“I was eighteen when I was first sent into battle at Fromelles. The hard thing was to see so many mates drop beside you and to control yourself to face up to the things happening that you couldn’t really believe. War is both the silliest and cruellest activity that a man can get mixed up in. It breaks my heart even now to think of it.”
Walter Herbert “Bert” Bishop, ex 55th Battalion, speaking nearly seven decades after the end of the Great War.
In 1915, news of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing and the slaughter at Gallipoli stirred tens of thousands of young men to go to war.
They answered the call and formed battalions of the Australian Imperial Force. By the time the new recruits were combat ready, the campaign at Gallipoli had ended. Their battlefields became the muddy paddocks of France and Belgium.
Based on eyewitness accounts, Snowy to the Somme traces the story of one of these battalions, the 55th, from its birth in the dusty camps of Egypt through three years of brutal, bloody conflict on the bitter Western Front.
When the Great War ended in 1918, over 500 of the 3,000 men who served in the 55th had been slain and another 1,000 wounded. Snowy to the Somme, shares personal stories of Australian men as they stared down the horrors of war with determination, courage and mateship. With chapters devoted to the significant battles at Fromelles, Doignies, Polygon Wood, Péronne and Bellicourt, this book tells the story of one battalion, but in doing so it encapsulates the experiences of many Australians on the Western Front.