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The Battle of the Somme edited by Matthias Strohn


The Ibis
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I just received my copy of The Battle of the Somme, edited by Matthias Strohn with a Foreword by Hew Strachan (hey, that sounds like a personal injury law firm - Strohn and Strachan!). Its a collection of essays by a number of military historians. https://ospreypublishing.com/the-battle-of-the-somme

Here are the essay titles and authors.

Foreword by Professor Sir Hew Strachan
The Context of the Somme (Lothar Höbelt)
Attrition or Annihilation? (Gerhard Gross)
French Strategy in 1916 and the Battle of the Somme (Georges-Henri Soutou)
Air War over the Somme (James Corum)
The British Army's Operations on the Somme (Stuart Mitchell)
Trial and Error: the Dominion forces (Christopher Pugsley)
French Generalship on the Somme (Michael Neiberg)
The Road to Modern Combined Arms Warfare (Christian Stachelbeck)
British Tactical Practice During the Somme Campaign (Bill Mitchinson)
The German Army at War (Matthias Strohn)
The Evolution of French Tactics 1914-16 (Jonathan Krause)
The Long Shadows of the Somme (Mungo Melvin)

I've barely skimmed the Foreward, but it looks promising. I'll be back with more after I've completed it. Anyone read it yet?

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I agree with the last speaker. Buy one and learn something - which is more than can be said for many of the 'jump on the bandwagon' Somme titles currently hitting the market.

Jack

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That's it then....I've got to buy it.

Just done so...it'd better be good...I've given an expensive bottle of wine the elbow and opted for this instead !

Phil (PJA)

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The British Army is using this book as the main background reading for its Somme commemorative tour this September.

Charles M

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With such commendations, I have cracked and ordered a copy

Keith

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The band wagon all though i started some time ok, is photos of fallen officers 1st July 1916.

Sourced about 600 still going.

Although band wagon could be 'My Grandad fell on the Somme' which is a tale about Grandads although could be stretched to Dads (should the author be short of material) who have literally fallen over when walking on the

Somme.

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I agree with the last speaker. Buy one and learn something - which is more than can be said for many of the 'jump on the bandwagon' Somme titles currently hitting the market.

Jack

Hi

My copy arrived this morning and I had a quick look, Chapter 4 'Air War Over the Somme' by Dr James S. Corum has included the, sadly, commonplace false information on British air casualties, on page 83 stating:

"A total of 8,000 British aircrew were killed while training in the UK - a record of casualties per training hours that exceeded that of the Germans, French, and Americans by several times."

Let us be clear 'Airmen Died in the Great War 1914-1918' which is available in DVD-ROM gives a total of air service deaths as 9,350 all causes all ranks men and women. The appendices volume of 'War in the Air', page 160 gives a total of casualties from all causes in the British air services as 16,623, made up of Killed or Died - 6,166, Wounded or injured - 7,245, Missing or interned - 3,212. These are the 'official' figures. The false figure comes from 'The First of the Few' (1982) by Dennis Winter, page 36 where he states:

"...Put statistically, official figures at the end of the war listed 14,166 dead pilots, of whom 8,000 had died while training in the UK."

Obviously Winter did not actually use the 'official' figures!

This is not a one off, as Professor Edward Bujak in his, otherwise good book, 'Reckless Fellows' 92015) on page 4 states:

"Shockingly, over half the 14,166 pilots who lost their lives in the war did so in training."

Both of these are academic historians, others also get it wrong as Phil Carradice in 'First World War in the Air' (2012) page 51 states;

"It is a sad fact that over 14,000 airman lost their lives during the Great War. Amazingly, over 8,000 of these came from accidents during training."

It may be sad but it is not a 'fact'.

The question is why does this keep getting repeated, is it slapdash research or it is put in for its 'shock value' ?

Mike

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The Frenchman Georges-Henry Soutou makes a significant mistake, too, while alluding to casuaties.

He mentions the cost of the Battle of the Somme, and refers to 400,000 British and 350,000 French casualties.

The latter figure actually applies to losses for the all fronts between July and October 1916 : barely half of those 350,000 Frenchmen were casualties of the Somme in that period. Verdun and other sectors accounted for the rest.

Perhaps it's not massively important....the chapter does give a very good overview of the strategic predicament, and it certainly works.

But I reckon it's a little bit of a shame that an error of that nature was allowed to creep in.

Phil (PJA)

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I'm about two-thirds of the way through. Uneven quality, I'd say so far. First three chapters almost put me to sleep. Two of the subsequent chapters very good indeed. I shall write a review of the whole when I am finished.

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I thought it was fine for a supplemental overview. By that I mean that if one has a general understanding of the Battle, this book might illuminate some areas for further study. But it's not a standalone book like Philpott's.

As other posters noted, there are errors scattered throughout. I didn't notice anything groundbreaking.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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