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Matthews and Wilson have produced an excellent record of the 19th Battalion’s achievements on the Western Front. The battalion was raised in Liverpool, NSW, in March 1915 as a result of the decision to raise a new division – the 2nd Division. The 19th Battalion under command of Lt-Col William Mackenzie, was thus part of the 5th Infantry Brigade which sailed from Australia in June and landed on Gallipoli on 21 August and served in the trenches on Hill 60 and at Pope’s Hill. The battalion suffered only light casualties – only 69 killed and 185 wounded. After a few months in Egypt and having received reinforcements, it proceeded to France.
The authors then trace the battalion’s various actions and battles in France and in Belgium including such well known places as Pozieres, Gueudecourt, Bullecourt, Broodseinde, Hangard Wood, Peronne, Mt St Quentin and the advance to the Hindenburg Line. What is particularly impressive is their use of detailed explanatory maps for the different actions, which clearly track the movements of the units and sub-units during particular actions. What is even more impressive is the CD which accompanies the book. The CD includes many maps all in vivid colour and easy to understand; a chronological diary of the life of the battalion; nominal and honour rolls, medal citations and recommendations, and detailed casualty lists.
As would be expected in a unit history the authors have included many personal accounts from diaries and letters and have also included many photographs of members of the 4,800 men who served in the unit. There is also an 8 page coloured insert of medals awarded to men such as Percy Storkey, VC, and Lt-Col Mackenzie. All in all a magnificent unit history, with an accompanying CD that makes it excellent value.
The authors are to be congratulated for producing a fine unit history of a magnificent NSW AIF battalion.
By Ron Austin, publisher of Australian Military History books:
Slouch Hat Publications: http://www.slouch-hat.com.au/