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hazelclark

Passchendaele. “A New History”

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hazelclark

I tend to read most of what I can get my hands on about 3 rd Ypres but have not come across this one. Has anyone read it? Is there anything new and does it deal with the first couple of days ?  i.e July 31st and August 1st/ 2nd?

The Van Emden book, which seems to have the same name as Terraine’s, apparently has a lot of photographs so likely should be purchased in book form rather than downloaded on Kindle.

 

Have been away from the Forum for a while so would appreciate any comments.

Thanks,

Hazel C.

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kenf48

If you’re referring to Paschendaele Nick Lloyd it  was in my Christmas stocking, not read it but there is a chapter on 31July to 5 August, about fifteen paperback pages which perhaps gives an indication of the depth.

 

Sadly I can’t recall reading any book I’ve been given as a gift but I might get round to it, then again I sometimes don’t read those I buy myself.  

 

Ken

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hazelclark

Since I do have an interest in this time I think I will just download it and then decide if I want the book.  Kindle doesn’t replace books for me!!

Thanks and a good new year to you,

Hazel

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sassenach

Hazel, like you I am interested in the early part of Third Ypres, though in my case specifically 31 July, when my uncle was killed. Have you come across anything dealing in detail with the action of that day, particularly on the right of the Allied line in the Sanctuary Wood/Shrewsbury Forest area?

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hazelclark

My grandfather was a sergeant in the Seaforth and from what I can deduce he must have been wounded on the 31st but lay in a trench for three days.  Consequently, gangrene set in which set off a chain of events that deeply affected our family. He was in the 15th Scottish Division.

Anything that I have come across deals very superficially with the first couple days and this new book doesn’t sound any different.  I do, however, have the diaries for the division  including the the Field Ambulances which now also appear to be on Ancestry.  Which regiment was your Uncle in?

 

A good New Year to you.

 

Hazel C.

 

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sassenach

Many thanks for your reply, Hazel. My uncle was in the 3rd Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, part of 24th Division. On 31/7 they attacked about 2km south of the Menin Road. I assume your grandfather was in 8th Seaforths, part of 44th Brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division. They were about the same distance north of the Menin Road on the Frezenberg Ridge (sorry, I'm sure you know all this) so your grandfather and my uncle were about 4km apart.

 

In Lyn Macdonald's "They Called it Passchendaele" there is an account of that day by a man in 10/11 HLI, which was part of 46th Brigade in 15th Division, so he would have been close to the Seaforths. Again I'm sure you know all this already!

 

Thanks again and a Good New Year to you too.

 

PS Did you get to the 100th anniversary commemoration at Tyne Cot last July?   

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hazelclark

Actually I didn’t know about that account in Lyn Macdonald’s book. It is one of the few books I passed up on because I have never really liked her books. However, I will now read that one.

 I have never been to the Western Front although I go to Scotland most years.  Had intended going in 2017 but ended up having to spend the entire time in Scotland owing to illness in the family. Will see what can be arranged this year.  However, my nephew, who goes to school on Vancouver Island, went on a school trip to the Vimy Ridge ceremony.

 I did, however, get one of the Passchendaele Poppies, which are supposed to be made from old bombs and soil from Ypres.

 

H.

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sassenach

If you do get to Ypres, the Scottish Memorial is located on Frezenberg Ridge, the area where the Seaforths were in action on 31 July.

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hazelclark

Thanks!

H

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WilliamRev
12 hours ago, sassenach said:

Hazel, like you I am interested in the early part of Third Ypres, though in my case specifically 31 July, when my uncle was killed. Have you come across anything dealing in detail with the action of that day, particularly on the right of the Allied line in the Sanctuary Wood/Shrewsbury Forest area?

 

I have been studying a particular aspect of Third Ypres for my MA dissertation (Polygon Wood). I think that Nick Lloyd's book is excellent, giving a good account of the campaign, with plenty of attention given to the German forces as well, which is what is always needed!

 

For those wanting to trace a particular battalion at Third Ypres, by far the most detailed and accurate book is Robert A. Perry's superb To Play a Giant's Part: the role of the Briitish Army at Passchendaele (although there is plenty about the German Army here as well). Almost as good is Andrew Rawson's The Passchendaele Campaign 1917 which has good detail and plentiful clear maps (but does not aim to cover the German forces). At divisional, brigade and battalion level these are the two books that anyone keen on Third Ypres needs to buy.

 

[Paul Ham's book Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth, also out this year is, in my opinion, a poor thing that ignores vast amounts of recent research, dismissing it as 'revisionist'. It has the air of a book written in a hurry, and is padded out with quotes and letters. I'm sorry that I wasted money buying it.]

 

William

Edited by WilliamRev

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Crunchy
41 minutes ago, WilliamRev said:

 

 

[Paul Ham's book Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth, also out this year is, in my opinion, a poor thing that ignores vast amounts of recent research, dismissing it as 'revisionist'. It has the air of a book written in a hurry, and is padded out with quotes and letters. I'm sorry that I wasted money buying it.]

 

William

Agreed. Pam Ham is one of the Australian journalists who jumped on the band waggon of Great War centenary publications by producing books based largely on secondary sources, and quotes from diaries and letters. Not worth the money.

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hazelclark

Thanks to both of you for your responses.

 

Will order the two books suggested by you William, as I had not heard of either and they sound worth getting.

