Inside the trenches of hell ...
On 19 July 1916, 7000 Australian soldiers – in the first major action of the AIF on the Western Front – attacked entrenched German positions at Fromelles, in northern France. By the next day, no fewer than 5500 were wounded and just under 1900 were dead – a bloodbath that the Australian War Memorial describes as ‘the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history'.
Just days later, three Australian Divisions attacked German positions at nearby Pozières, and over the next six weeks they suffered another 23,000 casualties. Of that bitter battle, the great Australian war correspondent Charles Bean would write, ‘The field of Pozières is more consecrated by Australian fighting and more hallowed by Australian blood than any field which has ever existed ...'
Yet the sad truth is that, nearly a century on from those battles, Australians know only a fraction of what occurred. This book brings the battles back to life and puts the reader in the moment, illustrating both the heroism displayed and the insanity of the British plan. With his extraordinary vigour and commitment to research, Peter FitzSimons shows why this is a story about which all Australians can be proud. And angry.
This book will make you mad!…..But you still must read it
Peter Fitzsimons delivers this story in his well known style, of making dense historical fact a more digestible narration. Which is good, because this book is 27 hours long and be prepared, for most of it will have you shaking your head with anger.
I had a small idea of the carnage at Fromelles, but the whole truth will just ….. Make. You. MAD! Not mad at the Germans, but mad at the British Generals! For their wanton disregard for the lives of their own men (actually our men, the Australians and New Zealanders).
I won’t say more, you’ll have to read (or listen) to find out what actually happened. Then you’ll know what I mean about making you mad.
I still don’t know how Generals Haig and Haking didn’t have to actually answer for their failings.
I am still Mad at the atrocities.
I give this book 5 Stars (and if this was Audible, it would lose a star for the Narration, but that is not fair to Peter Fitzsimons).
This time they have gone with a clearly obvious Australian narrator, with a broad Australian accent (as oppose the Gallipoli, who was narrated by a Brit). However, this narrator’s, constant mispronunciations of Australian towns, suburbs and names started to grate on me, (seriously if you don’t know, ask someone so you are sure.)
Read it, listen to it. This year will mark 100 years since the battles at Fromelles and Pozieres, and as Australians, we are a little more aware of what happened then, but we are still seriously under informed, with closer focus still on Gallipoli. We need to know what WWI did to Australia, and this is another great chapter in that era. What is next Mr Fitzsimons?