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joe19612

Which is the best book on Fromelles

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joe19612

Need some guidance as to which is the best book on Fromelles, before I visit in the summer or is their more than one.

Was thinking of Peter Bartons and then putting the book from the Australian War Memorial on the kindle.

Joe

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MikeyH

Joe,

Can recommend Peter Barton's book, but is the only one I have read on this battle.

Mike.

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spof

Joe

I can also recommend Peter Barton's book for an overall account from the Australian, British and German perspective. A lot depends on whether you are researching the actions of the 61st Division or the 5th Australian Division. There are a few books concentrating on the Australians but the British involvement does not get a lot of coverage.

If, by the term "the book from the Australian War Memorial", you mean ANZACS on the Western Front, I would not recommend putting it on the Kindle. It is a battlefield guide with lots of maps and photos to allow you to walk the ground. As the Kindle does not render images like maps or photos, I would suggest you get a physical copy of the book. It has been discussed on the Forum before - http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=177770&hl=%20peter%20%20pedersen&st=0

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joe19612

Thank you for your replies the Book I was thinking of putting on the Kindle is this one:

The Battle Of Fromelles 1916 by Roger Lee

Australian Army Campaign Series

Joe

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SiegeGunner

Peter Pedersen's 'Fromelles' in the Battleground Europe series is also a useful brief introduction. Not having a copy of 'Anzacs on the Western Front', I'm afraid I can't say how much overlap there is between the Fromelles chapter in that and the Battleground Europe title.

And of course I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendations of Peter Barton's 'The Lost Legions of Fromelles' ... but then I would, as I translated the German material that appears in it ... :thumbsup:

Mick

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Yorke Scarlett

Paul Cobb 's book - 'Fromelles 1916'.

Re post #5 Pederson's Battleground Europe is probably the best for touring the field.

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UKAIF

Fromelles 1916 (History Press) by a country mile.

Peter Pederson's is ideal though for a pocket guide and walking the ground.

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Petroc

Just to bump this one up a bit, as I have finally read Peter Barton's book, and may I say what a wonderful example of heartfelt history it is. Peter's account, meticulously researched and quite naturally written with the passion of someone so intimately associated with the Pheasant Wood project, should stand alone as a wonderful example of what, in written form, records a brief, tragic yet profoundly important moment in time and is a superb example of the discipline of History. My only slight criticism is the fact that there are a few too many oblique references to the 'idiocy' (my phrase) of the Allied High Command ('Haig believed....' kind of thing) without regard to the more current scholarly acceptance of the vitality and complications associated with major international coalition warfare. Nonetheless, this is a minor pedant, and I thoroughly recommend the book

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Blackblue

'Anzacs on the Western Front' by Peter Pedersen and Chris Roberts is unsurpassed as far as guides go. Very highly recommended.

Rgds

Tim D

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Ron da Valli

I've just bought Peter Barton's book for £3.99. Not had a chance to read it yet, but it looks comprehensive.

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David Filsell

Just reviewed Lee's appalling (academically) priced book. It is the result of 15 years research, covers command and control, nothing about the fighting in the ground, is critical of much Australian hurumphing about the battle and judges it a success. Well worth reading. If there's enough interest I'm happy to post the review

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Blackblue

a

Edited by Blackblue

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David Filsell

That's just the point, that's his view. Lees gives his opinion, based on research and offers his justifications for them. But do at least read before you judge, there is much newly considered.

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nigelcave

A success?? Was it published on 1 April?

;-)

David got in first with his reply! However, here's mine for what it is worth:

The book to which David refers is British Battle Planning in 1916 and the Battle of Fromelles (published May 2015) by Roger Lee 'Head of the Australian Army History Unit and Army Historian since 1996'. The other book on Fromelles that he has written is No 8 in the respected Australian Army Campaign series, The Battle of Fromelles 1916. So the former is an enlarged, more academic approach of the latter. I have dipped into the bigger book (alas, I have not got my own copy - see final comment) and I must say that it is a pleasure to read - unlike a good number of what might loosely be described as 'academic' books. It is very well researched and deals with the historiography of the battle head-on. His conclusions might not be to everyone's taste, but I would certainly recommend it without hesitation - except, as David points out, it is ridiculously expensive.

