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The relevance of miscellany administrative, support and logistic units of the AIF.


As military historians, we are all keenly aware of the fact that the institution that we know today as "the Australian Army" owes its origins very much to the AIF. Prior to 1914, the Australian Army was a collection of mostly part time units, largely inherited from the pre-Federation Colonial forces, supported by a miniscule Permanent establishment and to a large extent struggling to define itself. It was the First World War that gave Australia its first "army", that gave Australia a fighting and military tradition, and that would shape the development of the post-war army, up until the current day.

Yet, when we think of the Australian Army in the First World War, we tend NOT to actually think of an Australian army. When we do think of Australia's army in that conflict we of course think of the AIF. And when we think of the AIF we think of the great fighting infantry and light horse divisions of that force. But, by doing that, we are in fact not thinking of an "army" at all. An expeditionary force made up only of combat units is just that, an expeditionary force, suitable at best to be incorporated into a larger foreign force as a national element. For the truth is, an "army" is more than just infantry, artillery, engineers and cavalry. An "army" is also cooks and bakers, doctors and dentists, drivers and mechanics, clerks and postmen, and so on. By concentrating on the fighting elements of the AIF, the "teeth", and neglecting the administrative and support elements, "the tail", we are in fact denying the right of the AIF to be considered an "Australian army."

The aim of this paper is to examine the administrative and support elements of the AIF and propose and, hopefully, prove the argument that without the various, at times unglamorous, administrative and support elements of the force it would not be able to lay claim to being an Australian army. The paper will concentrate on the operations of the support, logistic and administrative elements of the AIF in the UK and on the Western Front. Although the Australian activity in the Middle East after Gallipoli was ably supported by Australian logistic and support units, the bulk of the support for the Light Horsemen was provided by the British Army. Thus the Middle East campaign will only be touched on. Nor will mention be made of the relatively extensive AIF support, logistic and administrative establishment in Australia.


The very first contingent of the AIF to depart for overseas service, comprised the 1st Australian Division, the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade, the 1st Light Horse Brigade and the 4th Light Horse Regiment. But even in these very first days, the AIF included admin and support units and sub-units. Admittedly, these were organic to the formations but still they were there, an acknowledgment that modern war could not be fought by infantry, artillery and cavalry alone. The first contingent included field ambulances, the divisional and brigade trains (transport and supply units), field bakeries, field butcheries and the all important veterinary sections.

One point that must be borne in mind at all times is that to a large extent, in those first days, the AIF was "making things up" as it went along. For example, when the AIF set about establishing the logistic and supply units for the 1st Division, while it was known that, amongst other things, an "ammunition park" and a "supply column" were required, no one had much of an idea of the duties or probable tasks of these mysterious units. The officers appointed to raise and command the two units eventually discovered an article in the New Zealand Military Journal that gave them enough guidance to get on with the job! (51) As constituted, the organic support units of the 1st Australian Division were as shown in the list following:

* Divisional Train (ASC)

--Supply Column

--Ammunition Park

--Brigade Train (Supply Company) x 3

* Field Ambulance x 3

* Mobile Veterinary Section

* Field Bakery

* Field Butchery

Originally destined for the UK, for various reasons the first contingents of the AIF were diverted to Egypt and went into camp at Mena in December 1914. Nothing brought home more starkly to both the British and Australian authorities the lack of support, logistic and administrative units of the AIF than the arrival of first contingent. The Australians, for example, would require a minimum of 2,500 tents to accommodate themselves in the desert. They had--none. (52) The AIF in fact had no logistic units apart from those organic to the division and brigades. Bad enough in and of itself, this lack of support units was immediately compounded by the decision to form the 1st Australian Division and the New Zealand Division into a corps. It should be noted that, while "organic" to the 1st Division when despatched, the Supply Column and Ammunition Park were in fact Corps Troops. When the rest of the first contingent disembarked in Egypt, the Supply Column and Ammunition Park continued on to England where they were employed on hauling and transport tasks around Salisbury Plain. (53)

Under the impetus of reorganisation and expansion, supply units of the AIF increased dramatically. By February 1915, in addition to the AIF Administrative Headquarters (formed in Cairo in late 1914) and Base, the supply units of the AIF included:

* 1 st Division Train (1,2,3 & 4 Coy Australian Army Service Corps [AASC])

* Reserve Park (10 Coy AASC)

* 1st and 2nd Depot Unit of Supply (DUS)

* 11th Railway Supply Detachment (11 Coy AASC)

* 1st Field Bakery (13 Coy AASC part)

* 1st Field Butchery (13 Coy AASC part)

* 1st, 2nd & 3rd LH Brigade Trains (5, 6 & 12 Coy AASC)

* 4th Infantry Brigade Train (7 Coy AASC) (54)

In addition to the AASC units, elements of the hastily raised Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC) were present in Egypt. These included the Field Ordnance Depot (FOD) at Mena and the Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) at Alexandria. (55)

The Dardanelles

Gallipoli was a major challenge for the supply services of the AIF. Operating with ad hoc organisation, limited facilities, under primitive and physically dangerous conditions, the supply and support elements of ANZAC performed literal miracles. From lighters anchored offshore, the AAOC detachments maintained a supply of ammunition from the very first day of the campaign. (56) Within the very first hours of the campaign, LTCOL J.G. Austin (DADOS 1st Division) followed up behind 3rd Brigade and established an ammunition point near the pier at Hell Spit. The bullet riddled ordnance pennant Austin raised to identify his position is now held by the Australian War Memorial. (57)

Similarly, the AASC units rose magnificently to the challenge of the campaign. After a faltering start, the AASC companies quickly acquired the knowledge and expertise needed to keep the fighting troops supplied and resupplied under the most trying of conditions. Originally tasked with holding seven days' supply of rations in the Depots located around Anzae Cove, the requirement was raised in June 1915 to ten days, while 23 days reserve was held in the main Depot at Anzac Gully. Thus by 17 July the South Depot near the mouth of Shrapnel Gully held 23 days' reserve of rations and 2 days' fuel for 25,000 men along with 5 days' grain and 1 day's hay for 1,000 animals. (58) The field bakery in the meantime had, after a soul destroying period of misemployment as regimental police, began operation on Imbros and kept up a much appreciated supply of baked goods to the AIF units on Gallipoli fight up until the end of the campaign. (59) For those not intimately familiar with the conditions at Anzac, it is difficult to imagine just how extreme the conditions were under which the men of the AASC and AAOC maintained the vital supply role for ANZAC.

