Published Jan 2010
The First World War remains a controversial subject: the bitter reality clouded with damaging and popular myths. Many of these misconceptions relate to the competence of the generals, the events of 1915 and the battles at Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge and Festubert, as well as the larger disasters at Second Ypres – the scene of the first gas attack – and finally, the shambolic Battle of Loos. However, the reality of these battles has been gradually concealed by the allegation that the men were ‘lions led by donkeys’, with much of the blame put on the generals.
In this well-researched and highly readable book, Robin Neillands reveals the truth behind this fallacy and the events surrounding the battles, and sets them in a wider context. By the start of 1915, a tough year for the British in France, the British Army had only been in action for four months and the burden was shifting to the Territorial Forces – enthusiastic amateurs at best at this time. The battles were either disasters or inconclusive, but the real reason for despair was that this war, entered into for the liberation of Belgium, had lost its moral argument and was now just another bloody, senseless slaughter.