John Rapson Greagg

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Poplar, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Merredin, Western Australia, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 48th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Defy Crossing, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 1

#1 Place of birth

My story

Private John Rapson Greagg served in the Australian Infantry 48th Battalion, part of the 12th Australian Brigade, of the 4th Australian Division. He was the son of John and Diana Greagg, native of England.

His Division participated in the First Battle of Passchendaele on the 12th of October 1917, the second last stage of the Third Battle of Ypres. It advanced with the 12th Brigade from its position east of Zonnebeke to the German strongpoint of Assyria, south of the village of Passchendaele. Their task was to flank guard the attack of the 3rd Australian Division on their left flank, which had to seize Passchendaele. The attack of the 12th Australian Brigade was carried by the 47th and 48th Battalions. They had to move towards the Keiberg Spur, along the Ypres-Roulers Railway, running towards Passchendaele. When the 47th Battalion had captured the first objective, the Red Line, the 48th Battalion would move through the 47th and capture the Blue Line, the second objective, near the German strongpoint of Assyria.

At 5.25 a.m. the men advanced towards the German lines, behind the 47th Battalion. Their advance was covered by a creeping barrage. Not all guns had reached their designated positions, due to the muddy conditions. Consequently the barrage was thin and lacked accuracy. Several shells fell short, causing casualties among the attacking Battalions. German machine-gun positions, unscathed by the feeble barrage, quickly opened fire, as the troops were struggling through the mud. On top of the German machine-gun fire the German artillery put down a barrage on the jump-off line.
The 9th brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division was held up and could not keep pace with the 12th Brigade. So as the two Battalions advanced further, they suffered several casualties, when they came under fire from a German strongpoint north of the railroad. Men were deployed along the railroad to fire on German positions in the 9th Brigade area to make sure the Germans would not outflank them. The rest of the 47th and 48th Battalions swept through Decoy Wood and overran the German positions. By now the Companies of the advancing Battalions had been intermingled on several places.

Once they were in front of the Keiberg spur the advancing troops were enfiladed by machine-guns from Assyria, a concrete blockhouse on the right of the advance. The advance was checked at Assyria. It was decided to dig in, as the Battalions had lost the pace of the barrage. Once positions had been consolidated the German defenders at Assyria were being driven back by acute mortar and machine-gun fire. However the toll exacted by German machine-gunners and snipers had been heavy. At 8.25 a.m. it was decided to halt the advance on the left, because the 9th Brigade’s attack had been halted. On the right however “A” Company still went forward, securing several German positions and establishing outposts. During consolidation of the positions, the Battalion was heavily shelled by the German artillery and “A” Company suffered heavy casualties from machine-gun and rifle fire coming from beyond Assyria.

During the afternoon German troops were seen massing for a counter-attack and while the 9th Brigade had failed to keep pace with the 12th Brigade, the 9th was now in danger of being outflanked. When the Germans attacked the flank, the Battalion had to withdraw. Few of the outpost garrisons survived the retrat. Many of them were shot when they withdrew past Assyria. With their left flank up in the air both the 47th and 48th Battalion retired to their old frontline.

Private John Rapson Greagg was killed in action, near Defy Crossing, on the 12th of October 1917, aged 33. He was buried in the field near Defy Crossing. His remains were exhumed after the war and interred in Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood, Plot V., Row A., grave 19.

Files 3

Sources 5

"Leane's Battalion : The history of the 48th Battalion A.I.F. 1916-1919", Browning N., Quality Press, 2009, page 170 - 186.
Sources used
"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 113-114.
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Service Record
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