Recent years have seen an increasingly sophisticated debate take place with regard to the armies on the Western Front during the Great War. Some argue that the British and Imperial armies underwent a `learning curve' coupled with an increasingly lavish supply of munitions, which meant that during the last three months of fighting the BEF was able to defeat the German Army as its ability to conduct operations was faster than the enemy's ability to react. This book argues that 8th Division, a war-raised formation made up of units recalled from overseas, became a much more effective and sophisticated organisation by the war's end. It further argues that the formation did not use one solution to problems but adopted a sophisticated approach dependent on the tactical situation. This is supported by using original sources including war diaries, after-action reports and the post-war correspondence with the British official historian. From its first acquaintance with the peculiar nature of trench-warfare following its arrival in France in late 1914, 8th Division undertook a series of operations that attempted to break the deadlock. Incorrect lessons were learnt, culminating in failure on the Somme in 1916. The Division became ineffective and required rejuvenation. This was accomplished by a new command team. Involvement in the semi-open warfare during the advance to the Hindenburg Line reinforced the efficiency of the Division. Thus, despite enduring torrid fighting at 3rd Ypres and during the German Spring offensives of 1918, by the `advance to victory' of late 1918, 8th Division was able to operate at a tempo far higher than it had achieved before. Unique selling points: first examination of the Division since the 1920's; gives the background to works such as `General Jack's Diary' and Sir John Baynes' book `Morale'; shows that not all troops marched in lines on 1st July 1916; use of new tactics, especially in 1917-18, e.g `neutralisation' not `destruction'.
Alun Thomas completed his doctoral research in 2010. He is especially interested in operational analysis of the BEF in the First World War. He is a member of the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham, the Western Front Association, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies and the Society for Army Historical Research. After teaching in a West Midlands comprehensive school for seven years, he served in the West Midlands Police for twenty-five years. He has presented on the British Upper Silesia Force to the Annual Conference of Irish Association of Russian, Central and East European Studies in Dublin in 2014. Alun Thomas is the author of a number of works including a chapter on the Action at Bois Grenier in Spencer Jones' forthcoming book, 'Courage Without Glory: the British Army on the Western Front 1915', also to be published by Helion, `Open Warfare during the 'Hundred Days' - 1918', Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association, No. 96 (January 2013) and of a number of book reviews in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, the Western Front Association's digital magazine and for the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham. He lives with his family on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.