Volume III – The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916

Introduction by P A Pedersen

The Australian War Memorial would like to acknowledge the kind permission of the author and the assistance of the University of Queensland Press in making this Introduction available on–line.

The AIF fought on the Western Front for two–and–one–half years, but for most Australians this story is only a dim memory, overshadowed by the landing and subsequent campaign at Gallipoli. The image of bronzed men storming ashore and clinging desperately to cliff–top positions with the sea at their backs is appealing — if not wholly accurate. The Western Front evokes no such response. The Somme and Passchendaele are inseparably linked to the lost generation of youth, perishing in the mud, obedient to the orders of incompetent commanders who rarely left the comfort of their well appointed chateaux. The period is commonly represented as the dark age of warfare with able generalship a rare commodity.

In his third volume of the Australian Official History, C.E.W. Bean describes 1916, the first year of AIF operations on the Western Front. It was a shattering ordeal which cut deeply into the minds of those involved. The fighting and, inevitably, the casualties were the heaviest experienced by the AIF throughout the war. Bean witnessed and recorded these events in 226 diaries.1 They portray a sensitive man, outraged by what he considered the rashness of the High Command and deeply aggrieved by the hideous losses which resulted. However Volume III did not appear until 1929 and experience in the intervening years had mellowed some impressions and changed the emphasis in others. Nevertheless Bean did not substantially alter his opinion on the conduct of the Somme campaign, one of the principal episodes to which the volume is devoted. This is evident from his lengthy correspondence with the British Official Historian, Sir James Edmonds.2 Each sent the other chapters from his own history and the accompanying comments give a remarkable insight into the attitudes of the two men to some of the most controversial questions of 1914–18.

The third year of the war was shaped by General von Falkenhayn’s famous appreciation of the situation confronting Germany, presented to the Kaiser shortly before Christmas 1915. He argued that Russia was paralysed and France almost exhausted. The reason for which the war continued was the enormous influence which Britain still wielded over her allies. But her naval supremacy and the difficulties in the way of a German offensive on the British front in Flanders precluded a direct crippling blow against her. The only course open, concluded Falkenhayn, was to break France completely, thereby "knocking England’s best sword out of her hand". Verdun was chosen as the objective for which France would fight to the last man and ultimately, "bleed to death". The German attack began on 21 February and it seemed that Falkenhayn’s prophecy might be fulfilled as the French Army was drawn into the mincing machine of the German artillery.3 Consequently, Allied strategic plans for 1916 underwent drastic modification. These had called for simultaneous offensives on all fronts during the summer, the most important being an Anglo-French thrust astride the Somme River, in which France was to assume the major role. However, the tremendous losses suffered by the French at Verdun progressively reduced their contribution, and the main burden passed to the British Army.4

The AIF, which was to participate in this offensive, was no longer the small force which had fought at Gallipoli. Its infantry strength had doubled from two to four divisions, comprising the I and II Anzac Corps.5 On 19 March 1916, the first Australian units from Egypt disembarked at Marseilles and began the long train journey north. The I Anzac Corps was allotted to the Armentières sector, a peaceful area where "the sound of a rifle shot rarely broke the silence" (see p.119). Relieved Gallipoli veterans agreed with newly arrived soldiers from Australia that "war was pleasant in France, because there were no great battles, but short stays in the line, comparative immunity, and comfort in the back areas".6 Within three months these men would say that, compared to France, Anzac was "a picnic".

On 1 July the Somme offensive began. When night mercifully fell on that terrible day, the British Army had lost 57,470 men for a gain of about 1.5 km in the southern sector of the attack. In the north no progress had been made at all. It was the greatest loss in a single day by any army in history, but Haig was still confident of achieving a decision and ordered further attacks.7 On the night of 13 July, the British Fourth Army breached the German the German Lines at High Wood. Interrogation of prisoners confirmed that the enemy was reinforcing the Somme front with units from the quiet northern sectors, which included those held by I and II Anzac Corps. As heavy raiding had clearly failed to prevent this transfer, action on a much more impressive scale was required. Among the schemes considered was Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Haking’s proposal for an attack on the Sugar Loaf salient near Fromelles. Therein lie the origins of one of the great tragedies of the AIF.

