Raised in Victoria on 21 Feb 1916 as part of the 10th Brigade, 3rd Division, it was known as the "Hawthorn-Kew" Regiment, although the men came from the western districts of Victoria. Following basic training in Ballarat, the battalion embarked for England on the HMAT A11 Ascanius, sailing on 27 May 1916.
Following four months training at Larkhill on the Salisbury Plains, they embarked for France on 23 November 1916, and moved into front line trenches for the first time on 10 Dec 1916. They remained in Flanders for the rest of the coldest winter in 40 years. Their first major action occurred during the Battle for Messines, where like the 34th Battalion they took heavy casualties due to German gas shelling. Their assault force was reduced to about 120 men in one attacking wave. Despite this they achieved all their objectives.
Later in October the battalion took part in major attacks at Broodseinde (successful) and Passchendaele (unsuccessful when they were forced to withdraw). During the winter of 1917/18 they rotated in and out of the front lines in Belgium before in the spring of 1918 being sent south to help stop the German advance on Amiens. Here the battalion was involved in defensive battle before the Allies launched their Hundred Days Offensive in early August. On 10 Aug 1918 they participated in the unsuccessful attack at Proyart, be=fore participating in the general advance up the Somme valley during August and early September. Their last major involvement was when alongside American units they breached sections of the Hindenburg Line and the St Quentin Canal.
Relieved from the front line on 2 Oct 1918 they were in reserve when bolster by men from the 37th Battalion which had been disbanded to reinforce other units. Following the Armistice the unit began to lose men aas they returned to Australia and it was disbanded in March 1919.
During the course of the war the 39th Battalion lost 405 men killed, with a further 1,637 wounded.
- Messines 1917
- Ypres 1917
- Polygon Wood
- Somme 1918
- Ancre 1918
- Albert 1918
- Mont St Quentin
- Hindenburg Line
- St Quentin Canal
- France and Flanders 1916–18
- 2 Distinguished Service Orders
- 1 Member of the Order of the British Empire
- 14 Distinguished Conduct Medals
- 14 Military Crosses
- 78 Military Medals, with three Bars
- 22 Mentions in Despatches, and
- 8 foreign awards
Content for the history and honours sections has come from a combination of Wikipedia and the Australian War Memorial websites.
Pages in category "39th Battalion"
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