One of the most important battlegrounds in the war was the Western Front in Belgium and France, an area that ran almost 700 kilometres in length. The Australian Imperial Force moved to France early in 1916 and by July were heavily engaged in battle. By the end of the year about 40,000 Australians had been killed on the Western Front. The development of machine guns and artillery weapons, and a strategy where defence was favoured over attack, meant that fighting in this area continued almost until the end of the war.
Infantry marching ahead in single file to the front line
Diaries and letters written on the Western Front
Many of our diaries and letters cover a number of Western Front battles.
The Somme Offensive – Pozières and Mouquet Farm, France
- Albert Richmond Compton
Compton served in the 13th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement at Gallipoli and in France. On 11 April 1917, he was captured by the Germans at Bullecourt. You can read the transcript online.
- James I. Marshall
Marshall was a signaller in the 53rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcements.
- Edwin Walter Phelps
Phelps served with the 45th Battalion and was transferred to the 13th Battalion in March 1917. He was wounded and taken prisoner in April 1917 at Bullecourt.
Third Battle of Ypres – Menin Road, Glencorse Wood, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde Ridge and Passchendaele
- James Lindsell
Lindsell served in the 14th Machine Gun Company. He was wounded three times: 21 August 1915 in Gallipoli, 15 May 1917 near Bullecourt in France and 26 September 1917 at Polygon Wood in Belgium. You can view the diary and transcript online.
- Harold Burfield Taylor
Burfield served in the 19th Battalion. He was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1916 and then to Captain in February 1917. He won the Military Cross for bravery at Lagincourt in April 1917 and won a Bar to his Military Cross in October 1917 for capturing Daisy Wood, east of Ypres, Belgium.
Mont St Quentin, France
- Francis Joseph Campbell Brewer
Brewer served in the 20th Battalion, 20th Reinforcement, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division. The 5th Brigade was responsible for the capture of the fortress of Mont St Quentin.
- Francis William Roberts
Roberts served in the 21st Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. He was killed in the attack on Mont St Quentin, France on 1 September 1918. You can read the transcript online.
Photographs and artworks of the Western Front
We have an extensive collection of photographs and artworks from World War I including:
- World War I: France, Belgium, Palestine, 1917-1918 (Frank Hurley)
- Exhibition of war photographs (Frank Hurley)
- Sketchbook with drawings of soldiers from World War I (George Washington Lambert)
- William Milne Burgess
- War snapshots
- World War I sketches
- Sketches of the Somme, 1917
- Rough stuff from France
- J. I. Marshall sketches, photographs and newscuttings
- The Daily Telegraph war cartoons, 1914-1919
- Vasco Loureiro World War I sketches
- Australian Official World War I photographs, including battle of Messines, item 1, item 2, item 3
- Australian Official World War I photographs, item 4
Search our catalogue to find more photographs and artworks. Use keywords such as a specific location and the term 'photographs', for example, 'Ypres photographs' when searching.
In our World War I collection we have some of George Washington Lambert's artworks. We received these with his papers from his war service 1915-1919.
George Washington Lambert's identity disc in the shape of an palette