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At Any Price

The Anzacs in the Battle of Messines 1917

(3 customer reviews)
Authors: Craig Deayton
Battle of Messines
153mm x 230mm

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The enemy must not get the Messines Ridge at any price …

So read the orders to German troops defending the vital high ground south of Ypres. On 7 June 1917, the British Second Army launched its attack with an opening like no other. In the largest secret operation of the First World War, British and Commonwealth mining companies placed over a million pounds of explosive beneath the German front-line positions in 19 giant mines which erupted like a volcano. This was just the beginning. By the end of that brilliant summer’s day, one of the strongest positions on the Western Front had fallen in the greatest British victory in three long years of war. For the Anzacs, who comprised one third of the triumphant Second Army, it was their most significant achievement to that point; for the men of the New Zealand Division, it would be their finest hour.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Messines for the Australians, whose first two years of war had represented an almost unending catalogue of disaster. This was both the first real victory for the AIF and the first test in senior command for Major General John Monash, who commanded the newly formed 3rd Division. Messines was a baptism of fire for the 3rd Division which came into the line alongside the battle-scarred 4th Australian Division, badly mauled at Bullecourt just six weeks earlier. The fighting at Messines would descend into unimaginable savagery, a lethal and sometimes hand-to-hand affair of bayonets, clubs, bombs and incessant machine-gun fire, described by one Australian as ‘72 hours of Hell’. After their string of bloody defeats over 1915 and 1916, Messines would prove the ultimate test for the Australians

Craig Deayton

Craig Deayton

Craig Deayton is a History teacher with a special interest in Australia’s military history. He has worked as a teacher and College Principal for over twenty-five years and is currently Principal of Sacred Heart College in Hobart. Craig holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Masters degree in Education. This is his first book. […]

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3 reviews for At Any Price

  1. Wonderful book. Craig has a real sense of place and narrates and his analysis is spot on. Excellent on command issues.

  2. The Battle of Messines, 1917′ & ‘At Any Price’ by Craig Deayton. These two companion volumes come from the Army History Unit (AHU) and continue its important tradition of producing well-researched works on key Australian battles. The books are different and complementary … These accounts meet all the criteria of good military history. The battle is seen in context and in detail. The narrative is based on clear analysis of participants at several levels backed up by an international review of the primary sources. The language is clear and direct. The maps -particularly in their colour versions in the smaller volume are very good indeed. I suspect that these accounts will be the prime reference for this important battle. Discerning readers will consult both of them

  3. At Any Price delivers a comprehensive and thought-provoking account of this significant battle. Incorporated are a diverse range of historical photos and campaign maps, clearly illustrating conditions of the time, enabling readers to better understand circumstances of the Battle. Well worth a read.

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