In a war of stalemate that seemed never ending, September to November offered real hope for the BEF. The author provides a nicely researched account of the BEF push forward and through the Hindenburg Line – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: British Expeditionary Force, The Final Advance, September to November 1918 FILE: R2753 AUTHOR: Andrew Rawson PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 218 PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWI, World War I, World War 1, First World War, World War One, the Great War, BEF, Western Front
IMAGE: B2753.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y9cvq3gq LINKS: DESCRIPTION: In a war of stalemate that seemed never ending, September to November offered real hope for the BEF. The author provides a nicely researched account of the BEF push forward and through the Hindenburg Line - Most Highly Recommended The BEF had a most extra ordinary war that has been somewhat lost in all the wailing and moaning about the futility of war. German ambition had once more taken Europe to the brink of disaster. There was multiple failure by politicians that allowed Europe to sleep walk into conflict but overwhelmingly it was German arrogance and ambition that caused WWI. At the start of the war the BEF performed magnificently. It was most of the British Army, that tiny standing army and small reserve was all that was available. Britain had never believed in a large professional standing army, depending on the Royal Navy to defend the sea lanes and British coasts from aggressors. What was available may have been small, but it was well trained and equipped and it had great spirit. The Germans dismissed it, to their cost, as a Contemptible Little Army. As massive numbers of German troops poured through neutral Belgium into France they expected a very quick victory but met a determined BEF that fought well above its weight in a series of skilled rear guard actions that slowed the German advance and then allowed the opportunity for counter attack. The counter attack was itself extraordinary and in the finest traditions of British arms. British and French generals, who had never worked closely together before, managed a co-ordinated counter attack that started to drive the Germans back to their own border. It was not only extraordinary for the exemplary co-operation of two armies that had no tradition of working together, but because the BEF was almost exhausted and a major re-supply operation gave it enough to start throwing the Germans back but, in the end, not enough to keep the momentum going against a significantly larger German force to drive it over the border and on to surrender. The Germans had just enough time to start digging. Then began the long war of attrition as two defensive lines faced each other, dug in ever deeper and pounded each other with artillery and machine gun fire, launched gas attacks and searched for an opening in the enemy defences. Much has been made over the years of the incompetence of the Allied Generals and the timidity of the American commanders when they eventually joined the war. This has been very unfair. The way forward was only to fight and force the enemy to surrender. The Germans believed they were superior in every way and would win. The Allies simply could not allow that. It was a battle of win or die. Large scale attacks had to be undertaken even though it would produce terrible casualties on both sides. Until new technology became available, the generals could only use mining and frontal attacks to attempt to exploit any vulnerability in the enemy positions. The massive losses in young men and materials was necessary to avoid defeat until new weapons became available. The tank started to change the dynamic because it was a slow moving pill box, that was machine gun proof, which the infantry could keep up with and take cover behind. Together with massive mining operations, the tanks began to wear down the Germans as the Royal Navy blockade wore down the German ability to resist. At the same time, Allied aircraft and their crews began to break the German ability to control sections of the skies over the battlefields. When the Russian armies collapsed, in the turmoil of insurrection, the Germans were able to move all their forces to the Western Front. That could have been decisive and given them victory but the US land forces and aviators had arrived to rebalance the forces on the Western Front. It may have taken the Americans a while to develop the resources and confidence to begin offensive operations but it was hardly surprising that it would take time to reach the level of ability British and French forces had learned over almost four bitter years of fighting the first industrial war in history, where machines frequently had more impact than men. However, the BEF endured and survived and grew. By September 1918 it was ready for the final push against the Germans. It proved equal to the task and it began the route of German troops. The author has done justice to the BEF with detailed study of the 50 mile advance to Armistice in November 1918. His clear and well presented text is very ably supported by more than 50 detailed and annotated maps of all the battles and actions. He shows the strength of British combined arms tactics that repeatedly defeated the Germans. A comprehensive and impressive study of a winning BEF.