1918 on the Western Front. At no other time has Australia so influenced the course of world history. In the worst crisis of World War I the Germans had a cut a wide swathe through the British line. The Australians knew their hour had come. 'Fini retreat', they boldly announced as they marched to a halt the Germans at Amiens. Then it was their turn to advance, driving the enemy remorselessly before them, as the shock troops of the British Army.
This important book traces the evolution of the Australian Imperial Force from the enthusiastic amateurs of Gallipoli to the skilled warriors of the Western Front, where fighting in conditions of unspeakable horror and brutality they won their legendary reputation as 'the best infantrymen of the war and perhaps of all time'. By war's end the Australian Corps - a mere 9 per cent of the total British force - accounted for 22 per cent of total captures: a massive, and disproportionate, contribution to victory.
Combining detailed battle narratives with soldiers' accounts, Peter Pedersen moves from Gallipoli through Palestine to the Western Front, graphically re-creating the campaigns of a war in which over 200 000 Australians - two out of every three combatants - were killed or wounded. Including the New Zealanders at every stage, he also covers the war in the air and at sea, in dressing posts and hospitals, and on a home front devastated by casualty rates and riven over conscription.
Illustrated with photographs and artworks, this epic work recalls to memory the forgotten heroes, and the bloody campaigns, of a war that brought glory to the Australian nation but tragedy to every Australian family.