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4.7 out of 5 stars54
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 January 2003
Rose Coomb's book is indispensable for anyone interested in touring the French and Belgian WWI battlefields. I visited the battlefields in December of 2002, following the detailed routes from the Michelin maps provided in the book. The descriptions of the events are brief enough that you can read them while at the actual battlefield sites, and they will greatly aid in your reconstruction of your travels when you develop your photos. Make certain that you go to the battlefields to pay homage to our brave and never forgotten Commonwealth soldiers.
"Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth for evermore."
Ecclesiasticus 44:14
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I found that every WW1 site I entered had this book as a "must" on their reading list. After I'd browsed through its pages I had to agree. It's meticulously researched with all the CWG cemeteries described in great detail, neatly put into map sections with all the relevant information for visitors. It's also full of snippets of info about interesting graves eg VC winners, young soldiers, first & last men to die in WW1. For anyone seriously intending to visit several war cemeteries it is an invaluable tool - and a good read to boot. Highly recommended.
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on 16 November 2001
It is wonderfull to see that this marvelous work is being kept up to date. It provides both routes and facts about the whole of the western front from the first world war. Originally written twenty five years ago it has now become an historical document in its own right while its revision has made sure that it is relevent to the modern traveller. Unfortunately the author passed away some years ago but she is well remembered and respected and I would recomend that anyone following this guide to the town of Ieper (Ypres) should add to their itinerary a stroll along the Rose Coombes memorial walk on the Ramparts of the town (Starts at the Lille gate).
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on 13 August 2013
I bought the original edition of this book in 1981 and over the years I have found it an invaluable reference work. While planning a visit to the Somme / Ypres areas earlier this summer I saw that an updated edition of this book was still on sale, but wondered if it was worth getting. I am glad I decided to go ahead with my purchase. The 100 extra pages contain a wealth of additional information (such as the existence of a British trench section in Auchonviliers) and the book details many of the changes (new monuments, car parking facilities, disappearing relics) that have happened in the 30+ years since I bought the original. I was also pleased to see that the incorrect labelling of the German Front Line on the aerial photograph of Newfoundland Park has been corrected. Anyone still using an early edition of this book will not regret buying the current edition. Anyone else looking for a comprehensive, authoritative guidebook should not hesitate to buy this book.
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on 16 May 2000
There is hardly anyone who knew the Western front as well as Rose Coombs. This updated version corrects some factual errors, but is worthy of a read since there are many photos and maps of the entire western front 1914-1918. For beginners, this is a must read in order to familiarise yourself with that conflict, "the war to end all wars", so it was said.
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on 14 February 2012
I bought this as an upgrade to a much older version. For those people intending to spend a lot of time exploring the battlefields and memorials of World War 1 this is a comprehensive and indispensible source of information.. There is so much to see and do and Rose Coombes has managed to collate much of what is available into excellent tours for the motorist. I wouldn't be without it. Highly recommended.
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on 7 June 2009
This book is suberb, I would class this as the best book anyone could buy when making a visit to the battlefields of WW1. It is packed with information, pictures and maps. This makes for superb reading even if you are not able to make the trip to Belgium or France. The amount of research this must have taken to write must have been vast. Another thing to point out which is worth mentioning is that the book is really tough, I've taken my copy to the western front 3 times now and it has led a hard life in my rucksack when out walking for theday and the spine has never given up any pages and is still fully intact, imagine a book that fell apart in 5 minutes, you wouldn't be able to take it anywhere. Don't think about buying this book, just buy it, you won't be disappointed !!!!!
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on 23 November 2012
For anyone travelling to France and Belgium this is a MUST, even if you think you're not a history buff it's such a great guide book , finding all those out of the way places and telling of their history. We have had so many happy fulfilling holidays with Rose beside us.
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on 25 January 2015
Many have jumped on the WW1 publishing band waggon in the last couple of years but, although first published in 1976, this book is on the must have list. In short, it takes you on a meticulously researched, yard by yard tour of the WW1 battlefields of Western Europe. Clear tour instructions are enhanced by beautifully illustrated descriptions and anecdotes by an author who clearly had a passion for her subject. The illustrationss are excellent throughout and there are some ariel photographs, those of the mine craters are thought provoking, but I wonder what Rose Coombes could have done with a laptop and Google Earth?

Yes, there are guides to the individual battlefieds, my particular favourites are the Michelin Guides first published in 1919 when memories were fresh and carnage still evident and now re-published in facsimile format, but this book takes them all in. The maps do not show the plans of the battles and unit movements so a good companion would be Arthur Banks' A Military Atlas Of The First World War, soon to be re-published with topographical detail added to the original maps. Likewise, although monuments and cemeteries appear a more comprehensive companion would be Hurst's The Silent Cities.

A word of caution. This is the 2010 edition and whilst I understand that many of the photographs have been updated and new ones added, the maps are ten years old. I have checked a couple or routes on both Google Earth and Maps and they seem to be OK, but if planning a visit I would also invest in an up to date road atlas.

The strap line for this book is "a guide to the battlefields of the first world war". Before Endeavours Fade is more than a guide book, it is a work of love that should be on the bookshelf of everyone with even just a passing interest in events of a hundred years ago.
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on 11 November 2010
My review appears under the 1983 edition because that is what my much loved, and now very tattered, copy happens to be. It has given nearly three decades of useful service so far, but - who knows - I might yet be tempted to buy one of those updated new fangled ones with colour even yet. My advice would be to get the most recent you can - and not be afraid to carry it with you - filling in the detail that you need on a specific site with other volumes.

The late Rose EB Coombs MBE worked at the Imperial War Museum, London, from 1946 to 1982 - latterly as Special Collections Officer. There had been WW1 Western Front battlefield guides and picture books before her work, as for example the famous Michelin series, but it was 'Endeavours' that really chimed with the later twentieth century revival of interest in the period, and was arguably the first to really link words, photographs, and maps very closely. This link between words and pictures may seem obvious, but it is something that many others, even the well known Holt Guides, often fail to do so well.

There are loads of nice clear photos and maps, and the book is easy to follow. Bold lettering heighlights specific places and features, allowing an overworked battlefield tour navigator to spot things quickly, even if his driver is intent on speeding past at 100kmph. The layout, with smaller maps and tours isolated within the whole, allows the visitor to bite off managable chunks of the landscape without too much danger of trench and cemetery overload. Highly recommended.

Any problems ? Few, but bear in mind that as the years go by and battlefield archaeologists, museums, and War Graves organisations get busier, older editions will get progressively more out of date. Sadly Coombs herself will not be doing any revisions. Also one has to point out that 'Endeavours' does not give even or total coverage - though Verdun is shown quite big areas are not. The Vosges feature not at all.
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