This is the final entry in a series of books that have covered the entire history of the Western Front, and covers the battles that saw British troops penetrate the Hindenburg Line, and the final advance east, back towards some of the battlefields of 1914.
We start with the battles to break the Hindenburg Line, the famed German defensive line that had been the start point for the German offensives in the spring of 1918. The most famous image from this battle is of the Staffordshire Brigade on the banks of the St Quentin Canal, where they had managed to breach the line. However this account of the fighting makes it clear that the line was penetrated in several locations,
Once the Hindenburg Line has been broken, the nature of the fighting changed. The German army may not have been broken, but it was clearly defeated – individual units were still capable of putting up a fierce fight, but as a whole the army was no longer capable of holding on to any defensive line. Although the front line was still entirely on French and Belgian soil at the end of the war, if the fighting had gone on for much longer that would clearly not have been the case. Page after page is filled with accounts of successful advances, mixed in with some rearguard actions, but even the most successful German units soon had to retreat when their neighbours were forced back. This reads far more like an account of the breakout from Normandy or the final advance into German in 1945 than of ‘normal’ accounts of the fighting on the Western Front. This period lasted for almost a month and a half, from the breaking of the Hindenburg Line to the Armistice,
As with the previous entry in this series, I like the level of detail that is included here – some accounts of the Western Front get so bogged down in the fine details that you lose all feel for the overall course of the battle in question, but here there is enough detail to understand was was going on, but not so much that we loose track of the battle.
This is an excellent conclusion to this long running series on the Western Front, and a compelling account of the final victorious campaign of the war.
1 - Insufficient to Build an Enduring Defence
2 - Ceaseless, Wearing, Unspectacular Fighting
3 - On this Day We Buried all our Hopes for Victory
4 - The Most Desperately Fought Engagement of the War
5 - Fighting with Dash and Determination
6 - An Orgy of Fighting and Killing
7 - The Reception Accorded the Troops was Historic
8 - Reorganise, Push On and Get the Objective
9 - More Anxious to be Accepted as Prisoners than to Fight
10 - A Most Enthusiastic Reception
11 - What is the Good of Going On?
12 - A Magnificent Feat of Cool Resolution
13 - Practically a Route March
14 - Hammering the Hun had Broken Jerry’s Heart
15 - Completely Used Up and Burnt to Cinders
Author: Andrew Rawson
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military