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15th December 1916 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day

15th December 1916

On this day:

  • 33rd Battalion AIF State as at noon 15th December 1916   No 11A
    Third Australian Division
    State as at noon 15th December 1916
    33rd Batallion, AIF

    (First figure = no. of Officers; figure in brackets = no. of other ranks

    Present 33 (836)
    Absent with leave
    Absent without leave
    On command 2 (86)
    Temporary sick (25)
    Total strength 35 (947)
    Establishment 34 (969)
    Wanting to complete (22)
    Attached 1 (2)

    Riding horses 9
    L.D. Horses 6
    L.D. mules 8
    Pack horses H.D. 6
    Pack mules 2


    "Attached" is comprised of
    1 chaplain, 1 batman,
    1 interpreter

    R.C. Jones S/Lieut

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • An eventful day   236th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery record an eventful day. From 0700 to 0940 the enemy bombardment the whole of our trench system, paying especial attention to the part from Hedge Street to Canada Trench. We retaliated vigorously. Considerable damage was done to our trenches. At 1600 the enemy commenced another bombardment this time accompanied by an artillery barrage. All batteries stood to (action stations). About forty Germans advanced against Sap B. An SOS flare was fired and our barrage opened whilst the rocket was still in the air. This barrage come down on the enemy in No Mans Land and inflicted casualties. The enemy at once left our trenches and returned to his own. No more Germans attempted to penetrate the barrage. Several dead Germans were left in our trench and on the parapets. Our casualties were very slight.

    War Diaries

  • 33rd Bn AIF need waterproofs and revolvers   cf Intelligence Summary attached dated 16 /12/1916. The work of patrolling front continuously proving too exhausting for scouts. Waterproof suits essential. Also revolvers as rifles become unusable in the mud.

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary, La Chapelle-d'Armentières, Right (1) Sub Sector

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Intelligence Summary up to 6 am 15th December 1916   33rd Battalion AIF up to 6 am 15th December 1916
    Right (1) Sub Sector
    Intelligence Summary

    Our operations: Artillery: Artillery active on the front of unit on our right between 1 and 2 o'clock. Enemy retaliated. During the day our artillery fired some shells into the railway salient. Result not observed. Our artillery opened on enemy communication 5 pm. At 11:55 am. Our light trench mortarbombarded enemy lines south of Mushroom salient the shells bursting well. Enemy retaliated with five minnies and some 77 mm which did no damage.

    Machine guns: Line fairly quiet all night. Our Lewis gun covered our patrols by traversing enemy parapet. An emplacement has been built with a fixed platform covering the gap between our Right Co.and the unit on our right.

    Patrols: Localities I-16–4 and I-10–1. No.1 from I-16–4 at 5:45 pm returned 7:45 pm by same route. 1 NCO and six men reports having difficulty in getting through our wire moved forward through orchard and then to left in no mans land about 400'. Enemy fired a great number of verey lights and bombed his own wire. Enemy not encountered.
    No.2 from I-10–1 7:45 to 9:45 pm 1 NCO and six men had no trouble getting through our wire. Report having examined no mans land as far north as Mushroom salient and returned to orchard. No enemy movement observed.
    No.3 from I-16–4 9:45 to 12 pm. Advanced to within 50' of hostile wire. No enemy encountered but he could be heard working at his own trenches. He bombed his wire frequently and used many verey lights.
    No. 4 from I-10–1 and12 to 2 am 1&6. Advanced about 200' towards enemy trenches and then patrolled towards mushroom. Report enemy bombing and firing Verey lights.
    No.5 from I-10-1- 2:15 am to 4:45 am. 1 & 6. Moved to left to about I-11-c-0-3 thence to within 25 yards of enemy parapet. They report enemy at work in his trenches from I-11-c-35-15 to I-11-c-25-00. A machine gun on their right in enemy trench fired a burst from I-?-?-30-75. Enemy was then heard to walk to the left and when about 25' from first position he fired another burst. This was repeated and in all he fired 4 bursts in about 100' last burst from I-17-a-4.5-9.5. No Verey lights were sent up by him here.
    When a shot from our parapet hit his parapet the scout said heard the enemy say "come on". The working party was heard whistling and singing. The patrol then moved about 100' to right. Work was going on the whole length of the enemy front.

