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.
‘Pozières has languished in Gallipoli's shadow for almost a century. Scott Bennett shines a probing light into that darkness. His passion is evident in every page, and his attention to detail is striking ... The tragedy of Pozières tears at our nation's heart. This a book that needed to be written.’
Patrick Lindsay, author of Fromelles and Kokoda Spirit
View all reviews
'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
'Bennett looks deeper than the traditional myth of good men led by bad officers. Thorough research, a gift for storytelling and the deft weaving of the overall battle strategies with the feelings of the men make this a valuable addition to Australia's history of the war.'
'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
'This is an astounding tome of military history that will not only force readers into asking questions about the Pozières campaign, but it challenges the many ‘truths’ built around the Anzac legend.’
Rama Gaind, PS News
'... an immensely readable and well-written account of the pivotal and bloodiest battle of the war.'
'Pozieres gives a valuable insight into some of the darkest days of our history and leaves the reader with an enormous sense of gratitude to those who did their duty and paid the ultimate price.'
Ross Gates, Sunday Tasmanian
'Bennett's excellent book is easy to read and full of the detail history buffs need without becoming bogged down.'
'The man can write. So often, someone’s interest in history is not enough to create a good book, but in this case, the desire is matched by competence ... Bennett has sifted and pondered, and come through ten years of research with an account that is compelling.'
Rosemary Sorensen, Bendigo Weekly
'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
'This book will challenge everything you thought you knew about the Anzac legend ... superb.'