By Andrew Rawson
Pen & Sword, 2015
My only criticism of the 1914 volume was its reliance on the Official History at the expense of other sources. However, in The 1915 Campaign I was pleased to see that the war diaries have also been consulted, along with regimental and divisional histories.
This is a narrative of the BEF’s actions, rather than in an in-depth analysis of the course of the war, but Rawson does explore the reasons for successes and failure. There is certainly a great deal to cover; the increasing use of the Territorial Force divisions, the first involvement of the New Army divisions, the first British offensive at Neuve Chapelle, gas attacks, Loos…the list goes on.
The actions are explained very clearly, supported by over 60 maps showing movements down to Brigade level. Space constraints preclude detailed unit-by-unit analysis but Rawson briefly covers battalion involvement and makes reference to notable incidents and acts of valour.
The period of 1916 from January to June is often glossed over so it was pleasing to see that actions such as the attack on The Bluff in February, the fierce fighting at the Hohenzollern redoubt in March, and the German attack at Mount Sorrel in June covered. In addition XI Corps attack at Fromelles 19-20 July 1916 is also covered.
A handy index of units as well as places and people is included, as well as a small selection of relevant pictures. A short conclusion provides a succinct analysis of the events of the year.
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The 1915 Campaign (British Expeditionary Force)