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Remembered Today:

Battle of the Lys


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Most of Graham Seton Hutchison's books (Warrior, Footslogger and Pilgrimage, plus his history of 33rd MGC and 33rd Division) all have a lot on it, as he commanded the 33rd Bn MGC during the battle, and effectively stopped the German army at one point in the line. The unit histories are rare and expensive, but the IWM has them. His memoirs and other books are less so, and probably about due for a reprint.

It's a much neglected battle, book-wise; why, I don't know.

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John Toland's book 'No Man's Land: the story of 1918' has journalistic reworkings of a number of first-hand accounts of the battle. Unfortunately the Lyn MacDonald book 'To The Last Man' focusses on the March battles in the Somme area.

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Donovan Joynt VC of the 8th Australian Battalion wrote a book entitled 'Saving the Channel Ports' which was published in 1975.

The 1st Australian division fought in the battle of Lys when all of the other Australian infantry units had been sent to the Somme.

I know of a book dealer here in Australia that has a copy so if you are interested please let me know.



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  • 10 months later...

You could also try:

'The Imperial War Museum Book of 1918' by Malcolm Brown

'See How They Ran' William Moore

'1918: The Unexpected Victory' by J H Johnson

'The Battle for Europe' Hugh Essame

'To Win a War' John Terraine

'Amiens 1918' Gregory Blaxland

These, of course, are general histories of 1918, but all look at the Lys.

For personal accounts see

'In the Cannon's Mouth' by P Campbell

'The Men I Shot' F B Crozier, (and I think 'A Brass Hat in No Mans Land' by Crozier, although not certain if he deals with Lys in this one)

'Surgeon with the Kaisers Army' S Westman

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Thanks David. I have managed to obtain most of those, but I haven't yet seen "The men I shot". Would think that's quite difficult to get hold of with a title like that!!

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Try Barrie Pitt's: '1918'

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There are two other accounts which deal with the Lys concerned with the 110th Brigade, the 'Leicestershires'

'39 Months with the Tigers' D V Kelly

'A Brigadier in France' H R Cumming

There is the relatively recent book by Matthew Richardson 'The Tigers', with a section on the Lys.

sorry the book by Crozier is more euphemistically titled 'The Men I Killed'

and the more obscure:

'Memorias Da Grande Guerra' Jaime Cortesao (In portuguese but Munce may help you with this one)

There is also an interesting section in the 'The 50th Division' by Wyrall

If you want the German side you could try Ludendorff 'My War Memories' and 'Steel Wind' by David Zabecki- both have useful sections, as well as Chapter 6 'Georgette' : The First Phase 9-14th April' in Martin Kitchen's book, 'The German Offensives of 1918'

Liddell Hart's book 'Through the Fog of War' also has an slim essay on the Lys

finally Purnells History of the First World War issue 97 has a section on the Lys by John Keegan

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Probably not the 55th or Guards Divs - they are well-known, although I have a source for 55 Div which may have been unused up to now.

Portuguese, Haig, Ludendorff, Battle of Bethune, Foch (as Supreme Commander), Kemmel (its loss by the French, and subsequent re-taking), why battles ended (Germans ran out of steam, Allies stopped them?????).

Not all of those are going to fit into my thesis by any means, but as I research, I'm expecting to find sufficient of interest to warrant deeper research, and will concentrate on two or three of them.

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I think you need to talk to Geoffrey Blades. He has finished an MPhil on:

'The Battles of the Lys: The British Army on the Defensive in April 1918'

He is a WFA member and gives talks at branches.

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  • 1 year later...

Thought I'd bring this post back up since I personally am thinking about asking for a couple of the books for the holidays. Also, Laurent has your book come out, and is there an English version?


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