Hold at All Costs! The Epic Battle of Delville Wood 1916, Ian Uys

Hold at All Costs! The Epic Battle of Delville Wood 1916, Ian Uys

The battle of Delville Wood was one of the most intense sub-battles during the wider battle of the Somme, marking the start of the second general British offensive. This book focuses on first part of the battle, when the wood was defended by the 1st South African Brigade, in what became the most famous South African battle of the First World War.

The capture of Delville Wood and the nearby village of Longueval were key parts of Haig’s plan for the renewal of the British offensive after the disastrous start to the battle of the Somme. They were needed as a base for the second stage of the renewed offensive, and both fell to the Allies fairly quickly. However the Germans then counterattacked in great strength, and the South Africans found themselves involved in a desperate attempt to hold onto the position. 

After a detailed introduction, looking at the formation of the South African Brigade, the start of the battle of the Somme and the reasons for the attack on Delville Wood, we move into the heart of the book - six chapters that give a day-by-day account of the fighting, each one starting with the Allied view and ending with the German view. The addition of the German viewpoint is of great value, providing a level of detail for the impact of the battle on the Germans that is rarely present in books on the First World War. This makes us realise that the Germans suffered equally heavy casualties, and many of their own units were almost destroyed in these counterattacks, which are so often portrayed purely from the point of view of the Allied defenders. The result is an excellent if rather gruelling account of a five day long battle for one of the many patches of woodland that came to dominate the middle period of the battle of the Somme


1 - Moulding the Brigade
2 - French entrée
3 - The Big Push
4 - The Village - 14 July
5 - The Wood - 15 July
6 - Fighting escalates - 16 July
7 - Holding on - 17 July
8 - The Bombardment - 18 July
9 - At all costs - 19-20 July
10 - Aftermath

I - Biographies
II - An Overview
III - Poems
IV - German regimental histories
V - British Order of Battle
VI - 1st SA Infantry Brigade
VII - Decorations and Mentions

Author: Ian Uys
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 216
Publisher: Helion
Year: 2015

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