By Peter Hart
The dramatic starting weeks of the good conflict handed into legend lengthy ahead of the clash ended. The British Expeditionary strength fought a spell binding crusade, outnumbered and outflanked yet brave and skillful, conserving the road opposed to very unlikely odds, sacrificing themselves to forestall the final nice German offensive of 1914. A extraordinary tale of excessive hopes and crushing sadness, the crusade includes moments of sheer horror and nerve-shattering pleasure; pathos and comedian reduction; occasional cowardice and lots more and plenty selfless courage--all culminating within the climax of the 1st conflict of Ypres.
And but, as Peter Hart exhibits during this gripping and revisionary examine the war's first yr, for too lengthy the British half within the 1914 campaigns has been veiled in layers of self-congratulatory delusion: a story of terrible unprepared Britain, reliant at the peerless type of her commonplace squaddies to strengthen the rabble of the unreliable French military and defeat the teeming hordes of German troops. however the truth of these early months is in truth way more complex--and finally, Hart argues, way more strong than the normal triumphalist narrative.
Fire and Movement locations the British position in 1914 right into a right historic context, incorporating the private stories of the boys who have been current at the entrance strains. The British regulars have been certainly skillful infantrymen, yet as Hart unearths, additionally they lacked perform in lots of of the mandatory disciplines of recent battle, and the inexperience of officials resulted in critical errors. Hart additionally presents a extra exact portrait of the German military they faced--not the sketch of hordes of automatons, however the fact of a well-trained and superlatively built strength that outfought the BEF within the early battles--and permits readers to come back to a whole appreciation of the position of the French military, with out whom the Marne by no means might were won.
Ultimately hearth and stream shows the tale of the 1914 campaigns to be an epic story, and one that wishes no embellishment. throughout the voices and memories of the warriors who have been there, Hart strips away the parable to supply a clear-eyed account of the outstanding early days of the good battle.
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Extra info for Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914
But the idea of a Europe dominated by Germany and above all the threat of the new German fleet proved far more potent. The diplomats managed to overcome, or at least stifle, their long-standing differences, working to define borders and allot areas of influence in a manner that dampened down the old enmities, thus allowing the signing of the Anglo-Russian Convention in 1907. Now there were three: the Triple Entente between France, Russia and Britain was born. Diplomatic manoeuvrings were not the only British response to the spectre of a growing German Navy.
The signing of the Anglo-French Entente was a step forward, but the French wanted far more: they sought to inveigle the British into committing an expeditionary force on the European continent early in the war. This was a major decision for the British as it would reflect a clear break with their traditional military and maritime policies in time of war. But in the event the decision was taken in secret, with very few people being consulted, and, indeed, without the knowledge of many of the government ministers and senior officers of the day.
There was consternation at the heart of the British government. This was Wilson’s chance. We had the emergency meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence to consider the problem of what we should do in the event of a war 10 ❖ F ir e a n d M ov e m e n t between France and Germany. Wilson, McKenna, Winston Churchill, Sir Edward Grey, Sir John French. Asquith asked me to explain my proposals. I had all my big maps on the wall and I lectured for 1¾ hours. 5 The Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, left his own description of this important meeting.