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Battle Scarred

The 47th Battalion in the First World War

(3 customer reviews)
Authors: Craig Deayton

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One of the shortest lived and most battle hardened of the 1st Australian Imperial Force’s battalions, the 47th was formed in Egypt in 1916 and disbanded two years later having suffered one of the highest casualty rates of any Australian unit. Their story is remarkable for many reasons.

Dogged by command and discipline troubles and bled white by the desperate attrition battles of 1916 and 1917, they fought on against a determined and skilful enemy in battles where the fortunes of war seemed stacked against them at every turn. Not only did they have the misfortune to be called into some of the A.I.F.’s most costly campaigns, chance often found them in the worst places within those battles.

Though their story is one of almost unrelieved tragedy, it is also story of remarkable courage, endurance and heroism. It is the story of the 1st A.I.F. itself – punished, beaten, sometimes reviled for their indiscipline, they fought on – fewer, leaner and harder – until final victory was won. And at its end, in an extraordinary gesture of mateship, the remnants of the 47th Battalion reunited. Having been scattered to other units after their disbandment, the survivors gathered in Belgium for one last photo together. Only 73 remained.

What readers are saying

“Battle Scarred is surely the finest battalion history I have ever read… an honest, critical, but still sympathetic, portrait of a run-of-the mill AIF battalion. Highly readable and richly descriptive both of the 47th’s men and their actions, it helps to explain not just what the AIF did on the Western Front, but what it was like for those involved, and why the AIF’s part in that terrible war remains such a profound part of Australian memory so long after.” Dr. Peter Stanley

“..for anybody interested in understanding how the men of the battalion variously coped, or not, in almost all of the biggest battles Australians endured on the Western Front, this is an engrossing study that does far more than explain the tactics of the trenches.”Stephen Matchett, The Australian

“..this is not a book of glory and medals, but one of heartbreaking loss of Australia’s youth, which is told in a way that rightfully earns it the praise it has received.” John Morcombe

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 Battle Scarred

  1. Excellent book which is an independent research which does not solely rely on Bean. he has obviously fully researched this book and also writes in an easy to read style. I rarely give books 5 stars but this went close. He shows the 47th warts and all and while he has a love of the subject he also slates the battalion when he fills they deserve it. Excellent read.

  2. This is the latest addition to the long list of Australian regimental histories. It is also the first attempt to write the story of the 47th Battalion in WW1. In doing this, Deayton has made a refreshing shift in focus from the Bean dominated, often insider directed histories common to the genre. The author has purposely approached his task with Bean as an aid and tried to tell the story of the 47th principally through the other resources available. He was helped in this by two remarkable primary sources but his thorough investigation has revealed some controversies and even a question or two about Bean’s history as well. On this score, this is a battalion history that is far more than a list of battles and a recounting of the deeds of medal winners. …. When I first picked this book up I noted the blurb `Australia’s own Band of Brothers’. I expected I would dispute this but given the bad luck and bad leadership at various levels, the men of this battalion still performed commendably and with great pride in their unit. It comes through in the sources and in their dogged willingness to return to the fray. Peter Stanley calls the book `enjoyable’, which also raised my eye-brow. Yet it is. It is an often painful story but the research and the analysis and particularly the stories of those remarkable men, is absolutely fascinating. A superb effort!

  3. Very Informative and a great read. In parts it made you feel like you were there with the 47th. One gets a greater appreciation for how hard a time all the combatants on the Western Front had it and how hard it must have been to ever live a ‘normal’ life afterwards.

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