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The war beneath the trenches!,
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This review is from: Beneath Hill 60 (Paperback)
This book is based on the true exploits of Captain Oliver Woodward, MC and two bars, of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) in World War One, which has also been turned into a major feature film. The book retraces the remarkable service of Capt Woodward and centres around the huge allied tunnelling operation that led to nineteen massive mines being set off beneath Messines Ridge near Ypres on the morning of the 7th June 1917. This resulted in the largest man-made explosion in history up until that point leaving ten thousand German dead amongst a shattered landscape that smashed open the German lines to the allied advance.
Capt Woodward and his men were responsible for two of the mines at Hill 60, men who were miners and engineers rather than parade ground soldiers. The book highlights the training, service and lives of the men involved as well as amply describing the horrors of living in the trenches during World War One. The book is very descriptive of the industrialised scale of the slaughter of this first truly mechanised war of the twentieth century as well as the more personalised accounts of Capt Woodward and his men. The book is simply littered with accounts of bravery, savagery and suffering beyond comprehension and you wonder how soldiers endured and performed in such horrific conditions.
One must never forget that the key tenet of the book is the story of the tunnelling war beneath the trenches. Drawing on the diaries of Capt Woodward, "Beneath Hill 60" highlights the little known but terribly brutal true story of the subterranean war waged beneath the trenches of the western front. A hell on earth where men drowned in viscous chalk, suffocated in the blue grey clay, choked on poisonous air and died often alone in the darkness. All this they did whilst battling the Germans in vicious hand-to-hand fighting and counter mining offensive operations.
All told it is an amazing story of a little known combat arena of World War One. A gripping and remarkable story that is well written and an excellent read.