Engineers - 5th Australian Broad Gauge Op Coy

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5th Australian Broad Gauge Operating Company
5th Australian Broad Gauge Op Coy.jpg

Brief History

Formed in response to a request for more railway men, the 5th ABGROC was raised at Blackboy Hill camp during December 1916 and January 1917. Brought to full strength when supplemented with 28 men surplus to the NDW unit's needs. With only basic training the unit sailed for England on 29 Jan 1917 aboard HMAT A28 Miltiades, arriving in Plymouth on 27 Mar 1917. On May 11th after some rudimentary training at Borden they are shipped to France where they spend eight days cooling their heals in Le Have waiting for transport to their new workplaces, the first one being Audruieq, where they waited until they could take over a route based on Peselhoek.

For a time they were responsible for running what was known as the 'Midland Line'. This ran from north of Poperinghe to Regensberg north of Ypres and then as the Germans were pushed back, to St Julien. In March 1918 the Germans recaptured much of the route serviced by the unit and so it was forced to withdraw to a safer rear base until the action died down.

In August 1918 they were again given a section of line to run, 55 kms of line running south east from Conchil le Temple to Candas, east of Abbeville. They also operated services to Boulogne and Dunkirk as they were connected to the main French rail network. Post Armistice they were busier than before with the need to return troops and stores that had been stockpiled near the front lines.

While a number of men were injured by shell and bomb attacks on trains and bases, six men from this unit died overseas, all from illness.

Individual Honours

  • 1 Meritorious Service Medal
  • 2 Mentioned in Despatches


Primary source of information is Tom Goode's The Cold-Footed Mob - A History of the 5th Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company. Hesperian Press 2017. Casualty and honours extracted from the AWM website accessed 14 Jan 2018.

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