The muddled planning and endless alteration that marked the adoption of the Fromelles scheme was a damning indictment of the commanders involved:

Suggested first by Haking as a feint attack; then by Plumer as part of a victorious advance; rejected by Monro in favour of attack elsewhere; put forward again by GHQ as a "purely artillery" demonstration; ordered as a demonstration, but with an infantry operation added, according to Haking’s plan and through his emphatic advocacy; almost cancelled…and finally reinstated by Haig, apparently as an urgent demonstration - such were the changes of form through which the plans of this ill-fated operation had successively passed. (See p.350.)

The attack was to be made by Haking’s XI Corps and the Fifth Australian Division, the last to arrive in France, commanded by Major-General J.W. McCay. Though many of its men had not yet been in the front line, McCay was pleased that his division would be the first to see serious action. His gratification was not shared by Generals Birdwood and White, nor by one of his own brigade commanders, Brigadier-General H.E. Elliott. On 14 July he pointed out to Major Howard, a member of Haig’s staff, the 366m (400 yards) of exposed ground over which his brigade would have to advance.8 Elliot later wrote: "I asked him to tell me as a man what he thought of it. He was much affected. He said ‘Well, if you put it to me that way, I must tell you that it will be a bloody holocaust’".9

Howard’s forecast was unusually prescient. The attack began at 6 P.M. on 19 July. Fifteen minutes later Elliott’s brigade had been destroyed by German machine-gun fire. On the left, the Eighth and Fourteenth Brigades crossed no-man’s land to reach two waterfilled ditches beyond the German first line, 914m (1000 yards) of which they now held. It was the only material success of the battle. After heavy fighting throughout the night, both brigades were finally forced to retire as the Germans counter-attacked furiously from the flanks and rear. Bean wrote: "The scene in the Australian trenches, packed with wounded and dying, was unexampled in the history of the A.I.F.".10 In less than twenty-four hours the Fifth Division had lost 5,533 men, of whom 400 were prisoners. The regiment opposing the Australian attack suffered 775 casualties (see p.442). Elliott’s anguish was obvious. Bean wrote in his diary: "I felt almost as if I were in the presence of a man who had just lost his wife. He looked down and could hardly speak…".11

Bean’s immediate comments reflected deep bitterness and a sense of frustration at such heavy losses in an attack whose futility had been predicted.

We wanted…to make the German think we were attacking there — so that he would hold his troops there.

As a matter of fact we have proved to him…that we intended nothing serious - he was in doubt until we attacked. We have now given him the information. He could now, if he wanted, withdraw half the men who are on that front. And we have put out of action a fine division.12

Although more restrained, Bean’s disgust was still evident in Volume III. He ridiculed Haking’s contention that the newness of the infantry was the sole reason for the failure, proving conclusively that, as planned, the operation had no chance of success. The British Official Historian, Edmonds, attempted to defend Haking on his past record and offered to send him drafts of Bean’s Fromelles chapters in September 1927.13 There was no reply and Edmonds finally informed Bean that Haking had no wish to comment on the battle, adding, "I don’t think he was much use after his wound…in 1914."14 Notwithstanding Edmonds’ classic about-turn, one is led to ask why Haking was entrusted with a senior command in important operations two years later.

