Somme Intelligence

Fourth Army HQ 1916

William Langford

Date Published :
September 2013
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781590829
Pages : 160
Dimensions : 9 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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For the Somme offensive, British Fourth Army headquarters was situated in a chateau at Querrieu on the Albert-Amiens road. In the buildup months to Haig's Great Push a steady flow of intelligence was being compiled; captured German documents, intercepted messages, prisoners' letters, diaries and information gleaned from prisoner interviews were entered into foolscap-size ledgers where the planners could peruse them.

A former soldier of the 11th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, (Accrington Pals), Harry Platt of Burnley, originally compiled the hand-written journal of intelligence reports upon which this work is formed. In 1916, he was a sergeant working on intelligence duties at Fourth Army GHQ. He was later commissioned in the Royal Engineers. Harry also served in the Second World War in the Royal Artillery reaching the rank of Major. He was Mentioned in Despatches in both conflicts. Harry died in August 1951 aged 56.

In 2002, the handwritten journal was lodged with the Imperial War Museum at the instigation of historian William Turner, military historian and author of books on the Accrington Pals.

As the reader goes through these reports it would be helpful to keep in mind that members of the British staff at Querrieu chateau, including Generals Haig and Rawlinson, would have had their impressions colored by the words you are reading and doubtless their optimism for a successful outcome to the Somme offensive greatly enhanced. They would have noted the effect the British bombardment was having; dominance of the Royal Flying Corps as its machines seemingly operated unmolested over the trenches; growing unrest in German cities as food shortages drove the populace to riot; and the relentless call-up to the colors of ever-younger youths as that nation’s manhood bled in the great battles taking place.

About The Author

The author has been employed in printing and publishing for fifty years. His works include five fictional titles, two books on aviation topics, five further titles on the First World War and one covering the actions of the SS Totenkopf Division in the invasion of France in May 1940.


"This summer we have been inundated with a bewildering array of new (and not so new) Somme titles, few of them offer any new insight or fresh information. This book however does offer the Somme Guide the opportunity to get inside the thinking of Haig and his staff. Packed with examples of the intelligence gained from POWs, captured letters, diaries and documents it provides an array of useful snapshots of German morale and the British analysis of the intelligence gained."

- Despatches

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