A Hard Won Learning Experience

A Hard Won Learning Experience

Developments in Battlefield Performance and Brigade Operations in the British Expeditionary Force 1916-18

Heathcliffe Bowen

A ground-breaking comparative study of the development of battlefield performance through the combat experiences of a British Army brigade on the Western Front.
Date Published :
November 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
6 photos, 6 b/w maps, 11 tables
No associated books available.


Drawing on extensive use of both primary and secondary source material, 'A Hard Won Learning Experience' examines the development of battlefield performance in the British Expeditionary Force through the combat experiences of a Territorial infantry brigade in three engagements between 1916 and 1918.

Originating from a 2006 MA thesis in Military History, the book takes a comparative approach to the study of battlefield performance and shows that the brigade learnt valuable lessons from its experiences of combat on the Somme in September 1916, at the 3rd Battle of Ypres in October 1917 and during the Hundred Days offensive in October 1918. The research also shows the brigade contributing to the process of post-battle analysis and the evolution of the combined arms strategy which proved crucial to the victory of the Allied armies in 1918. The effect of casualties, changes of command, morale, training and the employment of new technology provides the means of assessing the extent of the battlefield performance of the brigade which, together with the increasing devolution of command responsibilities as the war progressed, re-appraises the increasingly sophisticated approach made by the BEF to warfare on the Western Front.

The book also presents an opportunity to add to the current academic scholarship and consider the pivotal role played by brigade formations in the development of the British Army’s battlefield performance, as well as tactical and operational methods from 1916 to the end of the war.

About The Author

A graduate of the School of History at the University of Leeds, with a BA (Hons) degree from Lancaster University and further professional and vocational qualifications, Heathcliffe Bowen has been studying military history for over thirty years. He has a strong interest in the history of both the First and Second World Wars as well as periods as diverse as the French Revolution, British imperialism and the rise of the fascist dictators between the two world wars. Heathcliffe worked as a senior administrator for a large local authority for nearly twenty years and also served as a local councillor and community volunteer in his home town. Around the same time he spent many years tutoring students in A Level and GCSE History, before devoting his time to historical research and writing on the development of the British Army in World War One. Currently writing book reviews for the Western Front Association and other publishers, Heathcliffe was born and bred in Ilkley in West Yorkshire, attends his local Baptist church and enjoys walking the hills and dales near his family home.

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