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Stemming the Tide. Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914 (Wolverhampton Military) [Hardcover]

Spencer Jones
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 29.95
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Book Description

28 Nov 2013 Wolverhampton Military (Book 1)
The British Expeditionary Force of 1914 was described by the official historian as "incomparably the best trained, best organised, and best equipped British Army that ever went forth to war." The BEF proved its fighting qualities in the fierce battles of 1914 and its reputation has endured. However, the same cannot be said for many of its commanders, who have frequently been portrayed as old fashioned, incompetent, and out of touch with events on the battlefield. Yet the officers who led the BEF to war were every bit as professional and hard-bitten as the soldiers they commanded. These officers had learned their craft in the unforgiving school of colonial warfare and honed their understanding of conflict in the period of reform that reshaped the army between 1902 and 1914. As this book reveals, when faced with the realities of modern combat, the officers of the BEF were prepared for the challenge. This collection offers a broad picture of command at all levels of the BEF through a series of biographical essays on key officers. Drawing upon much original research, each chapter explores the pre-war background and experience of the officer and assesses his performance in combat in the opening months of the First World War. The book features insightful reappraisals of famous figures including John French and Douglas Haig, fresh studies of staff officers such as William Robertson and Henry Wilson, and a thorough discussion of officers at the sharp end, with chapters covering divisional, brigade, battalion and company commanders. The essays reveal an officer class that, despite certain weaknesses, provided highly effective leadership during the chaotic fighting of August to November 1914. Without their influence it is unlikely that the BEF would have been able to survive the difficulties of the Great Retreat, much less halt the German invasions of France and Belgium. This book will be of great interest to anyone who studies the First World War, and of particular value to those who seek a greater understanding of the British Army of the era. 15 b/w photos, 8pp colour maps. Runner-up for the Templer Medal 2013. Nominated for the NYMAS Arthur Goodzeit Book Award 2013. Nominated for the SAHR Templer Medal 2013.

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Stemming the Tide. Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914 (Wolverhampton Military) + From Boer War to World War: Tactical Reform of the British Army, 1902-1914 (Campaigns and Commanders) + Challenge of Battle: The Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (General Military)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Helion and Company (28 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909384453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909384453
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Spencer Jones is Senior Lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. In addition, he currently serves as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. He holds wide ranging interests in history, with a particular focus on the battle tactics of the Anglo-Boer War and the First World War.

Product Description


This volume is highly recommended on several levels essential if your interest is the British Army in World War One; very desirable even for those with a more general interest. --Newsletter of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

Spencer Jones has edited a wonderful series of essays detailing the leadersof 1914 and the decision making process that held the fate of a relatively small British field army that continues to enjoy mythical status today. His contributors have given me as much food for thought as they have factual knowledge. --War History Online

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 26 Dec 2013
Having received this book from Santa I have so far only read about a third of it, but I have no hesitation is suggesting it should find a place on the shelves of anyone interested in the Great War, in 1914 particularly, and in the development of the British Officer Corps in the period leading up to 1914. In conjunction with other recent works, the authors of this collection of essays have gone a long way to correcting the Lions and Donkeys school so readily trotted out by the school that holds the German Army as a sine qua non.

The essay on Bulfin (GOC 2nd Brigade) is a model of succinct description and well-researched study; that on Allenby (Cavalry Division) is a useful counter-point to those who claim the British Cavalry "failed". The chapter dealing with the Company Commanders in the BEF is also a first-rate study of a class of men dedicated (in the whole) to professional development and creation of what we would now call, sadly, "best practice"

If I had a quibble it would be a minor one: I would have liked to see more coverage of the cavalry arm - tactical development (particularly the "Mounted Infantry" debate and the use of the arme blanche) and the strides in musketry and horsemastership made in the immediate pre-war years - which is perhaps a little neglected here. However, much of this is covered in other recent works, so I suspect I'm being picky.

All that I have read so far leads me to say, without hesitation, that this book is a must-have for all those with the interests outlined at the beginning of this review. Helios are to be congratulated for producing such a work at a very reasonable and affordable price.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable addition to works on 1914 25 Mar 2014
This is valuable work for those who want to gain a better understanding of the BEF in 1914. This book did not just inform me but also left me with lots of ideas about areas which I would like to carry out further research on. All the contributions were excellent but the ones which stood out for me was the one by Simon Robbins along with the piece on FitzClarence. The latter piece gave me a far better understanding of 1st Ypres than I've had in the past. The pieces at the end on the Company Commanders and Despatch Riders were gems. Finally, it was a joy to get a book with decent maps!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great content, if a little disjointed 23 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a series of essays written by academics on different leaders of 1914. Each one on its own makes interesting, well researched and well presented topics, they feel slightly disjointed to me- each authors style is slightly different and one or two a bit "dry" and academic in style. That said the information is spot on and pretty readable. What is good is that you can choose a personality, dip in, read the chapter then put it down again in an hour or so. Good quality binding too.
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