As First World War battles on the Western Front continued into mid-1917, their focus had shifted north into Belgium, where the British were planning a major offensive. Known as the Third Battle of Ypres, its purpose was to capture Passchendaele village and advance towards the coastline.
The Australian troops had made a significant contribution to battles in the Ypres sector throughout June and July. They fought at Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde Ridge throughout September and October. The infantry had advanced behind a rolling curtain of high-explosive ammunition and shrapnel that enabled them to ‘bite and hold’, occupying key positions before progressing.
On 12 October, things went awry as Australian troops prepared to attack Passchendaele. Rain turned the low-lying area into mud, trapping both soldiers and guns. Infantry floundered under German fire. The Australians were relieved by the Canadians, who captured Passchendaele village but advanced no further.
By then the Australians had suffered more than 38 000 casualties in just eight weeks of fighting in Belgium.
This coin pays tribute to Australian troops who served in the costly and unsuccessful attack in Passchendaele. We remember the sacrifices made and the spirit of the Australian soldiers, exhausted and deadlocked as they were. This coin is a part of the Western Front series and will be a popular piece for collectors and military enthusiasts.