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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting, 7 May 2007
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This review is from: To Win A War: 1918, the Year of Victory (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) (Paperback)
Very interesting indeed! Very satisfying to read a book on the last year of the war that correctly apportions credit where it's due - namely, to the fearsome war-machine that was the British Army of 1918.

Who do you suppose taught Blitzkrieg to the Germans? It wasn't the French. It wasn't the Americans. And it sure as hell wasn't the Russians. Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig and his army of experts were the ones who (eventually) came up with a formula that enabled them to rain a series of combined-arms hammer-blows on to the Germans, knocking them down and then out.

Of course, without the earlier great battles of attrition (Verdun, the Somme and Passchendaele), the war could not have been won in 1918. And one cannot overlook the significant activities of the French and Americans. Nevertheless, it was the British Army who delivered the coup de grace and finally broke the back of German resistance in the field - having already withstood the main part of the great German spring offensives of that year.

This achievement by the British Army has been disgracefully under-valued, pretty much since the war. There's a case to be made that this came about as a result of significant re-writing of the situation by those with the most to gain by doing so - Lloyd George, for example.

Altogether, a very readable, well-written, very informative and interesting book that helps to cast a proper perspective on the events of the last year of The Great War. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jan 2010 13:21:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2010 16:34:04 GMT
Although I agree completely with both the book and your review of it, I always feel that the part played by the British Naval blockade in winning both WWI and WWII is also badly undermentioned in the historical record. I assume you know this already, but I shall mention for those who may not; that from August 1914 until early 1919 the Royal Navy enforced a high seas embargo of all 'strategic goods' attempting to reach Imperial Germany and the German occupied regions of Europe. As food was considered 'strategic'; the result was to create an artificial famine, which by 1918 had killed by starvation almost a million German civilians alone, and many more throughout Central Europe; a disasterous situation which broke the German nation's will to continue the struggle. This starvation induced collapse of the home front was in turn, the origin of the 'stabbed in the back' legend; by which the German army commanders passed responsibility for the defeat onto 'incompetent' 'weak-willed' politicians; which in due course led to the rise of the Nazi Party.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2010 16:42:59 BDT
Wilf says:
A very interesting point. And this situation would, I suppose, have also diminished the achievement of the British Army in the eyes of their German enemies. Having said that, all the German soldiers who had had personal experience of fighting the British (paticularly from 1916 onwards) were not left in any doubt as to the effectiveness of their opponents (eg Ernst Junger in 'Storm Of Steel'). Indeed, Hitler himself (who fought against and was wounded by the British on the Somme) was always reluctant to fight a second round against the British, and went to some lengths to avoid it.

Thankyou for your thoughtful and informative response.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Aug 2011 10:15:58 BDT
Most of the detailed studies I've read say that the Germans were short of food by 1918, but not starving, and that the increase in mortality mainly hit the very old and the very young. Matters grew much worse when the blockade was prolonged into 1919. It would have sapped their morale, but that wouldn't have mattered if Germany had thought she could win a military victory.

So many matters all came to a head in the autumn of 1918 - the collapse of Germany's allies, the naval mutiny, strikes, the BEF victories of the Hundred Days, the morale boost from US troops joining the fight - that it's hard to apportion value to any one of them. Some US historians love to exaggerate the achievements of the AEF in the Argonne, but eventually they broke through, breaking the hinge of the German front and threatening a huge thrust into Lorraine in 1919. Similarly, it's hard to disentangle at what point German morale both at home and amidst the troops began to give way - because it certainly accelerated once retreat and peace feelers were underway, until Ludendorff and the Kaiser were made to walk the plank by moderate politicians like Ebert and moderate generals like Groener.

Still Terraine's book is excellent.
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