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The struggle for the Pozières ridge and High Wood lasted from the beginning of August until the middle of September -- six weeks of fighting as desperate as any in the history of the world until that time. The Australians dealt with Pozières itself, working round Moquet Farm, where the Germans refused to be routed from their tunnels, and up to the Windmill on the high ground of Pozières, for which there was unceasing slaughter on both sides because the Germans counter-attacked again and again, and waves of men surged up and fell around that mound of forsaken brick, which I saw as a reddish cone through flame and smoke.

Those Australians whom I had seen arrive in France had proved their quality. They had come believing that nothing could be worse than their ordeal in the Dardanelles. Now they knew that Pozières was the last word in frightfulness. The intensity of the shell-fire under which they lay shook them, if it did not kill them. Many of their wounded told me that it had broken their nerve. They would never fight again without a sense of horror.

"Our men are more highly strung than the English," said one Australian officer, and I was astonished to hear these words, because those Australians seemed to me without nerves, and as though as gristle in their fiber.

They fought stubbornly, grimly, in ground so ravaged with fire that the earth was finely powdered. They stormed the Pozières ridge yard by yard, and held its crest under sweeping barrages which tore up their trenches as soon as they were dug and buried and mangled their living flesh. In six weeks they suffered twenty thousand casualties, and Pozières now is an Australian graveyard, and the memorial that stands there is to the ghosts of that splendid youth which fell in heaps about that plateau and the slopes below. Many English boys of the Sussex, West Kents, Surrey, and Warwick regiments, in the 18th Division, died at their side, not less patient in sacrifice, not liking it better. Many Scots of the 15th and 9th Divisions, many New Zealanders, many London men of the 47th and 56th Divisions, fell, killed or wounded, to the right of them, on the way to Martinpuich, and Eaucourt l'Abbaye and Flers, from High Wood and Longueval, and Bazentin. The 3rd Division of Yorkshires and Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Scots and Gordons, were earning that name of the Iron Division, and not by any easy heroism. Every division in the British army took its turn in the blood bath of the Somme and was duly blooded, at a cost of 25 percent and sometimes 50 percent of their fighting strength. The Canadians took up the struggle at Courcelette and captured it in a fierce and bloody battle. The Australians worked up on the right of the Albert-Bapaume road to Thilloy and Ligny Thilloy. On the far left the fortress of Thièpval had fallen at last after repeated and frightful assaults, which I watched from ditches close enough to see our infantry -- Wiltshires and Worcesters of the 25th Division -- trudging through infernal fire. And then at last, after five months of superhuman effort, enormous sacrifice, mass-heroism, desperate will-power, and the tenacity of each individual human ant in this wild ant-heap, the German lines were smashed, the Australians surged into Bapaume, and the enemy, stricken by the prolonged fury of our attack, fell back in a far and wide retreat across a country which he laid waste, to the shelter of his Hindenburg line from Bullecourt to St. Quentin.


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