The Hindenburg Line 1918, Haig’s Forgotten Triumph
If you are a person interested in the Great War, you will likely enjoy this new release from Osprey as part of their “Campaign” series of books. In this new offering from Osprey Publishing, author Alister McCluskey writes about the late war offensive on what the Allies referred to as “the Hindenburg Line” on the Western Front. The story along with photos (both historical and of the landscape today), artwork, and maps helps to tell the story of the battles that raged from late September into early October 1918.
This offering by Osprey is written in eight chapters, which are titled “The Strategic Situation”, “Chronology”, “Opposing Commanders”, “Opposing Forces”, “Opposing Plans”, “The Campaign”, “Aftermath”, and “The Battlefield Today”. There is also a “Further Reading” list of books and an “Index”. There are 59 black and white photographs contained within this publication as well as nine color maps and three paintings, each covering two pages, all of which are followed by a smaller black and white image of the painting and a description of the action taking place.
The level of detail is very informative as “Opposing Commanders” provides information regarding the Allied and German commanders starting with their involvement in the war beginning in 1914. The “Opposing Forces” chapter provides information on the men involved with the British, French, and German forces including foreign troop support, artillery, aircraft, and armor. This chapter also includes the orders of battle for all involved forces including the Army, Corps, and Division leaders. The “Opposing Plans” chapter follows suit by providing both the Allied and German plans for this campaign.
The chapter titled “The Campaign” begins with a description of the battle of the St. Quentin Canal on 26 September and ends with the Allied troops having pushed past the Hindenburg Line on 8 October. This is by far the longest chapter in the book, and it provides a narrative on the fighting that took place each day from the start to the finish. Maps and event timelines are provided to help the reader visualize the changes in the ownership of the land as the Allies advanced.
In “Aftermath” the results of this campaign are described including the impact on the battlefield, and also how this would play a part in the Armistice being signed and the war ending just over a month later. Finally, “The Battlefield Today” describes how the land returned to the farmers, and that today, few signs of the Line remain visible aside from the cemeteries and monuments for those who sacrificed all during this campaign.
As with other Osprey books in my collection, this latest offering is well written, and the author, Alister McCluskey, is currently an officer in British Army. In addition, Peter Dennis has been an illustrator for several books, many of them from Osprey, and more importantly, is an avid modeler. I found the photographs to be interesting, and the drawings are up to the high standards that one can expect with Osprey.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any modeler wanting reference to one of the final campaigns of World War I. As mentioned previously, the art and photography are very good, and again, the book is well written and informative. I would like to thank the folks at Osprey Publishing for providing this book to the IPMS-USA for review, and I appreciate having been afforded the opportunity to write this appraisal. As always, thanks to you the reader for taking the time to read my comments.