In addition to the supply and logistic units, major Australian medical units made their first appearance during the Gallipoli Campaign. Both the 1st Australian General Hospital and the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station were deployed forward to Lemnos in May 1915 to handle AIF casualties, while the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital operated in Cairo. (60) As with the more specialised AASC units, the non-divisional medical units were an innovation for the Australian Army and experienced a number of problems early in the war. These were generally overcome and the Australian medical units became noted for their efficiency and competency. The flow of casualties from Gallipoli, both wounded and sick, saw an early increase in the number of medical units. The 1st General Hospital would be joined in quick order by the 2nd and 3rd General Hospitals, along with the 1st and 2nd Stationary Hospitals, the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Auxiliary Hospitals, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Convalescent Depots and the 1st Sanitary Company. (61)

After the Australians withdrew from Gallipoli in December 1915, the supply elements of the AIF were placed under further swain by the requirement to more than double the size of the force. One of the most far reaching developments for the AIF was the establishment of the overseas base early in 1915, under the command of Colonel V.C.M. Selheim. The Base, in effect the Headquarters of the AIF, was organised into seven departments: records, finance, ordnance, medical, base detail (responsible for reinforcements, training, personal administration etc), remounts and postal. It was this organisation that would develop into the great AIF Headquarters in Horseferry Road, London. The Base Headquarters and then later the AIF Headquarters released the commanders of the AIF from the administrative burden they had been under and freed them to concentrate on the operational and tactical aspects of command. (62)

With the withdrawal of the AIF from the Dardenelles, the immense task of expanding the force began. (63) When the reorganisation was complete, the AIF consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Divisions in Egypt, the 3rd Division en route to the UK and the Mounted Division forming in Egypt.

The AIF Splits

In January 1916, it was decided to send the infantry divisions of the AIF to the UK, France and Belgium, along with the bulk of the support, logistic and administrative elements. (64) In France/Belgium, the Australians would form (along with the New Zealand Division) the I and II ANZAC Corps. The Light Horse, in the meantime, along with a reduced allotment of support, logistic and administrative elements, would remain in the Middle East to carry on the fight against the Turks. The 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Divisions began departing Egypt in May 1916, to join the 3rd Division in Europe. With them went the bulk of the "tail" units.

The Middle East

With the departure of the infantry divisions, the AIF presence in the Middle East was represented largely by the light horse units. While the bulk of the support, logistic and administrative units in the Middle East were British or Indian, the AIF formations included organic AIF units. In addition, a number of AIF support, logistic and administrative units served in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine. The overall administration of the AIF units was the responsibility of AIF Administrative HQ in Cairo. Medical support was provided by the 14th General Hospital, the 2nd and 3rd Infectious Diseases Hospitals, the 2nd Stationary Hospital and the Anzac Field Laboratory. Dental care was provided to the Light Horsemen by the 6th, 16th, 25th, 31st, 71st, 73rd, 103rd, 104th, 105th, 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, 117th and 118th Dental Units. Of critical importance to the Light Horse was the AIF Remount Depot, which started life as the 1st and 2nd Remount Units. The two units were consolidated to form the

Remount Depot in October 1916 and the unit was active until the end of the war. It should also be noted that the AIF operated no less than 15 remount depots in Australia, to supply horses to both the Middle East and to the European theatre. These depots also provided horses for the Indian Army under an Australian-UK government to government agreement.

Apart from these non-divisional units, of course, there were the support units organic to the Australian Mounted Division and the Anzac Mounted Division. These would eventually include the 32nd-38th AASC Companies, the 26th and 27th DUS, the 6th-10th Mobile Veterinary Sections, 1st-5th Light Horse Field Ambulances and 7th and 8th Veterinary Sections. (65)

UK and the Western Front

From early 1916, the bulk of the AIF was concentrated in the UK, France and Belgium and the Western Front would become the AIF's main focus for the rest of the war. While the infantry divisions and the "corps troops" went to France, the AIF was establish a sophisticated and widespread network of administrative, training, support and logistic units in the UK. These are dealt with in the following paragraphs.

Administrative Units

While the AIF depended to a fairly large extent (although not as large as usually thought) on the BEF for logistic support, in the field of personnel administration and management the AIF was almost totally independent and self-sustaining. From very humble beginnings, the AIF's headquarters units grew to be large and sophisticated organisations, almost totally independent of the British Army.

AIF Headquarters. To administer the AIF in the Middle East, the AIF Intermediate Base had been established in Cairo in early 1915. Under the command of Colonel Sellheim, the original role of this organisation was simply to relieve Birdwood and Bridges of the administrative load that had been detracting from their main role as operational commanders. The rapidly growing sophistication of the AIF as a military organisation, however, meant that the "Intermediate Base" (i.e. the base between Australia and the fighting front) very soon evolved into a full blown military headquarters with all of the normal staff branches. (66) With decision to move the bulk of the AIF to Europe, the AIF HQ and training depots were ordered to transfer to the UK in April 1916, the HQ under Sellheim arriving on 21 May. It should be noted than an extemporized AIF HQ already existed in the UK. Early in 1915, Western Australia's Agent-General in London, Sir Newton Moore, an experienced pre-war militia soldier, was appointed to form and command Australian depots in the UK. The arrival of the HQ and depots from Egypt saw Moore replaced by Sellheim and the previous ad-hoc arrangement transformed into the AIF Administrative HQ, located at Horseferry Road. Within less than a year the Australian HQ would outgrow its original more than ample quarters at Horseferry Road and command a network of depots, training schools and medical and convalescent units throughout England. Sellheim commanded the HQ until the end of July 1916, when, rather unfairly, he was replaced by the Sydney businessman Colonel R.R. Anderson. (67) Sir Newton Moore, promoted to Brigadier-General, took over command of AIF Depots in the UK.

For the remainder of the war and indeed into 1919, the great headquarters at Horseferry Road commanded and administered the AIF in the UK and Europe, with some oversight also of the administration of AIF troops in the Middle East. The HQ, especially under Anderson, grew in both size and efficiency, its organisational success being easily judged by the completeness of the vast amount of records returned to Australia after the war and still available to the researcher. Two hallmarks of the AIF Administrative HQ were the meticulousness of its records, especially financial, and the large numbers of civilians, especially women, employed. By early 1917, the only uniformed personnel serving at Horseferry Road were those totally necessary to the efficient military operation of the headquarters.

AIF Base Records. In the pre-War AMF, personal records had been of a fairly limited nature. Record keeping for the miniscule regular army was accomplished by a small section, little more than a couple of clerks, located in the Adjutant-General's Branch at Army HQ in Melbourne. Militia records were Military District, i.e. State, based and in fact tended to be very much a unit responsibility, centralisation being achieved by regular unit "returns." (68) This system was, of course, not suitable for a large standing army. With this in mind, the Defence Department established the AIF Base Records in Melbourne in October 1914. The role of the unit was to maintain the personal records of all members of the AIF. With a short war in mind, the original record section had an establishment of three clerks. By 1917, this had grown to more than 330, based on an allocation of one clerk per 1,000 records, with a small additional staff "for emergencies." (69)

Australian Section, 3rd Echelon. Faced with the need to maintain accurate personnel records the AIF decided to utilise the British Third Echelon system. British soldiers posted for overseas service had their personal records returned to the Home Records Officer for safe-keeping. An extract of the record was then forwarded to the area or army he was to serve in. The record was held by the GHQ Third Echelon at the base. The AIF established an "Australian Section" in the Third Echelon in Cairo in July 1915. Staffed by clerks detached from the divisions of the AIF, the Australian Section originally had a strength of 143, rising to 353 in 1918. When the infantry divisions and support units went to France in 1916, the bulk of the Australian Section went to Le Havre, leaving a small element in Cairo to handle records of AIF personnel serving in the Middle East. Due to some unresolved "turf disputes", there was a large overlap between AIF Overseas HQ, AIF Base Records in Melbourne and the Australian Section Third Echelon, resulting in duplication of effort. On the other hand, while this was in some ways wasteful, it ensured that the AIF came out of the war with extensive and detailed personnel records. (70)

