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The First Day on the Somme Hardcover – 30 Nov 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850529433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850529432
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 15.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,086,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A particularly vivid and personal narrative." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Martin Middlebrook is a Lincoln shire farmer and lives in Boston. In 1967, while on a visit to France and Belgium, he was so impressed by the military cemeteries on the 1914-1918 battlefields that he decided to write a book about the soldiers of the First World War. This book, The First Day of the Somme, was published by Allen Lane in 1971 and was widely acclaimed both in this country and the United States. His second work the Nuremberg Raid, a disastrous nigh for the RAF Bomber Command, followed ad this was also published in Germany. Convoy, published in 1976, completed the trilogy on the theme of the part played by the ordinary men of the three armed services in two world wars.


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading this fantastic book for the 2nd time and feel i must put down in words how i feel about this book.
Mr Middlebrook has put together a book that will stay pride of place on my bookshelf, the first hand accounts that he has collected and placed within this book really take you to the Somme, and interweaved with the background and build up to the first day really bring the magnitude of this disaster to the reader, you can see for yourself that the rating this book recieves does it justice.
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Format: Paperback
As the title suggests, this book focuses almost entirely on the first day of battle(1st July 1916). Middlebrook offers a short introduction on events leading up to this fateful day, and the need for the British to relieve some of the pressure on the French army following Verdun. In order to relieve some of this pressure, the British would conduct their own offensive against the German army. This offensive would be fought in the Somme dept of Northern France, and would last from July to November 1916.
The book starts with the formation of the 'Pals Batallions'(groups of volunteers from the same town/city). These 'Pals' would go to France and fight alongside each other. It was thought the cameraderie and community would help the men during their time in a foreign land. We learn about the planning and preparation for battle, and the crucial time leading up to 'zero hour'.
An obvious comparison can be made with Malcolm Brown's book 'The Book of The Somme'. Like Brown, Middlebrook uses personal records, eyewitness accounts, diary entries and photographs to push the idea that these were not seasoned veterans going to war, but inexperienced and niave 'normal everyday people'. Henry Webber's story is one that is sure to stick in your mind.
The book offers a morning, noon, afternoon and evening review of the 1st July. The artillery bomabrdments by the British was not successful. All along the front, barb wire was intact and machine gun posts unharmed. Wave after wave of British soldiers went over the top to be mown down. Poor communication did not stop later attacks, and we learn of the power struggle between the Generals involved.
This book should be in the collection of anyone who has an interest in World War 1.
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Format: Paperback
Do not be mistaken by the title of this book: this is not merely an hour-by-hour account of 1 July 1916. No, crucially, in this book Middlebrook gives a comprehensive and most valuable background to Kitchener's Army: the origins of those unfortunate enough to be present, how they were structured, and what was hoped to have been achieved on this the most costly day in British military history. As is usual with Middlebrook, first-hand accounts are in profusion and lend the volume the presence and immediacy that is so characteristic of this author's accounts of armed conflict. Make this the first book you read about the BEF in WWI, particularly if one intends to visit the area. Thoroughly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The battle of the Somme unfolds as if your were there. Few wartime accounts are so well researched and this is a "must read" to learn about a generation that gave their lives for this country.
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Format: Hardcover
Having been a member of the Grenadier Guards for 12 years in peace time, I purchased this book in an attempt to uncover some of the regiments glorious past. Instead I found myself uncovering the truths and heroics of a generation of men that can stand as tall as Guardsmen. Who could ever put themselves in the frame of mind of the countless thousands that climbed out into the morning sun on that day. Martin Middlebrook took me in and amongst the hell that prevailed.
On the going down of the sun, we will remember them
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Format: Paperback
Can anyone really understand this most classic of WWI battles, with its numbing calculus of bodies? The total inanity of it? The massive amounts of technology involved and the sheer amount of human wastage... 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded withing 5 hours of fighting...?
Martin Middlebrook has done a great job at bringing the evocative spirit of the Army to light and its sacrifice on the Somme. It is a small tragedy that people all over the British Commonwealth and the US would completely forget what modern man was capable of doing almost 100 yrs ago. It was a largest pile of human killing ever witnessed in a single day and it should be more properly remembered. Although other battles have lasted longer and consumed a few more lives... only at the Somme in 1916 do you see the full horror of mechanised death unbound.
Middlebrook descibes this army how and why it was comprised, the Pals Regiments (a novel idea that tragically would never be used by any army to recruit people), the regular Older British Army from 1914, the "Old Contemptables," the strategic situationa and the tactics employed in the greatest concentration of artillery firepower ever witnessed. So much so that it was described as a 24 hour frieght train passing overhead for 2 full weeks of pre-bombardment.
The heroics are here as well, the medical facilities that could not save many without modern antibiotics, the relentless marching with "guns at slope" into the German Machine Guns. Whole regiments destroyed. Whole battalions of 700 men with less than 100 effectives by noon on the first day was hardly novel.
The Somme represented a lot and in some ways signifiies the beginning of the modern era of doubt and the downfall of absolute authority and tradition.
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