16th Battalion plaque

 16th Battalion plaque, public art, Kings Park

Public Art : 16th Battalion Plaque

Also Known As : The 16th Battalion Memorial

Designer: Unknown

Description: The Bronze plaque on a granite plinth was erected in honour of the soldiers who fought in the 16th Battalion during World War I. The plaque includes an etching of a soldier in full battle uniform,laden with rifles, ammunition and a knife.  Below is a silhouetted relief of line of war wearly soldeirs trudging along while loaded down with their weapons.

Date Unveiled: The 16th Battalion Memorial was unveiled on the 14th of September, 2003 by the Govenor, Lieutenant General John Sanderson.

History of the 16th Battalion: The 16th Battalion consisted of men from rural and urban South Australia and Western Australia who would become one of the most highly decorated battalions of WWI. The men were trained  at Blackboy Hill Camp (now part of Greenmount), in Western Australia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Harold Pope. On the 21st November 1914 the 16th Battalion left Fremantle for Melbourne where they joined the other three battalions of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade AIF at the Broadmeadows camp to complete their training. From there they left from Port Melbourne on the HMAT A40 Ceramic, destination Egypt (all the men and their equipment were soaking wet and muddy from last minute training) .

On 3rd of  February 1915, the battalion disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt and travelled by train to a camp at Heliopolis.There the 4th Infantry Brigade became part of the Australian and New Zealand Division and carried out months of strenuous training in the desert.

On the 11th of April the 16th Battalion boarded the troop ship Hyda Pasha and arrived at Gallipoli late in the afternoon on the 25th of April to help reinforce the line at Pope's Hill. A 1000 soldiers from the battalion arrived on the shores of Anzac Cove that day but by the 3rd of May there was but 309 still standing (following an attack on "Baby 700").

After the evacuation to Egypt the Battalion was sent to France, where it took part in many famous battles including Poziers, Bullecourt, Passchendaele, Villeriers Bretonneux, Hamel, the Hindenburg Line and the final battle at Le Verguier. At the end of 1918 the 16th Battalion was disbanded and its soldiers sent home to Australia .

Following the Great War the Blackboy Hill camp was turned over to the WA Health department to act as a fever hospital, treating Spanish Flu.

Today some of the structures of the camp are still been utilised by  St Anthony's Primary School and Church, and Greenmount Primary School.   on the 16th September 1914, forming part of the 4th Infantry Brigade of Australia`s newly raised force for overseas service. The Battalion consisted of men from South Australia and Western Australia.

Three Victoria Crosses:

Among the 322 bravery awards made during various WWI  campaigns, three Victoria Crosses were presented to soldiers of the 16th Battalion.

PTE Martin O'Meara (born at Terryglass, County Tipperary, Ireland but later migrated to Pinjarra, Western Australia), who, during 4 days of heavy fighting at Poziers in 1916 repeatedly went in and out of "No Man's Land" bringing back wounded officers and men. Throughout  the heavy barrage he showed utter contempt of danger. O'Meara was wounded a total of three times.

PTE Thomas Leslie "Jack" Axford (born at Carrieton, South Australia but moved to Coolgardie, Western Australia, when he was two), who, during the attacks at Hamel Woods in 1917, charged and threw bombs at the enemy gun crews. He then jumped into the trench, and charged with his bayonet, killing 10 of the enemy and capturing six prisoners. He did this while the adjoining platoon got waylaid due to the machine gun fire. Due to his actions the platoon was able to advance and he later joined them for the rest of the operation.

LT Lawrence Dominic 'Fats' McCarthy (York, Western Australia), who, while fighting on the Hindenburg Line in 1917 came under fire from  well-posted machine-guns. Lieutenant McCarthy dashed across the open field (with two men, who he soon out ran ) put the gun out of action, then continued fighting his way down the trench. Later, after being reunited with one of the men he had left in the dust, they both bombed their way along the trench until they made contact with an adjoining unit. Remarkably Lieutenant McCarthy had killed 20 of the enemy, taken 50 prisoners and captured 5 machine-guns.

When he jumped into the last trench the surrendering Germans closed in on him from all sides, took his revolver, patted him on the back and then allowed him to lead them back to the Australian lines. He handed over 500 metres of captured trench to the British. This feat was described in the official history as being, next to Jacka’s at Pozieres, perhaps the most effective individual feat in the history of the AIF.

Inscription:

1914-1918

ANZAC Cove 1915

Sari Bair 1915

Pozieres 1918

Bullecourt 1917

Messines 1917

Ypres 1917

Polygon Wood 1917

Hamel 1918

Amiens 1918

Hindenburg Line 1918


In Memory of those who served the 16th Battalion during the Great War

Location: The 16th Battalion plaque can be found along Frazer Avenue, near the Cenotaph, Kings Park, Western Australia

LEST WE FORGET

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