ANZACs at GLENCORSE WOOD September 1917
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) Tuesday 25 September 1917
WHEN THE AUSTRALIANS WENT OVER
PLANTING THE FLAG
The following cables are from sources other than "Toe Miner's" special service:-
Mr. Percival Phillips, war correspondent for the "Daily Express," emphasised that the Australians were in the centre of the attack, and had much heard fighting between the Boulers railway and the Menin road before they cleared Glencorse Wood and Nonne Bosschen, planted the Commonwealth flag on Anzac Redoubt, and drove nearly half-way through Polygon Wood, yet nearly all their programme was fulfilled to the timetable. They "went over" at 5.40 o'clock amid a heavy shellfire, for distress signals had called all the German batteries into action.
The barrage did not check the first waves at Glencorse Wood; but it caught some stretcher-bearers and wounded men behind the advance line of assaulting troops. Mr. Phillips proceeds:-"Fifty Germans surrendered just inside the thicket; but a redoubt on the edge of the wood enfiladed our infantry until flanking bombers put it out of action. The appearance and grit of the Australians utterly surprised the Germans. Little groups of enemy snipers, crouching in the shellholes, ran at the sight of the slouch-hatted men stripped of their packs, but festooned with bombs, who moved lightly through the mire, with bayonets poised, nonchalant and deliberate, offering sudden death with a smile. Some of the Huns were caught like rats and fought wildly until they fell.
The garrisons of the redoubts clung bravely to their machine guns and put up a fight, which the Australians appreciated. These determined men from overseas never doubted they would reach their goal.
After hoisting the flag on Anzac Redoubt, and traversing Glencorse and Nonne Bosschen, they entered open ground 400 yards broad, between them and Polygon Wood. All these were in the hands of the Australians by 11 o'clock. The flag was raised on Anzac Redoubt before 10. During a halt before Polygon Wood, an Australian officer, fearing his men might be bored, sent up Tuesday's newspapers, pictorial journals, and cigarettes. Through the barrage the Australians sat calmly in their shellholes and broken trenches, reading and smoking until the order was given to readvance."
Another correspondent writes:- "The Australians who stormed the Anzac Redoubt screened their standard-bearer who planted the Commonwealth Flag on the summit, his comrades wildly cheering the act. I met a number of Australian wounded because they ran ahead of our barrage line. The Australian lads, who were in their most perfect form, had rested since the hard days of Bullecourt and Noreuil. They had not lost any quantity since their great epics of Gallipoli and Pozieres. When we heard they were going to attack Polygon Wood we knew they would get it if human courage could, for the Australians are not easily denied if they set their mind on a thing. They have grim passion at such time, despite all their boyishness, but they are free and easy, always, even on the battlefield, although they are rather impatient at checks and restraint. The spectacle of Australians reading newspapers and smoking under the screaming shells was the strangest thing that ever happened in any great battle, and greatly surprised our airmen who saw them. Then, after a two hours' wait, they flung away their cigarettes, and passed on to the assault on Polygon. Thursday's great attack proved that the new German method of holding lines lightly in blockhouses, with reserves behind for counter-attacks, has broken down. If the Teutons revert to the old system of strong front lines they will suffer as they did at the Somme.
The reserve German divisions which were brought up in buses had a dreadful time. Their counter-attacks were particularly fierce against the Highlanders on the Zonnebeke-road (on the Australians' left). The Highlanders were driven back for a while, but the Scottish rifle fire then broke every attack. The German storm troops six times came on with much determination, and six times their waves were broken up. Finally three German battalions drove against the Scots' Corps at Delva Farm and Rose House. The Highlanders rallied at 8 o'clock in the evening, and swept the Germans out and away. Mr. Gibbs; emphasizes the fearful hammering inflicted by the British bombardment.
At least 50 per cent of the German prisoners are wounded. Many Germans around Polygon Wood and Glencorse Copse, where the Australians fought, were buried in the shellholes between the blockhouses, and the blockhouses themselves were smashed up or so battered that the garrisons became dazed and demoralised."