Base Depots. The role of the Base Depots was to process men on their way to the fighting units, either as reinforcements or as "casuals", i.e men returning from hospital, convalescence, long term schooling, leave or detention. Five Divisional Base Depots were established in March 1916, one for each of the infantry divisions. Originally located at Etaples, the great administrative and logistic node of the BEF, the depots relocated to Harfleur near Le Havre in June 1917. In September 1916 a General Base Depot was formed at Etaples to process men for other than Infantry and Pioneer units. The General Base Depot relocated to Harfleur at the same time as the Divisional Base Depots. In December 1917, in anticipation of the creation of the Australian Corps, the Divisional Base Depots were disbanded and as the Infantry Base Depot, was reorganised to process men for the infantry and pioneers for all of the divisions. Interestingly, Bean notes that the reason for relocating the Australians from Etaples to Harfleur was the fact that the lines of transport for drafts crossed those of the Canadians. Bean notes in his prim manner that at Folkestone "conflicts occurred between Australians and Canadian military police." (71)


As mentioned above under headquarters units, the AIF established a large and sophisticated network of training units, both in the UK and Middle East. Initial training of recruits in Australia was fairly rudimentary, largely being designed simply to instil some sense of discipline and "military belonging" into newly joined civilians. These new recruits were drafted overseas as soon as possible, training continuing in a limited form aboard ship, with the bulk of training, especially that of specialists, being conducted in training depots in England, France and Egypt.

Training Depots. With the transfer of the bulk of the AIF's establishment to England and France, and after some early confusion and re-organisation, the AIF training establishment consisted of: (72)

* No. 1 Group--Perham Downs: training brigade for the 1st Division and Pioneers.

* No. 2 Group--Rollestone: training brigade for the 2nd and 4th Divisions.

* No. 3 Group--Lark Hill: training brigade for the 5th Division.

* Artillery Depot--Lark Hill.

* Engineers and Signallers Depot--Parkhouse.

* Army Service Corps Depot--Parkhouse.

* Medical Corps Depot--Parkhouse.

* Machine Gun Depot--Tidworth.

Later, for reasons of efficiency, the Engineers were transferred to Christchurch and then Brightlingsea; the Signallers went to Shefford; and the Machine Gunners moved to Grantham. (73) In all these cases, the moves were made in order to co-locate Australian schools with their corresponding British establishments and thus draw on and benefit from the expertise and knowledge bases of these establishments.

The AASC Training Depot at Parkhouse was a particularly busy establishment. The depot not only trained and despatched 150 ASC reinforcements per month and conducted specialist officer and NCO training, it was also responsible for providing the supplies, transport and barracks services support for the AIF in the UK. Taking into account the AIF HQ, several hospitals, units of AFC and AIF depot complex, Parkhouse was responsible, on top of its training commitment, for the housing, feeding and transporting of about 50,000 men at any given time. (74)

In the Middle East, training depots were established for light horse, machine gunners, engineers, signallers, medical, veterinary and Army Service Corps personnel. (75) Although theoretically subunits of the parent depots in the UK and required to conform to the training programs and standards of the parent unit, the Middle East depots seem to have gone very much their own way, although the outcomes appeared to be the same!

I ANZAC Entrenching Battalion. The ANZAC Entrenching Battalion was interesting unit that combined both training and operational roles. Exasperated at the British GHQ requirement for all men, no matter how well trained, to spend (endure is a better word) at least 10 days of instruction at the infamous "Bull Ring" at Etaples, I Anzac Corps established I ANZAC Entrenching Battalion. The battalion was employed on trench building and maintenance tasks in the front line, thus providing the men in the battalion with some much needed front line experience. The had a high and continual turnover of men as the divisions of ! ANZAC Corps drew their reinforcements from the battalion. These losses were continually made up by men fed into the battalion from the Command Depots, thus continuing the cycle. The battalion continued in this role until broken up in late 1917. (76)


The question of pay was of such vital concern to both the Commonwealth government and the AIF that an Army Pay Corps was established before the First Contingent sailed. Unfortunately, the small number of personnel available and their lack of experience in the large money transactions entailed in the financial administration the AIF, meant that the pay system in Egypt very quickly reached the point of collapse. Colonely Selheim was so concerned at the state of affairs that he requested an experienced accountant to be sent out to both audit the AIF's finances and to untangle the web of problems created. Lieutenant Colonel Joliffe, an accountant and militia officer, was sent out from Melbourne and carried out the first audit of the AIF's "books." He was joined later by a succession of accountants recruited from the ranks of the AIF and commissioned into the Pay Corps. (77)

Unfortunately, the problems raised their heads again with the expansion of the AIF and the transfer of the bulk of its personnel to the UK and France. When Anderson became Commandant AIF HQ in August 1916 he immediately called for another complete audit. Such were his concerns that the Finance Member of the Military Board, Colonel Laing, was sent out to conduct the audit. Joliffe was brought from Egypt and appointed Chief Paymaster AIF and, supported by a number of other accountants and bookkeepers recruited from the AIF's ranks, gradually sorted out the AIF's financial mess. However, it was such a huge problem that it would not be until the end of 1917 that the AIF would be able to render a full and proper financial account to the Commonwealth Government. (78)

Later in the war, the manning status of the AIF became so critical that the HQ and depots in the UK and France were combed for fit men. The result of this was that the uniformed staff at AIF Administrative HQ was reduced to the absolute bare minimum required for efficient operation. The Pay Corps was not immune to this process and by late 1917 the huge job of paying and administering the finances of the AIF was being carried by a tiny staff. In Bean's words, these men were "so overtaxed that one after another of them broke down in health." (79) The Pay Corps was about the last of the AIF to leave UK. Such was the size of the task of finalising the AIF's accounts with the UK Government that a small Pay Corps element remained behind in London under the command of Major Langslow to finish the job, not returning to Australia until 1921. (80)

That the Pay Corps did a good job can be judged by the fact that while there were numerous complaints by Australian troops about officers, discipline, food, leave, conditions in the trenches, etc, very few complaints are on record about pay.


An army relies on discipline and adherence to its rules and regulations for its fighting efficiency. Unfortunately, not all soldiers are inclined to follow all the rules all the time. Similarly, every army will always contain its element of hard cases. Discipline in the AIF was originally the province of the Provost Marshal, assisted by officers and NCO's seconded to his staff and by the regimental police of divisions, brigades and units. By the time the AIF arrived on the Western Front, this was seen to be unworkable and the various "policemen" were gathered together into a military policecorps, originally consisting of "two companies of footmen and a mounted squadron." (81)

Unfortunately, in the early days, the Anzac Police Corps was largely recruited from unsuitable personnel, higher authority originally adhering to the time honoured British type of provost, bombastic and even brutal. This led to some serious problems, both in Europe and in the Middle East. Later, from about mid-1917 onwards, the firm policy of the AIF was that no transfers to the Provost Corps would be accepted except from men with front line experience. This went a long way to raising the esteem of the military police in the eyes of most of the rest of the AIF.


