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Somme Intelligence (Hardback)

Fourth Army HQ 1916

WWI Somme 1916 PALS Great War POWs

By William Langford
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781781590829
Published: 5th August 2013

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For the Somme offensive British Fourth Army headquarters was situated in a chateau at Querrieu on the Albert-Amiens road. In the build up months to Haig's Great Push a steady flow of intelligence was being compiled; captured German documents, intercepted messages, prisoners' letters, diaries and information gleaned from prisoner interviews were entered into foolscap-size ledgers where they could be perused by the planners.

The hand-written journal of intelligence reports upon a former soldier of the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, (Accrington Pals), Harry Platt of Burnley. In 1916 he was a sergeant working on intelligence duties at Fourth Army GHQ. He was later commissioned in the Royal Engineers. Harry also served in the Second World War in the Royal Artillery reaching the rank of Major. He was Mentioned in Despatches in both conflicts. Harry died in August 1951 aged 56.

In 2002 the handwritten journal was lodged with the Imperial War Museum at the instigation of historian William Turner, military historian and author of books on the Accrington Pals.

As the reader goes through these reports it would be helpful to keep in mind that members of the British staff at Querrieu chateau, including Generals Haig and Rawlinson, would have had their impressions coloured by the words you are reading and doubtless their optimism for a successful outcome to the Somme offensive greatly enhanced. They would have noted the effect the British bombardment was having; dominance of the Royal Flying Corps as its machines seemingly operated unmolested over the trenches; growing unrest in German cities as food shortages drove the populace to riot; and the relentless call-up to the colours of ever-younger youths as that nation's manhood bled in the great battles taking place.

This summer we have been inundated with a bewildering array of new (and not so new) Somme titles, few of them offer any new insight or fresh information. This book however does offer the Somme Guide the opportunity to get inside the thinking of Haig and his staff. Packed with examples of the intelligence gained from POWs, captured letters, diaries and documents it provides an array of useful snapshots of German morale and the British analysis of the intelligence gained.

International Guild of Battlefield Guides Summer 2016

This summer we have been inundated with a bewildering array of new (and not so new) Somme titles, few of them offer any new insight or fresh information. This book however does offer the Somme Guide the opportunity to get inside the thinking of Haig and his staff. Packed with examples of the intelligence gained from POWs, captured letters, diaries and documents it provides an array of useful snapshots of German morale and the British analysis of the intelligence gained.

Despatches, Summer 2016 - Mike Peters

This book reproduces the hand-written journal of Harry Platt, a soldier working in the Intelligence staff at the Fourth Army HQ during the Battle of the Somme. In his journal Platt recorded many of the German documents that were available...These sources provided an insight into the morale of the German army on the Somme and the German home front.

History of War

A compilation of intelligence from captured German documents, intercepted messages, prisoners' letters, diaries and information which persuaded the British high command otherwise... It gives a fascinating insight into what information on the state of the German Army and the German nation the British intelligence services received... it allows the reader to understand why the British high command retained the belief that one more push would bring about a German collapse during the battle... The scores of photographs and postcards, some of which are quite rarer, which illustrate the book also make it an easy page-turner.

Literature Weekender

The German view of the First World War is, with a few notable exceptions, still largely unexplored in British publications. ‘Intelligence’ is a title that redresses the balance slightly, but from a fairly unique perspective. The basis of ‘Somme Intelligence’ is transcriptions of reports of a former soldier of the ‘Accrington Pals’, who worked on intelligence duties for Fourth Army HQ. Despite the title it covers the period leading up to the Somme offensive, as well as its duration. This is a niche book but one that adds to our understanding of the Somme and the key decisions that were made. Whilst an accompanying narrative would have provided a fuller context, this is nevertheless a fascinating insight into life on the ‘other side of the wire.

ww1geek.wordpress.com

Gives a fascinating insight into what information on the state of the German Army and the German nation the British intelligence services received. The scores of photographs and postcards, some of which are quite rare, which illustrate the book make it an easy page turner. Somme Intelligence provides an unprecedented insight and would be a valuable edition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in the battle.

Burton Mail & Nuneaton News

The material is based on notebooks compiled by an Accrington Pal who served on the Fourth Army Intelligence Staff and despite the book’s title it in fact covers a period from October 1915 to October 1916. The material is largely unedited and there is a brief introduction from the author about intelligence work in the Great War. The book is heavily illustrated with images from German sources, many of which come from wartime publications like An Der Sommebut they are relevant and well placed within the text. The documents give a good idea of what sort of intelligence information on the Germany Army was filtering back to headquarters. Documents like these are not unique – there are many thousands of them in the National Archives – and the selection of them here might appear random but it is likely they were what the original wartime compiler was able to keep. Not a book for everyone, but for those with a detailed interest in the Battle of the Somme this is a useful addition to the library.

www.sommecourt.wordpress.com

About William Langford

William Langford has been employed in printing and publishing for fifty years. His works for Pen & Sword include: The Great War Illustrated 1914; Great Push – The Battle of the Somme 1916; Somme Intelligence and They Were There! 1914.

Perfect Partner

Accrington's Pals: The Full Story The 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment (Accrington Pals) and the 158th (Accrington and Burnley) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (Howitzers) (Hardback)

Andrew Jackson's new history tells the story of the Great War as it was experienced by the men of the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment (Accrington Pals), the 158th (Accrington and Burnley) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (Howitzers) and their families. Using information gathered from years of painstaking research in national and local archives and in private collections, he reconstructs, in vivid detail, the role played by these men on the Western Front. His book, which draws extensively on diaries, memoirs and letters, follows both infantry and artillerymen into the bloodiest battles of…

By Andrew Jackson

Click here to buy both titles for £44.99
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