FitzSimons, Peter: Fromelles and Pozières: In the Trenches of Hell

Peter FitzSimons

Fromelles and Pozières: In the Trenches of Hell, Random House, Sydney, 2015; electronic version available

On 19 July 1916, 7000 Australian soldiers – in the first major action of the AIF on the Western Front – attacked entrenched German positions at Fromelles in northern France. By the next day, there were over 5500 casualties, including nearly 2000 dead – a bloodbath that the Australian War Memorial describes as “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history”.

Just days later, three Australian Divisions attacked German positions at nearby Pozières, and over the next six weeks they suffered another 23,000 casualties. Of that bitter battle, the great Australian war correspondent Charles Bean would write, “The field of Pozières is more consecrated by Australian fighting and more hallowed by Australian blood than any field which has ever existed . . .”  (blurb).

The book is reviewed for Honest History by David Stephens who concludes that ‘beneath the Fitzian quirks and the excessive length, the book seems a tradesmanlike attempt to come to grips with a deeply disturbing story of war’. There are reviews also by BlogKitch, Don Lawie, and War History Online. It is difficult to find mainstream media reviews of the book, though there are plenty of links on Google to booksellers stocking the title. The author talks about the book on 2UE.

There are samples of the book here and here. The Australian War Memorial touches on the battles. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has advised of arrangements for Fromelles and Pozières commemorations. Finally and coincidentally, there is a movie called Trenches of Hell, which is not connected with the book (and is not very good).

Update 31 October 2017: Greg Lockhart reviews books by Lee and Hampton on Fromelles-Pozières.

10 January 2016 updated

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