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David Filsell

For information

British Battle Planning in 1916 and the Battle of Fromelles - apparently the fifth book in the Ashgate Studies in First World War History - is edited by the estimable John Bourne. In that the book started as a PhD thesis, it is reminiscent of the relatively new series of histories published (under Steven Badsey’s editorship) but whilst Wolverhampton can publish essentially academic books at sensible prices, Ashgate have priced this work out of any sensible market with £70.00 tag. (The cheapest copy I could find, Amazon, was £55.00) So!

It is the most impressive result of a fifteen year long writing and research effort by Roger Lees, Head of the Australian Army History Unit. There is of course no shortage of Australian writing about Fromelles, much of it critical of the usual antipodeans’ suspects; inept British Generalship and lack of insight. Roger Lee’s approach is freshly different; he puts the planning of the battle under the microscope; evaluates and dissects it in detail using remaining records and highlights the errors and ineptitudes at all levels; strategic, tactical and operational.

Without even offering an outline of a Fromelles battle narrative – for that you must read work by authors whose work Lee frequently questions – the book builds skilfully to conclusions which are bound to prove unpopular with those who regularly react instinctively to Fromelles by blackguarding British Command at virtually every level.

Despite recording, examining and theorizing on weaknesses in command and control at virtually every level the author concludes:

“British battle planning in 1916 arguably had reached the lowest point on a pendulum swing between the skilled but small-scale actions characteristic of an imperial police force and the conduct of operations in an industrial scale war.”

However, he firmly reports that objective of Fromelles was to pin the enemy down, to prevent German troops to be transferred to support their comrade in the ongoing battles on the Somme. In that it was a success and his judgement is clear:

“The conclusion to be drawn from surviving analysis is that Fromelles was not the planning disaster frequently alleged and indeed not a complete failure in any sense, yet this is far from the popular view”. He adds clearly: “... the attack can only be regarded as having met its objectives”, underlining that “... capture of ground was not in this battle, the strategic objective and operational intent.”

Whilst Lee is frequently highly, and effectively, critical of all aspects of the Fromelles planning, his compelling view will no doubt be contested by aficionados of the butchers and bunglers school. That all said, a number of key points emerge. Not least that Haking was forced - through the British Army’s operational habit of rotating divisions through Corps with inefficient regularity – and to deploy inadequately trained divisions posted to his Corps far too close to the start of the battle. (Not least, the - effectively - green 5th Australian Division which had only recently arrived in France from Egypt. Many of its officers and men were without any experience of war and ordered into offensive battle against experienced German defenders.)

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Blackblue

Thanks Nigel & David,

I was having a lend. It is indeed a very good read.

TD

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David Filsell

Nothing like a good lend of a book which costs a very foolish £70.00!

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nigelcave

Thanks Nigel & David,

I was having a lend. It is indeed a very good read.

TD

Ah, good: :)

A relatively small action, in the great scheme of things, fought over a very limited time period, it is a rare battle in the war as late as 1916 that lends itself to this type of very detailed analysis. In turn, that could degenerate and get bogged down unless the material is carefully handled, which I feel Dr Lee does exceptionally well. It really is a class piece of work, whether you agree with the conclusions or not. For example, Falkenhayn was quite convinced that there would be a British attack in the Lille area regardless of the advice of local commanders that (a.) it was not not likely and (b.) that should it happen it could be handled in any case with diminished resources. Therefore it is arguable at least whether Fromelles did succeed in pinning the Germans down if Falkenhayn had made his mind up on the matter regardless.

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Fromelles
On 19/01/2016 at 02:13, David Filsell said:

Nothing like a good lend of a book which costs a very foolish £70.00!

 

For anyone who doesn't wish to spend that sort of money how about downloading all 347 pages of Roger Lee's PH.D Thesis instead -

 

British Battle Planning in 1916 and the Battle of Fromelles

 

the pdf is under 'Downloads and Links'

 

Dan

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Crunchy

I agree with David and Nigel in all respects. Roger Lee's book British Battle Planning in 1916 and the Battle of Fromelles is an excellent study which eschews the hyperbole, hubris and anti-British rubbish that mars so much of the popular but under-researched, or should I say unresearched, Australian military history. Fortunately, we now have a growing group of Australian academically trained military historians who rely on substantive primary source research, rather than regurgitating outdated secondary sources, myths, and anecdotes. Roger Lee is one of these, and a highly respected historian who, as Head of the Australian Army History Unit, made an enormous contribution to publishing sound Australian military history. He is now one of the Australian Official Historians for the series on Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

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