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.
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
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.
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.
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.
As featured in.Bulletin, Western Front Assc
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