Monday, 17 October 2016

The French Army in the First World War

The French army of the First World War withstood the main force of the German onslaught on the Western Front, but often it is neglected in English histories of the conflict. Now, though, keen interest in the war in general and in the part the French played in it has prompted a fresh appreciation of their army and the men who served in it. Ian Sumner’s wide-ranging photographic history is an important contribution in this growing field. Using a selection of over 150 rare wartime photographs, he provides a graphic overview of every aspect of a French soldier’s service during the struggle. But while the photographs create a fascinating all-round portrait of the French poilu at war, they also give an insight into the army as a whole, and offer a rare French perspective on the Great War.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

From the Marne to Verdun: the war diary of Captain Charles Delvert, 101st Infantry, 1914-16

Charles Delvert’s diary records his career as a front-line officer in the French army fighting the Germans during the First World War. It is one of the classic accounts of the war in French or indeed in any other language, and it has not been translated into English before. In precise, graphic detail he sets down his wartime experiences and those of his men. He describes the relentless emotional and physical strain of active service and the extraordinary courage and endurance required in battle. His account is essential reading for anyone who is keen to gain a direct insight into the Great War from the French soldier's point of view, and it bears comparison with the best-known English and German memoirs and journals of the Great War.

Reviews
This classic account of World War One from a French officer’s perspective has not previously been translated for the original French. Highly Recommended. This book is particularly valuable because it is a translation of a diary kept by a French offer from 1914 to 1918. There is no traditional photo plate section to illustrate the text, but there is no sense of loss at that. This speaks for the vivid writing of the very personal account of life in the French Army one hundred years ago during a terrible war of attrition. A Captain is a mid rank officer, between the juniors and the field ranks, having command of a Company in the French Army structure of the time. This provides a particular perspective with some knowledge of the wider field but still a common view from the lines. The author traced the opening battles of 1914 in what was a war of movement, through the increasingly static and bloody warfare that cost so many young lives on both sides. The most famous part of his diary covers the period when he commanded the 8th Company of the 101st Infantry in the defence of Fort Vaux at Verdun. This is considered one of the most revealing records of the Battle of Verdun, when his small band held off a series of German attacks. Firetrench