Military History

This Week In History | Week 30

By The Cove July 20, 2020

Week 30 | 20 - 26 July


22 July 1917 | Four members of the Australian Army Nursing Service win the Military Medal

The No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (2CCS), was located close to the trenches at Trois Arbres near Armentières.

On the night of 22 July 1917, 2CCS was attacked by German aircraft. Witness accounts describe nurses running to tents shattered by bombs to rescue patients, either carrying them to safety or placing tables over patient's beds in an effort to protect them. Sisters Dorothy Cawood, Clare Deacon and Alice Ross-King and Staff Nurse Mary Jane Derrer were awarded the Military Medal for their actions during the attack.

These were the first bravery awards won by Australian nurses in action.


22 July 1942 | Beginning of the battle of the Kokoda Trail

Having been stopped in their attempt to reach Port Moresby by sea at the battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese were forced to try and take the town by land. The only route open to them was over the Owen Stanley Range via the Kokoda Trail.

The Kokoda Trail fighting was some of the most desperate and vicious encountered by Australian troops in the Second World War. Although the successful capture of Port Moresby was never going to be the precursor to an invasion of Australia, victory on the Kokoda Trail did ensure that Allied bases in northern Australia, which were considered vital in the coming counter-offensive against the Japanese, would not be seriously threatened by air attack. Approximately 625 Australians were killed along the Kokoda Trail and over 1,600 were wounded. Casualties due to sickness exceeded 4,000.


23 July 1916 | Battle of Pozières begins

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.

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, 6,800 were killed or died of wounds.


24 July 1953 | Battle of the Samichon River - The Hook

In the three days leading up to the cease-fire that ended the Korean War, a savage battle was fought in the hills of the Jamestown Line at a position known as the Hook.

The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army made a last-ditch attempt to wrest strategically important territory from United Nations forces before the armistice was signed. Their attack, which began on the evening of 24 July 1953, fell against positions on the Hook that were held by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) and on American positions to their left, held by the 7th Regiment, 1st Division of the United States Marine Corps.





The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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