Fighting the Somme (Hardback)
German Challenges, Dilemmas and Solutions
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This book will provide an entirely fresh way of looking at the Battle of the Somme 1916. It will not be a rehashed narrative history of the battle. Instead, drawing heavily on examples that can be illustrated through exploitation of the primary sources still available in abundance in the archives at Stuttgart and Munich and anecdotal accounts, it will explain how and why the German defence was designed and conducted as it was. There will be descriptions of the reasons for the dominance of the Great General Staff, the tensions between commanders and staff, the disagreements between the commanders of First and Second Army and the replacement of General von Falkenhayn with the duumvirate of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
Specific case studies will include the loss and recapture of Schwaben Redoubt on 1 July, the British assault on the Second Position of 14 July, the tank attack at Flers 15 September and the autumn battles for Sailly Saissisel and St Pierre Vaast Wood.
This will ensure that there is plenty to interest the general reader as well as showing how the various levels of command from regiment to army group operated and responded to emergencies and crises. Space will be devoted to changes in command philosophy, the introduction of new weapons and equipment and the evolution of tactics to counter the massive Allied superiority in manpower and materiel.
An authoritative work. 10/10The Great War magazine, July 2017 - reviewed by Mark Marsay
There is much to interest the general reader as well as providing a more detailed analysis of how the various command level operated.Amourer Incorporating Classic Arms and Militaria, July 2017
AS featured on...The Long, Long Trail
This is an extremely important book on the Battle of the Somme and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the battle as a whole rather than just the British side of it. Jack Sheldon’s fascinating study of the challenges and dilemmas faced by German commanders, and the solutions they devised, casts a new light on the battle by going behind the events to consider the personalities involved, the stresses and strains they coped with, the additional difficulties caused by the ongoing Battle of Verdun and the profound differences of opinion between senior commanders. The primary sources used, many of which are unpublished, paint a picture of a steep learning curve for men at all levels faced with almost intolerable demands on their mental and physical resilience. Finding solutions to the problems of tactics, manpower and material resources while resisting the enemy and planning for the future must have been almost overwhelming and the fact that they did so at all is extraordinary. The author’s own military experience and his knowledge of German allow him to open a window on aspects of the Somme previously unknown to the general reader and for this he is to be congratulated. It is a first class read and an indispensable addition to the bookshelf for anyone interested in the Western Front.Christina Holstein, Author and Historian
Through careful research, primary sources and archive records, as it enables the reader to gain a wider understanding of the German defence during the Battle and therefore provides a fresh slant on the Battle.Jon Sandison, Freelance
This book packs a terrific punch. It succeeds in challenging – indeed, changing – widely held perceptions of the Battle of the Somme, and must be read by anyone who seeks to appreciate how this nightmare impinged on German conduct of battle in the Great War.Western Front Association
As featured in.Bulletin, Western Front Assc
After all the books about the Battle of the Somme published for the centenary, there was a gap in the market: the story told from the viewpoint of the German commanders. Jack Sheldon, Britain's unchallenged expert on the German files, has filled it admirably with this book, which is a fascinating read for all those who wondered what was going on on the other side of the wire.Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, author of Somme - Into the Breach.
Sheldon is a master! Using first person experiences he weaves a spell binding tale which makes the reader understand that in war sometimes the enemy is perceived to be at your own higher or adjacent headquarters. Magnificent application of his significant military experience.Colonel Joe Robinson US Army (Rtd), military historian.
He is a prolific author who has shown his expertise on the German army in the First World War over and over again. It is easy to become a fan of his first person account style using gems that he has uncovered from the archives.
If you do not fully understand the German concept of Schwerpunkt, Jack Sheldon shows how, in this improbable defence, it was used to allocate scarce resources. Spellbinding; and not your standard British side of the story.
A fascinating examination of the extraordinary strains that the Somme campaign inflicted upon the German Army’s high command and frontline soldiers alike.’Professor John Bourne
‘Jack Sheldon’s new study of the German conduct of the Somme fighting in 1916 will make uncomfortable reading for those who think that the German Army was in cruise control. This is a story of a command riven with disputes, of frequent defensive crises that brought the German Army to breaking point at least once and left many men at all levels with a haunting sense that an ultimate German victory was no longer possible.
Yet another splendid book by Jack Sheldon. In this valuable and timely examination of the conduct of the German Army's defence on the Somme, he reveals and analyses the tensions which arose between its senior commanders, vividly describes how it responded to successive tactical crises, and once more underlines the courage and endurance of its front-line troops.Professor Peter Simkins MBE
Both Sides of the Wire is the first in a new series of battlefield guides that looks at the fighting on the Western Front, chiefly in the sectors in which the British Expeditionary Force was engaged. In these books, Nigel Cave and Jack Sheldon will look at engagements from both the allied and German perspective; at the end of each chapter there will be a tour section so that readers can place themselves in the best vantage points to follow the action that is described on the ground and which is directly related to the narrative account that will form the bulk of each chapter. This book deals with…By Nigel Cave, Jack Sheldon
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