10th Battalion (The Adelaide Rifles)". Regiments of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth. (archived). Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  29. Grey 2008, p. 125.
  30. Kuring 2004, p. 110.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Festberg 1972, p. 69.
  32. Kuring 2004, p. 112.
  33. Keogh 1965, p. 44.
  34. "4th Military District of the Australian Army in September 1939". Oz at War. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  35. "3 Australian Infantry Brigade – Superiors". Orders of Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  36. Grey 2008, p. 200.
  37. Kuring 2004, p. 228.
  38. Grey 2008, p. 228.
  39. "10/27 RSAR History". Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 



Further readingEdit

  • Limb, Arthur (1988) [1919]. A History of the 10th Battalion, A.I.F. Swanbourne, Western Australia: J. Burridge Military Antiques. OCLC 220869756. 

External linksEdit

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