Australians on the Western Front 1918 – Volume 2
By David W Cameron
Published by Viking/Penguin
RRP $34.99 in paperback • ISBN 9780670078288
Following on from David Cameron’s Australians on the Western Front 1918: Resisting the Great German Offensive (Vol.1), this second volume, Australians on the Western Front 1918: Spearheading the Great British Offensive, concludes with a detailed account of the final battles of World War I and the defeat of German armed forces on the Western Front.
As Cameron writes, by May 1918, the Australian Army Corps finally had an Australian commander: Lieutenant General Sir John Monash. He replaced the British commander Birdwood who had been promoted to command the British Fifth Army. He immediately went about confirming his reputation with his innovative approach to war and especially the key battles, including the Battle of Hamel on 4 July; the Battle of Amiens on 8 August, and the Battle for Mont St Quentin and Peronne in September; culminating in the week-long battles for the Hindenburg Outpost Line and the Hindenburg Line itself.
Ultimately, however, the breaking of the Hindenburg Line by Australian, Canadian, British and American troops delivered a crucial blow to the German army. Writing such a book is no small achievement.
Throughout it we have first-hand accounts of the action and a highly readable narrative that brings the story of individual men to light, reminding us that these were ordinary men doing extraordinary things.
We can read about the deeds of a stock and station agent from Mosman, a grazier from Dingo, a plate layer from Thirroul and a teacher from Bendigo, information gleaned from personal letters and diaries.
And so it goes through the book: the story of the final months through the eyes of the Australian men who fought and died on the Western Front.