Posted by: Gregoryno6 | April 25, 2018

ANZAC Day 1918: Remembering victory.

Then came a wild, terrifying roar as waves of Australian infantry from the 15th Brigade rushed the German positions, knowing that men from the 13th Brigade were doing the same on the other side of Villers-Bretonneux. Downing recalled ‘a howling as of demons’ as the Australians surged forward with rifle and bayonet, their “fierce, low growl [as] of tigers scenting blood”. Ordered to take no prisoners, they “killed and killed … there was no quarter on either side”.

ANZAC Day has added significance this year. 2018 marks the centenary of Australian troops driving German forces from the village of Villers-Bretonneux, a few miles from Amiens. The quote above comes from the account of Walter Downing, published in 2002 as To The Last Ridge.

The Germans had had a string of successes through March and April of 1918, and were aiming to push on through Villers-Bretonneux into Amiens and then on to the English Channel. Their men had fought hard, and the British troops in the area had taken the brunt of the battle. But the Australians were given special incentive by General John Monash. On the eve of the battle Monash reminded the men that they would be fighting on the third anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. He urged the troops to fight for those fallen comrades. Spurred on, the Australians made a victory of the hastily improvised battle plan and crushed the enemy.

The victory at Villers-Bretonneux was the first act in the final defeat of Germany.

General Monash. They named a university after him. I doubt that he’d be impressed.
Print by Bassano, 1918.


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