To conceal the severity of the reverse, the action was merely reported as "some important raids", shaking the faith of Australian soldiers in official statements. Bean, who cavilled constantly against British censorship regulations, wrote: "What is the good of deliberate lying like that?"15 Examination of prisoners would soon convince the Germans that an attack had been intended. Edmonds answered Bean’s question in 1927. It was difficult to state how much a democracy should be told, Edmonds reasoned, but, "from the purely military point of view, the less the better".16 He also resented Bean’s inclusion of the doubts entertained by staff officers such as Howard. Their opinions should not be disclosed: after all, the general was the one man responsible and his staff were "servants to him."17 Fortunately for his readers Bean disagreed. Staff oficers’ views were no more "private and personal" than many other matters essential to an understanding of the war.18 Finally, the Australian conviction that the British soldier could not fight well was strengthened by the performance of the neighbouring 61st Division. Bean’s diaries plainly show that he shared this belief, although his account in the Official History was more moderate, recognizing the real difficulties which the 61st Division faced.

On the Somme front the third of Haig’s great attacks was about to begin. As before, the main eastward thrust was to be made in the south, the only sector where previous assaults had enjoyed some success. In the north the fortress of Thiepval, and Pozières, the minor agricutural hamlet which covered it, remained firmly in German hands. Just beyond Pozières stood the Windmill, an important German observation post. If the main advance was not to be confined to a dangerously narrow front, Thiepval and Pozières would eventually have to be taken. But Haig’s resources were sufficient only for the attack in the south; on the northern flank "all that was for the present required…was a steady, methodical, step-by-step advance as already ordered" (see p.465).

After the failure of four British attacks on Pozières, carried out under this policy between 13 and 17 July, the task was given to the First Australian Division, now part of General Gough’s Reserve Army. According to his biographer, Gough disliked acting through his corps commanders, preferring to control operations directly.19 This tendency was never more evident than in his decision to begin the assault immediately, without waiting for the arrival on the battlefield of I Anzac Corps Headquarters. At their first meeting on 18 July, Gough told Major-General Walker, commanding the First Division: "I want you to go into the line and attack Pozières tomorrow night" (see p.468). Convinced that any attempt to rush the operation would merely ensure its failure, Walker argued desperately for a postponement. White and Birdwood also counselled caution and the attack was finally fixed for 12.30 A.M. on 23 July.

Asked to comment on the origins of the operation in 1928, Gough declared himself incredulous at Bean’s account of his meeting with Walker and claimed that he always intended a flank attack on Pozières.20 Walker disagreed vehemently, insisting that the plan for a flank attack was his own. Gough had pressed repeatedly for a frontal assault, abandoning the idea only when one of his staff officers, who had seen the ground, pointed out that it would end in disaster. White confirmed Walker’s version.21 Although he too was an English general, Walker remembered these days as "the very worst exhibition of Army Command that occurred in the whole campaign tho’ God knows Fifth Army was a tragedy throughout".22

The attack by the First Division was a brilliant success. Except for the extreme right the whole objective was taken within two hours. Major-General Cox, whose Fourth Division was soon to enter the fight, wrote "the Australians have really met the Germans in pitched battle and have proved themselves the better men".23 Elsewhere the offensive had failed completely. But it could not be abandoned. Such a course might allow the Germans to renew the attack on Verdun while the British public, conditioned to optimism by official communiques, would recoil in shock and disillusion. Furthermore, Haig thought the immense strain imposed on the Germans would eventually break them. Hence he informed Army Commanders on 23 July that the battle was to be continued with the object of wearing down the enemy by a series of local assaults until conditions favoured a resumption of the wider offensive. On the left flank, I Anzac Corps was to be the principal actor in the new plan.

