Ypres (and other First World War) Info

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by polar, Aug 9, 2006.

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  1. Just come back from a battlefield tour and I want to go back! This time taking my kids and mrs Polar, also visiting their great great grandfathers memorial at Arras, but I want to start researching now.

    Already have Lyn McDonalds 1914, Martin Middlebrooks 1st day on the Somme and 1 Day of the 1918 Spring Offensive (The Kaisers Battle) (plus his 46 Div book on order) & Maj & Mrs Holts Guide to Somme (plus Ypres on order).
    (also have two other 46(NM) & 49(WR) Divs books on order - will post a review if anyone wants it)

    Any recommendations for the WW1 as a whole, Ypres and to a lesser extent the German Spring Offensive (great grandfather polar died at this time).

    thanks in advance to Pteranadon and all others.

    p.s. any camp site recommendations?
  2. Martin Gilbert - First World War

    I've not had a chance to get round to it yet, but apparently it's a pretty comprehensive overview.

    There are some really good books on the Somme you've not read, but I can't find one of the books to give you the reference (house being redecorated).

    If you liked the book by Lyn McDonald she also does one on the battle of Ypres, and "hill sixty" is pretty good (can't remember author)
  3. Gary Sheffield: Forgotten Victory. Sheffield is at the cutting edge of research into the Great War, but this is a really accessible volume. In paperback.

    Gary Sheffield : Leadership in the Trenches. Really interesting book on officer-man relations, but unless you can find it in a library forget it, its only available in academic print and costs about 65 quid.

    John Terraine: Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier. written in the 1960s, but hasnt been surpassed yet as an overall view of Haigs battles. A good introduction to the operational level. In paperback.

    General Jack's Diary: Diary of reg officer who started as a reg captain and ended as a Brigadier.

    Neillands. The Great War Generals on the western Front.

  4. scaryspice

    scaryspice LE Moderator

    Polar - I also got interested because of a relative who died in the 1918 Spring offensive and whose medals I am now proud to have. This got me looking for others and I've now found out about a dozen who died during the War. Not been over there yet but it's certainly on my list of things to do soon.

    Strongly recommend Lyn Macdonald - To the Last Man, Spring 1918. I would actually recommend all her WW1 books highly.

    More general books:

    Forgotten Voices of the Great War - Max Arthur, a collection of first hand accounts taken from the tape archives of the Imperial War Museum.

    The War the Infantry Knew 1914-1919 written by Captain J.C. Dunn who was the MO of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The story of the 2nd Bn through the eyes of an officer who was with them for the whole war. Published in 1938 some of the language is obviously not modern but it's a good read.

    If you want to get a detailed picture of a particular action go for the Battleground Europe series - very clear and concise.

    Finally there's no substitute for getting the Bn war diaries. I have copies of the one for the 4th Bn Australian Imperial Force from July 1916 on a day when they were decimated by shelling at Pozieres and my grandfather's cousin was among the casualties - described by a colleague during the subsequent investigation into his "missing in action" as having been buried alive by a shell - his body was never found. The deaths of a hundred or so men is described simply in the line "heavy shelling, many casualties". Kind of makes you think doesn't it?
  5. for the early months and up to ypres, books by tim carew, farewell leicester square by caffrey, or the old contemptibles by neillands. or the best book on the first months, the mons star by ascoli
  6. I'm trying to avoid that, most of my family joined the same Territorial Regt. Looking for the one ancestor in a 'regular' Bn on the National Archive site nearly cost me a couple of hundred quid, every search returned the 'family' regt (Robin Hoods - (1/7 or 2/7) 7th Bn Notts & Derbys).

    Ironic in a way, as I've just rejoined the 'family regt'
  7. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    General Jack's Diary - outstanding read.

    Laffin, Clark, Winter - pointless know nothings (IMHO)
  8. Before Endeavours Fade by Rose E B Combes has recently been revised and updated and I would say one of the best Battlefield Tour Books covering the Western Front. ISBN 1 870067 63 0 £24:95 240 pages and 840 illustrations. Route maps etc.
  9. Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson's book on the Somme is useful, although not as good as Gary Sheffield's.

    If you want a German perspective on the Somme, we now have two books:

    Christopher Duffy - Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916 (Weidenfield & Nicholson),

    Jack Sheldon - The German Army on the Somme (Pen & Sword)

    Not read the first one properly yet, but looks decent. Sheldon has done a formidable amount of research in German sources, but the operational and strategic aspects of the Battle are rather overlooked (bar a three page assessment at the end which is a little questionable in places).

    More generally, Gary Sheffield and John Bourne have recently edited a new version of the Haig Diaries - this is rather better than Robert Blake's edition, and is well worth looking out.
  10. Sheffield is currently working on a Haig biography, but it isn't out for another year. I havent read the Prior and Wilson Somme, I'll wait for the paperback then. Prior and Wilson's review of Dennis Winter's 'Haig's Command' is one of the best pieces I have read on the literature of the war. It was in the Australian War Memorial magazine, but will prob be online somewhere.
  11. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lhcma/info/lec97.shtml

    Brian Bond's take on the historiography of the Great War. As he has read probably every book printed on the subject (and written a fair few) his opinions are worth taking on. Its a few years old so misses out the more recent publications, but all of the authors mentioned will be covered.
  12. I assume that you've read Jeff Gray's letter regarding Haig's Command (it was in the TLS in 91) too?
  13. Thats a good list so far.

    I think Laffin is worth a read for some of the anecdotes he collects.

    I liked Prior and Wilsopn's Somme because they spent the time to cover the plethora of costly minor operations between the big set piece attacks.


    Malcolm Brown's books based on the National Army Musuem Archives and Maz Arthurs "Forgotten Voices of the Greta War"

    Richard Van Emden "last Veterans of the Greta War" and "Boiy Soldiers of the Great War"

    If you want some balance to the "standard modern revisionist line try....

    John Keegan's "First World War"

    Niall Ferguson's "Pity of War"

    Corelli Barnet's "The Sword Bearers" a study of command during the Great War. It looks at the Great war from the perspectives of Moltke, Jellicoe, Petain and Ludendorff.

    From a German Perspective:

    Achtung Panzer: Heinz Guderian is an analysis of the Great War with his reasoning about the lessons learned from Brtiish use of tanks. Well worth a read. He draws different conclusions from even the Brtitish revisionists

    Advance from Mons: The ERxperiences of a German Infantyr Officer Walter Bloem

    Storm of Steel Ernst Junger

    With the German Guns Herman (?) Sulzbach

    The Infantry Attacks - Erwin Rommel (Or how I won the Blue Max).
  14. Sulzbach's first name was Herbert. IIRC, he ended up in British uniform for the second round, having emigrated pre-war...
  15. One of the very few advantages of being in Leeds is that the university has a World-class WW1 archive. Can't remember the name of the specialist there, but enquire at the library and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    Maj & Mrs Holt's guides are excellent, as are the "Then & Now" series if you're visiting the battlefields. They give you a good chance to spot features on the ground that are shown in period photos.

    You might also want to have a look at the guide in the Battlefront series that deals with 3rd Ypres, Amazon link, and I'm fairly sure they do one for the Somme as well.

    These publications are filled with facsimile documents from the time such as trench maps, aerial photos, attestation forms etc that help bring the battles to life. The attestation form hasn't changed much :D

    If you go to the 49 Div memorial at Ypres, take a look in the cemetery (Essex Farm I think) for the youngest recorded casualty on the British side, and the preserved bunker used as a field hospital by John McCrea, the doctor who wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields".

    Hope your tour goes well.