This groundbreaking revisionist modern history of the 46th (North Midland) Division draws upon a vast array of largely neglected sources from a variety of archives, and challenges some comfortable assumptions.
University historians’ increasingly positive views of Haig are challenged by primary evidence of his own blatant willingness to change his mind to protect his promotion prospects. The overall theme is of how the ordinary Tommies of 46th Division learnt to fight more effectively and ultimately stormed the Hindenburg Line.
In dealing with the Somme, the book effectively rewrites our understanding of Third Army’s experience; the book demonstrates that Middlebrook was mistaken in accepting the claim by Major General Stuart-Wortley that he was sacked for saving his men from further slaughter. That chapter concludes with the evidence of young subalterns, bringing to life moments in history that illuminate a generation’s experience of the carnage of war.
All previous large-scale studies have focused on elite units, but this book follows this un-fancied, often belittled, division along the learning curve of the British Army. The book therefore develops the view put forward in studies of the Canadian Corps, and reflected in modern biographies of leading commanders, that the British Army gradually developed the system of “bite and hold”
MUD BLOOD AND DETERMINATION The History of the 46th (North Midland) Division in the Great War
The North Midland Division was sent to France in February 1915 and served on the Western Front for the duration of World War I. On 12 May 1915 the division was numbered 46th (North Midland) Division and the brigades were also numbered. During the Battle of Loos the 46th Division was decimated in an attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13 October 1915.It was later involved in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, where in the opening phase as part of VII Corps, the southern-most corps of the Third Army, the Division took part in the diversionary attack at Gommecourt on the first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, which was a catastrophic failure resulting in heavy losses to its numbers, and the event of which dogged the Division afterwards with a poor reputation until 29 September 1918, when it re-established its name at the St. Quentin Canal where, utilising life-belts and collapsible boats, it crossed the formidable obstacle of the canal and used scaling ladders to surmount the steep gradient of the opposite bank and captured multiple fortified hostile machine gun posts covering that point.
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