6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent pocket-guide lacks only a large-scale strategic map,
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This review is from: Major and Mrs Holt's Pocket Battlefield Guide to the Somme 1916/1918: "The Big Push": 1 July-17 November 1916; The Kaiser's Offensive: 21 March-25 April 1918; American/Canadian/French Sectors 1918 (Paperback)
This small book is an excellent pocket guide to the museums, war cemeteries and battlefield locations of the Somme sector of the Western Front between 1916-18, containing just the right amount of detail to plan any visit lasting no more than three or four days. During my visit to this region in August 2010, I found it to be invaluable.
The Somme offensive of 1916 is described and the actions of all the participating formations detailed. A further section then relates the enormous German offensive of March 1918 (the "Kaiserschlacht" meant to deal a knock-out blow to the Allies following the freeing-up of hundreds of thousands of the Kaiser's troops on the Eastern Front after peace was made with the new Bolshevik regime in Russia) which basically fought over the same ground as the 1916 Somme battles until it was ground to a standstill by lack of supplies and allied counter-attacks, returning the front to stalemate.
The authors detail the most prominent and interesting sites to visit - the excellent museum under the market square in Albert which exits into an ornamental garden (painted wall mural and shell-damaged church tower featured on the book's cover), for example, is under no circumstances to be missed - and many of the minor memorials and lesser-known spots. Any visitor to this part of Europe will be aware that the landscape is littered with cemeteries and tens of thousands of war graves: German, French, British (especially in this sector), Australian, Canadian and a few American too: the flower of a generation scattered across the gently rolling fields under a sea of white gravestones. Monumental white stone structures on which thousands of names are carved impose themselves everywhere on the landscape; poignant reminders of the cost paid in lives for Europe's thankfully long-gone age of tribal warfare.
The Holts' book is a quality publication with good informative text, well laid out with many pages of excellent photographs. One minor criticism I would have of the pocket-guide is the lack of a large-scale map offering strategic perspective of where everything is in relation to the main road/town network. Reportedly such a regional map is included in the larger edition of the book, but if you buy the pocket-guide, you need to buy the map separately. Make sure you don't visit this region without it, so you can see at a glance where you are in relation to everything else. The book does however contain smaller maps of several localities, and these are useful and detailed once you're actually there.
Overall, very good as a serious and knowledgeable guide for a short visit, and buying and studying it before you go will save you a lot of time.
Major and Mrs Holt's Pocket Battlefield Guide to the Somme 1916/1918: "The Big Push": 1 July-17 November 1916; The Kaiser's Offensive: 21 March-25 April 1918; American/Canadian/French Sectors 1918(10 customer reviews)