Discipline in the AIF is a subject all of its own. That the AIF needed some sort of establishment devoted to discipline and punishment is manifest in figures quoted by no less an authority than Bean. Bean notes that in the first six months of 1917, for example, out of 677 convictions for desertion in the entire BEF (62 divisions), 171 were from the five Australian divisions. (82) Similarly, records that in March 1918, 9 out of every 1,000 Australians were undergoing field imprisonment. This compared with I per 1,000 for the British Army and slightly less than 2 per 1,000 for the Canadians. (83) While the ultimate sanction of the death penalty was not an option in the AIF, a large number of Australians found guilty of both military and civil crimes, needed to be incarcerated during the war. Up until 1917, military offenders served their sentences in British establishments. But from 1917 onwards, members of the AIF in the UK and France and Belgium sentenced to a period of servitude in a military prison served their sentences in the AIF's very own prison, the AIF Detention Barracks at Lewes. (84) This establishment, presumably under the control of the Provost Marshal of AIF HQ, remained in existence until 1919.


Mail is very important to soldiers and this was recognised at the outset by the AIF. An Army Postal Service was set up in September 1914, drawn from volunteers with postal experience under the command of SSGT A.W. Ross. The original establishment was a field post office each for HQ 1st Division, 1st Light Horse Brigade, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigades and 1st Division Train. On arrival in Egypt, the FPO's began operating and not only delivered mail (arranged and shipped by the PMG back in Australia in unit lots) but also transacted the normal business of money orders, parcel post and registered mail. (85)

When it became apparent that the AIF would be committed to operations in the Middle East, base post offices were established at Cairo and Alexandria. SSGT Ross was commissioned lieutenant and appointed Assistant Director Army Postal Services AIF. The Gallipoli campaign overwhelmed the small AIF postal element and led to both an expansion of the postal staff and a reorganisation of the postal establishment. When the bulk of the AIF moved to France and the UK in 1916, the main Base Post Office was transferred from Cairo to Calais, a second one being later established in London. Mail for AIF units in the Middle East continued to be handled by the Base Post Office in Alexandria and a Field Post Office in Cairo.

On 10 March 1916 the Australian Postal Corps was formed and Captain C. Fisher was appointed Director of Postal Services AIF. The Corps was expanded by recruiting volunteers from the Post Master General's Department in Australia. As well as the field post offices organic to the corps and divisional headquarters and the brigade and divisional trains, members of the Postal Corps were included in the establishments of the Sea Transport Service, the Railhead Supply Detachment and the Corps and Divisional Supply Columns (see below). The Postal Corps remained active until the last members of the AIF returned to Australia but disappeared in the 1921 reorganisation of the Australian Army. (86)

Support Units


Most engineer units were divisional units and were combat as opposed to support units. There were, however, a number of corps and army level units raised during the war whose role was support rather than actual fighting.

Corps (Engineer) Signals. In the First World War, the Signal Corps as such did not exist but was a branch of the Engineers. While each of the infantry divisions on the Western Front had a Divisional Signal Company, the Australian Corps found that operational developments forced expansion of non-divisional signal assets.

I ANZAC Corps Wireless Section. I ANZAC Corps Wireless Section was formed in 1917 by the Australianisation of K Corps Wireless Section. This unit became Australian Corps Wireless Section in 1918. Its sister organisation, II ANZAC Corps Wireless Section, had been formed from Y Corps Wireless Section and in turn became XXII Corps Wireless Section when II ANZAC Corps was stripped of Australian units and personnel to become XXII Corps. (87)

Australian Corps Signal Company. The Australian Corps Signal Company was formed on 19 February 1918 from personnel drawn from divisional signal companies and I ANZAC Wireless Section. The main role of Australian Corps Signal Company was to provide communications support for corps and army level artillery. (88)

Corps Signal Sections. In additions to the Corps Signal Company, 1st and 2nd Airline Section and 1st and 2nd Cable Section were raised in March 1918 to provide "fixed communications" for Australian Corps. (89)

Pigeon Service. Finally, the AIF made use of pigeons for communications on the Western Front. While this use was not extensive, the number of pigeons employed by the AIF (on loan from the British Army) was sufficient to require the formation of I ANZAC Pigeon Lofts (later Australian Corps Pigeon Lofts) to manage them. (90)

Tunnelling Companies

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Company of the Mining Battalion were formed in Australia in May 1916. The first three units became 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian Tunnelling Companies in France in October 1916 with the dissolution of the Mining Battalion. (91) The 4th, 5th and 6th Companies were disbanded and absorbed into the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tunnelling Companies respectively. (92) The tunnelling companies were employed on a variety of tasks including construction of fixed defences, draining of trench systems, construction of underground accommodation, storage and transport facilities, and mining and countermining tasks.

AE&MM&B Company

When the Mining Battalion was broken up and the tunnelling companies became independent units, it was seen that the battalion's electrical and mechanical elements were too valuable to disperse. They were therefore joined with the Mining Battalion's Boring Section to form the Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company, the AE&MM&B Company. The company was responsible for installing and maintaining lighting and power plant, pumps and fans throughout the First and Second Army areas, for deep well boring in both forward and rear areas, and for shallow boring along the front. Little known by the rest of the AIF, the AE&MM&B Company unit acquired an awesome reputation for efficiency and reliability. In two and half years of service it earned one DSO, two MC's, 5 DCM's, 3 MM's and 15 MSM's. (93)

Engineer Workshops

From the very moment it arrived in France in 1916, the AIF recognised the need for specialised workshops to support engineer operations. I ANZAC Corps Workshops was formed in May 1916. With the creation of the Australian Corps, the unit became Australian Corps Workshops. The role of the unit was to maintain and repair engineer equipment for Corps and Divisional units. (94)

Army Troops Engineers

With the Corps and Divisional engineer units working to capacity, the AIF recognised the need for an "army level" engineer unit to support corps operations. 1st Army Troops Company was formed in July 1917 and provided engineer support to I ANZAC Corps and, from January 1918, Australian Corps. (95)


The AIF was a late starter in the area of military map making, relying on BEF topographical resources instead. To be fair to the AIF and the Australian Army generally, the base of skilled personnel it could call on to form an AIF topographical units was miniscule, to say the least. Pressure on BEF resources and the subsequent inability of those resources to support I ANZAC Corps to a level acceptable to the Corps resulted in the formation of I ANZAC Corps Topographical Section on 5 February 1917. The Section was formed from serving members of the AIF with previous survey, mapping or drafting experience. With a strength of one officer and 12 other ranks, I ANZAC Corps Topographical Section became Australian Corps Topographical Section in January 1918. The fact that within the first month of its existence the Corps Topographical Section produced 17 different maps under very primitive conditions, shows how vital this small unit was to the Australian Corps. (96) Unfortunately, during its existence, the Corps Topographical Section was often distracted by arguments and internal squabbling over the enlistment and appointment of Permanent Force members of the Survey Corps to the AIF. (97)


Towards the end of 1915, AIF Headquarters in Cairo identified the need for a dedicated printing capability to produce forms, manuals and other documents for the AIF. In response to a request from AIF HQ, the Australian Government Printer selected seven members of his staff to form the AIF Printing Section. The senior member of the Section, the Works Foreman, was granted the rank of Warrant Officer. Under him were one sergeant and four corporal Compositors and one sergeant Machinist. The Section, complete with all machinery and equipment, was despatched from Melbourne on 29 January 1916. Shortly after arriving in Cairo, however, it was decided that the Section was not needed as British military and local civilian resources could be better utilised. As a consequence, the AIF Printing Section was disbanded in May 1916 and the personnel returned to Australia for discharge. (98)


From a very small start, little more than the organic medical units of the 1st Division and 1st General Hospital, the AIF's medical establishment grew to a large and sophisticated organisation. Wherever possible, Australian casualties were treated in Australian hospitals by Australian staff.

