The battle of the Aisne was the third of the major German offensives of the Spring of 1918, and saw a series of weakened British divisions, sent to that part of the front in the belief that it was a quiet area, overwhelmed by a massive German attack. By the end of the first day of the battle the Allied front line had been broken, and the Germans were advancing into open country.
The main focus of this book is on that first day of the battle, working along the British held part of the line, providing battalion by battalion accounts of the fighting. Each of these is supported by numerous maps, illustrations, photos and eyewitness accounts. This section of the book is well researched and very detailed, and helps piece together an often rather confused picture (especially for those battalions that suffered especially heavy losses in the fighting). As a result we get
The rest of the battle doesn’t get enough coverage for me. One chapter covers the entire battle from the afternoon of the first day to 6 June. In terms of the overall course of the war this period is actually more important than the initial breakthrough, as it covers the period where the Allies were able to stem the German advance and stop the breach of the front line turn into a wider strategic victory for the Germans. This period is harder to study on a battalion by battalion basis, as the surviving British troops became mixed up, but more detail here would still have been useful.
Overall this is an excellent detailed history of the first day of the fighting on the Aisne on the British front, but could have done with more detail on the later phases of the battle.
1 - The Allied Troops and Dispositions
2 - The Defence of the Chemin des Dames and Californie Plateau
3 - The Defence of the woods and the Aisne River
4 - The Defence of the Aisne Canal
5 - Rearguard Actions: Afternoon of 27 May-6 June
6 - General Advice for Tourers
Author: David Blanchard
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military