Posted by: sommecourt | 28/09/2013

Book Review: Somme Intelligence

Somme Intelligence, Fourth Army HQ 1916 by William Langford (Pen & Sword Books 2013, ISBN 9781781590829, 160pp, illustrated throughout, £19.99)

This rather curiously entitled book is in fact a fascinating insight into what the British Army knew of the German Army in terms of its activities and morale during the Battle of the Somme. The material is based on notebooks compiled by an Accrington Pal who served on the Fourth Army Intelligence Staff and despite the book’s title it in fact covers a period from October 1915 to October 1916.

The material is largely unedited and there is a brief introduction from the author about intelligence work in the Great War. Oddly there is no index and the work stops abruptly nearly a month before the end of the Battle of the Somme. The book is heavily illustrated with images from German sources, many of which come from wartime publications like An Der Somme but they are relevant and well placed within the text. The documents reproduced are not given any context and some aspects discussed in them not explained, but they do give a good idea of what sort of intelligence information on the Germany Army was filtering back to headquarters. Documents like these are not unique – there are many thousands of them in the National Archives – and the selection of them here might appear random but it is likely they were what the original wartime compiler was able to keep.

Not a book for everyone, but for those with a detailed interest in the Battle of the Somme this is a useful addition to the library.

The book is available from the Pen & Sword website.

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