Victoria Crosses on the Western Front, August 1914 – April 1915, Mons to Hill 60

B2059

This book records the 59 awards of the Victoria Cross made for the period from the start of WWI to April 1915, the period from Mons to Hill 60. The award of 59 VC s for less than a year of combat is a good indication of the ferocity of the battles on the Western Front. The author has aimed to achieve two objectives with this excellent book. Firstly, he is providing a valuable companion for those visiting the battlefields. Secondly, he is providing a detailed record for those enthusiasts and historians who study the Great War and the terrible trench warfare that made the Western Front a war of attrition. Both publisher and author are to be commended for a fine book that is presented well and supported by a wealth of photographs, sketches and maps.

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NAME: Victoria Crosses on the Western Front, August 1914 – April 1915, Mons to Hill 60
DATE: 021114
FILE: R2059
AUTHOR: Paul Oldfield
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 362
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, The Great War, World War One, First World War, extreme bravery, trench warfare, medals, orders, decorations.
ISBN: 1-78303-043-7
IMAGE: B2059.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mrfmb7u
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The Victoria Cross is one of a very small number of awards for military bravery that is known around the world. Many have been issued posthumously and all have recognized outstanding courage on the battlefield, frequently where the recipient has disregarded his own safety to help comrades.

This book records the 59 awards of the Victoria Cross made for the period from the start of WWI to April 1915, the period from Mons to Hill 60. The award of 59 VC s for less than a year of combat is a good indication of the ferocity of the battles on the Western Front. The author has aimed to achieve two objectives with this excellent book. Firstly, he is providing a valuable companion for those visiting the battlefields. Secondly, he is providing a detailed record for those enthusiasts and historians who study the Great War and the terrible trench warfare that made the Western Front a war of attrition. Both publisher and author are to be commended for a fine book that is presented well and supported by a wealth of photographs, sketches and maps.

This is a selection of comprehensive biographies of recipients of the Victoria Cross during the period. As a warts-and-all study, it shows how extreme bravery is not confined to any one social group. These are moving stories that include much detail of each recipient’s background, the act of extreme bravery that justified the award, and how that fitted into the recipient’s life. As such it is an unusual coverage and a very valuable contribution to the understanding of humans at war.

There are limits to what words and pictures can show. In battle, there is a mixture of fear and elation that is impossible to convey fully to those who have not been through such experience. Time seems to stand still in moments of significant peril and the experience is in full colour, making life before and after appear muted, even monochrome. Most old combatants are reluctant to talk about the realities of bloody conflict and for many the memories are just too painful and personal. The author has done an outstanding job in painting a picture of conditions and human behaviour that almost defies description.

Today it is very difficult to imagine just what life was like on the Western Front. Some education systems ask students to describe with empathy, often following a brief trip to an old battlefield. It may be much more valuable to ask them to explain when, where why and how actions took place and to study books such as this, where an author has managed to catch much of the atmosphere and environment. In 1914, the initial fast movement was halted and became a bare knuckle fight of attrition as trenches were established and dug ever deeper, leading to deep tunnelling as both sides tried to mine opposing trenches. Within the trenches, shelter and protection was relative. Most trenches were wet and dangerously muddy. The soldiers were filthy, living in the insanitary conditions, where human remains were embedded in the trench walls and often used as impromptu hooks to hang clothing. The noise of bombardment and the constant vibration is impossible to imagine. The crippling sorties across no-man’s land were almost a relief, for so many a permanent relief. The acts of great bravery were so many that the task of selecting the most extraordinary acts was a great challenge.

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