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on 29 November 2011
In this last volume of his magisterial trilogy of 1917 [Vimy Ridge and Cambrai preceeded it] Turner explains with his customary clarity the origins and execution of this famous battle. A comprehensive overview of the opposing armies, their orders of battle, commanders and plans leads to a most helpful introduction on mine warfare on the Western front, a subject many readers will be unfamiliar with. Turner then turns his attention to the planning of and preparation for the battle and gives credit to the extraordinary staff work which went into the massive logistical effort to move guns and ammunition into place without detection. Likewise, he gives Plummer and his staff credit for utilizing the air assets available to them whether ballon based observers reporting on counter-bombardment batteries or fighter aircraft preventing enemy observation flights. These men were certainly no 'donkeys'; on the contrary, they had come up to speed with the rapidly evolving technologies and in many cases were on top of them.
H hour is vividly described and the assault is easily followed through succinct descriptions of the various phases and excellent maps. In his conclusion, Turner resists the temptation to turn to hindsight and evaluates the outcome of the battle strictly within the political and military parameters of the day. If Plummer erred on the side of caution, it was because he had a limited objective which he successfully realised in the capture of the ridge. The idea that somehow the attack ended in failure since there was no exploitation of surprise and no breakthrough into the German rear is not entertained by Turner, correctly in my view.
This is an eloquent and easily understood account of Messines Ridge and I hope that a copy finds its way in the knapsack of all the school teachers who shepherd their classes through Flanders each summer.
How the mines were kept secret from the Germans until H hour remains a mystery. Surely Lady Luck had a great deal to do with it.
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on 30 May 2011
The battle of Messines is often overlooked by historians, possibly because it was such a resounding victory, excellently planned and executed and overshadowed by the more well known next stage - Passchendaele - which began a few weeks later. While the pros style of this book is easy enough to follow, the author has not really provided information that has not been covered before. In fact certain parts seem repetitious - for example this is the fourth time the Messines model at Scherpenberg has been described in print as being "the size of two tennis courts", yet there is no mention of the 40 yards by 40 yard concrete model built AFTER the battle by New Zealand troops at their camp in the U.K. More coverage on individual stories from the battle would have added depth to the book. The excellent graphics and maps help to explain a confusing battle.

Ultimately this is a more than competent introduction to the battle, and although there are more in depth books on the subject, this book is a good place to start.
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on 5 April 2016
One of the good Ospreys, focusses nicely on a single discrete battle. I guess I would have liked a bit more about the losses of the individual divisons/corps, but I am struggling to think of much that it left me wanting.
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on 17 August 2012
This was one of the best Ospreys I have read. Excellent illustrations and maps. Really learnt a lot from this before I go on a battlefield tour.
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on 19 January 2014
Disappointed with the size of this book for the money. The maps were the best bit of the book .
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on 3 April 2015
A valued piece of recorded history, A must for any WW1 history.
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on 1 February 2016
v.good
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