Under constant pressure from Gough, the First Division attacked on the night of 24 July and made significant gains to the west of Pozières. This advance was a considerable feat because the Germans had begun a continuous bombardment of the village after three of their counterattacks had failed to recapture it. On 25 July the barrage intensified and before their withdrawal two days later, many of the men of the First Division had been buried and extricated several times over. The effects of the battle went far beyond the 5,286 Australian casualties suffered. Sergeant E.J. Rule, who watched the division leave the line, wrote: "They looked like men who had been in hell. Almost without exception each man looked drawn and haggard, and so dazed that they appeared to be walking in a dream, and their eyes looked glassy and starey".24

On 29 July the Second Division attacked but the effort failed because of inadequate preparation. For the next assault on 4 August, White insisted on the construction of proper jumping-off trenches and the result was an outstanding success. The German lines on the Pozières heights were seized, including the notorious Windmill. But the ordeal of the Second Division surpassed even the grim trial of its predecessor. It entered the battle when the barrage after the initial attacks had reached its zenith, subsequently enduring twelve days of heavy bombardment in which 6,848 men were lost. Birdwood wrote of the shelling: "Until one has been personally subjected to such a thing, it is really impossible to conceive what it means… It is really astounding how anyone lives through it".25 A French officer told him the bombardment was quite as severe as any around Verdun.26

Edmonds’ remarks on Bean’s Pozières drafts leave a bitter taste. He deprecated Bean’s account of the shelling, recalling that in four-and-one-half years in France he had experienced many heavy barrages but "I neither saw nor heard of any of the scenes you describe… How many Australian in point of fact became ‘insane’?".27 He had observed French and Belgian troops endure bombardment as a matter of course. Were Australian soldiers more nervous than they, as the text seemed to infer? He could only conclude that "it was all due to lack of self-control, which is fostered by discipline".28 Bean was barely able to conceal his contempt. Noting that Edmonds had "never been in a real battle" he dismissed the British historian’s comments as typifying "the General Staff attitude — exactly as it was in the war; it is almost too laughably mistaken to be worth a reply".29

Gough was also irritated by these chapters and rejected outright Bean’s numerous references to his impetuosity, claiming indignantly: "I was not ‘temperamentally’ addicted to attacks without careful reconnaissance and preparation, as the conduct of all my military operations fully bears out, including this one".30 Despite such protests, Bean would not temper his criticism: "His pressure was always for speed in trench operations, in which speed could only be a danger and of little value".31 In reply, Edmonds made a stunning admission:

For Gough I had no brief after 1916. Up to that time, he was, I think, first-class as a division and corps commander, but his gifts of energy and dash were out of place in command of an army. I and Peyton [Military Secretary] told Haig this, but Haig was perfectly infatuated with him.32

Possession of the ground captured by the Second Division enabled Gough to swing the attack north towards Thiepval. Bean later described the plan as "springing from an impossible tactical conception — that of forcing a salient gradually behind an enemy salient on a strongly fortified front… giving a bang with the hammer every day or two to drive the wedge in another fraction of an inch".33 The Fourth Division began the operation on 8 August with the first of a series of attacks towards Mouquet Farm. It was relieved one week later after suffering 4,649 casualties. Each division was committed a second time as the advance degenerated into a repetition of the Pozières horrors on a smaller scale. The Farm held and it was not taken until 26 September as part of a wide thrust by Gough’s Army, which also reduced Thiepval. The I Anzac Corps had been withdrawn three weeks previously.

In those forty-five terrible days on the Somme, I Anzac Corps launched nineteen attacks at a cost of 23,000 casualties. In Australia, these losses were seized upon by both sides of the conscription debate, fuelling a controversy whose effects have been felt ever since. The strain affected the attitude of the Australian soldier towards the war and many believed that they had been uselessly sacrificed. One man wrote: "For Christ’s sake, write a book on the life of an infantry-man and by doing so you will quickly prevent such tragedies."34

The ordeal was not yet over. After a quiet period in the Ypres salient, I Anzac Corps was ordered to return to the Somme on 9 October, this time joined by the Fifth Division from II Anzac Corps. The enemy now was not the Germans, but the weather, as heavy rain turned the battlefield into a quagmire in which men and horses sometimes drowned. Elliott could not imagine how his brigade survived in the trenches: "The men get a little sleep propped up against the side of the trench but then the frost comes and freezes the sludge and their feet get frozen and unless you get them back quickly their feet get gangrene and their toes drop off."35

Fighting under such dreadful conditions, the Australians were sustained by a grim determination that they should not be held inferior to those around them. Bean concluded: "From the valley of that shadow they slowly emerged, recovering in numbers, health and spirit… their corps recognised as among the finest fighting machines at the disposal of the British command" (see p.958).

