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Battle tactics of the Western Front : the British Army's art of attack, 1916-18

Author: Paddy Griffith
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, 1994.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Historians have portrayed British participation in the Great War as a series of tragic debacles, with lines of men mown down by machine guns, untried new military technology and incompetent generals who threw their troops into improvised and unsuccessful attacks. In this book Paddy Griffith, a renowned military historian, examines the evolution of British infantry tactics during the war and challenges this  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Additional Physical Format: Print version:
Griffith, Paddy.
Battle tactics of the Western Front
(DLC) 93042656
(OCoLC)29429943
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Paddy Griffith
ISBN: 9780300160611 0300160615
OCLC Number: 906804298
Description: 1 online resource (xvi, 286 pages) : illustrations.
Contents: Part one: Setting the scene --
1. Introduction --
Competence and incompetence --
The larger second half of the war --
2. The tactical dilemma --
The nature of tactics --
Lines, densities and timescales --
The storm of steel --
Part two: Infantry --
3. Infantry during the first two years of the War --
Tactics of the old contemptibles --
The new armies arrive --
4. The lessons of the Somme --
Rifles, hayonets and the cult of the bomb --
The importance of careful preparaton --
The assault spearhead of the BEF --
5. The final eighteen months --
The formal battles of 1917 and the chaotic battles of 1918 --
Flexible formations for mobile war --
Part three: Heavier weapons --
6. The search for new weapons --
The mobilisation of invention --
Bombs, smoke and gas --
7. Automatic weapons --
The struggle to control automatic fire --
The rise of the light machine gun --
8. Artillery --
The evolution of precision munitions --
The shift from destructive to neutralising fire --
The emergence of the deep battle --
9. Controlling the mobile battle --
Cavalry and armour --
Signals and command --
Part four: The BEF's tactical achievement --
10. Doctrine and training --
Captain Partridge and the dissemination of doctrine --
Trainitg schools and other exhortations --
11. Conclusion --
Appendix 1. Some limitations in the university approach to military history --
Appendix 2. A Great War perspective on the American Civil War --
Appendix 3. Armies, corps and divisions of the BEF --
Notes --
Bibliography --
Index.
Responsibility: Paddy Griffith.
More information:

Abstract:

Historians have portrayed British participation in the Great War as a series of tragic debacles, with lines of men mown down by machine guns, untried new military technology and incompetent generals who threw their troops into improvised and unsuccessful attacks. In this book Paddy Griffith, a renowned military historian, examines the evolution of British infantry tactics during the war and challenges this interpretation, showing that while the British army's plans and technologies persistently failed during the improvised first half of the war, the army gradually improved its technique, technology and, eventually, its self-assurance. By the time of its successful sustained offensive in the autumn of 1918, he argues, the British army was demonstrating a battlefield skill and mobility that would rarely be surpassed even during the Second World War. Evaluating the great gap that exists between theory and practice, between textbook and bullet-swept mudfield, Griffith argues that many battles were carefully planned to exploit advanced tactics and to avoid casualties; but that the breakthrough was simply impossible under the conditions of the time. By the end of 1916 the British were already masters of 'storm-troop tactics' and, in several important respects, further ahead than the Germans would be even in 1918. In fields such as the timing and orchestration of all-arms assaults, predicted artillery fire, 'commando-style' trench raiding, the use of light machine guns or the barrage fire of heavy machine guns, the British led the world. Although British generals were not military geniuses, the book maintains they should at least be credited with having effectively invented much of the twentieth century's art of war.

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