Crossing The Wire: The Untold Stories of POWs in Battle and Captivity During WWI

David Coombes

Date Published :
March 2016
Publisher :
Big Sky Publishing
Illustration :
b/w photos throughout
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9780987057419
Pages : 416
Dimensions : 7 X 4.5 inches
In stock


'Truly we are objects of interest to the Jerries we meet on the road, and especially in the villages. Taunts are hurled at us; epithets are numerous, and souvenir hunters molest us, but so far not violently. After passing through the village of Villers, we come across some British prisoners who are clearing the road, and they present a sorry spectacle, unshaven and dirty looking... Some offered some appeal for food, but we have none to give. In fact we are ourselves hungry... Their predicament does not create in us a very favorable impression, although I like others, do not realize the seriousness of what is in store for us. The future is a blank, as no-one knows what it holds.' So wrote an Australian prisoner-of-war, Corporal Lancelot Davies, only recently taken prisoner at the first battle of Bullecourt, on 11 April 1917. For him - like another 1,200 Australians captured at Bullecourt - the future was indeed 'blank' and unpredictable. The experiences of Australian prisoners of war (POWs) or Kriegsgefangeners held captive in Germany has been largely forgotten or ignored- overshadowed by the terrible stories of Australians imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. Yet, as David Coombes makes known, the stories are interesting and significant - not only providing an account of what those young Australian soldiers experienced, and the spirit they showed in responding to captivity - but also for the insight it provides into Germany in the last eighteen months of the war. Drawing on previous inaccessible records, Coombes focuses on one Australian brigade, the 4th Infantry, from its formation in 1914, through Gallipoli to its baptism of fire on the Western Front, culminating in the first battle of Bullecourt - which, in turn, leads to the prisoner of war experience.

About The Author

David Coombes is an Honorary Research Associate in the School of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania. A graduate of the Flinders University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide, he received his PhD from the University of Sydney.He is the author of Morshead: Hero of Tobruk and El Alamein (2001) and The Lionheart: Lieutenant-General Sir Talbot Hobbs an Australian Commander in World War One (2007). Dr Coombes has been researching and writing Crossing the Wire for some six years.He lives in Hobart, where he is presently carrying out research into Australia’s role in the two battles of Bullecourt -- an interest that was stimulated by this current book

More from this publisher