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High Wood (Paperback)

WWI Somme Battlefield Guidebooks Military

By Michael Harrison
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 170
ISBN: 9781473834095
Published: 22nd January 2018



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Bois de Fourcaux is now a luxuriant woodland that covers seventy-five acres, set in the central area of the British battlefields of the Somme. It dominates the surrounding landscape today, as it did in the summer of 1916. Known to the British Army as High Wood, the Germans appreciated its value as a natural field fortification that would have to be captured if the British were to find a way forward in their attempts to breach the trench systems of the German Army and break out into ‘the green fields beyond’.

This insightful publication will take the battlefield visitor, as well as those who are unable to visit the site, on a journey through the weeks of the fighting for High Wood and its immediate environs. It covers the most significant events in the BEF’s struggle to eject the Germans, a struggle that went on for just over two months, by the end of which the verdant wood of June 1916 had been reduced to a shattered remnant, the ground an utter mess of interlinking shell holes and trenches.

This is a story of the largely inexperienced British Army of 1916 and the fumbling progress it made in learning the skills to fight an industrial war of the twentieth century. Lessons were learned in the furnace of the Somme that would transform the fighting ability of the British: High Wood was at the epicentre of that learning process.

The book contains detailed maps from of the High Wood battles, many of which are extracts from trench maps. An explanation is provided on the use of the numbered grid system, which enables the visitor to locate, at best with an accuracy of to five yards, the site of an action that took place over a century ago.

An interesting, atmospheric and useful book, suitable for both laypersons and those wishing to add to their knowledge of the battle.

Battlefields Trust

Original maps, eye-witness accounts and a highly-informative and well-researched text, make this an essential title to accompany any visit to the area. It answers questions and gives directions, which is all that anybody could want from such a work. Even as a general read, this is absorbing stuff.

Gun Mart, June 2018 – reviewed by John Norris

Article: 'Local author has new book published' as featured in

NG14 magazine, March/April 2018

Overall, this book will provide a valuable addition to any WW1 Library on the Battle, and an effective guide book.

Jon Sandison, Freelance

About Michael Harrison

Michael made his journey to the Somme in 1977, with a ‘pioneer’ battlefield visitor who had begun his wanderings in 1960. From that point, High Wood exerted a magnetism that refused to be ignored. Michael has produced two memorial books; Lander’s War (a memoir) and contributed to the publication of Matron at War, as well as two local history books for Knowle, Solihull, The Price a Parish Paid and The Further Price a Parish Paid. He now lives in Nottinghamshire and gained an MA in British World War One Studies in 2013.

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