Bullecourt

Bullecourt is part of Australian, ANZAC history. This arose as part of the Battle of Arras in the spring of 1917.

The ‘Bullecourt Digger’

© CDT Pas de Calais/S. Jarry

Just outside Bullecourt, along the Rue des Australiens and along the side road to Reincourt–les–Cagnicourt, is the Australian Memorial Park with its statue of the bronze ‘Bullecourt Digger’. He gazes out over the fields of Bullecourt where in April and May 1917 the AIF lost 10,000 soldiers, killed or wounded, in their efforts to break into and hold part of the Hindenburg Line.

You can read the following inscription : 'Sacred to the memory of 10,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force who were killed or wounded in the two battles of Bullecourt, April - May 1917, and to the Australians and their comrades in arms, who lie forever in the soil of France. Lest We Forget.'

As a result of events in the latter year, Bullecourt is part of Australian, ANZAC history.
This arose as part of the Battle of Arras in the spring of 1917, when Bullecourt lay at the southern end of the battle front.

First Battle of Bullecourt : 11 April 1917

On 11 April 1917 the Australian 4th Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line in the First Battle of Bullecourt. The attack was hastily planned and mounted and resulted in disaster. Tanks which were supposed to support the attacking Australian infantry either broke down or were quickly destroyed. Nevertheless, the infantry managed to break into the German defences. Due to uncertainty as to how far they had advanced, supporting artillery fire was withheld, and eventually the Australians were hemmed in and forced to retreat. The two brigades of the 4th Division that carried out the attack, the 4th and 12th, suffered over 3,300 casualties; 1,170 Australians were taken prisoner - the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

Second Battle of Bullecourt : 3-15 May 1917

German shells burst over the Australian support lines after the attack on Bullecourt, France, 7 May 1917.

The Second Battle of Bullecourt, fought between 3 and 15 May 1917, was a continuation of the British 1917 spring offensive north and south of Arras.

On 15 May the Australians fought off a final German counter-attack and the enemy decided to leave this piece of the Hindenburg Line to Australia. One Australian historian described the fighting at Bullecourt as the taking of a small, tactically useless village at a cost of more than 7,000 Australian casualties.

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