Passchendaele: A New History (Penguin, 2017). Cover by Jeremy Sancha
What a book this is. An absolutely brilliant new assessment of one of the hardest and bloodiest battles ever fought. The engagement, technically Ypres III, popularly called Passchendaele, which was launched to capture the U-boat pens on the Belgian coast, and pitted the British Expeditionary Force (including divisions from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) and parts of the French Army against the forces of the German Empire, lasted from June to November 1917, took place in a landscape from Hell, and claimed over half a million casualties. Nick Lloyd’s new book takes a number of different perspectives on the battle and tells many untold stories.
We get POVs from everywhere, including the High Command, the Royal Flying Corps, the politicians in London and of course, the mud-spattered Tommies in the teeth of the maelstrom. It’s a very accessible and informative read, painting vivid pictures of bitter hand-to-hand fighting for possession of railway heads, blockhouses, bunkers and trenches. It brings you closer than you could imagine to the terror of unrelenting shellfire, flame-throwers, poison gas and machine guns, but it isn’t all a story of doom.