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18th Battalion
Members of the 18th Battalion in Egypt, 1915
Active 1915–1919
Country  Australia
Branch Australian Army
Type Infantry
Size ~800–1,000 men[Note 1]
Part of 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
Colours Purple over green

World War I

Evan Alexander Wisdom
Unit Colour Patch 18th Battalion AIF Unit Colour Patch.PNG

The 18th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. During World War I, the battalion was raised in 1915 as part of the Australian Imperial Force, attached to the 5th Brigade, of the 2nd Division. It was sent initially to Gallipoli, where it suffered a large number of casualties before it was withdrawn from the line and sent to France, where it served at the Western Front as part of the Australian Corps and took part in most of the major battles between 1916 and 1918. The battalion's last engagement of the war was at Montbrehain in October 1918 and it was disbanded in April 1919. After the war, the battalion was re-raised as a part-time force in the Sydney area and remained there during World War II where it served in a garrison role and was disbanded in 1944 without having seeing active service overseas.

History[edit | edit source]

World War I[edit | edit source]

Raised as an Australian Imperial Force (AIF) battalion in March 1915 as part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division, the 18th Battalion was formed at Liverpool, New South Wales.[3] Following training, the battalion was sent to Gallipoli in August 1915 as part of a wave of reinforcements that arrived after the initial landing.[4] There it participated in the costly August Offensive,[3] during which it was sent to Damakjelik Bair.[5] Beginning the battle with about 1,000 men, by the end they battalion could muster only 386.[6] Following that, the battalion was placed in reserve behind the 5th Brigade's positions between Walker's Ridge and Quinn's Post,[7] where they played a mainly defensive role in the campaign until they were withdrawn in December 1915.[3] Their main area of responsibility during this time was Courtney's Post.[3]

After returning to Egypt where they AIF was undergoing a period of expansion,[8] the battalion was sent to France, arriving there in March 1916 and for the next two and half years they participated in most of the main battles fought on the Western Front, seeing action at Pozieres, Warlencourt, Menin Road and Poelcappelle.[3]

A Stokes mortar from the 18th Battalion in action near Ploegsteert, January 1918

In early 1918, following the collapse of the Russian resistance on the Eastern Front, the Germans had been able to transfer a large number of troops to the Western Front.[Note 2][9] As a result, in March, they launched their Spring Offensive. With the Germans making rapid gains, Australian units, including the 18th Battalion, were thrown into the line to blunt the attack.[3]

After this, the Allies were able to launch their own offensive, which subsequently became known as the Hundred Days Offensive and ultimately brought about the Armistice.[3] During this offensive, the battalion fought at Amiens and Mont St Quentin before assaulting "Beaurevoir Line", which was the third (and final) fortified line of the Hindenburg Line. There, at Montbrehain, on 3 October 1918, Lieutenant Joseph Maxwell earned the battalion's first and only Victoria Cross in what was ultimately to prove their last engagement of the war.[3] After this the units of the Australian Corps, severely depleted due to heavy casualties and limited reinforcements, were withdrawn from the line upon the insistence of the Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes,[10] for rest and re-organisation and did not return to the front before the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.[3]

Following the end of hostilities, the demobilisation process began and as personnel were repatriated back to Australia, the battalion's numbers dwindled until the battalion was finally disbanded on 11 April 1919, while it was still in Belgium.[11]

Throughout the course of the war, the battalion suffered 3,513 casualties, of which 1,060 were killed.[3] Members of the battalion received the following decorations: one Victoria Cross, one Order of St Michael and St George, five Distinguished Service Orders, 35 Distinguished Conduct Medals, 44 Military Crosses, 158 Military Medals, seven Meritorious Service Medals and 39 Mentioned in Dispatches.[3]

Subsequent service[edit | edit source]

