Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Thursday, 23 July 2015
The Advance From Mons 1914 - Walter Bloem
This review has been submitted to War History Online for publication.
Title: The Advance
From Mons 1914
Author: Walter Bloem
Bloem was a reserve
Captain in the Royal Prussian Grenadier Regiment Prinz Carl von Preussen and
was engaged from the very first days of the First World War. In civilian life
he was an author and he used that skill set to draft a recollection of his
experiences during mobilization and combat from July to September 1914 on the
Western Front. Unlike many who draft their memoires, Bloem wrote immediately
following his experiences with the eye and prose of a professional writer; his
work is therefore readable, poignant and insightful.
The German Army was
viewed as one of the most professional of armies in the prewar period and it is
interesting to read about the challenges that he experienced during the
mobilization phase. The reader begins to appreciate the degree of planning and
flexibility that was needed to effectively undertake the activation and
movement of so many troops and supplies.
Additionally, the strength
of character, confidence and professionalism of both the Officer and NCO’s of
his unit is rapidly evident. Notwithstanding this, he also struggles with the
shock of initial combat like any other. What is especially interesting however,
is his focus on ‘fighting the battle’. He hears and acknowledges the concerns
and complaints of his soldiers regarding mail and food etc but he maintains his
priority of leading and fighting as is the duty of the Officer. He and his
senior NCO’s are intensely interested in the welfare of their soldiers but not
at the expense of combat effectiveness.
assumptions, Bloem ensures that his soldiers are briefed as much as is possible
on the goals and centres of gravity at both the national level and the tactical
so they may understand their role and position (ie professional development). It
is interesting to get a sense of the degree to which he and his soldiers had to
trust the Chain of Command as, given the technology of the period,
comprehending what was happening outside of one’s immediate environs (while in
the heat of battle) was very limited. This serves as an example of the
confidence in each other, unit cohesion and esprit des corps developed during
intensive peacetime training.
This is a short book;
however, it is extremely well written and serves as an outstanding snapshot of
life during the hectic and dynamic days of the summer and fall of 1914. Bloem’s
work should be read by all junior Officers and NCO’s and is an excellent
testament of their roles, responsibilities and the mental strength required to
be effective under the stress of combat.