The First Day on the Somme (Penguin Classic Military History) Paperback – 29 Mar 2001
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"A particularly vivid and personal narrative."
About the Author
Martin Middlebrook has written numerous works of military history, including the classic The First Day on the Somme (978-1-84415-465-4). He lives in England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
On the going down of the sun, we will remember them
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fabulous book, having visited the Somme I was intrigued to find out more and this book definitely delivers. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Joni McGlade
Thank goodness Martin Middlebrook wrote when he did and was able to interview some survivors of the day. I am not surprised that other authors have drawn on his researchesPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Although slightly dated (1971) it has the advantage of direct personal words of soldiers who served from interviews the author conducted with survivors and follws individuals. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Frances Alison Ney
This is my first Martin Middlebrook book I found it to be well written and informative. I'm sure I will be reading more of his books.Published 5 months ago by Jenks
An excellent read for anyone interested in the Battle of the Somme and the soldiers who fought in it. RIPPublished 5 months ago by MR ANTHONY J LAKING