The year 1915 was one of unprecedented challenges for the British Army. Short of manpower, firepower and experience, the army needed time to adapt before it could hope to overcome the formidable German defences of the Western Front. Yet the insistent demands of coalition warfare required immediate and repeated action. The result was a year of disappointments, setbacks and costly fighting. The very difficulties of 1915 make it especially worthy of study. This book offers a fresh and insightful evaluation of the experience of the British Army through a series of thematic essays examining the strategic, operational, tactical and logistical problems that shaped the fighting. Within these pages are assessments of broad topics such as the performance of British high command, the ‘Shell Scandal’ and the development of the Royal Flying Corps, as well as a thorough selection of battle studies which cast new light on engagements such as Neuve Chapelle, Second Ypres, Festubert and Loos. Special attention is placed on the composite nature of the British Army, with chapters examining Canadian, Indian, Regular and Territorial unit experience. Taken as a whole these essays offer an important reassessment of a forgotten year of the war, and illustrate the tremendous difficulties faced by the British Army as it endured a bloody learning curve in difficult conditions. This book will be of great interest to anyone who studies the First World War, and of particular value to those who seek a greater understanding of the British Army of the era.
“ … The book contains much of significance and interest …” Soldiers of the Queen
“ … The performance of key figures is treated with a sobriety I find most welcome. I sometimes find myself confused with the labels of traditionalism, revisionism and counter-revisionism applied to aspects of Great War historiography. All I want is clarity and it is much in evidence here … variety is my thing and I want to learn as much as I can about a range of military history that sets the scene for the world I live in. This is the sort of book to do just that. It is brilliant.” War History Online
“ … A highly impressive collection of essays. As Brian Bond observes in his foreword, it is hugely reassuring to see the arrival of the new generation military historians of ‘proven ability and admirable dedication’.” British Journal for Military History
“ … a deeply analytical view of a sometimes passed over year of the First World War…” Newsletter of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum
“ … This is another highly valuable work of evaluation, analysis and historical judgement…” Stand To!
“… The production values are extremely high. An impressive set of colour maps can be found in the middle of this volume. The detail of these greatly enhances the reading of the chapters, particularly those concerning individual battles… This book is an important and very welcome addition to the historiography of the First World War. 1915 was a year of learning lessons and refining techniques on and off the battlefield, which this volume captures perfectly.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research
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