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The Battle for Flanders: German Defeat on the Lys 1918 Hardcover – 21 Apr 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (21 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848842988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848842984
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 618,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Baker occupies an iconic status in the world of Great War historians. Few can have done more for their fellow travellers: a former chair of the Western Front Association, founder of the Great War Forum and the man behind the outstanding Long Long Trail website. Now he has produced his first book and I was eager to review it! I purchased a copy from the man himself - then lost it! As at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 delays multiplied and it is only now that I have bought a replacement copy from the good folks at Amazon! So here goes!

First impressions are good! The assessment of the lead up to the German attacks in the Spring of 1918 is well-judged and reflects Baker's sound grasp of the realities of warfare on the Western Front. When the storm bursts on the Portuguese sector he avoids casual racism and points out why they did so badly - it wasn't anything to do with national characteristics or culture, but was rather more to do with men trapped in an unpopular war, neglected by their officers, lacking proper leave arrangements and charged with defending 10,000 yards of front in the face of an awesomely powerful German assault! Though some fought well most did as badly as you would expect - and as badly as the neighbouring 40th Division - who were British! What is interesting is the superb performance of the 55th Division. It just shows what could achieved by an 'ordinary' British division when carefully trained and prepared by their commanders.

The account of the battle that follows is detailed with the familiar tale of desperate defence and heroic deeds contrasting with equally numerous panicked withdrawals and the brave counter-attacks that followed - there is no common pattern.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Books I have read on the German offensives of 1918 usually broad brush a description of the actions, because the the massive amount of information needed to convey the simultaneous movements of individual units would overwhelm the author.

Not so here, where Mr. Baker has shouldered the immense task of distilling an account, from primary sources, of all units on all days that they were involved. So whether you are reading this because your ancestor was British, Australian, Portuguese, Belgian, French or German and in my case a machine gun lieutenant in the 19th Division, you will find direct reference to their part in the battle. By this dedication to research, he has truly done justice to a topic which has not previously been described in this detail.

The problem I had was with the maps, which are not detailed enough to show the multitude of farms, strong points and reserve lines referred to in the text, hence dropping a star in my rating. This will be the definitive text on this conflict, and should be reissued in special edition or electronic form with the detail maps essential to support the immense research which the author has done.

For me, this stands together with Dixon's 'Magnificent But Not War' as the best coherent and fine detailed account of a wide scale conflict that I have read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So many books on the Great War focus on the futility and waste of the Somme and Passchendaele and slight the Generals and Staff and treat Owen and Sassoon as if an observation is a definitive truth that it seems that the allied victory is often overlooked.
This excellent book takes the broad scope of the 1918 victory and brings it down to a perfect distillation of the many strands of of what had become the first modern conflict of world history.
Reads easily despite the wealth of detail and exhaustive research Chris Baker has to have done to create this definitive account of the British and allied victory.
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Format: Hardcover
IN November 1917 the German High Command planned a series of last-ditch offensives which aimed to end the war before American manpower would decisively tip the balance in favour of the Allies.
The Battle for Flanders: The German Defeat on the Lys by Chris Baker covers the second German offensive, codenamed Georgette, against British between Ypres and the La Bassee Canal.
The offensive was launched `two hours before dawn in the thick fog on a cold, raw morning' on April 9.
The German aim was to drive its forces towards the English Channel and cut off lines of supply and communication to British forces in Ypres.
Baker, a former chairman of the Western Front Association and the brains behind the Great War website The Long, Long Trail, is a man who certainly knows his stuff about this battle.
The German attack on the River Lys had been, until now, an episode of the war which awaited its historian - Baker is now that historian.
The opening chapter explains how the British Army in early 1918, depleted from two years of attrition, faced the prospect of a serious German assault for the first time since 1915.
The assault was initially successful, on a tactical level at least. The Allied Portuguese division which sustained the brunt of the attack almost ceased to exist within 24 hours of the assault.
But tenacious British resistance, especially on the La Bassee canal deprived the Germans of the greater strategic breakthrough they needed to achieve a decisive result.
Nevertheless, the German attacks continued forcing the British to withdraw from much of the Ypres salient won at such high cost the previous autumn.
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