General Hospitals. The General Hospitals were large base hospitals with 250, 500 or 1000 bed capacity. They also generally administered Auxiliary Hospitals. The AIF raised 17 General Hospitals but only the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th and 14th served overseas. The 10th General Hospital arrived in the UK on 29 September 1915, intended as a 500 bed hospital for the treatment of Australians in the UK. Unfortunately, a combination of a lack of accommodation and poor AIF medical administration saw the hospital broken up in October 1915 and its personnel used to staff Auxiliary Hospitals. Thus the 1 st, 2nd and 3rd Generals Hospitals supported the AIF on the Western Front while the 14th General Hospital operated in Cairo (see below). (99)

Stationary Hospitals. These were smaller hospitals (up to 200 beds), generally based in forward areas. Only two Stationary Hospitals were raised, 1st Stationary Hospital originally served in the Middle East but was transferred to England in October 1916 and renamed 3rd Auxiliary Hospital. The 2nd Stationary Hospital served in the Middle East. (100)

Auxiliary Hospitals. These small hospitals, with no fixed establishment, were located in rear areas. Administered by General Hospitals, they were intended to take less serious cases and also to handle the overflow of casualties resulting from large operations. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Auxiliary Hospitals operated in England (all of them having been formed in Egypt in 1915 and redeployed to England in 1916). The 2nd Auxiliary Hospital specialised in treating amputees and fitting artificial limbs. In addition to the 1st-6th Auxiliary Hospitals in England, 7th-28th Auxiliary Hospitals operated in Australia. (101)

Casualty Clearing Stations. The CCS were small hospitals usually located at a railhead or other transportation hub in forward areas. Their role was to provide immediate treatment to stabilise wounded and then to arrange evacuation of casualties back to stationary and general hospitals. The CCS were regarded by medical and nursing staff as the posting of choice as this was where the best the staff were required. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd CCS all saw service in Egypt prior to moving to France in 1916. (102)

Convalescent Depots and Command Depots. Convalescent and later Command Depots were "half Way houses" for casualties returning to the front. Men who no longer required hospitalisation but were as yet not fully fit for service. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Convalescent Depots were formed in Egypt in 1915 and transferred to the UK in 1916, at which time they were renamed Command Depots. The 4th and 5th Convalescent Depots were formed in the UK in early 1916. 4th Convalescent Depot was renamed 4th Command Depot in October 1916 while 5th Convalescent Depot was disbanded at the same time and its personnel absorbed into 1st Command Depot. Finally, a second unit entitled 1st Convalescent Depot was formed at Harfleur in April 1918 to provide convalescent care for men treated in hospitals in France and also to process men returning to the front from one of the Command Depots in England.

Infectious Diseases Hospitals. Infectious Diseases Hospital was a polite euphemism for venereal disease hospitals. The AIF raised six of these units, 1st Dermatological Hospital and 2nd and 3rd Infectious Diseases Hospitals in Egypt, while 4th, 5th and 6th Infectious Diseases Hospitals were located in Australia. 1st Dermatological Hospital was eventually transferred to England. Until quite late in the war, these units were little more than prisons where "patients" were kept under harsh and rigorous discipline and treated with a degree of institutional contempt that is difficult to grasp these days. Fortunately, later in the war a more humane and understanding approach was taken and the Infectious Diseases Hospitals became proper medical treatment facilities.

Hospital Ships. The 1st and 2nd Hospital Ships, HMAHS Karoola and Kanowna respectively, were taken up in 1915 (Karoola) and 1914 (Kanowna--as transport, became a hospital ship in 1915). Both had a capacity of approximately 450 patients and were employed on the transport of sick and wounded between England and Australia until the middle of 1919. In addition, Kyarra was requisitioned as a hospital ship in 1914 for the express purpose of transporting 1st and 2nd General Hospitals, 1st and 2nd Stationary Hospitals and 1st Casualty Clearing Station to Egypt. Following this she reverted to being a transport ship.

Sanitary Sections. The role of the Sanitary Sections was to police and enforce hygiene standards in the AIF. The 1st Sanitary Company was formed in May 1915 at Anzac using sanitary personnel from units deployed at Gallipoli. The Company then fought an unremitting war against rubbish, filth, disease and flies for the rest of the campaign. Following Gallipoli, the Sanitary Sections became divisional troops, with 1st Sanitary Company being broken up to provide personnel for 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Division Sanitary Sections. There was one non-divisional Sanitary Section, 6th Sanitary Section, which was formed at Tel El Kebir in Egypt on 13 March 1916 to serve as the sanitary section for the AIF Base. 6th Sanitary Section later moved to England and provided sanitary support for the AIF depots and units in England. (103)


The AIF did not consider dental treatment to be of importance at the outbreak of the war. Had it not been for the foresight and generosity of private dental practicioners, who provided their services (plus tools, dental supplies and equipment) free of charge at the beginning of the war, the AIF would have lost a number of potential recruits through dental deficiencies. Even so, the AIF proceeded overseas in 1914 with no dentists or dental mechanics. Officially at least--certainly there were a number of dentists and dental mechanics who enlisted in other units, medical or otherwise, and took their tools with them. (104) It took the Gallipoli campaign and the stark evidence of the debilitating effect of "dental casualties" on a fighting force to change the minds of the AIF medical hierarchy. The first 36 Dental Units were raised in Egypt from January to April 1916, formed from qualified dental personnel who were serving with other units. (105) The Dental Units were the smallest formed units of the AIF, consisting of just four men: one dentist (a lieutenant or captain), two dental mechanics (staff sergeants) and an orderly (private). There were also eventually senior dentists, majors and lieutenant colonels, serving as medical staff officers. Dental Units, of which there were eventually 118, were generally attached to base camps, hospitals and medical units. (106)


At any given time, the AIF had a need for about 37,000 horses to draw transport waggons, to haul guns, to provide mounts for the light horse, and for other specialised needs such as officers mounts and signal despatch purposes. It is not surprising, therefore, that the AIF had a large and sophisticated veterinary establishment. Most veterinary units, however, were "divisional units" in the form of Mobile Veterinary Sections (the AIF would eventually have ten of these units). Two special units formed in France, however, were the Veterinary Hospital and the Veterinary Evacuation Station.

