Kitchener’s Mob: The New Army To The Somme by Peter Doyle and Chris Foster
(The History Press 2016, ISBN 978 0 7509 6495 1, 221pp, fully illustrated, hardback, £25.00)
This is a large format book, and holding it and just flicking through before a proper read, one thing is quickly apparent – this is a quality publication. It really is a handsome, attractive book to hold and the images inside are stunning. Everything about it speaks quality and once you start to read the text this is confirmed even further. Peter Doyle and Chris Foster have already produced some fine works about the Great War and this is certainly one of their best so far. It looks at the men who joined Kitchener’s Army – Kitchener’s Mob – in 1914, their road to war and their training, the story of the Pals battalions and then their march to the Somme in 1916. Throughout there are well chosen contemporary illustrations and fantastic modern photographs of ephemera, uniforms and equipment. This is a real tour-de-force of what Kitchener’s Army was all about a century ago, and is not only a moving memorial to the men of the Somme, it is so finely crafted and presented, it really should be on the shelves of anyone with an interest in the Great War. Essential reading, absolutely essential reading.
Available from the History Press website.
The Somme centenary is resulting in a profusion of books about the Battle of the Somme. These are the latest Somme offerings from Pen & Sword books.
Slaughter On The Somme 1st July 1916 by Martin Mace & John Grehan
(Pen & Sword 2016, ISBN 9781473892699, 514 pp, illustrated, softback, £16.99)
This amazing book is an incredible resource of all the War Diaries of every single unit that went into action on 1st July 1916: the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. The book examines the battlefield from Gommecourt in the North to Montauban in the South, so covering the whole Somme front. For each unit there are some notes and then an exact reproduction of the diary. Many units lost so many officers and men that in some cases the information is sparse but others have long and fascinating accounts. Maps in the book help to make sense of where units were, and there are some good illustrations. An absolutely invaluable resource for family historians and battlefield visitors who want to have the detail of events a century ago in one handy volume. Highly recommended.
Ancestor’s Footsteps: The Somme 1916 by Andrew Rawson
(Pen & Sword 2016, ISBN 9781473864207, 240pp, illustrated/maps, softback, £12.99)
At first sight most people would wonder what this book is as it appears to be a list of divisions with maps. But actually it is one of the most useful Great War books I have come across in some time. Using the book you can look up the details of a unit, perhaps your grandfather’s battalion, and it then takes you to the relevant pages where you can see with text and via maps where they fought. This means you can quickly and simply put together a framework of where a man was on the Somme, which normally would take some time. Superb companion for those visiting the battlefields for Somme100 and those wanting to research where their ancestor fought. Highly recommended!
The 1916 Battle of the Somme Reconsidered by Peter Liddle
(Pen & Sword Books 2016, ISBN 9781783400515, 180pp, illustrated, hardback, £19.99)
This is a reprint of an older book Peter Liddle did in the 1980s. Liddle was then working on forming an archive of WW1 material which is today with the University of Leeds. The book gives a good overview of the battle and includes material which was part of the archives, so many rare and previously unseen accounts and photographs. The ‘reconsidered’ part of the book is as Liddle examines the battle and considers it a victory, which in the 1980s was not a popular view – although he concedes it was certainly a costly victory. A good book and it is good to see it back in print.
Somme: 141 Days, 141 Lives by Alexandra Churchill & Andrew Holmes
(History Press 2016, ISBN 978 0 7509 6532 3, 232pp, hardcover, illustrated, £25)
This new book by Alexandra Churchill and Andrew Holmes is one of many new titles that have appeared in the lead up to Somme100. Many of these books tell us little new, but here we have a fabulous book with some stunning photographs of the battlefield today, which does genuinely shed some new light on the battle through the stories of so many who fell there in 1916.
The book looks at 141 soldiers who died on the Somme and follows a chronological approach so you can trace the course of the battle, and the history of the Somme campaign, through the lives and deaths of these men. It makes fascinating reading and there are some great stories, from poets to Pals to fathers and sons, and men from many nations, not just Britain and the Commonwealth.
This is a hugely engaging book, well written and researched, and the stunning photos of the battlefields as they are today by Andrew Holmes make it a beautiful book to own, too. Highly recommended.
The book is available from the History Press website.