This latest 'German Army' book by Jack Sheldon covers a shorter (three week) timeframe than his earlier works. After an introductory chapter tracing the development of the Hindenburg Line, the author concentrates on German aspects of the bitterly fought battle of Cambrai from 20 November to 6 December 1917.rnrnThe narrative splits easily into two parts. First the defensive battle 20 - 29 November followed by the counter-attack which saw the German Army regain not only most of the ground lost in the opening phase but more besides. Detailed descriptions are given of the struggle for Flesquieres Ridge and the see-saw battles for key terrain, including Bourlon Wood, as the German Army rushed reinforcements to the sectors under attack before we witness the German offensive.rnrnAs with his other books full use is made of primary source material from the Munich Kriegsarchiv, the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Stuttgart, regimental histories and personal accounts. Of particular interest are the controversial interventions in operational matters of Ludendorf which were sharply criticised by Crown Prince Rupprecht.
But for many the most fascinating aspect will be the experiences of the front line soldiers.
Educated at Inverness Royal Academy, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Universities of Lancaster and Westminster, Jack Sheldon completed a thirty-five year career as a member of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. In 1982 he graduated from the German General Staff course at the Fuhrungsakademie, Hamburg and went on to fill international staff appointments and to command an infantry training battalion. His final post before retirement in 2003 was as Military Attache Berlin. He now lives in France and has rapidly established himself as an expert in German First World War history. He was an honorary researcher for the Thiepval Visitor Centre Project, is a member of the British Commission for Military History and is the author of the highly acclaimed The German Army on the Somme 1914 - 1916, The German Army at Passchendaele and a number of Battleground Europe titles.