 

Hazel

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Crunchy

Hazel,

 

A review of Nick LLoyd's Passchendaele: A New History

 

Did Passchendaele mark the moment when German morale collapsed on the Western Front? Nick Lloyd makes a compelling case Last year it was the Somme; now Passchendaele. Next year the centenary commemoration of the First World War will – or should – culminate with the Allied victory and the succession of battles which, together with the blockade, forced Germany to seek an Armistice. It’s unlikely that these successes will get as much attention as the Somme and Passchendaele (properly, or officially, the Third Battle of Ypres). These are written deep in folk memory, whereas the series of battles won by the British Army from June to November 1918 are rarely remembered. As it happens, Nick Lloyd, Reader in Military and Imperial History at King’s College, London and based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, has already written a fine book, Hundred Days: The End of the Great War; it’s certain that Passchendaele will have more readers. It will do so because the Western Front is popularly seen as a place of horror, the war as catastrophe. As for Passchendaele, fought from 31 July to 10 November, the words that echo down the years are those of a weeping Staff Officer: “Good God, did we really send men to fight in that?” Lloyd is not the first to question their authenticity, but, as he writes, “Passchendaele stood out as the ultimate expression of meaningless, industrialized slaughter”. What were described as “battle and trench wastage casualties” amounted to almost a quarter of a million men. (This figure included the lightly wounded, who often returned to front-line duty.) German losses were almost the same. The battle was fought, partly to take pressure off the French, partly in the belief, held strongly by Field-Marshal Douglas Haig, that a breakthrough which would liberate Belgium and capture the enemy’s submarine bases on the Belgian coast could be achieved. By the time the operation was at last halted, the British Army had advanced only five miles. Nevertheless John Terraine, in a biography defending Haig, insisted that Passchendaele marked the moment when German morale on the Western Front began to collapse. The implication is that without it the victories of the following year would not have been possible. This may be true. Lloyd does not dissent from this view. While he is severely critical of the tactics employed in the battle, he asserts that “major success was within Britain’s grasp in the summer and autumn of 1917” and might have been achieved if “the battle had been managed slightly differently”. It could even be said that Third Ypres was, in some respects, one of the “lost victories” of the war. This may never be a popular opinion, but, on the evidence Lloyd assembles, it is a fair one. The account of the battle is detailed and compelling. Whatever justifications may be advanced the horror does not – cannot – fade or be denied. One of the many strengths of this book is that it examines “the other side of the hill”, giving the German side of the story, itself “a remarkable one of courage and ingenuity in the face of almost unimaginable horrors”. Historians, Lloyd writes, by concentrating on “the mistakes and weaknesses of the British High Command, have sometimes downplayed the awful experience of the ‘Flanders bloodbath’ for the defenders”. The charge against Haig, which none of his advocates have answered, is that he persisted too long in a battle which could no longer be won, and that he failed to realise which tactics were successful and which were not. He may have been stolid and unimaginative, but he was also, in Lloyd’s opinion, “a compulsive gambler. “The contrast with the cautious, defensively-minded French Commander-in Chief, Marshal Petain was marked, and explains that, while many after the war reviled Haig as a butcher, Petain was hailed by the French as “our most humane General”, a reputation which also explains why the majority of the French turned to him as their Guardian in the disaster of 1940. There will be other books about Third Ypres this year, but it’s unlikely that any of them will be better-researched, more intelligent or fairer than this one. Without in any way minimising the awfulness of the battle, Lloyd makes its inception and course comprehensible. Both as narrative and analysis, this book is masterly

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/book-review-passchendaele-a-new-history-by-by-nick-lloyd-1-4442299

 

 

 

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hazelclark

Thanks for that review.  I have ordered it.

 

My memory of Terraine’s book on 3rd Ypres is that he felt that Haig’s only real mistake was to switch commanders from Plumer to Geogh. Other historians have taken the view that it started too late and went on too long.

 

 I look forward to reading Lloyd’s view.

Hazel

 

 

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hazelclark

Was able to order the British Army book through NMP.as suggested by a Forum member.  They have it on sale for 17 pounds or thereabouts.  The Lloyd book in paperback only cost about $15 for a new paperback copy from Awesome Books which is a steal.

Hazel C.

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Steven Broomfield

I have Lloyd's book but have not yet read it. His book on Loos was certainly the best of the bunch in 2015.

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hazelclark

I am now waiting for delivery of several books that promise to be interesting reads.  In the mean time will try to get into some of the dozens of unread books on my kindle!!  Have read most of the actual books.

H.C.

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NigelS

Kindle version available today (13th Feb '18) as a 'Daily Deal' at £0.99   Click

 

NigelS

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hazelclark

That’s not to be sneezed at. Will look at the .CA AS  going to New Mexico and that is good time for kindle.

Thanks,

Hazel

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sassenach

Anyone read the Lloyd book yet? It's still in my "to read" pile. 

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Steven Broomfield

Yes. Highly recommended. A very good book: not a battle history (so if you interested in the Umpteenth Loamshires, not the book for you), but as an overview of the politics and behind-the-scenes machinations, very good indeed.

 

I confess he's rather amended my view of Haig's role in the battle. And not in a good way.

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sassenach

Thank you, Mr B. I have now moved it to pole position in my to-read pile! 

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Steven Broomfield

I don't think any Eastern Europeans feature, but I'm happy to be proved wrong.

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hazelclark

Crunchy is spot on with this book.

 

 It is both informative  and readable, looking at both sides of the battle in the field, as well as the political machinations in both countries. I bought Sheldon’s book as a matter of fact to try to get the German perspective, although I still haven’t read it.  Certainly Lloyd’s book is the most objective view of Haig’s participation that I have come across to date.

 

Lots of interesting extraneous bits of information about which I had no idea.  While I realised that Haig and Robertson were not exactly seeing eye to eye by the time of 3rd Ypres, I wonder how many people know that Haig had actually tried to have Robertson moved to the Admiralty?

 

Hazel C

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Steven Broomfield

Agreed.

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