What mistakes occurred at the operational level in the planning of the Battle of 1st Bullecourt?
What role did Gough and Haig play in the debacle?
Could Birdwood and White have worked harder to bring their concerns to General Haig about the planning of 1st Bullecourt? Haig was not a great judge of character. His diary entry, entitled “The Mishap that occured to the 4th Australian Division” was full of factual errors, so it appears that he was not well briefed on the plan, nor the disastrous outcome. The 4th Brigade had almost 75% casualties and the 12th Brigade received 50% casualties. The German Official History states that they were able to destory an elite Australian Division and they were not far wrong.
Gough, the 5th Army Commander, continued with the plan for the assault. Gough was a keen believier in Offensive Action, when he should have focused on Selection and Maintenance of the Aim. 1st Bullecourt was a secondary effort in a diversionary attack and was resourced as such, particulary in terms of artillery – he had few tubes and less ammunition. Simple arithmatic indicated that the artillery where never going to be able to set the conditions nor support the 4th Divisions assault.
What other lessons are there to be learnt from 1st Bullecourt? Listen to the podcast on your phone with your favourite podcast player.
When addressing the troops a few days after Bullecourt, Brand said, “We did our utmost to have the stunt put off.”
‘Bullecourt, more than any other battle, shook the confidence of Australian soldiers in the capacity of the British command; the errors, especially on April 10th and 11th, were obvious to almost everyone’.
Charles Bean, Official Historian.
The Raid on the Batteries at Lagnicourt
The Australian front line was severely depleted following the large battle casualties at 1st Bullecourt and the German Intelligence highlighted the opportunity. Just 4 days after, on the 15th of April
This is part of our 150th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Artillery series.