Australian troops of the 4th and 12th Brigades launched attacks at Bullecourt (then occupied by Germany) in 1917, as part of a wider British effort to break through German lines near Arras in the First World War.
Australia assaulted the German army’s formidable Hindenburg Line defences between the villages of Bullecourt and Riencourt on 11 April. The infantry crossed no man’s land completely unsupported but achieved a tenuous toehold in the German position.
Subjected to fierce counterattacks, the Australians were ultimately forced to withdraw, having lost more than 3000 casualties. Of these, 1170 became surrounded in the maze of enemy trenches and were forced to surrender to German troops.
Efforts to capture Bullecourt continued throughout the following weeks and with its eventual capture came the loss of a further 7482 Australian casualties. The fighting had been costly and bitter, but in the end the area was found to be of little strategic importance.