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Beaten Down By Blood

The Battle of Mont St Quentin-Peronne 1918

(2 customer reviews)
Authors: Michele Bomford
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“An ambitious and exceptional contribution to our understanding of the Great War”  Dr Peter Stanley

‘Beaten Down by Blood’ weaves an intricate and colourful tapestry of a complex battlefield with individuals placed on it; who they were and why they were there; conditions at home and insights into family, expectations and hopes.’

Beaten Down by Blood: The Battle of Mont St Quentin-Peronne 1918 charts an extraordinary journey from the trenches facing Mont St Quentin on 31 August 1918 through the frenetic phases of the battle until the final objectives are taken on 5 September. This is the story, oftentold in the words of the men themselves, of the capture of the ‘unattackable’ Mont and the ‘invincible’ fortress town of Péronne, two of the great feats of Australian forces in the First World War.

The Author places real men on the battlefield, describing their fears and their courage and their often violent deaths. The struggle for control of the battle, to site the guns, to bridge the Somme and maintain communications are portrayed in vivid detail. The story also offers a glimpse of the men’s families at home, their anxiety and their life-long grief.

This work provides a carefully articulated context, describing the ground over which the battle was fought and examining the corps and the ingredients which made it ‘socially and structurally homogenous’. An overview of infantry firepower, tactics, training and discipline demonstrates that there was more to the Australian soldier than daring and dash. Likewise, the Australians’ German opponent, while numerically weaker and haphazardly thrown into the line, is portrayed as a worthy adversary—a determined and tenacious opponent.

Beaten Down by Blood explores the relationship between myth and history and the significance of the Anzac legend. It analyses the forces that drove the diggers forward evenwhen they had reached the limits of their endurance.The Battle of Mont St Quentin-Péronne represents theAustralian Corps at its very best, its diggers fighting for peace and satisfied that, ‘whatever might lie ahead, at least everything was right behind them’.

Michele Bomford

Michele Bomford

Michele Bomford holds a Masters Degree in History and a Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. She was a History teacher for many years before turning to research and writing at the end of 2008. The Battle of Mont St Quentin-Peronne 1918 follows her first book, Beaten Down By Blood: The Battle of […]

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2 reviews for Beaten Down By Blood

  1. Michele Bomford’s 1202: The Battle of Mont St Quentin-Peronne 1918 (Big Sky Publishing, 294pp, $29.99) is a seriously good campaign history and not just because of its appealing subject. Certainly this fight was one of a string of Allied attacks that won World War I on the Western Front and as such was characterised by more movement and better tactics than the straightforward slaughters of 1916 on the Somme and 1917 in Flanders. The under-strength and exhausted Australians under John Monash outsmarted and outfought the enemy in a battle that forced a wholesale German retreat at the start of September to their last defensive line. Bomford provides a coherent narrative of the battle, no mean feat for any Western Front history (admittedly she has an advantage in that this fight was for an obviously important height, rather than flat and bloody fields). But what makes it a success, and it is a considerable success, is the way Bomford puts the battle in context. She is well read in the politics of command, suggesting Monash was given his head by his boss, General Henry Rawlinson, who suspected the Australians were the only troops who could break through. She explains the formations, on both sides of the wire. And she describes the training and equipment that made the Australians, using British doctrine, so formidable. Running an attack took great administrative ability, literally under fire, and it was staff work that gave the infantry an edge. The book’s great strength is the way she explains the success of the Australians – this is still contested ground between historians and Aussie-oi-oi-oiers who inflate Anzac achievements. Bomford comes down on the side of the scholars, demonstrating the Australians did so well because they were well trained, well disciplined in the field and enormously resilient, rather than natural warriors. Along with David Cameron’s recent book on the Lone Pine offensive on Gallipoli, Bomford sets a standard for the mass of centenary histories of the AIF to come. It is a high one.

  2. I have read much Australian military history and this book is one of the best reads of WW1. My unit, 4th Regiment (descendant of the 4th Australian Field Artillery Brigade) supported the attack on the Mont. On the anniversary of the battle I have quoted from and referenced the book for the benefit of the current members.

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