Monash's masterpiece: The Battle of Le Hamel and the 93 minutes that changed the world by Peter FitzSimons
Hachette, 2018. ISBN 9780733640087
(Age: Senior secondary) Recommended. The name, Monash, is common in parts of Australia, linked to a University, suburb and street names. However, for the reader of this book, the importance of Sir John Monash is brought to life by Peter FitzSimmons.
Almost 100 years ago, the World War I, Battle of Le Hamel, encapsulated the imaginative thinking, meticulous planning and outstanding leadership of the Australian commander, in what has been described as the first modern battle. Infantry, tanks, artillery and aircraft operated together as a coordinated force. Unlike other battles of the war, for the first time each infantry battalion was accompanied into battle with a tank, preceded by a careful artillery barrage and supported with supplies by air drop. The results of the 93 minute battle were devastating for the enemy and Australian (and American) losses were relatively low. Monash said: 'A perfected modern battle plan is like nothing so much as a score for an orchestral composition, where various arms and units are instruments, and the tasks they perform are their respective musical phrases'.
FitzSimmons writes with verve and passion about Monash and his men. He scorns the commander's detractors and highlights the momentous importance of the victory of the battle for ending the war, the introduction of American soldiers, use of technology, importance of planning, organisation and communication. The stories of ordinary soldiers and their incredible bravery are also embedded in the account.
The book is researched from a wide variety of sources and is accompanied by excellent maps and photographs.