Battle of Pozières 23 July to 3 September 1916

Near the French village of Pozières, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) lost as many men over a few weeks as it did over 8 months on Gallipoli.

The first attack began at 12.30am on Sunday 23 July. The Australian 1st Division seized the German front and reached the main road through Pozières an hour later. The Germans counter-attacked at dawn, but the Australians fought them off. The rest of Pozières fell between 23 and 25 July.

In response, the Germans concentrated their artillery fire on the Australians. They directed constant bombardments onto the village and the narrow approaches.

Australian soldiers carrying sandbags for trench construction at the Gibraltar German blockhouse on 28 August 1916, while the battle was still raging nearby at Mouquet Farm. AWM EZ0098

The Australian 2nd Division took over Pozières village by 27 July and was ordered to capture Pozières heights. The attack started at 12:15am on 29 July, but the Germans were ready. The attack failed, with 3500 Australian casualties.

The Australian commander of the 2nd Division, Major General James Legge, asked if his men could attack again rather than be withdrawn. After an intense artillery bombardment of German positions on 4 August 1916, the Australians seized Pozières heights.

The exhausted 2nd Division was relieved by the Australian 4th Division. After another 10 days of continuous action, the Australians moved north along the Pozières ridge. When they reached Mouquet Farm, the 4th Division was withdrawn and rested.

The Germans at Mouquet Farm held the position until 26 September 1916.

In less than 7 weeks fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm, three AIF divisions suffered 23,000 casualties. Of these, 6800 were killed or died of wounds.


Last updated: 18 December 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Battle of Pozières 23 July to 3 September 1916, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 14 August 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/ww1/where-australians-served/western-front/battle-of-pozieres
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