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The Advance from Mons 1914: The Experiences of a German Infantry Officer (Helion Library of the Great War) Hardcover – 30 Jun 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company; First Edition edition (30 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874622574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874622574
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,467,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
The three novels, based on the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, that I began in the spring of 1909, occupied the greater part of my thought and time until they were completed in the summer of 1913. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Sutherland on 12 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Walter Bloems first hand account of his involvement as an infantry officer in a reserve regiment of the German army advancing through Belgium and into France at the start of the First world war, until his incapacity through injury. Just about the only translation of a German text dealing with the actions against the british army in 1914, giving a unique perspective of the campaign.

I found this to be a most informative and interesting read, Bloems previous occupation as a writer has stood him in good stead with his prose. Certainly a must for anyone interested in this period, or with the thoughts and feeling of men under fire.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lovejoy on 3 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Walter Bloem was a middle-aged playwright and historian in Stuttgart in 1914. He was also a reservist Captain in the Grenadier Regiment Prinz Carl von Preussen and within 24 hours of WW1 being declared his regiment was marching into Belgium. This is a remarkable book, published first in 1916, translated soon after by an English Captain who had served at Mons and Le Cateau - sharing similar experiences of the same events - from the other side: German advance/Allied retreat during the first few weeks of the war up to the great debacle at the river Aisne.

This book is really an historical biographical novel, with detailed colourful dialoge, typical of its cultural time - with Bloem so subservient to his seniors, excessively paternal to his "children" - the members of his company. However the military facts, the analysis is meticulously correct (apart from the omission of the battle of Le Cateau, which the Germans lost!). That apart Bloem's recall is astonishingly good. So good in fact that numerous of his accounts and descriptions have been quoted in official British publications produced by and for the War Office. They also compare remarkably accurately with the pencilled pages of War Diaries and Operational reports maintained by regimental officers of the half dozen or so British Expeditionary Force Brigades that Bloem's regiment consistently encountered during those terrible first weeks of the war.

I now appreciate more from Bloem's account the incredible performance of our BEF (and of my great-uncle who died facing Bloem's men)... Not least Bloem reveals the detail how, for some 48 hours the wide gap between two German armies at Aisne that was defended under his command by just a "thin grey line" of the remnants of his Grenadiers and some fusiliers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL A GIBBS on 14 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Always good to examine both sides although the reader will immeadiatly be struck more by the similarities rather than the differences
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By robert carson on 10 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting account from the other side. Not particularly well written, though the problem may have had to do with the transalation. The service from Amazon was excellent
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I no longer consider this to be an "Excellent first-hand account" 31 Jan. 2005
By K Scheffler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It is now over six years since I first reviewed this book. Only recently have I decided to read this book in the original German, and as a result I have had to significantly change my assessment of this the English translation. In its own right it is a readable book, and does convey to some extent what Bloem wrote. However, a considerable amount has been left out--in some cases this is not all that bad of a thing--that, although perhaps a little tedious for the general reader, is information lost to those would regard this as a source for understanding the early stages of the war from a German perspective.

My initial review:

Walter Bloem was an aspiring novelist and officer in the reserves in the year 1914. He had reached a point in his life when he felt he could devote himself more to his passion of writing and the future looked promising--but in August 1914, that all changed with the outbreak of war. In a matter of days he went from being a gentleman and novelist to Captain and company commander in the 12th Brandenburg Grenadiers, which was part of III Corps in Kluck's Army. As an accomplished writer, what we have in The Advance from Mons is an astute and very readable account of the early weeks of the war from the perspective of a frontline officer. An excellent first-hand account--a must read for those with an interest in the Great War.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent! One of the best World War I Memoirs 4 Oct. 2011
By Readers are Leaders - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Highly recommended first hand account from the German perspective, 12th Brandenburg Grenadiers, of the 1914 advance to near Paris. Written in a "you are there" style, one follows Captain Bloem from Germany, across Belgium, and into France right up to (and just after) the first Battle of the Marne. Written right after the war. The Author was also a well known writer in Germany, having written popular histories about the Franco-Prussian War.

Would also highly recommend: "With the German Guns" by Herbert Sulzbach, yet another excellent German memoir, 1914-1918. Mr. Sulzbach was from the famous Frankfurt Banking House: "Bankhaus Gebrueder Sulzbach", one of the founders of "Deutsche Bank". With the German Guns: Four Years on the Western Front (Pen & Sword)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The real deal 25 Sept. 2009
By Robert Berkel - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reminded me very much of L. Patry's The Reality of War, which was a French captain's memoir of the Franco-Prussian War. The memories of the actual soldier in the field in the midranks of the German army on the Western Front in WWI is presented as a novel, but it is the real deal.
Walter Bloem fought on the Western Front from Mons in Northern France until the withdrawal of German troops to entrenched positions after the so-called "Battle of the Marne." In reality the German High Command realized that their supply lines were far too long to sustain an army in the field, therefore, they had their engineers dig stout entrenchments on the high ground in France to hold the captured territory. They did not have the reserves of troops, nor the ability to sustain those troops, for an attack on Paris. Thus, they withdrew and entrenched.
Bloem vividly gives a blow by blow description of the early German advance in France. This advance was one of total victory until the German army could no longer supply their troops with essentials such as food and ammunition and withdrew to prepared entrenchments.
Bloem, like Patry three decades before him, gives a vivid picture of what it is like to command a company of men (for whom you are responsible and, as comrades, love and cherish) and all the attendant surprises by the enemy, your own higher command, and even the weather.
Since this book has been published as a "novel" (Bloem had to be cautious after the war not to be arrested for libel against his superiors) I can't give it a 5-star rating because it is not truly a history, nevertheless, it is as true as you can get while keeping mum the privacy of other individuals. It is an extremely readable book with the ring of truth all around it. I highly recommend it.
An Unusual Point Of view 13 Jan. 2014
By Conchscooter - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first read this account of the German advance into France in the beginning of a World War One at a British boarding school forty years ago. A well read friend of mine saw the cover and said, as though catching me out in a lie, "But we retreated from Mons!" which of course the British and French did. The author was a German novelist in the reserves so he is a first rate story teller and he brings to life the opening moves of a war that ended up in trench misery. He seems naïve when he talks with wonder at the French resentment of a German occupation and his complete identification with his country gives insight into the mindset of an earnest conqueror riding a horse into a defeated country at the head of his company of invading soldiers. That he expected the French to be grateful seems decidedly odd from our perspective.
It is a fine story, well written and worth a read for a casual student of matters military, of World War One or of subjects historical.
Down and Dirty in 1914 5 Sept. 2013
By Charles Fred Smith - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This little book is a surprisingly good account of the first engagements of a German unit in Belgium in World War I. It describes the personal story of a reservist company commander who went to war in August 1914. The writing style reminds me of Remarque's classic "All Quiet on the Western Front". The book is set in the first phase of WWI when the Germans were trying to execute the Schlieffen plan and ran into the "British Contemptibles". This is doubly interesting if you pair it with Richard Holmes book "Riding the Retreat" which describes the events from the British standpoint.

I recommend this book as a personal narrative of the beginning of the war. It is not intended to deal with the larger picture or the horror to follow in the trenches. It tells the story of a German company commander who was a "father image" to his green, poorly trained recruits in one of history's more grueling marches to combat.
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