An Anzac on the Western Front (ePub)
The Personal Recollections of an Australian Infantryman from 1916 to 1918
“The ordeal of the night was plainly visible on all faces, ghastly white showing through masks of grim and dried sweat, eyes glassy, protruding, and full of horror seen only upon men who have lived through a heavy bombardment.” So wrote Harold Roy Williams of his time in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.
Having enlisted in 1915 and serving in the 56th Battalion Australian Imperial Force, Williams had only arrived in France, from Egypt, on 30 June 1916. He describes the horrors of the Fromelles battlefield in shocking clarity and the conditions the troops had to endure are revealed in disturbing detail.
Surviving a later gas attack, Harold Williams' subsequent postings read like a tour of the Western Front. Following the Somme
there was the mud and squalor of the line south of Ypres, the German Spring Offensive of 1918, the Battle of Amiens – frequently described as the most decisive battle against the Germans in France and Flanders – the capture of Villers-Bretonneux and, finally, the assault on Péronne.
Injured at Péronne and invalided back to the United Kingdom, Williams survived the war to return to Australia in 1919. An Anzac
on the Western Front is his graphic description of his service in the First World War – an account that was described as “the best soldier's story … yet read in Australia” when it was first published.
Williams first action was at Fromelles about which he provides a detailed account.The Bulletin
I have no hesitation in placing H. R. Williams’ account of his wartime very near the top of the pile, Williams’ book is special. He was a highly perceptive, frequently wry, observer of war, its effects, of climate, of geography, of officers and men, and of the events which he and his comrades experienced and combated during the Great War. Very strongly recommended.The western front association stand to! No. 97
A remarkably candid and graphic account of his wartime service, this book details Williams’ journey from the Somme through to the German offensive in 1918, his wounding at the Battle of Péronne, and his eventful turn home.Britain at War Magazine