A Taste Of Success

The First Battle Of The Scarpe. The Opening Phase Of The Battle Of Arras, 9-14 April 1917

Jim Smithson

Date Published :
May 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
16 pages color ills & maps. Approx 35 b/w photos, approx 43 b/w maps t/out, 3-4 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911096405
Pages : 312
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Wedged between the Battles of the Somme and Passchendaele, the Battle of Arras has often been termed 'The Forgotten Battle' with little in the way of supporting literature. A Taste of Success is aimed at filling that void, giving the reader an insight into a battle that clearly showed the development of the British and Commonwealth Armies over the early years of the First World War, and how far they still had to go to achieve victory. Why Arras became a focal point and the political background is covered in depth - being controversial and giving the reader an insight into the divide between the military and their political chiefs. A Taste of Success shows us how infantry tactics had improved and how the use of artillery had become a fine art in supporting the men as they attacked; how a preliminary artillery bombardment left the German defenders shattered, but also created the conditions that would hinder any kind of rapid movement once the first lines were broken. The key role of the Royal Flying Corps, how tanks were used and the vital role of support units such as the Royal Engineers are all examined in detail. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the initial success - based upon excellent planning and training - was followed by a chaotic confusion of command and control. It soon becomes evident that the development of the British Army in April 1917 had reached a point where in the Battle of Arras, they could stage a successful assault - applying perfect planning, but lacking the forethought to plan and carry out the follow-up phases. Controversially, although the performance of the soldiers carrying the fight is never questioned, that of many of their commanders is - it being clear that they were not yet ready to win the war. A great deal of the work is based upon primary material, with both British and German sources being used to deepen the analysis of events and also to challenge myths and previous descriptions of the battle. A Taste of Success presents a fresh and important reassessment of this important, yet generally ignored, battle as we approach its centenary. This book contains 16 color images and maps - in addition to many illustrations, maps and diagrams - throughout the text.

About The Author

Born and raised in Sheffield, Jim Smithson always had a love of the countryside. He initially pursued outdoor instruction as a career prospect, but was soon persuaded that his interpersonal skills and personality were best suited to teaching. Graduating in 1990 from Durham University, he entered the teaching profession and, following a few years teaching in West Yorkshire, relocated to Germany to teach in the British Forces schools. After over thirty-two years' teaching he achieved the post of deputy head teacher at a secondary school. Jim has had a keen interest in military history since his days as a teenage wargamer. Thus began his interest in the World Wars which led to visits to related battlefields at every available opportunity. This enduring passion led to the purchase of a house near Arras in 2007. Thus situated, the opportunity to explore the former battlegrounds of the Western Front on a daily basis presented itself. With the 2014 closure of military school system in Germany, Jim retired to his Artois home. Since then he has been employed as a battlefield guide. Sharing his enthusiasm with others whilst developing an appetite for primary research, the result has been the acquisition of deep knowledge and understanding of the First World War military operations from both sides of the wire. It should come as no surprise then that his first book has as its subject, the very battlefield on which he now resides. Combining original research with daily walks around Arras and vicinity has provided Jim with unique insight into the spring 1917 campaign.


“The author doesn’t hold back with the criticism of commanders on the ground...Production standards are excellent.”

- The Armourer

“Once again, a word for Helion’s production: glossy, good quality paper; some colour photographs and great design for a very reasonable price...as a text to underpin any tour of this area, it is simply a must.”

- The Long, Long Trail

“ … an impressively original and seminal work of outstanding scholarship… A critically precise and comprehensive work from beginning to end, "A Taste Of Success" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library World War I military history collections and supplemental studies reading lists.”

- Midwest Book Review

“ … A valuable addition to understanding the Battle of Arras overall…”

- Stand To!

“ … a detailed, meticulously researched narrative and a fine, balanced analysis. It deserves a place on the bookshelves of all those with an interest in the Great War, and brings this much neglected battle to our attention.”

- Australian Army Journa

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