Edmonds regarded Bean’s summing up of the campaign as one of his finest chapters but held that his discussion of Haig’s strategy dealt inadequately with its effect on the German Army.36 He contended that as manoeuvre was impossible on the Western Front, there was no alternative to battles of attrition which wore down the opponent. On this ground Edmonds justified the policy pursued, asking Bean: "Would you say what the strategy of the Allies should have been? In a long war with sides very evenly matched… nothing but the slaughter of its men will bring one side to its knees".37

Hence it was misleading to depict the battle as a struggle for "bits of ground" as Bean had done.38 Edmonds hoped to prove in his history that the Somme was the turning point of the war. Most of the best Germans were killed "but this could not be done without losing the flower of our manhood".39 He evidently assumed such a victory would be worth the sacrifice.

However, the whole question of Haig’s intentions on the Somme was enmeshed with controversy. His apologists insisted that Haig had conceived the offensive as a campaign of attrition from the outset and vigorously denied that he had sought a breakthrough at all. Their version was denounced by Liddell Hart as "one of the most elaborate perversions of historical truth that has been brought to light".40 Edmonds, too, emphasized the attritional aspects of the battle, although he did not actually deny that Haig aimed at a breakthrough. Bean was in no doubt of the truth, nor did he attempt to mask it in any way. He annotated Edmonds’ comments:

He was believer in attrition but not in attrition which loses two-and-one-half men to every one of the enemy. Moreover every operation order shows that he tried to break through. He put it to the government again and again that this break was close ahead and that he was wearing down the Germans faster than they him.41

Bean expressed these views in chapter 25. Comparing the Somme with Verdun, where German attritional methods inflicted two casualties on the French for every one of their own, he commented sardonically: "To argue that Haig’s method was right surely involves the complacent assumption of an extraordinarily low standard of efficiency" (see p.946 n 119, see also pp.943-46).

Despite Bean’s condemnation of Haig’s strategy, the Australian historian’s assessment of the Commander-in-Chief did not differ substantially from his first impressions in June 1916:

I suppose Haig is one of those British soldiers — old-fashioned simple gentlemen to the backbone who abide till their deaths in the beliefs which they learnt at their mother’s knee. It’s easy to laugh at them but it’s a great type of man and makes a very loyal friend and an unbendable enemy.42

In Volume III, Bean’s praise of Haig’s much overlooked qualities was far from grudging and his belief that history would assign the Field-Marshal a greater responsibility for victories of 1918, is presently being realized (see pp.947-49).

However, the lasting impressions left by Bean’s work are not concerned with matters of strategy and tactics but rather the character of its subject, the Australian soldier, whom he understood exactly. Bean had written extensively about Australians in the prewar period and was particularly struck by their independence and reluctance to pay outward forms of respect.43 His preoccupation with the Australians in battle began, naturally, at Gallipoli where he witnessed several suicidal charges in which some men took up the cry to retire. But the strong among them scoffed at their desperate call and demanded to know who gave the order.

