Crumps and camouflets


Australian tunnelling companies on the Western Front. 

Below the shattered ground that separated the British and German infantry on the Western Front in the First World War, an unseen and largely unknown war was raging, fought by miners, ‘tunnellers’ as they were known. They knew that, at any moment, their lives could be extinguished without warning by hundreds of tonnes of collapsed earth and debris. These men were engaged in a desperate duel with their German opponents to destroy their opposing front lines by blowing mines, carefully placed in dark, treacherous tunnels under no man’s land. At the same time, the tunnellers worked to defend their own front lines from the German miners, intent on the same deadly task. It was a war within a war. Over 4,500 Australians served on the Western Front in three Australian tunnelling companies and their unique support unit, the Alphabet Company. Around 330 men did not return. These companies took part in the battles of Fromelles, Arras, Messines, Passchendaele, Cambrai, the defence of Amiens, Lys, and the famous last 100 days. Crumps and Camouflets, is the first complete history of Australia’s role in the tunnelling war of 1914-1918, of the men and units in which they served, and of life in the tomb-like tunnels of the war underground. 

Hard cover, Roll of Honour and listing of award citations, maps and illustrations, 480 pages. 

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