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63 ... Pozieres - (Gibraltar Site)         

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Pozieres is situated on the ridge of a broad plateau and commands the road running north-west to Bapaume and the approaches to the high ground to the north around Thiepval. In 1916 the German army fortified this ridge, which provided uninterrupted views down the sloping fields towards the Ancre River.

The battle of the Somme commenced on 1 July 1916. West of Pozieres, from 13 to 17 July, British infantry advanced up the slopes in a vain and costly attempt to capture the town, on 23 July the Australians took over and captured the main German line.

The Australian memorial stands over this line. Through the gate and across the side street can be seen the once feared German concrete blockhouse known as "Gibraltar" subsequent Australian advances were made from here towards the Pozieres windmill site (l.5km north-east by road) (d929) and Mouquet farm (l.5km north). In a series of advances the Australians captured most of the main ridge.

By 5 September, when the Australians left the Pozieres Battlefield, 23,000 Australians were casualties (so per cent of the fighting force from the four divisions involved in battle).

The battle of the Somme ended on 13 November 1916. Over the four and a half months the British and French casualties were 630,000 and the German 660,000. These losses achieved an allied advance of only a few kilometres on a 48km front.

In 1918 the Germans, with minimal casualties, recaptured all of this area, as well as Albert. The battle of Pozieres stands as a reminder not only of courage and a commitment to duty but also of the wanton waste of life and the futility of war.

 



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