Walking with the ANZACS
An updated Guide to Australian Battlefields on the Western Front
Sydney, NSW: Hachette, 2023
Paperback 416pp RRP: $34.99
Reviewer: David Rees, November 2023
In this latest updated edition of Mat McLachlan’s guidebook, more information is provided on visitor travel tips, accommodation and web sites for 14 of the most important First World War battlefields of the AIF on the Western Front. The battlefields include Messines, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde Ridge, Passchendaele and Ypres in Belgium, as well as Fromelles, Pozières, Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel, Mont St Quentin, Bullecourt, Mountbrehain, and villages south of Albert and east of Bapaume in France.
Like other guidebooks such as the Guide to the Memorials on the Western Front in France and Belgium produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs & Office of Australian War Graves or the Australian Army Campaigns Series books distributed by Simon & Schuster, McLachlan’s guidebook not only describes each battle and its outcome but also identifies by name, a few of the soldiers who participated in each battle and their stories. The names include 52 men who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery. Such information provides a personal touch to the guidebook, especially for those who lost relatives in the Great War. In addition, information is given about the nearby Australian war cemeteries and numerous other Allies’ cemeteries such as British, Canadian & New Zealand as well as German First World War cemeteries and their locations. Most of the information has been obtained from unit diaries, personal records, official communications and the archives of the Australian War Museum.
The walking tour maps of the battle areas helps one to navigate each battlefield and advice is given on the time required for an effective tour of each site and how many tours one could undertake in a day (namely 3). This reviewer could only manage to complete two Australian battlefield tours per day when he visited Messines and Polygon Wood in 2007 using a local Belgian guide. However, he did include an additional quick visit during the day to Hill 60 with its memorial to the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company as well as a visit to the Menin Gate victory arch and cenotaph. So, the guidebook advice is appropriate.
This latest edition is an excellent guidebook for those wishing to visit and learn more about the Australian WW1 battlefields. It has numerous photographs and maps and a very detailed index for quick referencing.
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.