“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’.