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British Expeditionary Force - Somme Offensive (Hardback)

March 1918

WWI British History Somme 1918

By Andrew Rawson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 243
ISBN: 9781526723321
Published: 7th March 2018

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This is an account of the British Expeditionary Force’s defensive battle on the Somme in March and April of 1918. It starts with the huge German offensive along a 60 mile front on 21 March. Third and Fifth Armies then had to make a series of fighting withdrawals in which some battalions had to fight their way out while others were overrun.

Over the days that followed, men were called upon to fight all day against overwhelming numbers and then march all night to escape. After three years in the trenches, men had to battle in the open without tanks and often without artillery support. As communications failed, battalion and company commanders found themselves having to command in what was essentially a desperate infantry struggle.

Each stage of the two week battle is given the same treatment, covering details about the most talked about side of the campaign, the British side. It explains how the British soldier time and again stood and fought. Over fifty new maps chart the day by day progress of each corps on each day.

Together the narrative and the maps explain the British Army’s experience during a fraught battle for survival. The men who made a difference are mentioned; those who led the advances, those who stopped the counter-attacks and those who were awarded the Victoria Cross. Discover the Somme 1918 campaign and learn how the British Army’s brave soldiers fought and died trying to stop the onslaught.

Each element of the battle is given further individual detail with concise, yet suitably detailed analysis., thus enabling the reader to get to grips with the chronological progression of of the battle.  One such section mentions the situation as faced by the 9th (Scottish) Division at Gauche Wood and Chapel Hill, stating how a position was held at Gauche Wood fro over front hours in the mist before they were overpowered.  

While the book descriptively gives a narrative on the progression of battle, the reader also gains a good feel of the confusion, panic and fighting retreat which so many elements of the British Army faced in the army days of the German Offensive.  

There are over fifty maps which descriptively plot the progress of corps each day. Like all of his books, Rawson use maps consistently and to enable the reader to understand the progression of battle. Again, like all of Rawson's books, this will make a fantastic accompanying text if you are visiting the battlefields.

Jon Sandison - Freelance

The 1916 Battle of the Somme is a well-known chapter of the First World War, but less well known is the offensive of the same name from 1918. This work sets out to correct that imbalance and present the reader with an insightful work covering the German spring offensives, including Operation Michael and the others including Georgette and Mars.

Gun Mart – reviewed by John Norris

Excellent work. 9/10

The Great War magazine, July 2018

My grandfather died in August 1916 at the Battle of the Somme - it is unthinkable that this area wasstill being fought over two years later, but Andrew Rawson's book confirms it in spectacular style, with fine detail and a very readable account of the bravery and sacrifice made by the BEF in the dying months of the war. I don't have to hand the details of which battle/campaign was worst in terms of casualties, but I do know that not only for me, the Somme remains the iconic tragedy of the conflict, and Andrew's book is a worthy commemoration of the men who fought and lost their lives.

Books Monthly

As featured 'ON THE BOOK SHELF'

Wargames Illustrated, February 2018
 Andrew Rawson

About Andrew Rawson

Andrew Rawson is a freelance writer who has written over twenty-five military history books. He has written eight books for Pen & Sword’s ‘Battleground Europe’ series and three reference books for The History Press ‘Handbook’ series. He has edited Eyes Only: The Top Secret Correspondence between Marshall and Eisenhower and Organizing Victory: The War Conferences 1941–1945. He has also written a campaign volume of the British Army’s battles in 1914, 1915 and 1916. He has a master’s degree with Birmingham University’s history department. Andrew lives in Mallorca, Spain.

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