The 12th (Service) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment was the city of Sheffield's contribution to Kitchener's 'New Army', the massive volunteer army raised in Britain in the first two years of the Great War and that suffered so badly on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
This book differs somewhat in tone and content from many regimental histories from the Great War. The first difference comes at the point where the battalion leaves British shores - unlike the vast majority of New Army battalions the 12th didn't go straight to France, but instead was sent to Egypt, where it spent some time defending the line of the Suez Canal. This gives the book rather more variety than is often the case.
The second difference comes in the account of the First Battle of the Somme. Here the authors begin with a detailed look at the background to the battle, the British plans for the attack, and the reasons that they failed. This gives us a much more detailed picture of the attack of 1 July 1916 than is often the case, and makes it clear that the disastrous British defeat on the first day of the Somme was much more complex than is normally believed. After providing us with this background, the authors then produce a detailed and compelling account of the Battalion's tragic involvement in the attack.
After the Somme we follow the battalion as it moved around some of the best known parts of the Western Front, although normally arriving during relatively quiet periods. Finally, as the man-power crisis began to hit, the battalion was disbanded and most of the remaining men moved into another battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment.
This is an excellent battalion history, and also a valuable contribution to the literature on the Great War.
1 - Raising the Battalion
2 - Redmires
3 - Advanced Training
4 - Egypt
5 - Early Days in France
6 - Preparations for the Somme Offensive
7 - 1st July 1916
8 - Aftermath of the Battle
9 - Neuve Chapelle
10 - Return to the Somme
11 - Arras
12 - Vimy Ridge
13 - Disbandment and Post War
Appendix I - Decorations, Commanding Officers, City Battalion
Appendix II - The Reserves Companies
Appendix III - Biographical List
Appendix IV - Sources and Acknowledgements
Author: Ralph Gibson & Paul Oldfield
Edition: Hardcover (Paperback should be available)
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1994 original