A major new history of the most infamous battle of the First World War, as described by the men who fought it. On 1 July 1916, Douglas Haig's army launched the 'Big Push' that was supposed finally to bring an end to the stalemate on the Western Front. What happened next was a human catastrophe: scrambling over the top into the face of the German machine guns and artillery fire, almost 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed that day alone, and twice as many wounded - the greatest loss in a single day ever sustained by the British Army. The battle did not stop there, however. It dragged on for another 4 months, leaving the battlefield strewn with literally hundreds of thousands of bodies. The Somme has remained a byword for the futility of war ever since. In this major new history, Peter Hart describes how the battle looked from the point of view of those who fought it. Using never-before-seen eyewitness testimonies, he shows us this epic conflict from all angles. We see what it was like to crawl across No Man's Land in the face of the German guns, what it was like for those who stayed behind in the trenches - the padres, the artillerymen, the doctors. We also see what the battle looked like from the air, as the RFC battled to keep control of the skies above the battlefield. All this is put in the context of the background to the battle, and Haig's overall strategy for the Western Front, making this the most comprehensive history of the battle since Lyn MacDonald's bestselling work over 20 years ago.
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Rescuing from history the heroes on the front line whose bravery has been overlooked, and giving voice to their bereaved relatives at home, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore reveals the Battle of the Somme in all its glory and misery, helping us to realize that there are many meaningful ways to define a battle when seen through the eyes of those who lived it.
2016 is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme 'There was hardly a household in the land', writes Lyn Macdonald, 'there was no trade, occupation, profession or community, which was not represented in the thousands of innocent enthusiasts who made up the ranks of Kitchener's Army before the Battle of the Somme...' The year 1916 was one of the great turning-points in British history: as the youthful hopes of a generation were crushed in a desperate struggle to survive, and traditional attitudes to authority were destroyed for ever. On paper, few battles have ever been so meticulously planned. Yet while there were good political reasons to launch a joint offensive with a French Army demoralized by huge casualties at Verdun, the raw troops on the ground knew nothing of that. A hundred and fifty thousand were killed in the punishing shellfire, the endless ordeal of attack and counter-attack; twice that number were left maimed or wounded. Here, almost for the first time, Lyn Macdonald lets the men who were there give their own testimony. Their stories are vivid, harrowing, sometimes terrifying - yet shot through with humour, immense courage and an astonishing spirit of resilience. 'What the reader will longest remember are the words - heartbroken, blunt, angry - of the men who lived through the bloodbath...a worthy addition to the literature of the Great War...'Daily Mail Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and survivors, told in their own words, and cast a unique light on the First World War. Most are published by Penguin.
"Despite superior air and artillery power, British soldiers died in catastrophic numbers at the Battle of Somme in 1916. What went wrong, and who was responsible? This book meticulously reconstructs the battle, assigns responsibility to military and political leaders, and changes forever the way we understand this encounter and the history of the Western Front"--Publisher description.
After an immense but useless bombardment, at 7.30 am. On 1 July 1916 the British Army went over the top and attacked the German trenches. It was the first day of the battle of the Somme, and on that day the British suffered nearly 60,000 casualties, two for every yard of their front. With more than fifty times the daily losses at El Alamein and fifteen times the British casualties on D-day, 1 July 1916 was the blackest day in the history of the British Army. But, more than that, as Lloyd George recognised, it was a watershed in the history of the First World War. The Army that attacked on that day was the volunteer Army that had answered Kitchener's call. It had gone into action confident of a decisive victory. But by sunset on the first day on the Somme, no one could any longer think of a war that might be won. Martin Middlebrook's research has covered not just official and regimental histories and tours of the battlefields, but interviews with hundreds of survivors, both British and German. As to the action itself, he conveys the overall strategic view and the terrifying reality that it was for front-line soldiers.
offensive to be waged against Germany even as France poured incredible numbers of men into the slaughterhouse that was the desperate defense of Verdun. élan vital” of the French people, a quality, he argued, that set the Gallic race apart from the rest of the world. French losses were just under 200,000. The Germans lost at least 650,000. Just as the French refused to give up ground at Verdun, the Germans held on stubbornly at the Somme—so stubbornly that General Ludendorff actually complained that his men “fought too doggedly, clinging too resolutely to the mere holding of ground, with the result that the losses were heavy.” The only thing “conclusive” about the Somme was the ineluctable fact of death. No battle ever fought in any conflict provided a stronger incentive for all sides to reach a negotiated peace—the “peace without victory” that Woodrow Wilson, still standing on the sidelines, urged the combatants to agree upon. Instead, the Kaiser, appalled both by Verdun and the Somme, relieved Falkenhayn and replaced him with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who had achieved great success on the Eastern Front. The new commanders created two new defensive lines, both well behind the Somme front. On the one hand, it was a retreat. On the other, it was a commitment to draw the French and British farther east and invite them to sacrifice more of their soldiery. The modest advance the British made was but the prelude to additional slaughter.
An engrossing literary novel about a family mystery, revenge, and forgiveness by the bestselling author of Norwegian Wood and The Bell in the Lake The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is an intricately plotted and enthralling novel by the award-winning author of Norwegian Wood and The Bell in the Lake. An international bestseller and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Prize, it tells the story of Edvard and starts at his family’s tree farm in Norway, where he was raised by his grandfather. The death of Edvard’s parents when he was three has always been a mystery but he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow connected. One day a coffin is delivered to the farm for his grandfather, long before the grandfather’s death––a meticulous, beautiful, and unique piece of craftsmanship with the hallmarks of a certain master craftsman––raising the thought that Einar isn’t dead after all. Edvard is now driven to unravel the mystery of his parents’ death. Following a trail of clues from Norway to the Shetland Islands to the battlefields of France and sixteen ancient walnut trees colored by poison gas in World War I, Edvard ultimately discovers a very unusual inheritance. Spanning a century and masterfully navigating themes of revenge and forgiveness, love and loneliness, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme displays the rich talents of Lars Mytting––whose novels have sold over a million copies worldwide––in a story that is utterly compelling and unforgettable.