April 1915 – June 1916
By Paul Oldfield
Pen & Sword, 2015
Thankfully Paul Oldfield is well-qualified to add to the list of available tomes. Ex-army, battlefield guide, and a member of the Victoria Cross Society, this book is part of a planned nine-volume series about the 492 VC’s awarded for action on the western front during the First World War.
The ‘USP’ of this book is the focus on the locations in which the VCs were awarded. In fact, the book is split into two; the first part looking chronologically at the awards, the second giving detailed biographies of the individuals themselves.
Whilst this approach is slightly disjointed, it does allow a focus on the locations without being distracted by the extraneous background details. Modern road maps are provided showing the location of each act of gallantry. More detailed area maps, trench maps and sketches help place the action at the time. Directions on how to access the locations are also given. Clusters of VCs on maps such as Loos demonstrate where the main fighting took place, and accounts of the battles and actions for which each VC was awarded provide a fairly comprehensive narrative.
The book is the product of a number of years of research and this is evident in some of the sources – for example website addresses that no longer work or are out of date (including a CWGC one that really should have been updated!). Yet the depth of research is also its strength; the biographies are extremely detailed and likely to provide all the information you would ever want to know about the recipients, and more.
As would be expected the book is lavishly illustrated, from photos of locations to pictures of recipients’ headstones, portrait pictures, and even photos of where they lived.
This is an almost encyclopaedic volume about the VC, and only covers just over one year of the war! The full collection will provide a definitive account of the locations and actions, although they may prove to be a bit weighty to take on battlefield trips!
Buy this book from Amazon here:
Victoria Crosses on the Western Front – April 1915 to June 1916