By drawing on a very large number of German sources, many of them previously unpublished, Jack Sheldon throws new light on a familiar story. In an account filled with graphic descriptions of life and death in the trenches, the author demonstrates that the dreadful losses of 1st July were a direct consequence of meticulous German planning and preparation. Although the Battle of the Somme was frequently a close-run affair, poor Allied co-ordination and persistence in attacking weakly on narrow fronts played into the hands of the German commanders, who were able to rush forward reserves, maintain the overall integrity of their defences and so continue a successful delaying battle until the onset of winter ultimately neutralised the considerable Allied superiority in men and material.
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.