Ypres 1914: Messines (Kindle)
These three Battleground Europe books on Ypres 1914 mark the centenary of the final major battle of the 1914 campaign on the Western Front. Although fought over a relatively small area and short time span, the fighting was even more than usually chaotic and the stakes were extremely high. Authors Nigel Cave and Jack Sheldon combine their respective expertise to tell the story of the men – British, French, Indian and German - who fought over the unremarkable undulating ground that was to become firmly placed in British national conscience ever afterwards.
At the end of October 1914 an increasingly desperate Falkenhayn, aware that his offensive in Flanders had stalled, decided to make one final effort to break through the Allied lines south of Ypres. Pulling together a large strike force, the so-called Army Group Fabeck, he launched a violent offensive designed to capture the Messines Ridge and to use this dominating terrain as a springboard for a further advance. Inadequately resourced, assembled in a rush, this thrust was soon in trouble. Confused fighting in the wooded areas to the south of the Menin Road slowed the advance and initial attempts to gain a foothold on the ridge failed. A supreme effort by the men of the 26th Infantry Division ultimately brought about the capture of the town of Messines and similar heroics by the Bavarian 6th Reserve Division led to the fall of Wytschaete, but it was all in vain. Yet again a valiant Allied defence had buckled, but not broken.
The text is supported by copious extracts from memoirs (including one impressively florid German author), wartime maps and photographs. These give a feel for the desperate nature of the fighting on both sides, as both armies began to run out of steam, and in the case of the BEF, experienced troops.History of War
Read the full review here
One of the excellent and informative 'Battleground' series of books. As with others in the series, this is a well written and highly illustrated guide which acts as both a history and a guide to the battlefields. An interesting small addition to this series is the use of a small graphic image denoting either a battered peaked cap (to denote the Allied perspective of the text) or a pickelhaube (to denote the German perspective).The Great War Magazine - May 2016