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This review is from: The German Army at Ypres 1914 (Hardcover)
This is another "must have" book for anyone interested in learning about the Great War.
This is not only because it completes a quintet by Jack Sheldon, who has truly broken new ground in our perceptions of the conflict. The book stands on its own merits. If you read it, it will really make you appreciate the German dimension to what has been commemorated as the last stand of the Old Contemptibles of the B.E.F. in those desperate battles in Flanders in the autumn of 1914. More than that, you will understand how important the contribution of the Belgian and French soldiers was, too.
Some of the folklore of the battle is exposed as exaggeration or wishful thinking.
The preponderance of German sacrifice at Ypres was not born by university students who were cut down by long range volleys of musketry from British soldiers, who, it was thought, "..were firing a machine gun from behind every tree...". These battles were fought in claustrophobic farmlots and woodlands, in a patchwork of hedgerows and hamlets, where fire was delivered suddenly and at close quarters.
The narrative of the battle, sector by sector and day by day, is concise and disciplined, and based on first rate archival research.
There are anecdotes enough to keep the humanity of the thing to the fore. The photographs are very striking and evocative. One in particular tells us so much about the German experience of Ypres 1914 : twelve German officers from a Bavarian Reserve Infantry regiment stand for a photograph before the fighting. In a single battle, eight of the twelve were killed and two of them wounded. Thus the fate of soldiers improperly trained, poorly equipped and imprudently deployed into one of the hardest fought battles of the war.
Jack Sheldon has given us another masterpiece.
Phil Andrade, a Life Member of the Western Front Association