Cover art for Battle of Pozieres: 1916
Big Sky, July 2018
Softcover, 188 pages

Battle of Pozieres: 1916 Australian Army Campaign Series

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The Battle of Pozieres has reverberated throughout Australia's military history, long regarded as a costly battle that produced little meaningful gain. Pozieres was characterised by the most intense artillery bombardment the Australians had experienced in the war thus far and `the hell that was Pozieres' became the yardstick by which subsequent bombardments were measured.

The 13th Battalion's Frank Massey described men who became `blithering idiots ... Crying and weeping and - absolutely useless as a fighting man.'

The object of the battle was Pozieres Ridge, a low rise that offered a good view of the German positions. Heavily fortified, the ridge and the pulverised remains of the village were contested bitterly and, during its six-week campaign, 1st Anzac Corps advanced little more than two miles and suffered 23,000 casualties. Charles Bean wrote that `Australian troops ... fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war.'

However, the first phase of the campaign was very successful, securing the fortified ruins of Pozieres and the German second line. But follow-up operations failed to capitalise and subsequent assaults merely nibbled away at enemy positions without making significant headway.

Yet the Battle of Pozieres marks a significant achievement not only for 1st Anzac Corps, but for the British Expeditionary Force. In a war in which any advance was hard won, the wresting of the high ground from the Germans was crucial. For the battered Allied forces, the capture of Pozieres Ridge provided faint hope of an end to a catastrophic war.

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