The Gunners of August 1914 (ePub)
The Great War will always be synonymous with trench warfare and the mass slaughter inflicted by machine guns on the helpless but gallant infantry. There is a good reason for this view as the machine guns took a terrible toll, and the infantry's experiences continue to fascinate and appal people today. But one aspect of the fighting that gets insufficient attention is the artillery. Histories of the major battles often reduce the role of the big guns to a few paragraphs, and this has created a seriously distorted impression of the reality of the fighting. A better balance needs to be struck, and that is the intention of John Hutton's new book on the gunners of 1914.
He tells the story of the war as the gunners themselves saw it, focusing on the first few months of warfare which were fundamental to the conduct of the campaign. The gunners may not have always shared the trench experiences of the infantry in the front line, but they were in the thick of the action, and success or failure depended on them. The personal testimonies of those who served with and supported the guns provide a vital insight into the colossal tragedy and drama of the war from the artilleryman's point of view.
The Great War will probably always be associated with trench warfare, the mass slaughter inflicted by machine guns and the gallant infantry. The author of this new book however, feels that the role of artillery in the conflict receives insufficient attention and sets out to correct this perceived imbalance. Driven by the enormous capacity of industry and science, the armies of the belligerent states developed ever more powerful guns of increasing calibre, sophistication and range. It was these weapons, the author argues, that inflicted more damage and casualties than any others. Ultimately it was the British guns that swept the Allies to victory in 1918, exerting total dominance over the battlefield. Mr Hutton tells the story of the conflict as the gunners themselves saw it, focusing on the first few months of warfare which were arguably fundamental to the conduct of the campaign. The gunners might not perhaps have always shared the trench experiences of the infantry in the front line, but they were certainly in the thick of the action; success or failure frequently depended on them. The personal testimonies of those who served with, and supported, the guns provide an interesting insight into the drama of the war from the artilleryman’s point of view. Five maps, 18 monochrome photographs, a list of archive material in the Royal Artillery Museum and an index round off the text.Stuart Asquith, Author
The book's greatest strength is the immediacy of the personal accounts, from all ranks, many of which are previously unused.Society of the Friends of the National Army Museum
The accounts are well-chosen and carefully connected to the actions they depict.
A very informative work that will help enthusiast and new-comer alike to gain a better understanding of how artillery shaped the battles on the Western Front.Firetrench
A really interesting read and a useful insight into this opening year of the war, for artillerymen and their horses, before it settled down into the death trap that was trench warfare.Military Modelling
John Hutton has written a readable account of the Royal Artillery in 1914.Paul Nixon, Amazon Reviewer