    At about midnight and officer and an NCO examined the wire where the enemy raiding party entered our trench in a gap two nights ago. At the forward edge of the wire a hand grenade was found and a piece of white tape leading through the gap which had been cut in the wire. A grenade was picked up about every 3 yards along the tape - 15 in all similar to those left inside the trench on night of raid. They appeared to have been put there for a purpose. There is a fairly well worn track here which leads to and follows along a ditch (no.2) on intelligence map sheet 4 which gives good cover as far as enemy trenches.
    Front I-10–2 – I-10–3 Patrols went out as follows:-
    No. 1 from I-10–2 at 6:30 pm to 7:15 pm reports our wire good from I-10-D-90–25 to I-11-0–05-30. From from there out it is patchy and there are several gaps. Enemy not encountered.

    No. 2 7:45 pm to 10:35 pm went out to examine our wire to right of mushroom and report it scattered and broken. Enemy not encountered.

    No. 3 from I-10-2 - 10 35 pm to 11:30 pm to examine enemy wire opposite gap. Reports it impossible to approach it owing to mud and shell holes caused by our Artillery.

    Patrols also went out at 12 midnight to 2 am, 2 am to 4 am. They report enemy wiring party at 12:15 am enemy wiring party at I-11-c-4–5. They were talking and coughing. They were dispersed with Lewis gun and rifle fire. Enemy sending up verey lights from enemy listening post. Enemy otherwise quiet.

    Frontage : I-10–4 – I-10–5. This frontage was controlled continuously from 5:30 pm to 5 am. They report no enemy working parties heard nor seen enemy exceptionally quiet on this front except for machine gun in railway salient which was firing in both directions and a great number of Verey lights were fired. Enemy still bombing his wire in this sector but not so much as on night before.

    Patrols: Frontage: I-10–6 – I-10–7. This frontage patrolled from 5:30 pm to 5 am. Report enemy quiet on this front no working parties being seen or heard. No mans land opposite I-10–6 very wet and boggy. Enemy bombed his own wire during night almost continuously and threw up many Verey lights. On several occasions as soon as one light went out another was fired on each occasion about 12 lights went up.

    Enemy operations: Artillery: At different times during day shelled position 150' in rear of Mushroom with 77 mm shells (HE??)

    Some shells seem to have come from opposite I-11-4 and others from in rear of railway salient. He replied to this bombardment of N.F. on our right with shrapnel and minnies but only feeble in comparison with what was put on him. He fired 4 machines (?) at 6:5 pm across the left of battalion front and again at 9:30 pm. No damage was observed on our front. At 10:45 enemy fired with field guns on Lewis gun emplacements in "C" post and hit the parapet in several places doing no material damage. At 3:45 pm he ranged on No. 3 locality the shells bursting in front of the parapet and doing no damage to our work. At about 5:10 pm 8 medium trench mortar or light trench mortar shells burst in front of parapet and again at 5:55 pm 4 more burst in same place doing no damage etc to our works. They appeared to come from enemy front line opposite I-10-7. At 9:50 am enemy shelled left Co. A few shells fell between front and support lines the remainder to the left of support line. Guns 77 mm. He repeated this at 2:45 pm. A great number of his shells failed to explode. Enemy also fired a number of rifle grenades especially about 5 pm. These seem to be very heavy for rifle grenades and some explode with loud detonation while others give very little report but a great deal of smoke.

    Machine guns: Enemy machine gun particularly quiet during night. Enemy machine gun fired 2 good burst at about 9:30 pm on the right tramline running up to support line. This was evidently caused by working parties under R.E. showing themselves freely at this place during daylight. Machine gun in railway salient fired 12 bursts, in mushrooms salient six first and later three bursts during night mostly over our front line. During our bombardment of enemy communications enemy machine guns fired long burst at every salvo along our parapet and communication trenches.

    Communications: Enemy fired very many verey lights all night along his whole front. He fired a new verey light which burnt for some seconds on the ground and then when nearly out burst again throwing another light with the area about half as high as the first shot. He used his searchlights as usual during the night.