And yet strong men do that… they are not going to be cheated out of their job by any weak-spirited being in the force. The success of any army like ours chiefly depends on what proportion of these strong independent men there is in it. And in the Australian force the proportion is unquestionably high — it may amount to 50 per cent or more. I have seen them going up against a rain of fire and the weaker ones retiring through them at the very same time — the two streams going in opposite directions and not taking the faintest notice of one another.44

In that marvellous passage Bean captured the essence of the AIF, the spirit of the strong man which enabled the force to surmount the severest trials, whether Lone Pine, Fromelles or Pozières. But the Australians were not supermen and Bean deplored the fictionalized accounts depicting them as such. After Pozières, he remarked that "no honest man pretends he ever wants to fight again" and the "Blighty" wound became an envied prize.45 The realization dawned on the new soldiers in the force that their prospects of survival were nil:

…there is only one way out of this war for an infantryman and that is on his back; either sick, wounded or dead. There is no going back to cheering crowds — no marching through the London streets and ovations in Australian ports. They will be put at it to fight and fight and fight again — until, if not in this battle, then in the next each man gets his bullet… They are looking down the long road straight to the end — they can see it plain enough now, and they know that there is no turning.46

For men with these feelings, to return to the line was "one hundred times finer than the heroics which have been written in the past".47 The vividness of Bean’s writing was not merely the result of his literary gifts. He was an active participant sharing all the dangers and discomfort. "He is red-hot in every attack we make, always ready to help the wounded or do anything else in that line" wrote Birdwood to the Australian Governor-General in a letter suggesting that Bean be recommended for a CMG.48

For Charles Bean the History was a labour of love, "like going ahead on a particularly interesting voyage of discovery, with a sort of excited anticipation of what you will find when you get through".49 His passionate concerns were accuracy and the allocation of credit to the right quarter, but the sheer volume of material that he had to sift through rendered the task extremely difficult. The official records of a battle such as Pozières made a pile 1.2m by 0.6m and 0.6m in height and there were unofficial documentary records, English histories and biographies and the German side to be considered as well.50 To cope with the immense detail of the principal sources, the operations files and formation records, Bean and the Australian War Memorial staff divided the AIF’s time on the Western Front into twelve periods, giving each a date and title. All material relating to a particular period was then sorted and arranged into a number of sub-periods, thus breaking down the vast mass into smaller, more manageable segments.51 Rigorous procedures were also instituted in the production of each volume. The salient facts for a single chapter were extracted within a fortnight. The chapter itself was written in the following week, with no more than one week devoted to all forms of revision. It was then sent for comment to the British Historian and the Australian commanders involved, while literary experts ensured lucidity of text. Bean estimated that before publication each volume was read at least sixteen times.52

This volume, The AIF in France: 1916, received good reviews. Liddell Hart praised Bean’s painstaking thoroughness and vivid realism.53 White called it "… a colossal work and a great tribute to Bean’s powers of sifting evidence and to his industry".54 And despite his differences of opinion, Edmonds read the volume with "the very greatest of enjoyment", adding "It is an extraordinarily fine piece of military writing and I wish the public would read it instead of the silly translated German stuff, like ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’".55 There were some complaints that the length and great detail of the volume might deter the general public. Although Bean accepted such criticism as natural, his introduction to the work was not an apology. The reasons given in the volume, he told Gellibrand, were "the true ones".56 But nothing could detract from the overall magnificence of Bean’s scholarship. It established a standard against which the efforts of later historians have been judged.

The events in Volume III occurred over half a century ago and the intervening years have removed the hideous scars of battle. The Australian visitor who drives through Pozières will find a small, neat village built astride the Albert–Bapaume Road. One kilometre from its centre, a crude concrete path leads from the road to a grassy mound several metres square. It is the Windmill. The visitor standing there sees the awesome Lutyens Memorial to the Missing of Thiepval on the horizon to the north and in the midst of the well-tilled fields to the northeast, the dwellings of Mouquet Farm. He is struck by the silence which is disturbed only by the singing of the birds. As he lowers his head, the visitor reads the inscription on a stone tablet at his feet. It states that this ridge is more thickly sown with Australian dead than any other battlefield on the Western Front. It is to these men and their comrades who survived that this volume is dedicated, a lasting tribute to ordinary Australians who achieved great things.

