ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories
map of the Western front

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  • 13 March – The Australian 2nd Division departs from Egypt for France, and begins arriving at Marseilles on the afternoon of 19 March.
  • 28 June – Australian battalions move into the frontline on the Western Front.
  • 1 July – The Battle of the Somme begins. The British suffer shocking casualties.
  • 19 July – During the Battle of Fromelles, Australia has more than 5,500 casualties in 24 hours for no gain.
  • 23 July – The Australians enter the Battle of the Somme. In fighting at Pozieres and nearby Mouquet Farm, three Australian divisions have more than 23,000 casualties.
  • 1 December – Australian troops endure an appalling winter, with many stationed at Flers, France.

soldier at pozieres


  • 23 February – Germans withdraw to the Hindenburg Line, a massive defensive position along the Western Front.
  • 10 April – The first Battle of Bullecourt begins. The plan for the attack exposes the AIF to severe German fire without support from its own artillery. The Australians lose 3,000 men. As many as 1,170 Australians are taken prisoner.
  • 3 May – The second Battle of Bullecourt begins. Better co-ordination of the battle leads to the capture of the village of Bullecourt, but for little strategic advantage. The Australians lose 7,000 men.
  • 7 June – During the Battle of Messines, involving two Australian divisions, troops capture Messines Ridge. The 3rd Australian Division loses 4,100 men and the 4th 2,700 men.
  • 31 July – The third Battle of Ypres begins. In a series of water-logged battles in Belgium around Ypres and Passchendaele, Australian casualties soar. Four Australian divisions lose a total of more than 11,000 men in less than two weeks of fighting. For the Australians, 1917 is the worst year of the war.

buildings destroyed at Ypres


  • 30 March – The Australians repel a German attack at the Battle of Dernancourt, but the village is later lost by British troops.
  • 11 April – British General Douglas Haig issues his famous communiqué ‘to all ranks of the British Army’: ‘with our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end’.
  • 24 April – The Australians attack at Villers-Bretonneux, which is a crucial position on the road to Amiens and vital to the defence of Paris. They play a critical role in halting the German advance.
  • 31 May – Victorian General John Monash is appointed Commander of the Australian Corps and promoted to Lieutenant-General. This is the first time an Australian has commanded the Australians on the Western Front.
  • 4 July – At the Battle of Hamel, Monash’s brilliant set-piece battle is played out, which engages all arms of service, even employing aircraft to resupply the troops.
  • 8 August – The Battle of Amiens begins.
  • 2 September – The 2nd Australian Division captures Mont Saint-Quentin in a brilliant and aggressive attack. The Germans have no choice but to retreat to the Hindenburg Line.
  • 26 September – The Australians begin their attack on the Saint-Quentin canal and Hindenburg Line defences.
  • 29 September – The 5th Australian Division captures Bellicourt.
  • 5 October – The last Australian infantry action of the war on the Western Front takes place at Montbrehain. With its capture, the Hindenburg Line is broken. The Australian Corps is withdrawn to rest.
  • 11 November – Armistice is signed by Germany.
  • 11 November – At around 9.00pm, news of the armistice is received in Melbourne. Victoria erupts in a demonstration of joy and happiness, tinged with mourning for the 19,000 Victorians among the more than 60,000 Australians who have been killed overseas.
  • 12 November – A public holiday is declared for Victoria to celebrate victory.
  • 1 December – Members of the AIF begin to return to Melbourne on Anzac leave and are met joyously in the city, in their homes and in their communities.

Soldiers and horses at Amiens