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Webmatters : 1st Australian Division Memorial at Pozières
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1st Australian Division

Location

Pozières is a village some 6 kilometres north-east of Albert. The Memorial to the 1st Australian Division, is on the edge of the village on the north side of the main road (D929) from Albert to Bapaume.

There is ample parking.

 

Background

The 1st Australian Division was raised on the outbreak of the war in August 1914. It fought at Gallipoli until after the Battle of Lone Pine in August 1915. It was then transferred to France in March 1916.

They took over the front line from 34th British Division on the morning of 20th July 1916. What became known as the Battle of Pozières Ridge was its first major battle in France.

Situated on the highest part of the plateau the village was heavily fortified with numerous machine gun posts including one later named by the Australians as Gibraltar on the western edge of the village.

The assault on the village was started just after midnight on 23rd July and the Australians were soon in command of the edge of the village.

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion charged and captured Gibraltar in a rush during the afternoon.

Having breached the Germans’ defences the Australians were then subjected to three days of intensive bombardment. The Australians remained undeterred and pushed deeper into the village.

The Division was eventually relieved on the 26th July by the 2nd Division AIF.

The cost to the 1st Australian Division was over 5,000 men killed and injured. Some of the battalions (Notably the 48th) suffered particularly severely.

Many of the fallen were never recovered due to the severity of the German shelling but Pozières British Cemetery is the last resting place of many of those who were killed in the taking of the village.

 

1st Australian Division Memorial at Pozières

1st Division AIF Pozières

As the scene of the first operation on a large scale undertaken by the 1st Division in France, because of its strategical importance in the Battle of the Somme, 1916, and on account of the intensity of the fighting and gallantry shown by both sides in its capture and retention, Pozières so impressed itself on the minds of the members of the 1st Australian Division that its selection as the site of the memorial to be erected to the fallen of the Division was unanimously endorsed.

1st Australian Division

The remains of Gibraltar bunker at Pozières

Just to the right is the Gibraltar Blockhouse — or at least what is left of it. The original structure stood three metres above ground but subsequent fighting destroyed that layer and all that now remains to be seen (But not entered) is the basement.

The Gibraltar lookout at Pozières

There is a tower on your right from which you can look out over the area where the German trench system ran. If it is wet be careful of the timber steps if they are muddy.

Thiepval seen from the 1st AIF Monument

Thiepval Memorial on the left and in the clump of trees to the right, the Ulster Tower

The view is superb and Thiepval can usually be seen crowning the ridge in the distance. To its right is a line of trees marking the Grande Ferme and the furthest point of advance made by the Ulstermen of the 36th Division on the 1st July 1916.

 

The other memorials in Pozières