P. A. Pedersen

Notes

  1. These diaries are held by the Australian War Memorial (hereafter AWM) as part of its Bean Collection. Reference to them is made by the diary number followed by the date of entry.
  2. This correspondence is also part of the Bean Collection at the AWM where its full title is "Correspondence with Edmonds re Australian Official History". Hereafter it is referred to as OH correspondence.
  3. For an excellent discussion of Falkenhayn’s appreciation and the battle which resulted, see A. Horne, The Price of Glory — Verdun 1916 (Macmillan: London, 1962).
  4. In March Russia launched a costly attack at Lake Narocz to relieve the pressure at Verdun. It was followed by the Brusilov offensive in June whose initial success caused Falkenhayn to abandon plans to reinforce the assault on Verdun and counter-attack on the Somme.
  5. A fifth division was raised in Australia and sent direct to England for training. It did not arrive on the Western Front until the end of 1916.
  6. Bill Gammage The Broken Years, (Penguin Books: Ringwood, 1975), pp.151-52.
  7. M. Middlebrook, The First Day on the Somme, (Fontana ed.: London, 1975), pp.263-65
  8. Trench warfare manuals stressed that for such attacks, the width of no man’s land should not exceed 200 yards (182.88m).
  9. H.E. Elliott: "Private memoranda on supercession", Box 38, Elliott Collection, AWM.
  10. C.E.W. Bean, Anzac to Amiens, 5th ed., (Canberra: AWM, 1968), p.235.
  11. Bean, Diary 52, 20 July 1916.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Edmonds to Bean, 19 September 1927, OH Correspondence.
  14. Edmonds to Bean, 3 July 1928, OH Correspondence.
  15. Bean, Diary 52, 20 July 1916.
  16. Edmonds to Bean, 19 September 1927, OH Correspondence. A subsequent letter was more didactic: "Your history should be educative, and the more you inculcate that one gives one’s army the best chance if one refrains from demanding information, the better you will serve your country". (Edmonds to Bean, 3 November 1927.)
  17. Edmonds to Bean, 3 November 1927, OH Correspondence.
  18. Bean to Edmonds, 28 April 1928, OH Correspondence.
  19. A. Farrar-Hockley, Goughie — The Life of Sir Hubert Gough, (MacGibbon: London, 1975), p.188.
  20. Gough’s comments enclosed in Edmonds to Bean, 16 November, 1927, OH Correspondence.
  21. Walker to Bean, 13 August 1928, OH Correspondence.
  22. Ibid. Gough’s Reserve Army became the Fifth Army on 30 October 1916.
  23. Letter dated 25 July 1916. File 12/11/302 (Personal Records), AWM.
  24. E.J. Rule, Jacka’s Mob, (Angus & Robertson: Sydney, 1933), p.61. Bean, who used this passage, added: "These men…were utterly different from the Australian soldiers of tradition" (see p.599).
  25. Birdwood to Pearce, 1 August 1916, Box 214, Birdwood Collection, AWM.
  26. Birdwood to Allen, 12 August 1916, Box 214, Birdwood Collection, AWM. Pozières became the standard by which shellfire was judged in the AIF. The village itself disappeared; not even enough ruins remaining to mend the roads (see p.869).
  27. Edmonds to Bean, 7 February 1928, OH Correspondence.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Annotations by Bean on Edmonds’ letter of 7 February 1928.
  30. Gough’s comments enclosed in Edmonds to Bean, 16 November 1927, OH Correspondence. Gough’s annoyance intensified when he read the drafts of the Third Battle of Ypres chapters in Volume IV. He traduced Bean in no uncertain terms: "… the whole tone and almost all the statements of this writer are violently and personally hostile, and they constitute a veritable travesty of the facts and of history. Nothing is too far-fetched for his imaginative and poisoned mind to produce". Comments by Gough dated 21 August 1932, enclosed in Edmonds to Bean, 2 September 1932, OH Correspondence. On this occasion Bean admitted his judgement was unfair and revised his account. Bean to Edmonds, 11 October 1932, OH Correspondence.
