In 1916, one million men fought in the first battle of the Somme. Victory hinged on their ability to capture a small village called Pozières. After five attempts to seize it, the British called in the Anzacs to complete this seemingly impossible task.
At midnight on 23 July 1916, thousands of Australians stormed Pozières. Forty-five days later they were relieved, having suffered 23,000 casualties to gain a few miles of barren landscape. Despite the toll, the operation was heralded as a stunning victory. Yet for the exhausted survivors, the war-weary public, and the families of the dead and maimed, victory came at a terrible cost.
Drawing on the letters and diaries of the men who fought at Pozières, this superb book reveals a battlefield drenched in chaos and fear. Bennett sheds light on the story behind the official history, re-creating the experiences of those men who fought in one of the largest and most devastating battles of the Great War and returned home, all too often, as shattered men.
‘Such a readable account … this is probably the best book about a Western Front battle to be written from an Australian perspective in the last decade. Highly recommended.’
RON AUSTIN, MUFTI
‘Bennett … has deftly reconstructed the battles through a variety of accounts from historians and participants. One of Bennett’s many strengths is his ability to transport himself and the reader into the shoes of the different protagonists, elucidating the battle from a variety of perspectives.’
MARTIN CROTTY, THE AGE
‘This is a staggeringly good first book; as good a piece of military history as I’ve read in a long time … There is a humanity in this book that is moving and deeply involving.’
MICHAEL MCKERNAN, THE CANBERRA TIMES