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4.6 out of 5 stars25
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2005
The battles of High Wood which dominated the Bazentin Ridges on the Somme was one of the great epics of the Somme Battles of 1916. First attacked on 15 July, 1916, it was not cleared of the enemy until 15 September during the so called Battles of Flers and Courcelette. The area around the wood became a landscape of horror which epitomised all that was dreadful of trench warfare. Miles and miles of trenches were dug, the wood gradually disappeared to the terrible shelling it endured during those two awful months. And when it was finally cleared, only a few Germans were left alive to be taken prisoner. Terry Norman has written a well researched book explaining much detail about how and why the struggle for High Wood lasted so long, and why the Germans were so reluctant to give it up. My only quibble however, is that the photographs are not as good as they should have been; although the maps are more than adequate. Students of the Somme must add this to their collection. A very good read indeed.
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on 9 May 2009
Terry Norman's account of the fierce engagements around High Wood in the summer of 1916 serves as a model of clarity with clear maps, extensive first hand accounts and a cogent and perceptive narrative. The strategic importance of High Wood to both British and German armies is amply demonstrated, as are the tactical features (such as supporting machine gun fire from enfilading German trenches) which made High Wood such a persistent obstacle to the British advance on the Somme. There are also interesting insights regarding High Wood's place in the overall German defence line which utilised other areas of difficult ground such as Trones Wood and Delville Wood. The events around High Wood from the earliest contact to the final assault by the 47th (London) Division are set out in separate chapters. A final chapter deals skilfully with the legacy of the battles around High Wood for the surviving combatants. In all, a really excellent addition to any library and essential reading for anyone interested in the Somme campaign of 1916.
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on 14 September 2009
My Great Uncle was killed at High Wood on 20th July, 1916. When I looked into the events surrounding his battalions movements, this book was invaluable in bridging the gap between war diaries and the wider battle at the Somme. It was to hard to find this book when I was researching this about 10 years ago, so it's great to see this invaluable book published once more. The fact that High Wood is not well known, despite the scale of horror, demonstrates just how much carnage there was throughout WW1. And it's important to remember that young men from all over the world died at High Wood, as the book illustrates. RIP.
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on 14 January 2015
The first thing to say about this book is that the work involved must have been tremendous. I applaud the author in that respect and would never denigrate the effort it must have taken to draw it together. The second thing to say is that it is just about the only available serious attempt to cover the battle for the wood. On both counts, the work is valuable.

But what might first be seen as an advantage (the account is gripping and reads like a novel) is perhaps its downfall for any serious student of the events at High Wood in 1916. The story of High Wood is extraordinarily complex, yet in this work anecdotes and personal stories are intermingled to such a degree that one loses the thread and it becomes extremely difficult to cut through this complexity and determine who attacked and on which date. The author also interchangeably refers to Divisions, Corps and battalions, sometimes mentioning their commanders without referring to the units they commanded, and sometimes referring to units without mention of who commanded them. It is impossible to piece together which Divisions belonged to which Corps, Which Brigades to which Divisions, and which Battalions to which Brigades (in this respect, an appendix illustrating the order of battle and who commanded who would have been invaluable). The result is a narrative that becomes extremely difficult to piece together in chronological order; a bit of a muddle really!.

Buy it by all means, if you are a general reader wanting a gripping account of this tragic historic event. But if you are a serious student of the battle, be prepared to read and re-read it many times over if you wish to understand who the attackers and their commanders were, and on which dates the attacks were made. In my humble view it would benefit from a major edit, retaining all the fascinating facts and anecdotes (which must have taken many painstaking hours to research) yet re-organised into more logical chunks which guide the reader chronologically through this most complex battle.

In summary: a valuable and well researched page turner, yet muddled
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on 9 October 2012
excellent read, been reading the book while walking the fields leading up to and around the wood its self ,following in the steps of those battalions who suffered and died while rawlinson was writing in his diary that he was able to ` sleep like a top'.
the book left me informed, saddened and with a re enforced opinon of the british senior generals who didnt give a toss for the men under them, that they were totally inept and callous beyond belief
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on 8 March 2013
Very interesting read of a thorough and detailed coverage of this part of the Battle of the Somme. Includes extracts from letters, accounts, etc from soldiers of different ranks so that it provides evidence of the mayhem and madness of the repeated attacks. Brings to life a realisation of what one of my relatives went through - he sadly lasted only two thirds through the 64 days of battle.
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on 26 January 2013
This is a book for anyone seriously studying WW1. Meticulously researched, there is no part of the battle for High Wood that is not covered. It helps to either know the area or have a map in front of you, although there are plenty dispursed throughout the book. A must for anyone with an interest in the Battle of the Somme.
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on 26 October 2014
This is the A-Z of High Wood. A complete history of the various attempts to take this small but strategic spot. Cannot say much more except as I delve into the individual phases of the Somme Campaign , Terry Norman's record adds to the knowledge that High Wood/Delville Wood/Mametz Wood/Trones Wood were key to success.
Remarkably easy to read and follow the key stages of this 'soul destroying' sector of the Somme Battlefield
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on 15 June 2013
Poor graphics lost the fifth star. Also, a graphic of the ORBAT and commanders would help the comprehension. I had to research the topography extensively with Google Maps to understand the text. All of that said, I would recommend this book to anybody who has a technical interest in the Somme or who is going to visit the battlefields. Terry Norman has captured the atmosphere of the battles around High Wood most realistically.
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on 16 February 2014
Read this book prior to visiting High Wood researching the death of my Grandfather, Harry Barker on 20th July 1916 on the perimeter of High Wood. ( no known grave ) It made the visit so much easier to understand what our troops went through. A fantastic book for anyone researching WW1.
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