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