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Historians have portrayed British participation in World War I as a series of tragic debacles, with lines of men mown down by machine guns, with untried new military technology, and incompetent generals who threw their troops into improvised and unsuccessful attacks. In this book a renowned military historian studies the evolution of British infantry tactics during the war and challenges this interpretation, showing that while the British army's plans and technologies failed persistently during the improvised first half of the war, the army gradually improved its technique, technology, and, eventually, its' self-assurance. By the time of its successful sustained offensive in the fall of 1918, says Paddy Griffith, the British army was demonstrating a battlefield skill and mobility that would rarely be surpassed even during World War II.Evaluating the great gap that exists between theory and practice, between textbook and bullet-swept mudfield, Griffith argues that many battles were carefully planned to exploit advanced tactics and to avoid casualties, but that breakthrough was simply impossible under the conditions of the time. According to Griffith, the British were already masters of "storm troop tactics" by the end of 1916, and in several important respects were further ahead than the Germans would be even in 1918. In fields such as the timing and orchestration of all-arms assaults, predicted artillery fire, "Commando-style" trench raiding, the use of light machine guns, or the barrage fire of heavy machine guns, the British led the world. Although British generals were not military geniuses, says Griffith, they should at least be credited for effectively inventing much of the twentieth-century's art of war.
Following the early battles of 1914 along the Marne and in the Ypres salient, World War I rapidly changed from a war of movement into one of attrition, with the opposing sides entrenching themselves in a line of fortified positions from the Flanders coastline to the Swiss border. This volume details the different styles of fortification used on the Western Front throughout the course of the war, from the early ditches of 1914 to the complicated systems of 1918. It explains the development of the 'defence in depth' German system and the British reaction to it, as well as illustrating the importance of the pre-war forts, particularly around Verdun.
Osprey's examination of French infantry tactics during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). For over 20 years France was the dominating, controlling and conquering power of the western world, a result not only of Napoleon's inspired leadership, but of the efforts of almost an entire generation of Frenchmen under arms. The French Revolution heralded both social change and a seismic shift in how armies were organized, trained and deployed. This book provides an analysis of the preparation of French troops from manual regulations to the training ground, studying the changing quality of command and control within the army, which initially ensured that the French infantry were virtually unstoppable. Paddy Griffith not only explores the role of the French infantry at the apex of their powers and their actions in key battles, but also provides a detailed explanation of their eventual decline leading to defeat at Waterloo, providing a critical overview of French Napoleonic infantry tactics.
Vauban was the foremost military engineer of France during the period of its centralisation and wars of expansion in the 17th and 18th centuries. His influence persisted long after Waterloo, and his name has become synonymous with the science of the construction, defence and attack of bastioned fortresses. Dunkirk, Toulon, Perpignan, Verdun and Brest stand out among the many historically significant sites created by this incredible engineer. This book examines the many achievements of this pivotal figure in fortification history, exploring the sites and their subsequent significance.
Osprey's study of desert tactics employed in North Africa during World War II (1939-1945). In 1940-43 North Africa saw the first major desert campaign by modern mechanized armies. The British, Italians, German Afrika Korps and US Army all addressed and learned from the special problems - human, logistical, mechanical and tactical - of the desert environment, most significantly a terrain empty of resources and offering little chance of concealment. Paddy Griffith traces the fast-learning development of armor, artillery and infantry tactics in this exceptional situation and illustrates it using references to the major engagements in the North African theater, which involved some of the greatest tacticians of World War II in one of the pivotal arenas.