After the reverses of 1914, the French and British commanders were determined to turn the tables on the Germans and take the war to the enemy. A major combined offensive was planned in the Artois region of France but the French had to cancel their part in the operation. This did not deter the commander of the British Expeditionary Force, Sir John French, and on 10 March 1915, the British attacked the German positions centred on the village of Neuve Chapelle. In what was the first British planned offensive of the First World War, the attackers overran the German lines and almost achieved an unparalleled breakthrough. Only a lack of artillery shells and a breakdown in communications prevented the British First Army under General Haig from taking full advantage of the unprecedented success. The battle demonstrated how trench systems could be penetrated and set the pattern of warfare on the Western Front for the next three years, with the Allies seeking to achieve that elusive breakthrough which slipped through their fingers at Neuve Chapelle. The shortage of shells was seen as a scandal which brought down the Liberal Government.
BATTLE OF NEUVE CHAPELLE Britain’s Forgotten Offensive Of 1915
This is a recent and interesting WW1 hardback battle study, with a decent page count of 256, that at £4.99 against the cover price of £25 looks very good value and extremely tempting to add to any Great War library.
Taken from Chris Bakers 4 star review
The British attack at Neuve Chapelle on 10 March 1915 deserves a fresh study. It was not the first large scale British attack in France: the badly mishandled and costly efforts of mid-December 1914 (part of which was on the ground over which the Neuve Chapelle action was fought) take that place. But it was the first where a concentrated force was deployed, with a specific objective. It has some very interesting aspects, notably the combined British and Indian force that took part; the fact that that force was to a large extent improvised and inexperienced after the punishing losses of 1914; the (for the time) very heavy concentration of firepower that played a vital part in the capture of the village; and the blurred thinking about objectives which not only included the short advance to capture Neuve Chapelle but a vague desire to move onto the Aubers Ridge and even to sweep onto Lille beyond. Paul Kendall’s book covers it all in good detail, including many personal accounts that help bring it all alive. As such, it is of value and worth reading.