The Battle of the Selle

Fourth Army Operations on the Western Front in the Hundred Days, 9-24 October 1918

Peter Hodgkinson

This book considers Fourth Army's operations at the River Selle between 9-24 October 1918.
Date Published :
February 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Series
Illustration :
b/w photos, 16pp color maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781911512639
Pages : 344
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


This book considers a relatively unknown series of actions of the victorious Hundred Days of 1918: the operations at the River Selle. Between 9-24 October, the British Fourth Army drove elements of two German armies back from the Hindenburg support line in the ‘Pursuit to the Selle’ (9-11 October); prepared and fought the set-piece Battle of the Selle (17-18 October); and then drove in the flank of the German Second Army towards the Sambre-Oise Canal (23-24 October). Contrary to expectations, the enemy resistance on 17 October (as Fourth Army crossed the river) was strong and effective, which contradicts the idea that the German Army was an entirely spent force at this late point in the conflict. Furthermore, Fourth Army suffered its worst intelligence failure of the war and artillery, airpower and armor were unable to support the infantry effectively; it was largely the infantry, fighting a ‘soldier’s battle’, that gave victory.

The book gives a detailed account of the fighting and the infantry tactics deployed, and it analyses why Fourth Army’s ‘weapons system’ struggled to be effective - weighing the contribution of each element and the qualities of the infantry that made victory possible. It also examines the nature of ‘semi-mobile’ warfare in the Hundred Days and assesses the limitations of the British ability to pursue this. The idea that the BEF had an invincible formula - repeatedly deployed - that ensured success is challenged; similarly, the nature of the German resistance is subject to analysis. The book further examines Fourth Army’s planning process and the efforts of the Royal Engineers and the logistics system, without which no victory would have been possible.

About The Author

Peter Hodgkinson has a BA in Psychology from Durham University and an MPhil in Clinical Psychology from the University of London. His career as a clinical psychologist in both the NHS and private spheres has largely been involved with trauma and sudden, violent death. He is the author of many psychology articles and Coping with Catastrophe A Handbook of Post-Disaster Psychological Aftercare (Routledge, 1998). His MA in British First World War Studies and PhD were obtained in the Department of War Studies at the University of Birmingham. He contributed a chapter on battalion commanders to Stemming the Tide Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914 (Helion, 2013), and his book British Battalion Commanders in the First World War was published in 2015 by Ashgate. He has also written articles on the varied topics of the battlefield clearances of human remains, soldiers letters, Senior Officer School, and homeless WW1 veterans. He has two daughters and lives in Sussex.


“Illustrated with a number of good, clear and simple maps and several annotated “now” photographs of the ground, the book describes the action in depth. There are endless footnotes and the narrative is at a detailed level...Excellent – and about time that the succession of major British victories in 1918 was afforded such attention.”

- Long Long Trail

“…a mine of useful information on a brief but interesting tactical and operational episode of WWI land warfare.”

- Miniature Wargames

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