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Crumps and Camouflets

Australian Tunnelling Companies on the Western Front

(4 customer reviews)
Authors: Damien Finlayson

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Below the shattered ground that separated the British and German infantry on the Western Front in the First World War, an unseen and largely unknown war was raging, fought by miners, ‘tunnellers’ as they were known. They knew that, at any moment, their lives could be extinguished without warning by hundreds of tonnes of collapsed earth and debris. Australian tunnelling companies took part in the battles of Fromelles, Arras, Messines, Passchendaele, Cambrai, the defence of Amiens, Lys, and the famous last 100 days. Crumps and Camouflets, is the first complete history of Australia’s role in the tunnelling war of 1914-1919, of the men and units in which they served, and of life in the tomblike tunnels of the war underground.

Damien Finlayson

Damien Finlayson

Damien Finlayson is an amateur military historian with a special interest in the First World War. He has worked as a hydrogeologist with a private consulting company for the past twenty years and holds a Bachelor and Master degree in science. Damien is a member of the Western Front Association. His articles on the Australian […]

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4 reviews for Crumps and Camouflets

  1. “1141 is a magnificent book which certainly does justice to those brave tunnellers. Highly recommended!”

  2. Congratulations to Damien he has done the ANZAC tunnellers proud with a long overdue history dedicated to them. What an extraordinary bunch of heroic men they were. His highly detailed and intricate research is most impressive which, together with his methodology of dovetailing the tasks of the tunnelling units into the overall context of the Great War, provides the reader with a clear understanding of the Aussie tunnellers’ involvement and their general worth to the main cause. I was moved by many aspects and stories in the book but no more than the memorandum of Captain Adcock in the final pages of the last chapter. I had no idea also that my father’s CO of 2ATC succumbed to the psychological terrors to take his own life, poor man. We family members of the tunnellers, together with the military historians, are in Damien’s debt. This is an important history.

  3. this is a well researched and well written book. I had never known just how much tunneling was done in WW I, though that makes sense considering the static nature of the lines. This book gives you a strong primer of how hard the job was, and the fear that the soldiers lived with. I can’t even imagine what it was like.

  4. I bought this book to help me understand the world war 1 experience of a family member, Sapper Wood. The book is rich with detail, interesting and very well researched. I recommend it for any family historian researching an Australian WW1 tunnellers, or anyone who s interested in WW1 history in general, especially this previously rather neglected area. My only criticism – the index did not do justice to the book contents. Took me ages to find the section on clay kicking, or to recheck the date of the Big Bang at Hill 60 because the index did not list these. It’s good for names but not events. Also, could have been useful to have the year the narrative is up to at the top of each page – often takes time, when you are digging into a book rather than reading it from cover to cover, to work out which year is being referred to. Minor beefs though. Terrific book.

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