Sheldon, Jack.


Barnsley, 1st ed., 2007. 432 pp., 37 photo-plates + maps & plans. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. This book fills an important gap by providing the first full account, told in the words of the participants, of the activities and operations of the Imperial German Army on the Somme, from the commencement of operations there in September 1914, through until the end of the Battle of the Somme in late 1916. By drawing on a very large number of German sources, many of them previously unpublished, the author throws a new light on a familiar story. This account, filled with graphic descriptions of life and death in the trenches, demonstrates that the dreadful losses of 1 July 1916 were a direct consequence of meticulous German planning and preparation and that, although the Battle of the Somme was frequently a close-run affair, poor Allied coordination and persistence in attacking weakly on narrow fronts played into the hands of the German commanders. As a result they could continue a successful delaying battle until the onset of winter ultimately neutralised the considerable Allied superiority in men and material.

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