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The German Army on the Western Front 1915 [Kindle Edition]

Jack Sheldon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jack Sheldon examines the German mindset at the close of 1914 when it became apparent that a quick victory was no longer a possibility. Both sides were temporarily exhausted in static positions from the Channel to the Swiss Border. In a reversal of roles, the French launched major offensives in Champagne and Artois, while the British Army, adapting to the demands of large scale continental warfare, went on the offensive in support at Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge and Loos.

Such was the Allied pressure that the only German offensive in 1915 was at Ypres in April using gas on a large scale for the first time.

1915 was a transitional year on the Western Front with lessons being learned the hard way by both sides prior to the massive attritional battles of 1916 and 1917.

Using his skill at archival research, Sheldon describes how the 1915 experience shaped the German approach to the cataclysmic battles that lay ahead, leading to the ultimate, previously unthinkable defeat of the Kaiser’s Germany.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2507 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword (24 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DN5V5K8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #347,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph 19 July 2012
Jack Sheldon's latest edition to 'The German Army...' series is excellent. As always, the style is easy to read. The maps, which are beautifully crafted by Jack's wife, help in placing each anecdotal report or account. The translations are of the highest standard. There is a German flavour but, unlike some translators, Jack has skilfully reworked the German grammar - no easy task.

The German Army in 1915 is, arguably, Jack's best book so far. In other English literature, 1915 focuses on Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos. If the French efforts rate a mention then it is usually in relation to the reasons why these battles were fought by the BEF. Jack provides lots of details about the German perspective on these battles. Even with Neuve Chapelle, which was covered in some detail by Wynne is his book 'If Germany Attacks...', Jack provides significant extra information. This includes several accounts of the artillery involvement as well as the counter-attacks mounted by the Germans. Aubers Ridge and Festubert are interesting; Loos even more so. The dramatic impact of the gas clouds and the sudden break in, along with the stubborn defence in some areas and the rapid response to the BEF, makes for compelling reading.

Crucially, however, these BEF contributions are placed in their rightful place. Much of the Artois battles was covered in 'The German Army at Vimy Ridge' but Jack provides a useful summary. It was great to see the inclusion of the German Argonne offensive - 1915 is not thought of as a year in which the Germans mounted a sustained series of attacks. The French Champagne battles are covered in some detail. The contrast between the Winter 1914/15 battle and the Autumn 1915 resumption is very significant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The forgotten year - no longer forgotten 29 July 2012
To most English readers, 1915 is probably the 'forgotten year' of WW1 - after the drama of the initial battles, before the 'set piece' offensives of Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele and the 1918 battles.

But it was a year far from quiet on the Western Front as Jack Sheldon shows in the latest of his studies on the German Army in the Great War. As with its predecessors its crammed with vivid first-hand accounts from the ordinary ranks up to senior commanders, mixed with documents from the German archives and the author's own ever-perceptive prose.

English Great War enthusiasts will, of course, be particularly interested in the accounts of Neuve Chapelle, 2nd Ypres, Loos. By looking at these from 'the other side of the hill', we learn that Neuve Chapelle was a infernal experience for the Germans - "a Hell full of flame and fire" as one junior officer put it, while the defenders of Loos were particularly scathing in their assessment of the first major test of Kitchener's new army; the attackers "gave a somewhat diletanttish impression", said one German captain.

As for Ypres, some of the documents and accounts unearthed by the author on the use of gas are straight out of Goebbels book of propaganda tricks; on the day the Germans deployed gas at Ypres, its High Command repeatedly stressed it did not fire "shells whose sole purpose is the dispersal of poisonous gases".

The Ypres chapter's probably the most gripping - but for a WW1 buff the entire volume is a 'must' - as are the remaining books in the 'German Army...' series. After half a dozen of them I'm gradually becoming used to the rather awkward 'Ersatz Fraktur' typeface. And yet again, another huge gap in our knowledge of the Western Front has been plugged thanks to Jack Sheldon.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great War History at its best 19 July 2012
After providing us with a series of books dealing with the experiences of German soldiers on different sectors of the front, Jack Sheldon has presented a triumphant synthesis here.

The year 1915 was portentous ; as Sheldon emphasises, it did not determine the outcome of the war, but it certainly defined the way it was fought.

The Germans, too, had their " Westerners" and their " Easterners", and it's especially interesting to read, in the introduction, how Falkenhayn advocated a determined ofensive in the West, with a fragile and unprepared BEF being the preferred victim. Sheldon does not generally indulge in " might have beens", but in this case he makes a convincing suggestion that, by turning away from Falkenhayn's vision, Germany missed a momentous chance.

If you seek disciplined narrative, backed up by anecdotes, with vignettes ranging from the horrific to the humorous, then you will enjoy this. You will above all be informed. Every chapter is backed up by a superb array of notes, which enhance the authority of the writing. There is great poignance without a hint of sensationalism.

We are exremely fortunate to have the efforts of Jack Sheldon available to us in the approach to the centennial year of that monstous war. We need that scholarly, authoratitive rendition of the " view from the other side of the hill."

The Winter Battle in Champagne, Neuve Chapelle, Arras, Aubers, Festubert, the Gas Attack at Ypres, the dreadful warfare in the Argonne, the mighty autumn offensives by the French in Artois and Champagne, supported by the British at Loos...these are all dealt with in that special Sheldonian style which is truly a landmark in the historiography of the Great War.

Phil Andrade, Life Member, Western Front Association
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