Ancestors Footprints: The Somme 1916

Published: November 20th, 2016     
Product Image
Book Cover
Author: Andrew Rawson
Reviewed by: Doug Hamilton - IPMS# 21985
ISBN #: 9781473864207
E-Book ISBN #: (ePub) 9781473864221 , (PDF) 9781473864238
Other Publication Information: 90 b&w Maps and additional photos, 240 pages
Price: $22.95
Product provided by: Casemate Publishing

Exactly 100 years ago the Battle of the Somme raged. Trenches, the first tanks and an air war all helped raise the bar in terms of death and destruction on an unimaginable scale. The Somme still holds a certain fascination for many people. Many of them visit these Fields of Honor to see where it happened, or maybe trace the paths their family members trod in the past. Whatever the motivation, to be able to go there and accurately locate the very site great granddad went over the top is important to many people.

This book highlights and details the movements of British units engaged at the Somme over the course of the battle. The period photos in the book are worth the price of admission alone!! The book is laid out by date and Corps which simplifies finding information pertaining to individual units. The index in the rear of the book lists individual units and the page(s) where that unit was deployed is listed to help locate place of action. The maps show how the various units deployed along the line and includes trench locations. While many of the trenches have been erased over time being able to locate where they were situated puts the battlefield in greater prospective.

The period photos are priceless. All pictures are presented in black and white, and open a window back in time. Pictures of tired, dirty soldiers trudging off the line show the weariness in their eyes. Men resting on and around a camoed British heavy tank could be the basis for a nice diorama. One memorable photo shows troops manhandling a field gun through heavy mud. As this time saw many new technologies being brought to bear, it's interesting to see the photos that show man as a mule. In addition to the fore mentioned dragging of a field gun other photos show a line of soldiers carrying ammo boxes forward. I enjoy old pictures and this book has many very good ones. A few pictures show the memorials placed on the battlefield to commemorate specific units, much like we see on our own Fields of Honor with names such as Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, or Manassas. No photos show the ground as it appears today. While that may be helpful when visiting the field, this book focuses on that time.

This is a book I would take with me when going over there to see The Somme. In terms of finding where a relative fought while in the British Army either as a Canadian, Australian, or any of the other units the Brits brought to the fight this book is invaluable. Just reading through the units in the index is fascinating and reads like a Who's Who of British Army history. I enjoyed reading this book and it's whetted my appetite to further investigate this period of history!! I recommend it because it is well written and interesting. My thanks to Casemate Publishing and IPMS/USA for proving this sample for review.

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