    Miscellaneous: Our snipers claim 4 hits.
    Enemy bombed his own wire very frequently during night along our whole front.
    Enemy transport and motor transport heard at 4 am at about I-17-B-3–1.
    Wind South East 5 mph all day.

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Routine Order No.136    NOT TO BE TAKEN IN FRONT LINE TRENCHES
      33rd BATTALION A.I.F.
    Lieutenant-Colonel LJ Morshead,
      Chappelle d'Armentières, 15th December, 1916

      Each Company will detail to men to act as Advance Billeting Party.  They will report to Lt. WJC Duncan at Battalion Headquarters at 9:30 am on the 16th inst. The men detailed as above must be detailed on Company guides on day of relief.

      For the future all Church Parades will be voluntary, but all ranks must be given every facility to attend.

    PASSWORDS 1322
      Companies and specialist sections must not issue passwords when in the line. The practice to be adopted in this Battalion will be that when challenged a man will give his own name in reply.

      MACHINE GUNS 1323
    Machine guns are at the disposal of Company Commanders for the purpose of defence.
      When necessary Company Commanders may arrange  with the MG Officer to fire from temporary emplacements but the permanent positions must not be changed.
      Normal night firing is controlled by the MG Officer.  Any Company Officer on discovering a suitable target may order machine gun fire. Such an order will be written and signed by the Officer and given to the officer in charge or NCO with the gun.  Care must be taken that the target is one for a machine gun. MG Officers will record every such target fired at and will report to Battalion Headquarters if guns are misused.
      Machine Guns should not fire regularly from their fixed emplacements, but alternative emplacement should be used as much as possible.
    It must be remembered that Machine Guns must be laid during daylight for night firing. It is impossible to lay a gun at night.
      Company Commanders will confer and cooperate in every possible way with MG Officer.

      Stokes mortars are also at the disposal of Company Commanders and may be used on the following conditions: –
      General defensive in case of an attack.
    On enemy working parties or groups of men. For this, the number of rounds to be fired by any one gun is limited to 12, but 6 rounds should suffice to disperse such a party.  Any Company Officer may order fire on pointing out a suitable target to the officer or NCO in charge of the guns. Again it is essential to have hearty cooperation with the Trench Mortar Battery.

      Information from an absolutely reliable source shows that the Germans are using the following devices to obtain identification, vis: –
      Collecting letters and field service postcards coming from the front and bearing postal marks.
      Sending parcels to soldiers with an addressed card to be signed by the recipient and returned as an acknowledgement of the gift.
      Copies of all military maps.
      Letters from an unknown writers and particularly gifts from unknown donors should at once be brought to the notice of Battalion Headquarters.

      STRENGTH 1326
      The undermentioned have been stuck of strength.
      No 161 Sgt.TGE Rush, killed in action
      No 257 Pte. R McRae, killed in action

      They undermentioned having been discharged from hospital are taken on the strength
      5124B Pte. H Newcomb
      1196 Pte E Malheron

      (Signed) RC Jones  2/Lt.
      Adjutant. 33rd Battalion A.I.F

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • 15th December 1916 Ongoing winter training and inspections

  • 15th December 1916 Ongoing training

  •    SAILLY

    2Lt BUSBY & draft of 23 OR’s reported to HQ. 130 OR’s (untrained) billeted at COUIN. 18 DLI relieved 18th W.Y.R. in L3 relief complete 12.40pm. Raiding party left at SAILLY. B & C Co. right & left front. A & D Co. support.

    The National Archives Reference WO95/2361/1

  • 15th Dec 1916 On Leave

  • 15th Dec 1916 Orders

  • 15th Dec 1916 OP Shelled

  • 15th Dec 1916 Working Parties

  • 15th of December 1916 Companies Deployed

  • 15th Dec 1916 Training

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There are:14 articles tagged with this date available in our Library

  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Remembering those who died this day.

  • Pte. William Heyworth. East Lancashire Regiment 1/4th Btn. Read their Story.
  • Driver Robert William Smith McBain. Royal Engineers Signal Depot (Fenny Stratford) Read their Story.
  • Pte. Percy Stafford. Yorkshire Regiment 12th Btn.

    Add a name to this list.

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