History of the 27th Battalion ‘Unley’s Own’

At this time just over 100 years ago ‘Unley’s Own’ 27th Battalion took part in the Battle of Amiens.  The battalion was part of the first wave of attacks during the decisive Allied defeat of the German Army.  During the battle the 27th Battalion captured 9 artillery pieces, 25 machine guns and over 200 prisoners.

27th Battalion marching through Unley on 8 May 1915

The 27th Battalion was raised in South Australia in March 1915 with many of the recruits coming from suburban Adelaide, particularly from the district of Unley.  On 16 March 1915, the former Mayor of Unley and Commander of the Port Adelaide defences, Lieutenant Colonel Walter Dollman was appointed to command the 27th Battalion.  This was a great source of pride within the district and accordingly the battalion became known as

‘Unley’s Own’.  On 8 May 1915 the battalion marched down Unley Road (pictured) prior to its embarkation.

Together with the 25th, 26th and 28th Battalions the battalion formed the 7th Brigade. The battalion fought in Gallipoli and in early 1916 proceeded to France as part of the 2nd Australian Division.  The battalion entered the front-line trenches on 7 April 1916 and fought in the Battle of Pozieres between 28 July and 5 August 1916.  On the evening of 4 August the battalion took part in the assault to capture the Windmill of Pozieres on Hill 160.  This was a significant feature as the high ground of Hill 160 afforded a strategic overview of the battlefield.  During the successful assault on the Windmill at Pozieres the 27th Battalion suffered the loss of 132 troops Killed in Action and a further 300 wounded.

Official Historian, Charles Bean wrote that ‘”the ruin of Pozieres Windmill, which lies here was at the centre of the struggle in this part of the Somme battlefield in July and August 1916. Australian troops fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war.”

Lieut Col Frederick Chamlers CMG DSO

In October 1916 the battalion took part in two attacks at Flers in the Somme Valley.  Both attacks floundered in the mud-soaked terrain.  On 20 September 1917 the battalion was part of the 2nd Division’s first wave at the battle of Menin Road and subsequently took part in the capture of Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917.

In 1918 the battalion played a part in the successful Allied containment of the German spring offensive and later participated in an attack around Morlancourt on 10 June; in a supporting role during the battle of Hamel on 4 July before its involvement in the Battle of Amiens.  The Battalion was part of the effort to break through the Beaurevoir Line in early October 1918.

The battalion’s first Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel Walter Dollman VD (16 March 1915), who handed command to Lieutenant Colonel James Slane on 22 August 1916. Slane was succeeded by and Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Chalmers CMG DSO on 1 October 1917.

The 27th Battalion received the following Battle Honours during World War One:

Soldiers serving with the 27th Battalion were awarded the following decorations: One Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, Five Distinguished Service Orders, 20 Military Crosses (Two Bars), 14 Distinguished Conduct Medals, 69 Military Medals (Two Bars), Five Meritorious Service Medals, 21 Mentioned In Despatches and Six Foreign Awards.  Approximately 8,000 troops served with the 27th Battalion during World War One.  Of these, 1169 were Killed in Action.

Lest we forget.