  31. Bean to Edmonds, 28 April 1928, OH Correspondence.
  32. Edmonds to Bean, 3 July 1928, OH Correspondence.
  33. Bean to Gellibrand, 14 September 1944, Box 190, Gellibrand Collection, AWM.
  34. A.G. Thomas, Diary-letter dated 25 July 1916, (see p.872).
  35. Elliott to wife, 16 December 1916, Box 38, Elliott Collection, AWM.
  36. Edmonds to Bean, 27 June 1928, OH Correspondence.
  37. Edmonds to Bean, 3 November 1927, OH Correspondence.
  38. Edmonds to Bean, 1 May 1928, OH Correspondence.
  39. Edmonds to Bean, 14 June 1928, OH Correspondence. See also Edmonds’ preface to Military Operations — France and Belgium 1916, Macmillan and Co., London, 1938), pp.x-xvii. Edmonds told Liddell Hart privately that he could not tell the truth with frankness in the Official History but hoped it would be evident to those who could read "between the lines". (Brian Bond, Liddell Hart — A Study of His Military Thought, [Cassell: London, 1977], p.82). But his considerable correspondence with Bean shows that Edmonds’ views on the campaign were held with conviction. One wonders then, whether there was actually anything at all to be seen between the lines.
  40. B.H. Liddell Hart, History of the First World War, Cassell: London, 1970), p.310.
  41. Bean on Edmonds’ letter dated 1 May 1928, OH Correspondence. Liddell Hart states that the British Official History destroyed the idea that Haig planned the campaign on attritional lines when Edmonds’ fifth volume on the Western Front, dealing with operations of 1916, appeared in 1932. This is certainly correct but it should be pointed out that Bean’s third volume, which also rejected the attritional argument, was published three years earlier.
  42. Bean, Diary 47, 17 June 1916. White, who knew Haig briefly, was struck by his great determination but lamented his inability to select able subordinates. (See also Bean, Diary 48, 8 July 1916; Diary 84, 5 August 1917.)
  43. K.S. Inglis, C.E.W. Bean, Australian Historian, Macrossan Lecture (University of Queensland Press, 1970), pp.9-13.
  44. Bean, Diary 17, 26 September 1915.
  45. Bean, Diary 60, 3 October 1916.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Birdwood to Munro-Ferguson, 17 April 1917, Box 215, Birdwood Collection, AWM.
    Honours held no attraction for Bean who refused a knighthood on more than one occasion. It was largely through the efforts of Sir John Monash that his volumes were accepted by Melbourne University for the degree of Doctor of Literature in 1930. In that year too, the Royal United Services Institution awarded him its Chesney Medal for Volumes I, II and III. A.W. Bazley, "Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean" in Australian Army Journal, No.235, December 1968, pp.50-54.
  49. Bean to Gellibrand, 5 September 1930, Box 190, Gellibrand Collection, AWM.
  50. C.E.W. Bean, "The War History. Why it is a Long Job", Box of MSS (Class. 106.1), Bean Collection, AWM.
  51. 1914-18 Operations Files, (AWM R1570). Introductory notes dated 3 May 1974, AWM.
  52. Bean, "War History", pp.1-2.
  53. Liddell Hart in Daily Telegraph, London, 23 July 1929.
  54. White to Gellibrand, 5 July 1929, Box 190, Gellibrand Collection, AWM.
  55. Edmonds to Bean, 26 June 1929, OH Correspondence.
  56. Bean to Gellibrand, 19 May 1929, Box 190, Gellibrand Collection, AWM. In 1943, Bean heard reports that the Australian Staff Corps generally disapproved of the History as a whole "in view of the fact that I haven’t had a good military grounding…Really, so far as I know, a good deal more attention has been paid to it at the War Office in London than at the Army Department in Melbourne". Bean to Gellibrand, 4 July 1943, Box 190, Gellibrand Collection, AWM.