Passchendaele: The Hollow Victory (Campaign Chronicles) by Martin Evans

By Martin Evans

Passchendaele is among the such a lot evocative names linked to the good battle. For over eighty years, the conflict has epitomized unnecessary slaughter on an incredible scale. The naked facts are surprising in themselves - the British, French and German armies suffered over part 1000000 casualties among July and November 1917. Ever on account that, similar to hapless infantrymen suffering in the course of the dust and the shellfire has come to symbolize the futility of trench war and the incompetence in their commanders. but, as Martin Marix Evans demonstrates during this gripping and perceptive reassessment, a few universal assumptions concerning the process the conflict - and the ways that it used to be fought - are improper and will be checked out back.

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The degree to which these objectives were actually put into practice in the writing of four of the most important volumes of Official History is a different question, which will be considered in due course. 2 Sir James Edmonds I James Edward Edmonds was born in London in 1861. His family were from Fowey in Cornwall and could trace their ancestors back to Sir Thomas Edmonds, who had been French Secretary to Queen Elizabeth. As a boy Edmonds attended King’s College School at Somerset House in the Strand.

He was prompted in his desire for a move by the appointment that year of Henry Wilson as Director of Military Operations and Intelligence. In his memoirs Edmonds claimed that he had clashed with Wilson over the value of teaching languages to officers when the latter had been head of the Directorate of Staff Duties. 47 It is more likely that this is evidence of Wilson’s sense of humour and that he was pulling Edmonds’ leg. In any case, Edmonds held a low opinion of Wilson and this coloured his judgement of him when he came in his memoirs to describe the actions of GHQ during the retreat in August and September 1914.

He learnt no Latin or Greek but studied science and geology. According to Edmonds his father taught him languages at the breakfast table and whilst still a schoolboy he became proficient in German, French, Italian and Russian. At the age of eight Edmonds was taken to Paris and watched Napoleon III drive along the Rue de Rivoli. He returned two years later a few months after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. 1 It was on this trip too that an event occurred which was perhaps decisive in determining Edmonds’ eventual career in the army.

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