The Twelfth Battalion

The nucleus of what would be the 12th Battalion was formed at the Pontville Concentration Camp soon after it opened on 15 August 1914.

Lieutenant Colonel Lancelot Fox Clarke D.S.O. V.D from Devonport was appointed as the Commanding Officer with Major Sidney Hawley from Evandale as second in command.

Over the next few weeks as recruits continued to arrive at Pontville, four companies were formed.

‘A’ Company (Hobart and the south of the state) – Charles Hazell Elliott

B’ Company (Launceston & North East) – Ernest Hilmer Smith.

‘C’ Company (north-west coast) – Denis Arthur Lane.

‘D’ Company (West coast) – Captain John Whitham.

Before leaving Hobart, they were joined by two more from South Australia and later in Egypt by two from Western Australia.

As part of 3rd Brigade, the 12th Battalion was among the first to land on Gallipoli. Here they would lose their two most senior officers.

Charles Elliott who was also wounded soon after landing at Gallipoli would assume temporary command of the Battalion upon his return to Anzac in August 1915. After Sir John Gellibrand took over 6th Brigade in February 1916, Elliott was then appointed Commanding Officer on a permanent basis until March 1919.

Their battle honours include:

                Anzac Landing                 Lagnicourt
                Sari Bair – Lone Pine                 Bullecourt
                Pozieres                 Polygon Wood
                Mouquet Farm                 Meteren
                Boursies                 Hindenberg Line

During the 2 ½ years of fighting in France and Belgium the 12th Battalion spent 400 days in the forward area including 145 days in the front line and 35 days on major operations.


2 Victoria Crosses – Newland and Whittle 1 Commander of the Bath
2 Companion of St. Michael and St. George 3 Distinguished Service Order
1 Distinguished Service Order and Bar 24 Military Cross
22 Distinguished Conduct Medal 150 Military Medal
5 Meritorious Service Medal 1 French Legion d’Honneur
1 French Croix de Guerre 4 Belgian Croix de Guerre
2 Foreign Awards 15 Bar to Military Medal

The 12th Battalion saw service in four of the continents of the World, in the course of which it laid its honoured dead to rest in the shadow of the Pyramids of Egypt, beneath the towering heights of Gallipoli on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, in rural England, in devastated Flanders and beneath the scarlet poppies of Picardy – the flower that suggests sleep and remembrance.

Total casualties: 3531 including gassed and Prisoners of War