Veterinary Hospital. The AIF never found the corps or army level veterinary support offered by the BEF to be wholly satisfactory and on 21 April 1917 formed the 1st Veterinary Hospital near Calais. The hospital was designed to treat sick and injured animals of I and II ANZAC Corps and later Australian Corps and was capable of treating and accommodating up to 1,250 sick or injured animals. Besides treating AIF horses and mules, the 1st Veterinary Hospital eventually undertook treatment of animals for nearby BEF units as well. (107)

Veterinary Evacuation Station. 1st Veterinary Evacuation Station was formed near Calais on 30 May 1918. The purpose of this unit was to arrange evacuation of sick and injured animals to large veterinary hospitals in France and England and also to act as a "veterinary convalescent depot" for 1st Veterinary Hospital. (108)


Salvage became a pressing, almost manic, concern for both the AIF and BEF from early 1916. The role of salvage units was to recover stores, weapons and equipment from the battlefield, with an aim to reducing waste and saving valuable shipping space. Each of the infantry divisions raised a Salvage Section on arrival in France in 1916. These Sections were expanded into Salvage Companies, still subordinate to their parent divisions, in January 1917. This is an indication of how important salvage was to the AIF. In addition to the newly raised Divisional Salvage Companies, I and II ANZAC Corps Salvage Sections were raised on 10 January 1917. (109) II ANZAC Corps Salvage Section was disbanded in January 1918 and I ANZAC Corps Salvage Section became Australian Corps Salvage Section in March 1918. (110)


One area in which the AIF experienced a relatively huge expansion was in the supply units, i.e. the units of the Army Service Corps. The tiny pre-war base of the Corps--a miniscule Permanent establishment (187 all ranks) and a not too much bigger Militia element (1137 all ranks) (111)--was totally inadequate for the needs of the expanding AIF, plus the remainder of the AMF. By the end of the war, a total of 95 units had been raised either in Australia or in the Middle East or the UK. (112) The bulk of these units were divisional assets, part of the "Division Train", but a number of units were raised for Corps or higher service and a number of the divisional units late became Corps assets.

Army Service Corps Companies. The ASC Companies were the core of the ASC support element for a division, each division being allotted four companies on the basis of one for each infantry brigade and for the rest of the division. (113) However, for example, 8 and 9 ASC Companies provided the transport elements for the divisional Supply Columns and Ammunition Sub-Parks but later became Corps assets (see below). Similarly, 13, 19, 27 and 28 Companies were the parent units for the five Field Bakeries and five Field Butcheries. (114) From early 1917, however, these organizations were grouped together around Rouen under Corps management. (115)

Depot Units of Supply. Each division train included five Depot Units of Supply (DUS). These small units (1 officer, 1 warrant officer, 2 NCO's and 10 privates) were responsible for the receipt and distribution of supplies to divisional units, the theoretical disposition being one DUS for each infantry brigade, one for the division artillery and one for the remainder of the division. (116) With the later consolidation of the AIF divisions into one Corps, it was found that there was not enough work within the divisions for all of the DUS. Rather than disband units, however, the AIF loaned spare units to the BEF. Thus in March 1918 1 DUS operated as the 1st Army Purchasing Board, 5 DUS operated as (BEF) 4th Base Supply Depot and 19 DUS operated the 3rd BSD Forage Depot. (117)

Railhead Supply Section. The 1st Railway Supply Detachment had been raised in Egypt with a view to establishing a light rail system at Gallipoli, a largely abortive undertaking. The Section later came into its own in January 1916 when it was employed in providing rail support to the AIF units deployed in defence of the Suez canal. (118) Shortly after the Section deployed to the UK, it was converted into a Railhead Supply Section and allotted to I ANZAC Corps, its counterpart in II ANZAC Corps being a mixed (British) ASC/NZASC unit. (119) In March 1918 the unit became 1st Australian Railhead Supply Section, responsible for the receipt and distribution of all Australian Corps supplies at the railhead. (120) This was a particularly large task when it is considered that the strength of the unit was 3 officers, 11 NCO's and 10 privates (total 24). (121)

Sea Transport .Service. The Sea Transport Service grew out of the Military Transport Office, established in 1914 to arrange and supervise the movement overseas of the 1st Division and support troops. (122) The Service became regularised in 1915 and was tasked with organising the transport overseas of new units, reinforcement drafts, horses, vehicles, equipment and supplies. The Service was also responsible for transporting wounded, sick, convalescent and other personnel returning to Australia. (123) With the expansion of the AIF in the UK and Europe, the role of the Sea Transport Service was expanded to include the receipt and storage and redirection of Australian supplies to AIF units. To facilitate this latter task, STS offices were established at Southampton and Harfleur. (124) Although responsible also for the transport of troops, horse and supplies to the Middle East, the STS did not have any offices established there, the AIF relying on an AASC staff officer attached to the British Sea Transport Office at Alexandria to oversee the receipt and distribution of AIF reinforcements and supplies. (125) A small organization, the Sea Transport Service was officer dominated although the "terminal function" performed at Southampton and Harfleur called for a small contingent of AASC WO's, NCO's and OR's. The establishment of the Australian Corps in December 1917 and subsequent reorganisation saw an almost total "Australianisation" of the supply function for the AIF with troops and supplies from Australia to the front.

Medical Supply Depot. The bulk of the AIF's medical equipment and supplies were manufactured in Australia and forwarded to the UK and Middle East via the Sea Transport Service. The relatively small amount of supplies for the Middle East were received, stored and managed by the 14th General Hospital in Cairo. For the far larger medical establishment in the UK and France, however, a small depot was established at Parkhouse in 1916, specifically to receive, store and issue medical supplies and equipment. Technically a Medical Corps unit, the Medical Supply Depot was almost totally manned and managed by the Army Service Corps. (126)

Dental Supply Depot. As with the supplies for the AAMC, a small depot was established at Parkhouse to receive, store and distribute supplies for the Dental Service. The Dental Supply Depot actually consisted of a couple of AASC NCO's attached to the 38th Dental Unit. (127)


At the start of the war transport of the AIF was almost totally horse drawn. Although this remained the case for the AIF in the Middle East until the end of the war, the AIF on the Western Front and in the UK saw a relatively huge increase in motorised transport by the last year of the war (although the AIF in England and France still remained heavily dependant on horsed transport fight up until the end of the war). The maturing of the AIF also saw wide spread reorganisations of transport assets until, by the end of the war, on the Western Front at least, almost all transport was consolidated at Corps level.

The mix of mechanical and horse transport saw divisions of the AIF on the Western From commanding ASC Companies (horse drawn transport), Divisional Supply Columns and Divisional Ammunition Sub-Parks. The latter two were both motor transport units with similar organizations but tasked with specific supply roles. The ASC Companies remained generally divisional units and will not be considered further.

