The 2/29th has a proud "parent" - the 29th Battalion
The 29th Battalion, 8th Brigade, 5th Division of the Australian Imperial Force, was formed in Victoria during 1915 and served briefly in Egypt before being sent to the Western Front. It fought in many actions and suffered heavy casualties, while winning numerous honours and individual decorations which (to name just a few) included 3 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO), 1 Order of the British Empire (OBE), 23 Military Crosses (MC), 17 Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM), 97 Military Medals (MM), plus a host of foreign country honours.
Like many units of the time, the main composition consisted of serving Militia officers and soldiers or volunteers who saw the opportunity for some excitement and adventure. The 29th was no exception. The unit was formed under the leadership of an experienced and well regarded militia officer, Lt Col Alfred Wilton Bennett. Lt Col Bennett who at the age of 49 had lived in Ballarat for many years and conducted a successful jewellery business.
Early training was conducted at Broadmeadows Army base, and then the Battalion set sail for Egypt.
Lt Col Bennett would lead his beloved Battalion through many a horrific battle, until he was posted to England on 18 November 1916. His replacement was Lt Col Muir Purser a New South Welshman. Lt Col Purser continued the excellent work of his predecessor which again saw the Battalion suffer very heavy casualties throughout numerous actions in France from 1916 through to 1918.
In February 1917 command changed hands again with the departure of Lt Col Purser back to Australia. The Battalion Second in Command, Major John McArthur was promoted to Lt Col and assumed command of the Battalion through to the end of World War 1.
After wintering in the mud of the Western Front, the 29th entered the fighting of 1917 against the German defensive positions forward of the Hindenburg Line. The Battalion's aggressive and decisive action particularly at Sunray Trench contributed to the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.
Despite improving tactics and supplies, the Battalion was constantly hampered by incompetent leadership. This resulted in wasted opportunities and needless casualties. In the final stages of 1917 further campaign successes followed in places like Polygon Wood. Here the Battalion excelled despite poor communication from higher authorities. The Battalion again suffered during various battles around Passchendale with one of the Battalion correspondents writing of General Haig's "inexcusable piece of pigheadedness".
A tribute to the Battalion's ability to adjust to varying forms of warfare is best shown in its rapid transition from the static trench warfare to the fluid and flowing battles of 1918 during the Morlancourt campaign.
The sad irony is that towards the end of hostilities, the drain on manpower was such that many units were disbanded and amalgamated with other like weaker units. At 2.30pm on 11 October just 4 weeks before the official Armistice was declared, the battalion was disbanded and the remaining members were amalgamated into the 32nd battalion.
Almost 500 officers and men of the 29th gave their lives during the Great War, with a further 1,263 men wounded. Their enormous sacrifice should not be overlooked or forgotten, for they began the proud tradition of the "Black and Gold".
BATTLE HONOURS AWARDED TO THE 29TH BATTALION
-18 BAPAUME 1917
BULLECOURT YPRES 1917
MENIN ROAD POLYGON WOOD
ANCRE 1918 MONT ST QUENTIN
ALBERT 1918 ST QUENTIN CANAL
HINDENBURG LINE FLANDERS