Fighting the Somme

German Challenges, Dilemmas and Solutions

Jack Sheldon

* A thought-provoking study of the doctrine, particularly command and control, that the German army developed in fighting the defensive battle of the Somme 1916.

* Insight into the development of German army doctrine and command and control.

* Uses archival evidence and contemporary accounts to illustrate how the Germans put doctrine into pract
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
B&W Illustrations
No associated books available.


This book will provide an entirely fresh way of looking at the Battle of the Somme 1916. It will not be a rehashed narrative history of the battle. Instead, drawing heavily on examples that can be illustrated through exploitation of the primary sources still available in abundance in the archives at Stuttgart and Munich and anecdotal accounts, it will explain how and why the German defense was designed and conducted as it was. There will be descriptions of the reasons for the dominance of the Great General Staff, the tensions between commanders and staff, the disagreements between the commanders of First and Second Army and the replacement of General von Falkenhayn with the duumvirate of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.

Specific case studies will include the loss and recapture of Schwaben Redoubt on 1 July, the British assault on the Second Position of 14 July, the tank attack at Flers 15 September and the autumn battles for Sailly Saissisel and St Pierre Vaast Wood.

This will ensure that there is plenty to interest the general reader as well as showing how the various levels of command from regiment to army group operated and responded to emergencies and crises. Space will be devoted to changes in command philosophy, the introduction of new weapons and equipment and the evolution of tactics to counter the massive Allied superiority in manpower and materiel.

About The Author

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 Führungsakademie, 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 Attaché 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.


"There is much to interest the general reader as well as providing a more detailed analysis of how the various command level operated."

- The Amourer incorporating Classic Arms and Militaria, July 2017

“Well gang, I am here to report that Jack Sheldon has done it once more. His numerous books on the German army in World War I have almost become the stuff of legends. They are not only jam packed with history, but also have tons of first hand accounts. 'Fighting on The Somme' is no different… Mr. Sheldon has, as usual, done a superb job in showing us the thoughts, actions, and reasoning behind the German defense.”

- A Wargamers Needful Things

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