Published by Pen & Sword Books on August 5, 2016
Genres: Battles & Campaigns
Twenty-four years prior to the release of this book, historian Peter Liddle’s “classic” The Soldier’s War, 1914-1918 introduced readers to the four-and-a-half month Battle of the Somme. Here “Liddle reconsiders the battle in the light of recent scholarship” although without using even one German source or citing even one German unit in the index.
His narrative of “one of the most significant and controversial episodes in British military history” is “based on the graphic and revealing first-hand testimony of [British] soldiers….” An analogy might be to read the description of a football game (American or British) that presents only one side’s actions, decisions, and feelings.
Liddle’s end chapter “Verdict” claims “that in 1916-17 terms, a British victory was won on the Somme,” and “that the resolve of the soldier of the [BEF] had not been broken by the experience….” Compared to Passchendaele a year later, the Somme could be considered a wildly successful operation.
The book has a very nice British order-of-battle for the beginning of the battle on 1 July 1916, as well as its 12 phases through 18 November.
Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI