THE HAC IN THE GREAT WAR - OCTOBER 2018

‘A’ Battery, on the 2nd October, had pushed forward into Damascus. With the assistance of the Australian Division they captured a shocking 15,737 prisoners, 74 guns, 26 aeroplanes, 340 machine guns and 4 safes of money. The battery was stationed on the outskirts of the town allowing the cavalry to police the area. On the 4th the Battery was moved to Dunmar, 6 miles west of Damascus. Where the men billeted in a mill as the temperature started to drop. The rapid advance had taken a toll on the Battery’s horses and where given a period of rest to graze. Unfortunately toward the middle of the month a bout of influenza passed through the middle-east. The Battery suffered many casualties which had a detrimental effect on the men who had managed to survive the advance up to this point without a casualty.

‘B’ Battery spent the first three days of the month resting as the Australians captured Damascus. On the 5th the Battery marched with the 5th Division north to Baalbek arriving 5 days later. Here General MacAndrew organised the Division into two columns and began marching on Homs however where halted as the enemy had destroyed the bridge crossing the Orontes River.

For the 2nd Battalion in Italy rumours had started to circulate of a large scale offensive in the coming weeks. The Battalion was soon route marched some 22 kilometres to an area called Fornace in order to carry out reconnaissance on bank of the Piave overlooking an island known as the “Grave di Papadopoli.” This would mark the beginning of what we now know as the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.  On the morning of the 23rd October a mixture of Italian and British troops began crossing the Piave, a river that had been agitated through heavy rainfall, on small boats. Using just their bayonets until the alarm was raised the HAC with the help of the Royal Welsh captured the Island of Papadopoli. Worried about the possibility of a counter attack the Allied forced regrouped on the island and crossed the opposite bank, smashing through enemy lines and seizing the position in just 15 minutes. The allies maintain the momentum and pushed further and further behind enemy lines eventually leading to a full enemy retreat across the Vittorio Veneto plains.



On the Western Front the 1st Battalion embussed on lorries to transport them to Pont-les-Brie where they trained for a week, billeted in an old German rest camp. On the 7th the Battalion embussed once again, destined for Le Haucourt. Regrettably at 1900hrs the convoy was attacked by enemy fighters which destroyed one of the lorries entirely. 6 men where lost and 22 injured.

The Siege Battery took part in a large attack which gained the allies the line along the Scheldt River, an easily defendable and strategically important location, before passing through Bellecourt and Nauroy, finally establishing themselves at Estrées. The Battery took part in a major attack on the 8th however their impact was minimal due to the rapidity of the German withdrawal and an inability to move forwards due to difficult terrain and a large numbers of mines. The Battery therefore remained at Estrées for a few days poised and ready. The Battery drew in their guns between Reumont and Le Cateau, from here on the 17th they took part in an attack at dawn on Le Cateau, however it was not particularly successful and as a result had to be repeated the following morning.


 
 Major Richard O'Connor and Sergeant Walter Bradley repeating their crossing of the River Piave on 28th September 1924