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An Anzac on the Western Front
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"The ordeal of the night was plainly visible on all faces, ghastly white showing through masks of grim and dried sweat, eyes glassy, protruding, and full of horror seen only upon men who have lived through a heavy bombardment." So wrote Harold Roy Williams of his time in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.Having enlisted in 1915 and serving in the 56th Battalion Australian Imperial Force, Williams had only arrived in France, from Egypt, on 30 June 1916. He describes the horrors of the Fromelles battlefield in shocking clarity and the conditions the troops had to endure are revealed in disturbing detail.Surviving a later gas attack, Harold Williams' subsequent postings read like a tour of the Western Front. Following the Sommethere was the mud and squalor of the line south of Ypres, the German Spring Offensive of 1918, the Battle of Amiens - frequently described as the most decisive battle against the Germans in France and Flanders - the capture of Villers-Bretonneux and, finally, the assault on Peronne.Injured at Peronne and invalided back to the United Kingdom, Williams survived the war to return to Australia in 1919. An Anzacon the Western Front is his graphic description of his service in the First World War - an account that was described as "the best soldier's story ...yet read in Australia" when it was first published.
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Williams first action was at Fromelles about which he provides a detailed account. The Bulletin

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