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Four members of the Australian Field Artillery operating an 18 pounder gun in the fight for Bullecourt, May 1917. Note the empty shell cases right background. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

On 3 May 1917 Allied troops renewed an attempt to secure the fortified village of Bullecourt on the Western Front. The Australian 2nd Division and the British 62nd Division launched the attack at 3.45am. Australian troops penetrated the German line and succeeded in taking sections of the Hindenburg Line, which they managed to hold. Renewed efforts on 7 May succeeded in linking British and Australian forces, but a series of ferocious and costly German counter-attacks ensued. By the time German forces withdrew from Bullecourt on 15 May, the Allied line had advanced just one kilometre and the AIF had sustained 7,482 casualties.

Twenty-one men from the Orange district died in the two-week long offensive; twelve of them on the opening day of battle, signifying the district’s greatest loss of life in a single day in a theatre of war. Most of these men have no known grave.

Arthur William Cecil Attwood
Albert Edward Carroll
James Commins
Roy James Gartrell
Norman George Goode
Ernest Henry Richard Guest
William Arthur Neal
William O’Neil [aka William Francis O’Neill] Arthur Gordon Randall
John Douglass Sandison
Richard James Whiteley
Hector Edward Williams
Harry Joseph Press
Cornelius Joseph Murphy
Harold Charles Wythes
James Budge
Herman Henry Frank Soltau
John (‘Jack’) Curran
Arthur Edward Neal
Alfred John Dooley
Claude Bertie West

The Battles for Bullecourt