The British Expeditionary Force, The 1914 Campaign

B2163

In any centenary year, publishers churn out books to commemorate the date. The outbreak of WWI in 1914 has been no exception. With few exceptions, this event has produced a fine selection of books and, even where one campaign, or one battle, has been covered by several authors, each has offered fresh insight and provided a valuable additional book. This book fits into this situation. Many authors will naturally cover the 1914 Campaign on the Western front because it was the point were initial war of movement gave way to a unique and terrible form of fixed line fighting from trenches. That the German advance bogged down was due to the incredible bravery of the small British Expeditionary Force which tenaciously fought the very much larger German force and brought them to a standstill.

One of the valuable aspects of this book is that there are many battle maps and this very capably supports the text. A book well worth reading and a good starting point for all of those new readers who want to find out more about WWI and perhaps the parts played by family members a century ago.

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NAME: The British Expeditionary Force, The 1914 Campaign
DATE: 180315
FILE: R2163
AUTHOR: Andrew Rawson
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword,
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 267
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Mons, Ypres, 1914, BEF, WWI, The Great War, 1914-1918, The Old Contemptibles, The Contemptable Little Army, trench warfare, River Aisne, Ypres Salient, machine guns, cavalry, field guns
ISBN: 1-47382-383-8
IMAGE: B2163.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/le4yrb8
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: In any centenary year, publishers churn out books to commemorate the date. The outbreak of WWI in 1914 has been no exception. With few exceptions, this event has produced a fine selection of books and, even where one campaign, or one battle, has been covered by several authors, each has offered fresh insight and provided a valuable additional book. This book fits into this situation. Many authors will naturally cover the 1914 Campaign on the Western front because it was the point were initial war of movement gave way to a unique and terrible form of fixed line fighting from trenches. That the German advance bogged down was due to the incredible bravery of the small British Expeditionary Force which tenaciously fought the very much larger German force and brought them to a standstill.

This book provides a balanced approach to each battle in the campaign and does not assume that the reader has already read a number of books on the conflict. There are clear battle maps in illustration and there is a photo plate section that illustrates some of the key images of the campaign.

The British did not have a large standing army and the BEF was a balanced field force that represented the lack of large forces from which to assemble it. Infantry, cavalry and artillery was ferried across to France and the BEF was assigned the western end of the Allied line, along the Belgian border. As Belgium was neutral, the British positions were on the French side of the border to the coast. Once the Germans demonstrated that they were prepared to invade neutral Belgium, Allied forces moved over the border to confront the invasion.

The BEF simply did not have the numbers to immediately halt the large German force and a fighting retreat was inevitable. The key factor was to slow the Germans and then bring them to a halt to frustrate their intention of sweeping down the coast, around the back of the BEF and advance on Paris. Some brilliant and effective actions by units of various sizes convinced the Germans that they were in contact with the main BEF rather than the small advanced units that they were actually being engaged by.
The British were ingenious and used those resources available to them very effectively. One of the many outstanding parts of the battles was the use of London buses, with civilian crews, to bring the troops to the Channel Ports, across on the ferries and then drive right up to the fighting to unload their passengers and return carrying the wounded.

Although the British standing army was small, there were reserve volunteers available who had trained regularly and the effective rifle drill produced a high rate of aimed fire that was so devastating that the Germans thought they were facing machine guns. One important factor was that even junior officers at platoon level were able to think for themselves and respond quickly to changing conditions or in the absence of direct orders. Units fought, retired and fought again. At no point was there the risk of the fighting retreat becoming chaotic flight. When units became detached, they intelligently followed a line of retreat to enable them to rejoin their formations.

One of the valuable aspects of this book is that there are many battle maps and this very capably supports the text. A book well worth reading and a good starting point for all of those new readers who want to find out more about WWI and perhaps the parts played by family members a century ago.

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