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First Australian Mining Corps

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Auteur Bericht

Geregistreerd op: 30-5-2006
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Okt 2007 22:36    Onderwerp: First Australian Mining Corps Reageer met quote

The Australian Tunnellers of the First World War are barely remembered. The Battle of Messines does not come readily to mind when military history is being discussed. Yet it was the Battle of Messines that was the Tunnellers finest hour.

At 3:10 am on the 7th June, 1917, almost a million pounds of ammonal, distributed in 21 mines, along a 9 mile section of the Messines Ridge, were detonated beneath the German front to begin the battle to capture the Messines ridge, paving the way for Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haigsí grand offensive, the Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele.

The British had established 25 Tunnelling Companies by July 1916, in a somewhat belated response to German use of underground mines as early as December 1914.

The Corps was formed in September/October 1915, as a part of the Corps of Australian Engineers, and was based at the Casula Camp for concentration and training. Usually known as the Mining Battalion, it numbered 51 Officers and 1075 other ranks.

Group portrait of officers, non-commissioned Officers and sappers of No. 1 Company of the 1st Australian Mining Corps, a New South Wales unit, prior to their embarkation on HMAT (A38) Ulysses, 20 February 1916.

The Australian units brought to 32 the number of tunnelling companies under Imperial command, totalling 21,000 men and officers (25 British and French companies, 3 Australian, 3 Canadian and 1 New Zealand). The Germans matched with 50 Mining, Pioneering and Miscellaneous Mining Companies, totalling 16,000 men and officers.

An entrance to the Hill 60 Tunnel System
Photo by Cpl Harry Limpus - 1st Aust Tunn Coy

6th Tunnelling Company prior to embarkation, Capt Lawson leading. Photo Courtest J A Lawson, WA

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