In 1921 Australia's part-time military force was re-organised to perpetuate the numerical designations, battle honours and formations of the AIF.[12] The 18th Battalion was re-raised in the Kuring-Gai region of Sydney, New South Wales, as part of the Citizens Forces. In 1927, when territorial designations were adopted,[13] it assumed the title of the "Kuring-Gai Regiment".[14]

At the outbreak of World War II, the battalion was based at Willoughby, New South Wales, where it formed part of the 8th Brigade, attached to the 1st Division within the 2nd Military District.[15] Throughout the war, the battalion remained in Australia, where it conducted garrison duties before being disbanded on 20 October 1944.[16] Over the course of the war, it was assigned variously to the 8th, 9th, 28th and 1st Brigades.[17]

In 1948, when Australia's part-time military force was re-raised under the guise of the Citizens Military Force.[18] At this time, the 18th Battalion was re-raised, albeit as an amalgamated unit with the 17th Battalion to form the 17th/18th Battalion (The North Shore Regiment).[19]

In 1960, the Australian Army was reorganised along Pentropic lines,[20] and the 17th/18th Battalion became 'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment (2 RNSWR).[21] When the Pentropic divisional structure was abandoned in 1965, however, the 17th Battalion was reformed in its own right as the 17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, but the 18th Battalion was not re-raised.[19]

Battle honours[edit | edit source]

Commanding officers[edit | edit source]

During World War I, the following officers served as commanding officer of the 18th Battalion:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Ernest Chapman;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Evan Alexander Wisdom, DSO;[Note 3]
  • Lieutenant Colonel George Francis Murphy.[3]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. During World War I, the authorised strength of an Australian infantry battalion was 1,023 men.[1] By the start of World War II, it was 910 men all ranks, however, later in the war it fell to 803.[2]
  2. At 30 November 1917, there were 160 German divisions on the Western Front. Following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, this rose to 208.[9]
  3. Wisdom received his DSO for actions at Gallipoli. He later achieved the rank of Brigadier General.[22]
  1. Kuring 2004, p. 47.
  2. Palazzo 2003, p. 6.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 "18th Battalion, AIF". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11205.asp. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  4. Cameron 2011, p. 17.
  5. Cameron 2011, p. 51.
  6. Cameron 2011, p. 111.
  7. Cameron 2011, p. 147.
  8. Grey 2008, pp. 99–100.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Baldwin 1962, p. 126.
  10. Grey 2008, p. 108.
  11. "AWM4, 23/35/45, 18th Battalion War Diary, entry for 11 April 1919". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/diaries/ww1/folder.asp?folder=959. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  12. Grey 2008, p. 125.
  13. Stanley, Peter. "Broken Lineage: The Australian Army's Heritage of Discontinuity". A Century of Service. Army History Unit. http://www.army.gov.au/AHU/docs/A_Century_of_Service_Stanley.pdf. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  14. "Regiments and Corps of Australia". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071011044235/http://regiments.org/regiments/australia/lists/aargxrefn.htm. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  15. "2nd Military District of the Australian Army in September 1939". Oz at War. http://www.ozatwar.com/ausarmy/2ndmildist.htm. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  16. "18 Infantry Battalion". Orders of Battle.com. http://www.ordersofbattle.com/UnitData.aspx?UniX=6788&Tab=Uhi&Titl=18%20Infantry%20Battalion. Retrieved 21 November 2011. [dead link]
  17. "18 Infantry Battalion: Superiors". Orders of Battle.com. http://www.ordersofbattle.com/UnitData.aspx?UniX=6788&Tab=Sup&Titl=18%20Infantry%20Battalion. Retrieved 21 November 2011. [dead link]
  18. Grey 2008, p. 200.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Harris, Ted. "Royal New South Wales Regiment Battalions Off Orbat". Digger History.org. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5gsJqCZuK. Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  20. Grey 2008, p. 228.
  21. 2/17 Battalion History Committee 1998, p. 328
  22. "Evan Alexander Wisdom". Australian War Memorial. http://www.awm.gov.au/units/people_17843.asp. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 

References[edit | edit source]

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