Supply Columns. Each infantry Divisional Train included a Divisional Supply Column consisting of 263 officers, WO's, Senior NCO's and enlisted men and equipped with 61 motor vehicles and with an attached Workshop of 24 personnel. (128) The Supply Column was supposedly specifically tasked with the carriage of rations, stores and personnel but in reality it was usually employed on general transport tasks including support for engineer construction. (129)

Ammunition Sub-Parks. The Divisional Ammunition Sub-Park had a strength of 175 all ranks, was equipped with 48 motor vehicles and had an attached Workshop of 12 personnel. As with the Supply Column, the Ammunition Sub-Park was supposedly a commodity specific transport unit, theoretically responsible only for the transport and delivery of ammunition. Again, however, operational exigencies and imperatives saw these units often employed on general transport tasks. (130)

Ammunition Sub-Park Sections. When the 3rd, 6th and 12th (Army) Field Artillery Brigades were raised by the AIF in April 1917, the 3rd, 6th and 12th Ammunition Sub-Park Sections were raised in order to make the Brigades independent. (131)

Corps Supply Columns. A decision was made in January 1917 to centralise all motor transport at Corps level. As a first step in this process, K (I ANZAC) and Y (II ANZAC) Corps Supply Columns were formed at Rouen. Essentially HQ units, the Corps Supply Columns did not actually have any units under direct command, their staff being responsible for managing the divisional motor transport assets. Y Corps Supply Column was a mixed unit made up of ASC, AASC and NZASC personnel. (132)

Corps Ammunition Sub-Parks. At the same time as the Corps Supply Columns were formed, K and Y Corps Ammunition Sub-Parks were raised. Again, these small, essentially HQ units did not actually have units under command, being responsible simply for the tasking of the Ammunition Sub-Parks and later the Sub-Park Sections. (133)

Motor Transport Companies. The maturation of the motor transport of the AIF final began to take shape with the arrival of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Auxiliary Motor Transport (MT) Companies from Australia in March 1917. The arrival of these units, which were immediately broken up, enabled the final complete motorisation of the Supply Columns and Ammunition Sub-Parks of the AIF (1st Auxiliary MT Company became 2nd Division Supply Column, 2na Auxiliary MT Company became 5th Division Supply Column and 3rd Auxiliary MT Company became 5th Division Ammunition Sub-Park). (134) The demise of I and II ANZAC Corps and the creation of the Australian Corps in January 1918 was the final impetus for the reorganisation of the motor transport of the AIF. K and Y Corps Supply Columns and Ammunition Sub-Parks, 3rd, 6th and 12th (Army) Ammunition Sub-Park Sections and the divisional Supply Columns and Ammunition Sub-Parks were all disbanded in March 1918. The men, vehicles and equipment of the disbanded units were used to form six Motor Transport Companies, each with a strength of 323 all ranks, 97 motor vehicles and an attached 36 man Workshop. Centrally commanded and controlled by the Corps MT Officer (subordinate to the AD S&T Australian Corps), 1st-5th MT Companies were assigned to 1st-5th Divisions respectively with 6th MT Company being assigned to Corps support. (135) Better late than never, the centralisation and rationalisation of motor transport saw a marked increase in the efficiency and availability of the MT units for the final months of the war.

Railway Operating Companies. During the Gallipoli campaign, 11 ASC Company raised 1st Tramway Detachment from personnel with railway experience. The Detachment was tasked with establishing a light railway to facilitate movement of supplies on the Peninsular but this task was not completed at the time of the evacuation in December 1915, the Detachment then being disbanded. (136)

In December 1916, I ANZAC Light Railways was formed in France from qualified personnel drawn from Engineer and Army Service Corps units. The unit was born out of a desperate need to ease the burden on the limited surviving road networks during the Battle of Flers. Commanded by a former senior officer of the NSW Railways, I ANZAC Light Railways established and operasted a broad gauge rail line from Fricourt to the Quarry Dump near Montauban. A branch line was then constructed running north as far as Longueval and then on to Delville Wood. Ultimately smaller branch lines reached into the rear areas of each of the Corps divisions, allowing the divisions to be resupplied totally by rail, thus freeing up the divisional transport for other tasks. (137)

In the meantime, desperately short of trained railwaymen, the British government in the second half of 1916 requested suitable personnel from Australia. In the face of a reinforcement crisis, the Australian Government at first declined the request but reconsidered when the British Government pressed the issue and "sweetened the pot" by offering to completely equip the Australian railway units and agreeing to accept men below physical standard. Response from the various State railway authorities for volunteers was so successful that in the end the AIF was able to form a Railway Operating Group of six companies. (138) Units arrived in England one at a time over a period of seven months and were processed through the Australian Railway Troops Depot at Longmoor. (139) From Longmoor the units moved intact to France where they were issued with equipment at Rouen and put to work.

Originally the units raised in Australia were titled "Section(s), Australian Railway Troops." 1st Section arrived in England in April 1917 and was immediately re-designated 60th Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company. It commenced operations in France on 14 April 1917. 2nd Section arrived in France in May 1917, being retitled 55th Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company in April 1917 and then 15th Light Railway Operating Company in August 1917. 3rd Section arrived in France in May 1917, becoming 59th Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company. 4th Section reached France in September 1917 and became 35th Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company. 5th Section arrived in France in October 1917, having been re-titled 16th Light Railway Operating Company. Finally, I ANZAC Light Railways was re-titled 17th Anzac Light Railway Operating Company in June 1917. The strength of the companies was 3 officers and 266 WO's, NCO's and sappers (54 locomotive maintenance men; 19 station-masters, traffic controllers and clerks; and 193 running staff). (140)

With the formation of the Australian Corps in January 1918, the decision was made to bring the Australian railway units together under Australian command. HQ Australian Railway Group was formed at Rouen on 24 February 1918. At the same time the six companies were re-numbered 1st Light Railway (former 15th), 2nd Light Railway (former 16th), 3rd Light Railway (former 17th Anzac), 4th Broad Gauge Railway (former 35th), 5th Broad Gauge Railway (former 59th) and 6th Broad Gauge Railway (former 60th) Operating Companies. (141)

Remount Unit. Although as discussed above the AIF became a steadily more mechanised force as the war went on, even at the end of the war it remained heavily dependant on horses and mules. This was especially so in the Middle East where the level of mechanisation in the AIF formations was negligible at best.

Horses for the Light Horse and other units in the Middle East, although supplied from Australia, were originally processed by British remount units in Egypt. Although Colonel Selhheim as commander of the AIF Intermediate Base had requested and received permission in late 1914 to establish an Australian remount depot, this did not materialise. (142) The 1st and 2nd Remount Units were raised in Australia (largely from overage men, many of them Boer War veterans) in September 1915. On arrival in Egypt, the units faced an immediate reorganisation. 2nd Remount Unit was disbanded, some men going to the 1st Remount Unit, those suitable for operational service transferred to other units and the rest were returned to Australia. 1st Remount Unit became the four-squadron 1st Remount Section, strength later being reduced to two squadrons. In September 1916, the unit was for a short time re-named 1st Remount Unit and then on 2 October 1916 was re-named the AIF Remount Depot. (143) One of the more notable members of the Remount Depot was Major A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, who was a squadron commander with first the Remount Unit and then the Depot.

Remounts for the AIF in the UK and on the Western Front were processed by British remount units.


The Australian Army Ordnance Corps had been formed in great haste in 1914, largely by recruiting men from the civilian Army Ordnance Department. (144) Mostly employed at divisional and brigade level, the AAOC formed two specialist types of unit late in the war, Ammunition Units and Mobile Workshops.

Ammunition Units. The AAOC formed the 1st and 2nd Ammunition Unit in July 1918. The role of these units was to examine, inspect and where necessary destroy or return weapons and ammunition found to be defective. (This role continues today in the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps in the form of the Ammunition Technical Officers).

Workshops. In 1918 the Australian Corps was supported by no less than eight British Ordnance Workshops. From September 1918 Australians began being posted to these units. In November 1918, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian Mobile Workshops (Medium) were formed by "Australianising" the 2nd, 17th and 22nd (British) Mobile Workshops. The establishment of a Mobile Workshop was 10 officers and 270 other ranks. (145)


From the most humble beginnings, the support, logistic and administrative units of the AIF developed into a large and sophisticated organisation, capable of sustaining the AIF overseas and the Australian Corps in the field.

