This book takes a different approach to the majority of titles on the battle of the Somme. Instead of providing us with another narrative of the battle, here we get twelve articles looking at different aspects of the battle and how it fitted into the combatant's plans for 1916. These look at the battle from the French, German and British perspectives - a welcome change from the very Anglo-centric nature of much writing on the Somme.
Most of the articles fall into two categories. The first group look at the strategic background and impact of the Somme - how it fitted into the British, French and German plans for 1916, how the fighting at Verdun disrupted those plans, and how both sides adapted their plans to cope (the end result has to be considered a draw - Allied plans to apply pressure all around the borders of the Central Powers failed to achieve their aims, but German attempts to set up a great counter-attacking victory also failed). The second group look at the tactics used on the Somme, and how they developed during the battle (in particular on the British side, where the lessons of the disastrous first day were slowly applied to later attacks).
Perhaps the most important conclusion to emerge from these articles is that the battle of the Somme played a crucial part in the British learning curve. The Somme was the first really large battle to be fought by Kitchener's New Armies, and marks the point where the British became equal partners with the French on the Western Front. The lessons learnt at the some continued to be refined during 1917, and laid the foundations for the successful British offensives of 1918.
This is a very useful collection of articles that help place the Battle of the Somme properly in its context, as one of the most important campaigns on the Western Front, and one with long term consequences for all side.
1 - The Context of the Somme, Professor Dr Lothar Höbelt
2 - Attrition or Annihilation?, Oberst Dr Gerhard GroS
3 - French Strategy in 1916 and the Battle of the Somme, Professor Georges-Henri Soutou
4 - Air War over the Somme, Dr James S. Corum
5 - The British Army's Operations on the Somme, Dr Stuart Mitchell
6 - Trial and Error, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) Christopher Pugsley ONZM
7 - French Generalship on the Somme, Professor Michael S. Neiberg
8 - The Road to Modern Combined Arms Warfare, Oberstleutnant Dr Christian Stachelbeck
9 - British Tactical Practice During the Somme Campaign, Dr Bill Mitchinson
10 - The German Army at War, Dr Matthias Strohn
11 - The Evolution of French Tactics 1914-16, Dr Jonathan Krause
12 - The Long Shadows of the Somme, Major General (Ret'd) Mungo Melvin CB OBE
Editor: Matthew Strohn