The Swans of YpresJuly 30, 2020
The Fourth Australian Division in the Great War
by Jeff Hatwell
After the success of Jeff Hatwell's previous military history book, No Ordinary Determination, he has completed another carefully-researched title, written in his characteristic clear and readable style.
Brave Days; The Fourth Australian Division in the Great War is the first full history of the Fourth Division. The book presents a detailed narrative telling the Division's story from its formation after Gallipoli right through to a period rarely covered in Australian military history - the final weeks of the 1914-18 war and the first weeks of peace.
The book ties together the history of not only the Division's infantry, but also of the artillerymen, machine gunners, engineers, medical personnel and headquarters staff, showing how the various elements worked together through adversity to achieve the triumphs of 1918. Brave Days is both an essential reference and a compelling story of heroism and tragedy on the Western Front.
By the end of the First World War, the “fighting” Fourth Division had earned its reputation as an elite combat division, having taken part in many of the Australian Imperial Force’s major battles from Pozières in 1916 through to the Outpost Line battle in September 1918. The Australian Fourth Division has, until now, been without a narrative of its history, which has been remedied by Jeff Hatwell’s book Brave Days.
Hatwell has delivered a highly researched, well-balanced and engaging narrative covering the entirety of the 4th Division’s history, from its formation in Egypt in 1916 to its disbandment after the armistice.
... While much is made of the Division’s successes ... Hatwell also deals with [its] failures ... his critique of Australian leadership after the disasters of Bullecourt and Messines is masterful ...
... a must-have addition for the shelf. For writers of military history, this book will serve as an exemplar of the art. Highly recommended.
– Michael Kelly, historian, Australian War Memorial, in Wartime, official magazine of the Australian War Memorial, Issue 104.
A model of research and analysis of sources that all historians should aspire to, resulting in a balanced, thoughtful, and well written comprehensive history of this fine division.
— Brigadier Chris Roberts, AM CSC, Australian Army (Retd), military historian and author.
This outstanding book will be of special interest to those whose ancestors fought in the 4th Brigade (13th to 16th Bns), 12th Brigade (45th to 48th Bns), 13th Brigade (49th to 52nd Bns) and associated divisional units. Jeff is to be congratulated on completing this major research and writing project.
— Graeme Hosken, editor of Digger, magazine of the Families and Friends of the First AIF Inc.
A great book ... a true labour of love ... never dry to read, but always moving. From their heaven, the Diggers of the 4th AIF Division must be happy.
— Yves Fohlen, military historian and author, France.