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Battle Scarred The 47th Battalion in the First World War

Battle Scarred The 47th Battalion in the First World War [Kindle Edition]

Craig Deayton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

With these words Charles Bean, Australia’s Official War Historian, described the battlefield of Dernancourt on the morning of the 5th of April, 1918, strewn with the bodies of the Australian dead. It was the final tragic chapter in the story of the 47th Australian Infantry Battalion in the First World War.

The 47th Battalion fought in some of the First World War’s bloodiest battles. From their first calamitous experience of war under the terrible shell fire of Pozieres, to the costly and futile attacks on Mouquet Farm and the frigid winters on the Somme they suffered through the fighting on the Western Front in 1916. In April of 1917 they were trapped and almost surrounded at 1st Bullecourt. A mere eight weeks later, they ‘hopped the bags’ at Messines where they lost
over half their number. In October they fought and died by the score in the mud of Passchendaele.

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.

Finally, at the Battle of Dernancourt they fought in the 4th Division’s titanic struggle to save Amiens from the great German offensive of 1918. It was at Dernancourt that the 47th Battalion found itself squarely in the path of the heaviest attack ever faced by Australians in this or any war. Fatally weakened by their losses, and under a cloud after the formal inquiry into the battle, the 47th Battalion was broken up. For the Queenslanders and Tasmanians of the 47th Battalion, disbandment meant not only the loss of their battalion, but
disgrace and heartbreak as well. Worse still, it meant the ties of comradeship and the bond to their fallen mates were severed at one stroke. In their own bitter words, they were ‘thrown away’’.

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4481 KB
  • Print Length: 495 pages
  • Publisher: Big Sky Publishing (20 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #592,091 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars BATTLE SCARRED 3 Feb 2012
This is without doubt a first class book in every sense by the auther Craig Deayton. Not one word is wasted in the telling of the story of the 47th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force during World War One. What strikes you from the start of reading this book is the obvious in depth research that has gone into making it such an enjoyable read. Battalion war diaries are always a good source of information, but with the added power of personal accounts the book gives the reader much more of a background to events than just war diaries could do alone.
Along the way i was greatly amused,saddened,shocked and inspired by the men of the 47th. Some of the stories of the troops ships crossing on the high seas had me smilling from ear to ear as they got up to various antics during there voyage. also, the absolute bravery from men who's disapline was some time found wanting,but had it where it mattered.

BATTLE SCARRED. The 47th Battalionin the First World War. By Craig Deayton.
ISBN: 9780987057402(hbk.)

A well crafted book and a must to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 47th Battalion 28 Dec 2012
By Mick Maye - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Battalion of Brothers 30 Oct 2014
By John E. Larsen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
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.

The 47th Battalion was formed after the Gallipoli campaign, when the AIF was being doubled in size to continue the war on the Western Front in France. Its nucleus was supplied by the hard fighting 15th Battalion and it shared its disposition of Tasmanians and Queenslanders. It became part of the 12th Brigade, of the 4th Australian Infantry Division. Deayton does an insightful job of pointing out how its formation was compromised at the outset. The new 47th appeared to receive less than its due of capable leaders. This had the effect of causing excessive casualties, which had a rolling effect on the battalion's ability to gain proficiency.

The battalion's baptism of fire was at Poziers in August 1916. Its role was essentially to occupy ground that was under horrific shellfire. It cost the battalion 367 men. In the ensuing attack on Mouquet Farm, rain and mud and an incompetent battle plan saw even more disaster. Bean rated only Fromelles (5,533 casualties to the 5th Division in one night) as worse. Bullecourt followed in April 1917. Here the 12th Brigade gained the German trenches but was isolated and grievously counter-attacked. Over a thousand Australians were taken prisoner. There was then costly success at Messines and near obliteration at Passchendaele. The bookend to the 47th's story was the defence of Amiens at Dernacourt. It was a victory but again the 47th suffered huge casualties. It also suffered recriminations and disbandment.

Through its 2 years of service the 47th experienced the whole gamut of the horror of trench warfare. Mud and horrific shelling, poor plans and command failures. The chaos of the trench-line often was matched by the chaos in the rear. While the British command is appropriately criticized, Deayton has revealed an astonishing number of failures by Australian commanders. There was poor staff work at division level, poor communication between brigades and battalions but also egos and recalcitrance that beggars belief. Too often attempts were made to hide these under overarching criticism of the British. It was uncomfortable but necessary myth busting.

Deayton has done an excellent job here. It is remarkable achievement given the general dearth of sources. The battalion's war diary for instance was either barely touched or used for misdirection and propaganda. Even the two main collections (Imlay's and Gallaways) raise questions. Even so, meticulous research has allowed Deayton to give a very thorough account of some very confusing battles. This leads him to be critical of some and that is fair enough. It also leads him to be full of praise for the bulk of the men who endured and persevered in extraordinary deadly circumstances. How the survivors of each bloodbath could go back again, I have no idea. Finally, Deayton reveals the face of these incredible men. Sure, some through the court-martials and Inquiries but many more through their valorous deeds. Sadly, some also through the pained letters written by mourning parents and wives.

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!
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading for WW1 info and personal stories 3 Oct 2014
By Peter Stephenson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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