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First Day of the Somme: The Complete Account of Britain's Worst-ever…

by Andrew Macdonald

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A detailed description of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July 1916, during the First World War, viewing the events from the point of view of both the Allied and German forces.
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First Day Of The Somme – An Eye-opening Account

The New Zealand born, ex-journalist and Military Historian, Andrew Macdonald has researched and written a searing revisionist account of the worst military disaster in British history. What happened on the 1st July 1916 makes the infamous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 look like a mere accident of history.

What is not disputed is that it took around several million or so bullets and around an hour to destroy the carefully laid plans of Sir Douglas Haig and his military planners. By the turn of the day 19,240 men had been killed in action and a further 35,493 were wounded and none of the first day objectives achieved.

The subject of the Somme over the years has attracted historians and writers alike to examine the battle that Macdonald rightly says ‘spluttered on until November’. With distance Macdonald has looked at the accounts not only from the British archives but also from the Germans, which makes this a far broader review of that day. All this researched from original documents, not only official war diaries but also soldiers dairies which helps to add another perspective.

Macdonald like many historians has borne the blame firmly at the feat of General Haig, as well as noting that the Somme disaster was born of many mothers. It must also be remembered that the Offensive came about due to French pressure for relief on Verdun, which is often forgotten but that is still no real excuse for what happened.

Haig wanted a surprise attack and Macdonald quite rightly looks at this, as well as the geography and the weather which all are important in any battle, but often overlooked. He also notes that the Germans who suffered after the bombardment were itching for revenge and their survival had been down to the competence of their officer.

What makes this history work is the way Macdonald has set his work out for the reader working from north to south and with clear explanations of the military formations on both sides that day, which makes things easier to understand. He also assesses the performance of the British and German forces that day which is incisive which aids understand of the outcomes of that day when set against the various objectives.

The First Day of the Somme was a disaster for all those who were fighting and had gone over the top that day and wiped out a generation of young men on all sides. Andrew Macdonald has written and researched an excellent book with deep analysis and The First Day of the Somme is a welcome addition to the canon of literature on the subject.

This book will be used by all those wishing to know more about 1st July 1916 for generations to come. I am very sure that it will become a standard work for all students of history now and in the future. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | May 20, 2016 |
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A detailed description of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July 1916, during the First World War, viewing the events from the point of view of both the Allied and German forces.

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