The 4th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions it was recruited from New South Wales and, together with these other battalions, formed the 1st Brigade.
The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. The battalion took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves. The commander of the 4th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel A. J. O. Thompson, was killed the next day. At ANZAC, the battalion took part in the defence of the beachhead and in August, along with the rest of the 1st Brigade, led the charge at Lone Pine. The battalion served at ANZAC until the evacuation in December.
After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt. In March 1916, it sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918 the battalion took part in operations against the German Army, principally in the Somme Valley in France and around Ypres in Belgium. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley in July 1916. Later the battalion fought at Ypres, in Flanders, before returning to the Somme for winter.
The battalion participated in a short period of mobile operations following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, but spent much of that year fighting in increasingly difficult conditions around Ypres. In 1918 the battalion returned to the Somme valley and helped to stop the German spring offensive in March and April. The battalion subsequently participated in the Allies’ great offensive of that year, launched east of Amiens on 8 August 1918. The advance on this day by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff described as “the black day of the German Army in this war”.
The battalion continued operations until late September 1918. At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent. The November armistice was followed by the peace treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919.
Between November 1918 and May 1919, the men of the 4th Battalion returned to Australia for demobilisation and discharge.
Glossary1st Australian Imperial Force ; Albany ; Battle of Amiens ; Battle of Lone Pine ; Flanders ; Somme Valley ; German Spring Offensive ; Ludendorff, Erich ; The landing at ANZAC Cove ; Thompson, Astley John Onslow ; Versailles Peace Treaty ; Western Front
- Landing at ANZAC
- Defence at ANZAC
- Sari Bair-Lone Pine
- Somme 1916
- Somme 1918
- Ypres 1917
- Menin Road
- Polygon Wood
- Albert 1918 (Chuignes)
- Hindenburg Line
- Hindenburg Line
- France and Flanders 1916-1918
- 1203 killed, 2282 wounded (including gassed)
- Thompson, Astley John Onslow
- Bennett, Alfred Joshua
- MacNaghten, Charles Melville
- Mackay, Iven Giffard
- Sasse, Cecil Duncan
- 2 CMG
- 5 DSO, 1 bar
- 28 MC, 1 bar
- 20 DCM, 1 bar
- 125 MM, 4 bars
- 7 MSM
- 68 MID
- 7 foreign awards
For more information please see Honours and Awards database
Search for related collection items
- AWM4/23/21/1: October 1914 - January 1915 unit diary
- AWM 224: MSS132 Part 2 '4th Australian Infanatry Battalion: unit history, 1914-1940'