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Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916

Christopher Duffy

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Prose: non-fiction, European history

The key battle of the First World War from the German point of view

The Battle of the Somme has an enduring legacy, the image established by Alan Clark of 'lions led by donkeys': brave British soldiers sent to their deaths by incompetent generals.

However, from the German point of view the battle was a disaster. Their own casualties were horrendous. As Christopher Duffy reveals, they had great respect for the British forces and German reports shed a fascinating light on the volunteer army recruited by General Kitchener. Their typically diligent reports have lain undisturbed in obscure archives until unearthed by Christopher Duffy.

The picture that emerges is a far cry from Blackadder: the Germans developed an increasing respect for the professionalism of the British Army. And the fact that every British soldier taken prisoner still believed Britain would win the war gave German intelligence teams their first indication that their Empire would go down to defeat.

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Christopher Duffy

Dr Christopher Duffy was a Senior Lecturer at Sandhurst. Fluent in six languages, he is an acknowledged expert on the Austrian and German armies from the 18th century to 1945.

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