(51) Fairclough, Col H., 1962 Equal to the Task Par Oneri The History of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps, p 9.

(52) Bean, C.E.W., 1921 Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol I, The Story of Anzac, p. 112.

(53) Fairclough, op. cit. p.9. See also Bean p. 114.

(54) Lindsay, Neville, 1991 Equal to the Task Volume 1 The Royal Australian Army Service Corps, pp. 203-204.

(55) Tillbrook, J.D., op. cit. pp. 42-43.

(56) ibid,.

(57) ibid. p.45

(58) Fairclough, op. cit. p. 13.

(59) Bean, Vol II, p. 364.

(60) ibid.

(61) Bean, op. cit. Vols I and Vol II

(62) Bean, op. cit. Vol I, pp.118-119.

(63) Or in fact, continued, as the process had already begun with the creation of the 2nd Division from additional units and the decision to raise the 3rd Division in Australia.

(64) Gullett, p. xv and pp. 34-36.

(65) Mallett, Ross, 1999, Australian Imperial Force Order of Battle.

(66) Bean, C.E.W., 1929 Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol III, The AIF in France 1916, p. 165.

(67) Bean, Vol III, pp. 166-167.

(68) Scott, Ernest, 1936 Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol XI, Australia During the War, p. 231. See also Mullett.

(69) Scott, op. cit.

(70) Bean, Vol II, op. cit. pp. 415-417.

(71) Bean, Vol III, p. 178.

(72) ibid., pp. 168-169.

(73) ibid., pp. 169-170.

(74) Lindsay, Neville, 1991 Equal to the Task Vol 1 The Royal Australian Army Service Corps, pp.392-393.

(75) ibid, pp. 393-394. See also Bean, Mallett and Mullett.

(76) Bean, Vol III., pp. 177-178.

(77) Bean, Vol II, pp. 397-398.

(78) Bean, Vol III, p. 174.

(79) Bean Vol V, p. 23.

(80) Bean, Vol III, p. 173.

(81) ibid., p. 61.

(82) Bean, Vol V, p. 28.

(83) ibid., p. 30.

(84) Mallett, op. it.

(85) Lindsay, p. 338.

(86) ibid., p. 339.

(87) Mallett, op. cit.

(88) ibid.

(89) ibid.

(90) Barker, Theo, 1987 Signals A History of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals 1788-1947, pp. 67-68 and p. 87.

(91) Bean, Vol III, pp. 560-561. See also Mallett.

(92) ibid.

(93) .McNicoll, Ronald, 1979 The Royal Australian Engineers 1902 to 1919 Making and Breaking, pp. 180-183.

(94) Mallett, Bean and Mullet, op. cit.

(95) ibid.

(96) Coulthard-CLark, C.D., 2000 Australia's Military Mapmakers The Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915-96, pp. 34-38.

(97) ibid.

(98) Mullett, Albert J., (by authority) 1917 Report on the Department of Defence From the 1st of July 1914, Until the Thirtieth of June 1917, p. 41.

(99) Mallett op. cit. See also Bean, Mullett.

(100) ibid.

(101) ibid.

(102) ibid.

(103) ibid. see Bean, Vol III, p. 167 for details of difference in "sanitary philosophy" between the AIF and the BEF.

(104) Including the author's grandfather, PTE H.J. Wilson, a Rockhampton dentist and a former Naval Reservist who had served with the AN&MEF in 1914. When he enlisted in the AIF in 1916, Henry James obviously decided that firing a Vickers was more exciting and interesting than pulling teeth, as he passed up the opportunity of a commission as a dentist and went overseas as a private with the 10th Machine Gun Company, eventually rising to the high and dizzy rank of Corporal! Family tradition holds that H.J. took the tools of his trade with him and made some extra money on the side via "trench dentistry."

(105) Bean, Vol III, p. 43.

(106) Mallett.

(107) Mallett, op. cit.

(108) ibid.

(109) Bean, Vol III, p. 90.

(110) Bean, Vol V, p. 688. See also Mallett.

(111) Lindsay, op. cit. p. 27.

(112) ibid., p. 36.

(113) ibid.

(114) ibid., p. 344.

(115) ibid. See also Bean, Mallett and Mullett.

(116) ibid., pp. 341-342.

(117) ibid., pp. 220-221.

(118) ibid., pp. 207-208.

(119) ibid., p. 220.

(120) ibid. 221.

(121) ibid., p. 342.

(122) Mullett, pp. 272-273.

(123) ibid., p. 274.

(124) ibid., pp. 275-276. See also Lindsay p. 35 & 221.

(125) ibid., p. 278

(126) ibid., pp. 195-196. See also Mallett and Lindsay.

(127) ibid., p. 196.

(128) Lindsay, pp. 330-331.

(129) ibid.

(130) ibid.

(131) Mallett, op. cit.

(132) Lindsay, op. cit. p. 35. See also Mallett.

(133) ibid.

(134) ibid.

(135) ibid.

(136) ibid., p. 209.

(137) Bean, Vol III, pp. 923-924.

(138) ibid., pp. 182-183. See also Mallett.

(139) Longmoor was and still is the home of British military rail transport.

(140) Bean, op. cit.

(141) Bean, Vol VI, p. 1064. See also Mallett.

(142) Lindsay, op. cit. p. 348.

(143) ibid. See also Mallett.

(144) Tillbrook, J D To the Warrior His Arms A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army, pp. 84-85.

(145) ibid. See also Mallett.


Anonymous, 1917, Anzac Memorial, The Returned Soldiers Association, Sydney

Barker, Theo, 1987 Signals A History of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals 1788-1947, The Royal Australian Corps of Signals Committee, Canberra

Bean, C.E.W., Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol I & II, The Story of Anzac, Vol III to VI, The AIF In France 1916, Angus & Robertson Ltd, Sydney

Coulthard-CLark, C.D., 2000 Australia's Military Mapmakers The Royal Australian Survey Corps 1915-96, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

Fairelough, Colonel H., ED 1962 Equal to the Task Par Oneri The History of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps, F.W. Cheshire Ply Ltd, Melbourne

Gullett, H.S., 1923 Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol VII, Sinai and Palestine, Angus & Robertson Ltd, Sydney

Lindsay, Neville, 1991 Equal to the Task Volume 1 The Royal Australian Army Service Corps, Historia Publications, Kenmore

Macksey, Kenneth, 1989 For Want of a Nail The Impact on War of Logistics and Communications, Brassey's (UK) Ltd, London

Mallett, Ross, 1999 Australian Imperial Force Order of Battle, Australian Defence Force Academy University College (UNSW), Canberra

McNicoll, Ronald, 1979 The Royal Australian Engineers 1902 to 1919 Making and Breaking, The Corps Committed of the Royal Australian Engineers, Canberra

Mullett, Albert J., (by authority) 1917 Report on the Department of Defence From the 1st of July 1914, Until the Thirtieth of June 1917, Australian Government Printer, Melbourne

Scott, Ernest, 1936 The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume XI, Australia During the War, Angus and Robertson Ltd., Sydney

Tillbrook, J.D., 1989 To the Warrior His Arms A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army, Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, Canberra
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