IMAGES OF WAR: THE BEF IN 1917

Book number: 92646 Product format: Paperback Author: BOB CARRUTHERS

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Bibliophile price £3.50
Published price £14.99


Arras, Vimy, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives. The huge pressure forced upon the German armies by the Anglo-French Somme offensive that dominated the second half of 1916 left the outnumbered German forces little choice but to reduce the length of the Western Front. This was achieved by constructing a line of defences some 30 miles behind the front line - the Hindenburg or Siegfried Line - and on 9 February 1917 German troops began the withdrawal, completing the retreat two months later. The terrain they left, into which the allied troops had to advance, was utterly devastated, littered with booby traps and ambushes, so the advance was painstaking and slow. The thinking of the Allied commanders was that the policy of attrition had led to the German retreat and so it would work again, but the new line was much better constructed and defended. Thus, that July began one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. Nine months later, at the cost of over half a million lives which included battles whose names even today are bywords for futile bloody slaughter - Arras, Cambrai, Messines and particularly Passchendaele - the line was broken. In his introduction historian Bob Carruthers relates the assault, but the 130 plus b/w photos that follow say more than words ever could. A truly compelling selection, it lays bare the startling, appalling conditions experienced by the troops on both sides and the staggering bravery of allied troops in assault after assault on the phenomenally well-defended German positions. There are some lighter moments - troops receiving food parcels and presents from home, grateful locals providing food and wine - and activities during lulls in the fighting, such as cleaning weapons, eating or just grabbing a bit of sleep. The ever-present, often waist-deep mud, rendering a terrible slaughter almost comically impossible conveys war's futility more than words ever could. 128pp softback.

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ISBN 9781473837799

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