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Vimy Ridge, 1917: Byng's Canadians Triumph at Arras (Campaign) Paperback – 10 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (10 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841768715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841768717
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.6 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

I A J Tumer is a serving officer in the Irish Guards. He has a BA in War Studies from King's College, London, is a keen student of military history, and has led a battalion battlefield tour to Vimy Ridge. Peter Dennis was born in 1950 and, having been inspired by contemporary magazines such as "Look and Learn', studied illustration at Liverpool Art College. He has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects. He is a keen wargamer and modelmaker.

Inside This Book

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Her head tilted in mute reflection, a grief-stricken Mother Canada stands alone on Vimy Ridge, mourning the loss of her adored sons. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hacksovius on 9 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another excellent addition to the Osprey Campaign series. While there is a limitation to the depth in which a subject can be covered in this format, the glory of the series is the exceptional quality of the maps; and lets face it, you can't write a serious book on a campaign or battle without lavish provision of maps. Without a map, you are left with a meaningless gazetteer of towns and places (Read Stutterheim's account of Austerlitz and you will see what I mean). Four full page maps; one half page; and three double page panoramas enable you to follow the action and understand what happened, where, and why. I enjoyed the book immensely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pete1000 on 15 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read a lot of the Osprey World war 1 Campaign series and this is one of the best. Turner gives a very good account of the battle following the usual "Campaign" format but he seems to give a better background than most of the other authors, it didn't just follow a blow by blow account. Peter Dennis provides his excellent illustrations.
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Well laid out account, which has given me a good understanding of what my relative went through
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Raymann on 14 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
Not only the name of his Regiment precedes him...this book also now...
Concise and to the point this Campaign book was a pleasure to read after the 2004 fiasco Campaign books of Osprey. (High priced mass publications without any effort behind them like No. 142 Dunbar, even difficult to resell!)
At last they have found back to quality, instead of quantity.
Alexander Turner has done a fine job of a complex subject.
But then I didn't expect less from an Irish Guards Officer.
Excellence is what he strived for...excellence is what he achieved.
Quis Separabit me and this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One of the better Campaign Series 20 Aug. 2005
By J. Brewster - Published on
Format: Paperback
The vice of the Campaign Series can be to cover so large a subject in one small volume and give so much introductory material that the subject of the book is covered in less depth than in an Encyclopedia. In the end you get little more than an introduction, a few nice pictures, if you're lucky some nice maps, and photographs so small you can never see the detail mentioned in the captions.

In Vimy Ridge the author has avoided these perils. He limits himself to the battle, not a history of the whole West Front, and assumes you knew something about World War One before you purchased the book. The result is a gem. A concise description of a battle very different from what you thought it would be, well-written, well-illustrated other than the too small photos. The only criticism is that you are left wanting more, but to get that you need a much larger and more expensive book than Osprey promised you.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Canadian Triumph 9 July 2005
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alexander Turner, a battalion-level officer in the British Army, delivers a solid summary of the Canadian Corps' impressive capture of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Although Turner offers the capture of Vimy Ridge as refutation of claims that Allied generalship in the First World War was fatally flawed, his conclusions skim by the fact that Vimy Ridge was one of the very few attacks that enjoyed this kind of success at such low cost. Furthermore, the amount of mistakes made by the German commanders at Vimy Ridge seem to be beyond the norm for that army in the First World War. Statistically speaking, Vimy Ridge was something of an aberration and therefore difficult to use as a case study. In any event, Turner provides a detailed summary of the preparation and execution of this highly successful Allied offensive.

Turner begins with the usual section on the background to the campaign and opposing forces, which tends to digress a bit into a broader discussion of the tactical-technological problems facing First World War armies. At points, the author appears to want to paint a broader canvas á la John Keegan, rather than deliver a campaign study, but he settles down by mid-volume. The volume includes five 2-D maps (the German retirement to the Hindenburg Line; Arras and the Chemin des Dames Offensives; Locations of Allied Artillery units near Vimy Ridge; the Battle of Vimy Ridge; Attack on the "Pimple" and Bois-en-hache, 12 April 1917) and two 3-D maps (the Assault on Vimy Ridge in the 1st and 2nd Canadian Division areas and the fight for Hill 145 and "the Pimple"), as well as two excellent battle scenes (advance of the 2nd Canadian Division on 9 April 1917 and the defense of the Zwischenstellung). The maps are decent, but the dominant nature of Vimy Ridge is less apparent on the 3-D maps than a standard military 1:50,000-scale map of the area. Furthermore, the operational-level maps provide only vague details on the larger picture of the Arras offensive, without even showing the equally impressive advance of the British XVII Corps to the south of Vimy Ridge.

