The Battle of Neuve Chapelle was the first planned British offensive of the Great War, and it was the first in which an artillery timetable was used specifying the purpose, target, timings and ammunition allocation for the preliminary bombardment, a pattern for the use of artillery in all future attacks. The initial success demonstrated that it was possible to break into the enemy positions but, as it was so often to be the case in future operations, exploitation of success was frustrated by the breakdown of communications (landline was very vulnerable to shell fire). Command and control became slow, difficult and at times virtually non-existent, and infantry-artillery cooperation was badly affected. But it made the Germans and the French sit up, the latter especially were quick to revise their opinion of the effectiveness of the small BEF. This extremely well researched account by Geoff Bridger is interwoven with extracts from war diaries, personal diaries and memoirs, supported by good maps and remarkable, contemporary photos, most of which I have never seen before. There are also views of the battlefield as they are today, including some fine aerial shots. Appendices provide order of battle details for both sides. The book concludes with a guide for walkers (and it is a very compact battlefield) and one for those who want to drive round.
Neuve Chapelle a lost battlefield is now opened up for the explorer to learn more about the actions that took place there.
In Early 1915, the British decided to take the offensive for the first time in the war against German positions in Northern France. The initial objective was a bulge, about one mile across, in their lines at Neuve.
Events which took place here early in 1915 are described in detail and show why this almost forgotten battle set the course of the war.