At Any Price
The Anzacs in the Battle of Messines 1917
By Craig Deayton
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $34.99 in hardcover • ISBN 9781925520514
“The enemy must not get the Messines Ridge at any price” was the order sent to the German troops stationed on the high ground south of Ypres.
This order illustrated the importance the Germans placed upon repelling the widely anticipated Allied attack.
However in the early morn of 7 June 1917 almost half a million kilograms of high explosive in nineteen giant mines erupted under the forward Germany lines destroying their frontline position and killing thousands of soldiers in an instant.
In the attack that followed, Australian and New Zealand troops were heavily involved alongside English and Irish divisions and the village of Messines was soon captured by the New Zealand Division. The Australian force comprised the newly arrived 3rd Division under Major General John Monash and the battle hardened 4th Division under Major General William Holmes . Together they formed II Anzac Corps.
Despite the early success by the Allied forces, Australian involvement in the battle continued against a regrouped, determined German force for another four days resulting in nearly 6,800 casualties.
But Craig Deayton believes the battle for Messines was vital for the confidence and reputation of the Australians following their recent setback in the First Battle of Bullecourt and the earlier defeats at Fromelles and on the Somme. It was also the first major victory for the British on the Western Front and proved to be a turning point in the outcome of the war.