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Ghosts of Old Companions By Jonathon Riley

Ghosts of Old Companions by Jonathon Riley

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There are numerous personal memoirs of the fighting in Mametz Wood, Regimental Histories and battlefield guides. There is however no complete scholarly account of the Welsh Division's preparations for war and its part in the fight for Mametz as seen from both the Welsh and the German perspectives.

Ghosts of Old Companions Summary

Ghosts of Old Companions: Lloyd George's Welsh Army, the Kaiser's Reichsheer and the Battle for Mametz Wood, 1914-1916 by Jonathon Riley

The 38th (Welsh) Division was formed from the many thousands of Welsh volunteers in late 1914 and 1915 as part of Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener's New Armies - a force for the long war that he was the first to recognise. It was to be ready for battle in 1917. The Division subsequently carried out its training in Britain and embarked for France where it served numerous tours of frontline duty until summer 1916. Mametz Wood village and the area around Fricourt village saw one of the few successes by the British Army on the notorious First Day of the Somme. BEF C-in-C Sir Douglas Haig decided to reinforce that success and attack again around Fricourt in order to seize the German second defence line at its closest point between Longueval and Bazentin. General Sir Henry Rawlinson, whose Fourth Army was to undertake the task, had little option but to assault the German positions frontally. He decided to do so between the Mametz Wood on the left and Trones Wood on the right. Initial attacks by other divisions on the night of 4/5 July resulted in the capture of preliminary objectives. The task of clearing the dense and seemingly impenetrable Mametz Wood was assigned to the newly-arrived 38th Division. What followed was a searing seven-day ordeal in dense undergrowth which, despite subsequent success, resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and the tarnishing of military reputations. Much reduced by casualties, 38th Division was relegated to the reserve with losses of between one-third and a half of its recorded fighting strength. As well as examining the story of 38th Division from its formation until the close of the Mametz Wood fighting, this volume also explores the German point of view by utilisation of published regimental histories and personal accounts from the Lehr Regiment; Guard- Fusiliers; 9th Grenadiers; 122nd Wurttemberg Regiment; and the 77th, 163rd, 183rd, and 184th infantry regiments. It also reveals new material concerning the forces involved, the almost forgotten 1915 Christmas Truce, Mametz Wood defences and the casualties killed, wounded and missing sustained by both sides.

Ghosts of Old Companions Reviews

[This book] is very highly recommended and a must for any library covering either the Somme battles of 1916; New Army divisions or the Wales during the First World War. * Military Historical Society Bulletin 17/07/2019 *
Jonathan Riley's book is of a style that we might describe as "academic": it is objective, draws upon a wide range of sources, provides references and is well illustrated with good maps. I found it fluidly written and making for a good read. * Long Long Trail 23/07/2019 *
'...another superbly produced volume by Helion & Company, with excellent maps, illustrations and many new photographs at an affordable price.' * Western Front Association *

About Jonathon Riley

Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley is a General Officer with multinational operational command experience at all levels from platoon to corps in theatres from Northern Ireland to the Balkans, the Gulf, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan; as such, he is well qualified to discuss matters of military command. General Riley has been awarded the DSO and NATO Meritorious Service Medal and is an Officer of the Legion of Merit of the United States of America. He holds the degrees of MA and PhD in modern history and has written 21 published books, including two biographies, of which four have had second editions and one a third. He has also published A Matter of Honour: The Life, Campaigns and Generalship of Isaac Brock for the War of 1812 bicentenary. His book Napoleon as a General was nominated for the Army's Military History Book of the Year award. General Riley is currently Visiting Professor in War Studies at King's College London, a member of the British Commission for Military History, and Chairman of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum Trust. He is retained as a technical expert by the International Criminal Court, has undertaken work with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and sits on two bodies advising the Welsh Government on matters related to the recent Great War commemorations.

Additional information

Ghosts of Old Companions: Lloyd George's Welsh Army, the Kaiser's Reichsheer and the Battle for Mametz Wood, 1914-1916 by Jonathon Riley
Helion & Company
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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