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The Rock-itt : September 2010
OUR DIGGERS IN THE GREAT WAR OUR DIGGERS IN THE GREAT WAR OUR DIGGERS IN THE GREAT WAR OUR DIGGERS IN THE GREAT WAR by Simon Lyon First the disastrous full frontal assault at Fromelles, next their attack on the village of Pozieres, part of the Battle of the Somme, July 1916 Further down the line, in the middle of the rolling downland, known by them and now us as The Somme, stood a quiet French village in Picardy called Pozieres. Resting atop a landscape of farmland on the old Roman Road (D929) from Bapaume to Albert, this little village was the objective of the Australian 1st Division during the night of the 23rd July 1916. It was the Division's first action in France on the Western Front; within 5 days they had lost over 5,285 men but they had taken the village from the German defenders, a point note by General Haig in his diary. Just south of the village was a concrete blockhouse with a magnificent field of fire and it is shown in this picture below days after the achievement. Remains of this bunker can still be seen today, next to the Memorial to the Australian 1st Division. The view from this location gives the visitor a real understanding of how well situated the German trenches and defence line was. 2nd Division relieved the 1st Division on the 27th July only to suffer heavier losses (over 7,000) in a terrible battle that waged backwards and forwards for 6 weeks. The Australians had not experienced the degree of artillery fire that was brought to bear upon them and this tiny village, during their time on the Gallipoli peninsula. As this was the highest point on the Somme battlefield, the Germans were keen to retake to village and some of the fiercest fighting occurred around the site of an old Windmill just tot eh north of the village. It was heavy fortified by the German defenders and it remains can be seen today, along with a flagpole flying the Australian flag. On 5th August 2nd Division was relieved by 4th Division, who in turn were relieved by the Canadian Corps on 3rd September. In the 6 weeks of fighting the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) lost over 23,000 men, killed or wounded. Australians fell more heavily at this place than any other battlefield in the Great War. This fact is recorded on a plaque near the site of the Windmill where German defences were strongest. If you want to visit this site make sure you call in at Le Tommy Café in the village. There are mock up trenches in the rear garden with an Aussie Digger figure on display, plus loads of old shells and battlefield debris. Gibraltar Blockhouse, Pozieres after the village was taken Memorial to the Australian 1st Division at Pozieres