Bullencourt, Breaching the Hindenburg Line 1917

Well-written and intensively researched, this book provides an indelible picture of the Bullencourt battle of April and May 1917. This is a thoughtful coverage of what became a Pyrrhic victory for the British and Australian troops who suffered heavy losses. Moving tribute to Australians and a gripping read.


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NAME: Bullencourt, Breaching the Hindenburg Line 1917
FILE: R2458
AUTHOR:  Paul Kendall
PUBLISHER: The History Press
BINDING: soft back 
PAGES:  416
PRICE: £20.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War 1, World War One, The Great War, trench 
warfare, Western Front, ANZAC, Australian, British, German, tanks, 
artillery, Flanders
ISBN: 978-0-7509-81798-1
IMAGE: B2458.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/j72wk4r
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: Well-written and intensively researched, this book 
provides an indelible picture of the Bullencourt battle of April 
and May 1917.  This is a thoughtful coverage of what became a 
Pyrrhic victory for the British and Australian troops who suffered 
heavy losses. Moving tribute to Australians and a gripping read. 

Of the unrelenting carnage of trench warfare on the Western Front, 
Bullencourt stands out as a titanic struggle for what became the 
ruins of a village. Some 17,000 Australians and 10,000 British died 
in the battle for Bullencourt. Today it is easy to look back and 
wonder if the casualties were worth it but, at the time, the Allied 
commanders had no option but to continue attempting to breach the 
German trench lines. The Hindenburg Line was formidable and a lack 
of artillery and tank support meant that the Australian and British 
soldiers had to rely on frontal assault by infantry. Very high 
casualties were therefore assured.

The battle has been described as the worst Australian defeat of WWI 
but, in relative terms, it was a victory that demonstrated how 
dependable and formidable the Australian soldiers were. They justly 
earned the description of “the finest shock troops in the world”. 
Their extreme courage over a two month period was not only epic, 
ceding control of the rubble that remained of Bullencourt village, 
but was the first break through of what had been claimed to be the 
'impregnable' Hindenburg Line.

Initially, the assault was seen as a way of assisting Allenby's 
Third Army in breaking out at Arras. However, plans were soon in 
place to switch the main push to Flanders and that has formed part 
of the criticism that the Bullencourt assault was a wast of resources. 
Given the high casualties of trench warfare, where any 'gain' might 
be a few yards, it is very easy to look at each battle as being a 
terrible wast of young lives. That ignores the fact that commanders 
had very little choice. All of them would have much preferred a war 
of movement, quick and decisive strikes against an enemy and rapid 
advances, but they had to fight the war they had got. A lack of 
aggression would have led inevitably to German victories. What was 
needed was a significant increase in the number of heavy guns, an 
increase in mining, and large numbers of tanks that could operate 
en masse as a mobile shield for the infantry. It took time to build 
up the numbers of guns and tanks and they were ultimately the solution 
to the terrors of a muddy no-mans land between trench lines that was 
swept by machine gun fire. It still makes grim reading and even than 
does not do full justice to the terrors.