Peter Simkins has established a reputation over the last forty years as one of the most original and stimulating historians of the First World War. He has made a major contribution to the debate about the performance of the British Army on the Western Front. This collection of his most perceptive and challenging essays, which concentrates on British operations in France between 1916 and 1918, shows that this reputation is richly deserved. He focuses on key aspects of the army’s performance in battle, from the first day of the Somme to the Hundred Days, and gives a fascinating insight into the developing theory and practice of the army as it struggled to find a way to break through the German line. His rigorous analysis undermines some of the common assumptions – and the myths – that still cling to the history of these British battles.
FROM SOMME TO VICTORY The British Army’s Experience on the Western Front 1916-1918
Peter Simkins is unashamedly one of those often called ‘revisionists’: he eschews notions of poor Generalship, ‘lions led by donkeys’ and suchlike. His core thesis is that the BEF developed very quickly under good leadership, and by 1918 had succeeded in integrating new weapons, new tactics and new methods of command and control to produce a formidable and highly effective fighting machinery. The essays make for a strong and cogent argument.