In the Shadow of Bois Hugo

The 8th Lincolns at the Battle of Loos

By Nigel Atter

Helion & Company, 2017

With this book Helion has added to its ever-growing stable of First World War titles with another excellent addition. This marks a departure from the usual titles, in that it focuses on one battalion during one action of the war; but it is one that works and that could be added to with future titles along similar lines.

Nigel Atter sets out to address a long-held assumption about the Battle of Loos – that the reserves were poorly managed and broke and fled in the face of German fire; an assumption perhaps understandable given that they had only recently arrived in France and Loos was their first taste of action, and given credence by various contemporary and more recent publications. To address this, Atter focuses on the example of the 8th Lincolns, drawing on original sources and eyewitness accounts to offer strong evidence that the reserves did in fact give a good account of themselves, and were  used as scapegoats by those higher up in the chain of command.

He gives a brief summary of the strategic context behind the Battle of Loos and the actions of 25th-26th September, before focusing on the actions of the 8th Lincolns. Personal accounts and maps are used to illustrate the action. Appendices provide biographical details of some of the officers and men who were casualties.

The volume is concise but Nigel Atter does exactly what he set out to achieve, reassessing the action of the 8th Lincolns against the wider context of the Battle of Loos and the use of the reserves. With this volume, he perhaps sets the scene for a necessary wider reassessment of the actions of the reserves during the battle.

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In the Shadow of Bois Hugo: The 8th Lincolns at the Battle of Loos

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