Lieut-Gen. Monash’s well planned Australian 4th & 11th Brigade battle at Hamel passed off smoothly, exactly to timetable, and was free of hitches. It was all over in ninety-three minutes, attained all objectives and yielded great results. At the heart of the success was the excellent co-operation between the infantry, machine gunners, artillery, tanks and the Royal Air Force, plus catching the enemy completely by surprise. The operation gave the British possession of the Hamel Valley plus drove the enemy from the adjacent ridge from which the enemy could observe the Australian forces. In excess of 1,500 prisoners were taken, a similar number killed or made casualty, plus two field guns, 26 mortars and 171 machine guns at a cost of 1,400 casualties. The Americans that took part acquitted themselves well and were for ever after received by the Australians as blood brothers. Another success was the use of aeroplanes for the supply of small-arms ammunition to the forward troops, particularly the infantry. During the harassing periods between offensives the practice had been to employ both gas and smoke shells making the enemy think that the smoke would be accompanied by gas therefore donning gas masks and hence hampering his vision, but on the morning of the attack only the smoke shells were fired but it would take time for the enemy to realise and thus significantly impact his ability to resist. Hamel, the first offensive anywhere on the Western Front since Cambrai, became the blueprint for further operations carried out by the Corps, and notably for the great offensive of the 8th August. Many messages of congratulations were received following the Australian success at Hamel (photograph below left of the Hamel Memorial) but none more so than Monsieur Clemenceau, the veteran statesman of France, who arrived and addressed many of the men that had participated in the attack. “When the Australians came to France, the French people expected a great deal of you… We knew that you would fight a real fight, but we did not know that from the very beginning you would astonish the whole continent… I shall go back tomorrow and say to my countrymen, I have seen the Australians, I have looked in their faces, I know that these men will fight alongside of us again until the cause for which we are all fighting is safe for us and for our children.”
One thought on “4th Jul 1918: Monash’s Hamel victory the blueprint for the final offensive”
My grandfather, Major Harry E Cheney (131st Inf, 33rd Div AEF) was attached to Wiltshires HQ. Cheney was wounded during the artillery barrage along with an Australian Adjutant named McDonald or MacDonald who was KIA on 4 July 1918. Would you have any additional info on the Australian officer who was killed that day next to my wounded grandfather?