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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 1 - Raising the white flag

Summary

No sooner had the barrage lifted from the Australian trenches on the night of 5 May 1916 than two German raiding parties entered the shattered remnants of the Bridoux Salient and began searching through the smoke and debris for underground mining galleries. They picked their way through the tangle of sandbags and smashed timber, lobbing grenades into makeshift shelters where the surviving Australian garrison sought refuge. Three grenades were lobbed into a dugout and exploded, after which five stunned and terrified figures emerged with hands raised above their heads. After eight minutes, three sharp whistle blasts signalled the raiders to return across No Man’s Land. With them went two 3-inch Stokes mortars and eleven men of the 20th Battalion, who had the misfortune of being the first Australian soldiers taken prisoner by German forces on the Western Front.