Turning the tide
"Great secrecy had been preserved as the idea was to make the attack a complete surprise to the enemy … The preliminary bombardment was a success and on the second at 3.10 down came our barrage. It was a most thrilling and awe inspiring sight to see along [a] continuous line one sheet of flame and as the time proceeded completely developed into a pandemonium terrible."
In the summer of 1918, the allies launched their own devastating offensives against the Germans. At Le Hamel, on 4 July, the Australian Corps commander Sir John Monash orchestrated a decisive blow against the Germans in order to straighten the line south of Villers-Bretonneux. A French victory south of the River Marne showed that the tide of war was turning in the allies’ favour.
Then on 8 August a combined British, Canadian, and Australian assault succeeded in breaking through the German positions around Amiens. The Germans were pushed back to the Hindenburg Line – their last line of resistance on the Western Front. In his postwar memoirs, General Erich Ludendorff described 8 August as “the black day of the German army in the history of this war”. With an entire sector of the German front destroyed and losses as high as 30,000, it was a truly crushing defeat and led to a sharp collapse of morale.
"We attacked at 3.10 this morning and captured Hamel."
One of Monash’s Hamel maps with a handwritten note that reads, “Flares hard to get…Some tanks are at their objective…Could see our troops digging in in front of Accroche Wood.” The village of Le Hamel is just south of Notamel Wood. Immediately south of Pear Trench are Vaire Wood and Vaire Trench. From there, Hun’s Walk leads east to Accroche Wood.
"During the present series of operations the captures made by the Australian Corps exceed everything in the previous records of war. Our total prisoners closely approaches 10,000 and among them are represented more than seventy five different units of the German Army."
Shoulder straps were collected from German prisoners to identify the enemy units the Australians were encountering. Monash had these examples mounted on boards to be sent home.