Cheerful Sacrifice: Battle of Arras, 1917

By Jonathan Nicholls

Published by Leo Cooper Ltd (2005)

Cheerful Sacrifice tells the story of the spring offensive of April - May 1917, otherwise known as the Battle of Arras. Probably because the noise had hardly died down before it started up again with the explosions at Messines, shortly to be followed by the even more horrible Third Ypres - remembered as Passchendaele - the Battle of Arras has not received the attention it deserves. Yet, as the author points out, on the basis of the daily casualty rate it was the most lethal and costly British offensive battle of the First World War. In the thirty-nine days that the battle lasted the average casualty rate was far higher than at either the Somme or Passchendaele. Jonathan Nicholls, in this his first book, gives the Battle of Arras its proper place in the annals of military history, enhancing his text with a wealth of eye-witness accounts. One is left in no doubt that the survivor who described it as 'the most savage infantry battle of the war', did not exaggerate. Nor can there be much doubt that the author is destined to rise high in the firmament of military historians.

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