3. First Bullecourt 11 April 1917 | Service Eligibility Assistant, Additional Information, Historical Information, Part 1 Military History, Ch 1 World War I, S 4 Hindenberg Line 1917

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3. First Bullecourt 11 April 1917

On 11 April 1917, the 4th Australian Division attacked towards Bullecourt in support of the offensive that had opened at Arras on 9 April. At the suggestion of the Tanks Corps, a mass concentration of tanks were to precede the infantry and break down the wire and seize the Hindenburg Line. The tanks, which were slower than walking men and with thin steel failed with none reaching the wire before the infantry and only four reaching the wire at all with just one reaching the first trench in the Australian sector. Despite no artillery barrage and the failure by the tanks, the 4th Division achieved through sheer bravery and magnificent leadership what was then regarded as impossible - they broke into the Hindenburg Line. Owing to mistaken reports, mainly from air and artillery observers, they were left without support. At first the artillery did not fire because of misleading reports, then it fired on its own infantry and finally German machine-gunners closed the gate behind the Australian infantry. The 4th Division suffered more than 3,000 casualties including 1170 officers and men, captured.