The BEF in 1917...


...Arras, Vimy, Messines, Passchendaele and, a new Images of War book from Pen and Sword


Title: The BEF in 1917

Author: Bob Carruthers

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47383-779-9

Another interesting addition to the Images of War series from author Bob Carruthers tackling the topic of WW1.  Just a minor difference to some others in the series in that rather than being split into chapters, this is opened by a four page section of text which provides the background history to the story, and then the rest of this 128 page book is filled with what I think is a fine collection of archive photos from WW1 which illustrate so many aspects of the Great War in respect of the BEF on the Western Front in 1917.  Place names such as Arras, Vimy, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai are all names so well known in the history of WW1 that this will attract lots of interest I am sure.

There is just so much in here, and all well captioned with background information.  For historians, for the modellers or just those who want to get an understanding of what their own family members had to cope with during WW1, whether they survived or not, there isis plenty in here to attract your interest.  All sorts of different aspects of the war are illustrated.  If you have travelled to this area of France today, you will appreciate the lovely little villages, the green fields and trees.  What we see in these pictures are scenes of just a sea of mud, splintered tree trunks and villages which are nothing more than piles of rubble.  Horses sunk in mud right up to their haunches, men struggling knee deep in mud and a countryside devastated by 4 years of warfare.  For the modeller there are all sorts of useful references.  Uniforms and equipment of course, plus assorted artillery pieces, the variety of trenches from elaborate prepared positions to the use of a convenient ditch, the military use of London Buses and a number of concrete emplacements amidst the surrounding devastation.  Many show the movement of wounded through to dressing stations and casualty clearing stations along with others that show the sadder sights of death in the war zone, sights which must have scarred the memories of so many.

As we have come into the final year of the 100th anniversary of the Great War this is one I'd rate as one of the best photo collections which illustrate those events so well, specifically from the viewpoint of the BEF.  Easily one to recommend.


Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.