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Alexander Cowie


Serial No:
Serial No. 5561

20th Battalion


Alexander Cowie - Information

Alexander enlisted in the AIF in Liverpool on the 25th of May 1916, aged 25. He was born in Jodaga Creek near Mittagong, and then relocated to Menangle Rd in Picton, boarding with the Camerons. Here, he worked as a Government Railway fireman. He then boarded the HMAT Euripides in Sydney on the 9th of September 1916 as a Private with the 15th Reinforcements, 20th Battalion.

The Euripides made berth in Plymouth Harbour in late October. On the 13th of December, Alexander was transported to the Western Front, where he joined the 20th Battalion in the lines. They endured a most bitter winter, huddling together to escape the cold misery of mud and snow-filled trenches. In an attempt to conserve manpower, the Germans constructed the Hindenburg Line. Withdrawing to a better position, they were able to shorten their line and provide their men with concrete blockhouses, well placed machine gun nests, and an extensive array of barbed wire to deter enemy advances. The Allies noticing the move, were then ordered to attack them as they drew back. The 20th Battalion ran into superior vanguard teams at Lagnicourt. Using specially trained troops and a scorched earth policy, the Germans hoped to buy their soldiers time to get to their new line. The Allies then advanced on the Hindenburg Line head on. Alexander and his mates fought in the Second Battle of Bullecourt on the 3rd of May. Later in the year, the Anzacs were positioned for operations for the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium. In the new year, the Germans were desperate for a knockout blow. They launched Operation Michael as part of the Spring Offensive on the 21st of March with initial success. They broke through the line gaining much ground while the Allies retreated. Alexander and his mates were brought up to halt their advance. They met the Germans at Hangard Wood in early April. With their advance impeded, the Allies began pushing back. On the 5th of July, Alexander was appointed Lance Corporal. The tide significantly turned for the Allies with the triumph of the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August, and Mont St Quentin later that month. In September, Alexander attended a School of Instruction. When he returned, the British Army was ready for an all-out assault on the Hindenburg Line. During action at Montbrehain, Alexander was promoted Corporal on the 4th of October. He was on leave in Paris when the war ended, joining in on the celebrations receiving hugs and kisses from grateful Parisians. Keeping himself busy from January 1919 until March, he completed an Education Course. Then in April, he was taken to England, for his journey home, departing on the 20th of May.