The author makers clear that both the German and Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge were high quality, but that the Canadian Corps had an overwhelming superiority in artillery, which was enhanced by careful planning. The author also disputes the idea that Vimy Ridge was an all-Canadian affair and points out the contributions of various British support units. Although the author briefly mentions the air superiority battles that preceded the Allied offensive, he offers few details once the attack commenced. He does spend a fair amount of time describing the extensive Allied mining and tunneling efforts, much of which did not pan out during the actual offensive.

While Turner notes faulty German dispositions and planning, he does not seem to appreciate that the Allied attack was assisted by fog and snow, which severely reduced German visibility. Instead, Turner emphasizes the muddy ground as an impediment to Canadian mobility. The magnitude of the Allied success at Vimy Ridge is not always apparent in Turner's account, which does not mention that this attack resulted in the furthest Allied advance in one day since the start of trench warfare. Turner's background in an infantry battalion aids him in painting the portrait of Canadian infantry struggling through the mud and shellfire, but there is little actual analysis of the battle's outcome. Overall, Vimy Ridge 1917 is a solid campaign summary, albeit one that could benefit from a bit sharper focus.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The battle that helped create a national identity for Canada 5 Sept. 2005
By Rick Kaneen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Essentially the first BEF victory on the western front (pre Messines), Vimy Ridge gave Canada an epic battle all its own. Today the towering memorial on Hill 145 holds the names of the nation's missing (including one of my distant relatives) and is a focal point for Canadian national pride as the statue of Canada weeping for her fallen sons looks out over the coalfields of Lens.

In typical Osprey fashion, this volume presesnts a clear, concise and complete story of this great battle, with excellent graphics, photos, and, perhaps most refreshing, maps (why can't WWI authors and publishers create some decent maps? Osprey seems to be able to pull it off). The final chapter is an excellent description of the battlefield today, made more interesting of course by the the fact that Canada has preserved portions of the trenches as well as part of the Grange Subway on the ridgetop.

Read this Campaign series to get the overview and the lay of the land (and subway system!) then root out a copy of Berton's Vimy for a real understanding of what the battle meant to a 'dominion' that had to fight the British to maintain their identity in a separate corps (a preview of the fight Pershing was to have with the same Brit leadership when the doughboys arrived)and protect their egalitarian society from the class structure the dominated the BEF.

Even if you know this battle well, and perhaps, because you do, the graphics are worth the small investment in this volume. Most Osprey Campaign issues are a nice addition to lengthy tomes simply for the maps and illustrations.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Vimy Ridge 1917 - Byng's Canadians Triumph at Arras 3 Oct. 2005
By Hugh W. Nevin - Published on
Format: Paperback
World War One battles by their static - and horrific - nature are difficult to bring to life, but that is exactly what Mr. Turner does in this book. He effectively combines the intellectual background (e.g. short biographies of the officers/men, reviews of strategy and technology), photos, and maps. Maps - how important they are, and yet how often a good military book fails to tie the text to good graphics, so one can understand the terrain and the place in the overall "big" picture. While I waited in suspense for the battle to begin, I learned about fascinating developments in strategy ("defense in depth), when I thought there were little or not developments during the war, the abilities of the officers on both sides, and the men who were going to fight the battle. I have never read an Osprey book before, but this will surely guide me in that direction. This was a terrific read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Still Taught 28 Jun. 2013
By Jeffrey Swystun - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have a soft spot for Osprey Publishing. They have introduced me to various military topics through the years with their brand of editorial, design, and publishing. It is great that they cover Vimy which continues to be taught in the war colleges of many nations.

The iconic static defenses of the Western Front had produced a pattern and certain complacency. This did not take away from the stubbornness and challenge of taking on dug-in forces. To counter this the Canadians devised a methodical and detailed plan for winning this important ridge as part of the Arras Offensive. They backed this up with extensive training including mock attacks replicating what they were to expect.

Logistics, communication, and coordinated inter-service tactics were all improved and emphasized. There was also an expansion of tunnels and exits that put the Germans and Bavarians off balance following an impressive artillery barrage. The bottom-line is the Canadian plan and execution was smart, bold, and overwhelming. I was pleased that this treatment includes the terrain's consolidation and contingency plans in case of German counter attack. This is another reason for the plan's success - it thought ahead.

The author introduces us to the main Canadian players including Byng and Currie who are hardly remembered anywhere including Canada. One criticism of Vimy is that Allied leaders failed to exploit the breakthrough. I believe the lesson resides in the relatively low casualties for a war that produced such enormous losses. The Canadians showed that enemy territory could be taken with measured sacrifice respectful of the men put in harm's way. Men who a few short years earlier were farmers, fisherman, lumberjacks, clerks, and merchants.
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