They were fifty miles to victory and defeat, fifty miles to collapse and renewal, and fifty miles to a new place for Australia among the nations of the world. They were among the most significant fifty miles in our history.
After four years of conflict in Turkey, Palestine and Europe, both sides of the Great War conflict are weary and seeking to end the conflict. For the men of the five Australian divisions stationed in France, the end seems a long way away, though, and while they are battle weary they are able to come together under Major-General John Monash and play a decisive role in claiming the last fifty miles – the miles which will see an end to the war.
The Last Fifty Miles is an accessible, detailed account of Australia’s involvement in World War 1 and particularly its role in the final months of the conflict on the Western Front.
Readers are offered insight into the reasons for the war, the main personalities involved on both sides, and the impact of the war on Australians at home as well as those serving.
Suitable for amateur history buffs or anyone wanting to better understand the Great War.
The Last Fifty Miles, by Adam Wakeling
Penguin Books, 2016
25 April 1915
12 Midnight: The ships have sailed from Lemnos. I have a cabin, the last in the passage, with a porthole opening onto the well deck. Outside on the deck, amongst all sorts of gear and under some of the horse boats to be used in landing, are some of the men of the 1st Battalion tucked into corners in their overcoats.
I must not oversleep – this night is too good to miss.
From the journey towards Gallipoli, through the landings, the terrible losses, the battles, and the evacuation, Charles Bean recorded the ANZAC experience at Gallipoli in extraordinary detail. Australia’s official war correspondent, he wrote and sent home newspaper articles, and also filled notebooks with copious diary entries. He went behind the lines across the peninsula, lived among the troops, and photographed what he saw. After the war he used his work as the starting point for Australia’s official war history.
From this extraordinarily detailed record of the war, this new offering diaries the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign. With notes from the editor, the text is stunningly illustrated with photographs from Bean’s collection and from the collections of others who were there, including the private collections of soldiers, bringing the campaign to life in startling detail.
A wonderful production to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the campaign in 2015.
Charles Bean’s Gallipoli, edited by Phillip Bradley
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.