The French village of Pozieres was the site of a major battle during the First World War which involved the Ku-ring-gai’s 18th Battalion. The historic link between the two localities was officially recognised with a Sister City Agreement in June 2014.
Pozieres is the final resting place for more Australian troops than any other First World War battlefield and the Pozieres Cross – an original carved wooden cross from the battlefield is housed in St John’s Anglican Church in Gordon.
The Pozieres Cross
The Pozieres Cross is a battlefield relic from France. It was erected on the battlefield in memory of the fallen of the 18th Battalion. After the official war cemeteries were created, the cross was returned to Australia and placed in the Warrior’s Chapel of the Garrison Church at St John’s Gordon.
This precious relic represents the savage fighting in which the 1st ANZAC Corps - comprising 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions - were engaged from 22 July and throughout August 1916, as part of the First Battle of the Somme.
The German hold on Pozieres Ridge threatened the British Army’s left flank. Capturing the ridge would remove this threat and enhance the the chance of breaking through the German defenses.
On 22 July, 1st Division commenced the attack on Pozieres Ridge and on 27 July was relieved by 2nd Division, of which 18th Battalion was part. In desperate attacks, the Australians captured the crest of Pozieres Ridge. They were relieved by the 4th Division on 6 August 1916.
The three Australian Divisions lost 23,000 officers and men in less than three weeks in the most intensive shelling and bombing experienced by the Australian Imperial Force in the Great War. Over a period of 45 days, 19 major attacks were carried out by the Australians, 16 of which were at night. The noted historian, Dr Charles Bean states that the site “is more densely sown with Australian dead than any other place on earth.”
The Pozieres Cross was dedicated in St John’s Church on Sunday 22 April 1934.