On 4 July 1918, the Australian Corps captured the village of Hamel and the ridge overlooking it, which had blocked any advance eastward on the south bank of the Somme. It was not a big battle: the equivalent of one Australian division and one battalion of newly arrived Americans were the only infantry involved. It was not a long battle: the ridge fell in ninety-three minutes. Nor is the battle particularly well known - Hamel is not a name that stands comfortably alongside the Somme or Passchendaele. Yet it was more sophisticated tactically than either. Whereas they were attritional battles, predictable and bloody, at Hamel machines went a long way towards relieving the infantry of the obligation to fight its way forward. After the battle, Haig's Headquarters promulgated its lessons for other commanders. Among the senior officers who visited Monash's Headquarters was a Brigadier-General named Bernard Montgomery. The military thinker and former Tank Corps officer, Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, thought Hamel more important in making the reputation of the Tank Corps than the battle of Cambrai. As an outstanding demonstration of how four independent arms could be co-ordinated on the battlefield, Hamel served as the blueprint for the bigger battles to come. The offensive before Amiens on August 8, which General Ludendorff, the German commander, famously called 'the black day of the German Army', was essentially Hamel on a much larger scale.
Key Selling Points
* A sophisticated and tactical battle using machines rather than infantry.