“The worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history” 57



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Peter FitzSimons is not know for sugar coating his opinions; like the man himself, his views can be confronting.

So it comes as no surprise when his latest work, Fromelles & Pozieres is subtitled  – In The Trenches Of Hell.

On 19 July 1916, 7000 Australian soldiers – in the first major action of the AIF on the Western Front – attacked entrenched German positions at Fromelles, in northern France. By the next day, no fewer than 5500 were wounded and just under 1900 were dead – a bloodbath that the Australian War Memorial describes as ‘the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history’.

Book cover Fromelles

Just days later, three Australian Divisions attacked German positions at nearby Pozières, and over the next six weeks they suffered another 23,000 casualties. Of that bitter battle, the great Australian war correspondent Charles Bean would write, “The field of Pozières is more consecrated by Australian fighting and more hallowed by Australian blood than any field which has ever existed . . .”

Yet the sad truth is that, nearly a century on from those battles, Australians know only a fraction of what occurred.

This book brings the battles back to life and puts the reader in the moment, illustrating both the heroism displayed and the insanity of the British plan.

With his extraordinary vigour and commitment to research, Peter FitzSimons shows why this is a story about which all Australians can be proud. And angry.

Fromelles &  Pozières- In The Trenches Of Hell, by Peter FitzSimonsis available to purchase from Dymocks


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  1. My son had his first book published this year. It is called ‘Fremantle Voices of the Great War’ by Andrew Pittaway and contains many excerpts from the diaries of the Fremantle people who served in the Great War from 1914-1919. A real eye opener to what they went through. He started this project many many years ago well before the availability of downloading information from the Internet and obtained a lot of the information and wonderful pics from interviewing the families of these amazing young men who really had no idea what they were in for when signing up.

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  2. Ah yes a lot of Australia’s war history has either been hushed up or not told. During my posting to Canberra in 1965 I had passes which would get me into most govt buildings and as I was doing shift work and had time off through the day we would go to the war memorial’s storage area and have a look at all of the articles which were not on display to the public at the time. We learnt a lot about war history. Boer, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. B|

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    • A great experience Bruce I do love the war memorial in Canberra. My grandfather was worked on:in Hill 60, but became very unwell after the war and 11 years ended it all. Very sad.

  3. France always gets little mention when it comes to the Great War. Our Australian brave ancestors who fought in France dont seem to count in the scheme of things. I don’t understand why the Great War in France is so under acknowledged by our politicians. Many Australian soldiers died in this war surely those who fought in France deserve more acknowledgement.

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    • I don’t know what you’re basing your statements on. The Western Front is studied in schools, the people of France to this day acknowledge the contribution of our soldiers. There is a wealth of material available.

    • I take students studying French on excursion to the Battlefields as part of our trip… in particular Villers-Bretonneux where there is the Australian War Memorial.

    • The War memorial is beautiful .I knew a lot but have learned more over the last few years . Glad TA & Brendon Nelson have done this, Brendon Nelson is on radio a lot discussing his new projects etc, Another casualty of Our unelected PM . Was very popular in his / /my electorate . But is fantastic where he is now,

  4. obviously not selling well has to advertise on facebook. unfortunately being written by this dickhead i will not buy it.

  5. The beauty is that the French have not forgotten the Australians.australians are so welcomed there. Probably it’s hush hush because of the needless mistakes of “The Mother Country!!”

  6. Peter Fitzsimons is a great writer. He really brings this sad, sorry part of Australia’s history to life…

  7. While I agree with Peter FitzSimons that Australians need to know the names Fromelles and Pozieres, I believe that many Australians do. A study of the Western Front has been a part of Yr 10 History in NSW for a number of years. I have just checked the Board of Studies website and that is still the case. With the interest in family history, many of us know of relatives who were there. Touring the a Western Front is often an inclusion for Australians on a European trip. I think FitzSimons has a tendency to claim ignorance on the part of the Australian population which will only be changed by reading his books.

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  8. A drive through the Somme area certainly brings home the enormity of the sacrifices made in the Great War. In every village there are signposts pointing to 3,4,5 war cemeteries. We drove through the night to get to Villers Bretoneux for the Anzac Day dawn service and it was eerie. Villers was liberated by the Allies on Anzac Day 2016. The Australian War memorial is there – it still bears the bullet holes sustained in the Second World War. A three day visit to the area is informative and sobering. There are some good guides. Both my husband and I had forbears killed in action in commonwealth forces. (AIF and Cameron Highlanders). The people of Villers Bretoneux honour our heros! Thank you

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  9. I knew these towns as my grandfather fought in them in France I read all his ww1 books that my grandmother bought so thst we would

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