34th Battalion

From Our Contribution

34th Battalion
34th Battalion.jpg
Shoulder patch
34th Bn.jpg
34th Bn troops at Picardie 21 Aug 1918. AWM photo E02960

Brief History

Formed in January 1916, the majority of its early members came from Maitland, New South Wales, and it formed part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Division. Known locally as 'Maitland's Own" or the Illawarra Regiment. Following initial training it embarked in Sydney for England where the 3rd Division undertook five months further training on the Salisbury Plain before moving to France in November 1916, just in time to experience trench warfare during the coldest winter in 40 years.

In mid 1917 they participated in the battle known as Messines during which they suffered heavy casualties due to German gas shelling. Despite this along with the rest of the 9th Brigade they achieved their objectives. Their next large battle was at Passchendaele on 12 Oct 1917 where due to pointless attacks in heavy rain they lost 50 % of their operative men. The battalion (what remained of it) was used primarily as labour in rear areas as it was brought back up to strength.

In March 1918 the 34th Battalion was amongst the Australian units thrown into the line near Villers-Bretonneux to stop the German advance on Amiens. The 34th participated in the Australian counter attack at Hangard Wood on 30 March. On 8 Aug 1918 the battalion joined the allied offensive known as the Hundred Day's Offensive that took the Australian's up the Somme valley to Peronne and then on to the St Quentin Canal where it fought its final battle.

During the war, 481 men from the battalion were killed and 1,727 were wounded or gassed. The 34th Battalion was disbanded in May 1919.

Battalion Personnel

Battle Honours

  • Messines 1917
  • Ypres 1917
  • Polygon Wood
  • Broodseinde
  • Poelcappelle
  • Passchendaele
  • Somme 1918
  • Ancre 1918
  • Amiens
  • Albert 1918
  • Mont St Quentin
  • Hindenburg Line
  • St Quentin Canal
  • France and Flanders 1916–18

Individual Honours

  • 1 Victoria Cross (Clarence Jefferies)
  • 3 Distinguished Service Orders
  • 1 Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • 2 Members of the Order of the British Empire
  • 10 Distinguished Conduct Medals
  • 21 Military Crosses (including one Bar)
  • 77 Military Medals (including three Bars)
  • 5 Meritorious Service Medals
  • 31 Mentions in Despatches, and
  • 7 foreign awards


Content for the history and honours sections has come from a combination of Wikipedia and the Australian War Memorial websites. Further information about this battalion's contribution cn be found in:

  • A Short History of the 34th Battalion, AIF - IWM facsimilie

External Links