THE SECOND BATTLE OF VILLERS−BRETONNEUX

It’s sometimes said that Villers-Bretonneux was lost by the British 8th Division and won by the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades. James Hoare explains why this Anzac Day perennial is as much a British victory as an Australian one.

An unidentified soldier looks at the ruins of the church at Villers-Bretonneux, 1918.
STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND
Australian troops preparing to enter a sap for the night attack of April 24, 1918.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
Two men of 8th Division walk down the Amiens-Villers-Bretonneux road, near Bois l’Abbé, April 27, 1918.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND

Sitting astride the road and railway line to Amiens, where the imposing gothic towers of its 13th century cathedral could be seen ten miles to the west, Villers-Bretonneux was well behind the French front until the German Spring Offensive sent the British Fifth Army reeling. The town was now just north of the join between the French and British sectors, standing between the German army and a vital railway junction. The Australian 5th Division was sent in to bolster the line.

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