Australians on the Western Front 1918
Vol 1 Resisting the great German offensive
By David W Cameron
Published by Viking/Penguin Random House
RRP $34.99 in paperback • ISBN 9780143788614
David Cameron, the author of The Battle for Lone Pine and The Charge, has now turned his attention to the final year of the war, 1918, and in particular the crucial battles fought in March and April.
1917 had been a bloody year for the Allies, culminating in the terrible battle of Passchendaele where the British Commonwealth suffered close to 350,000 casualties.
Early 1918 was expected to see a fresh German offensive, boosted by the troops returning from the Russian line following Russia’s withdrawal from the war. The Germans intended to drive a wedge between the British and French lines and force them back toward the Channel ports.
And the offensive duly eventuated when the Germans launched their attack on 21 March. They initially made significant inroads into the British Fifth Army’s line with the aim of pushing them back to the vital railway hub of Amiens.
Cameron recounts in minute detail how the attack unfolded and the role the Australians played in eventually repulsing the Germans. Drawing heavily on battalion diaries and soldiers’ letters, Cameron weaves a compelling narrative around the campaign’s significant moments including the Australian Army Corps’ heavy involvement in the battles of Dernancourt, Villers-Bretonneux and Hazebrouck.
NOTE: The great Allied offensive of August 1918 will be covered in volume 2 of this comprehensive history of the final year of the war.