The Australian and American Triumph
By John Hughes-Wilson
From Uniform Press
I will make this review short and punchy – much like this book. For at a mere 160 pages this is hardly an academic tome, but manages to clearly yet succinctly describe the context of the battle of Le Hamel, the troops involved, and the operation itself. It is a battle I knew little about before picking the book up, despite the author’s assertion that it is arguably the most important battle of the war.
The reasons for its importance are numerous, including the successful co-ordination of tanks and infantry, the use of aerial re-supply, and for being the first battle in the war that made use of American forces. Despite the Australian/American-focused title of the book, the role of the Tank Corps and RAF in the battle are also briefly covered.
The book’s brevity is also its main weakness. I found myself wanting to know more about Monash and Rawlinson’s disregard of Pershing’s directive that American troops should not be involved, and whether there was any fall out from this. And with the actual battle covered in less than 20 pages I would have liked a bit more operational detail. Lack of references also niggled and the maps could have been more detailed with regards to the battle. Yet overall this serves as a useful and readable introduction to what was a pivotal action, and if nothing else it has whetted my appetite to learn more about it.
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Hamel 4th July 1918: The Australian & American Victory