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War Over the Trenches Book

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MikeMeech View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Feb 2010 at 14:34
Dear All
I have just finished reading 'War Over the Trenches:  Air Power and the Western Front Campaigns 1916-18' by E.R. Hooton (2010, Ian Allan).  I have found this to be a very good and interesting book, as were his previous books on the Luftwaffe ('Phoenix Triumphant' and 'Eagle in Flames').  It is also well referenced and lists lots of primary sources.  There are some things in it that I believe are not quite correct or over stated, but it is a bit 'nit picking' and overall I liked it very much.  However, on page 181, he appears to be saying that it was only with the introduction of S.S.131 'Co-operation of Aircraft with Artillery' in December 1917 did the British have a common doctrine on this subject.  It should be noted that 'common doctrines' between aircraft and ground forces went back a long way, in July 1915 two documents were published by GHQ; 'Co-operation of Aeroplanes with Artillery' and 'Co-operation of Aeroplanes and Artillery when using Wireless' both found in AIR 1/2251/209/54/6.  Also in this file is 'Notes on the Co-operation of Aircraft and Other Arms when the Army is on the move'.  These were all based on the war experience to that date, they may not have been suitable later, or work well at times, but they were part of a constantly changing process of experience and experimentation that later became practice.  I believe there was NO real sudden 'conversion on the road to Damascus' but a 'process' that led to the successful use of air/ground co-operation in war, and the earlier years should not be forgotten.  Have any others read this book yet?  If so what do you think of it?  Also it was interesting to see how much use was made of Trevor Henshaw's 'The Sky Their Battlefield', it does show how important that work is.
All that said I think Hooton's book is important and will be very useful to anyone interested in First World War aviation and the war in general.
 
Mike
 
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NickForder View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Feb 2010 at 16:54
Mike
I haven't read Hooton's latest, but I do agree with you about his 2-volume work on the Luftwaffe. The problem with a work of this type is oftne that the research might be extensive, but there is really no substitute for immersing yourself in the same subject for years !
 
I agree that 'The Sky Their Battlefield' is a fundamentally important work, but it is not without its faults and errors. One thing about it that have long since struck me as slightly bizarre is the fact that Trevor refers to 'Fokkers' when the Air-Britain books covering the same events, presumably compiled from the same sources, tend to refer to 'Pfalzs'... 
 
I agree with you about evolution as opposed to revolution, but perhaps this is not so strange as the RFC was part of the Army and not an independent service until 1 April 1918. Furthermore, the main function of the RFC was army co-op !
 
The cavalry was interested in aviation and its potential uses prior to 1914, as is evidenced by articles that appeared in regimental journals and the relatively high % of cavalrymen seconded in the early part of the war. 
Nick
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MikeMeech View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MikeMeech Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Feb 2010 at 17:15
Nick
 
I believe Trevor is working on a second edition, which may get rid of some of the errors you mention.
 
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Feb 2010 at 13:00
I guess that we should all seek to send Trevor feedbacks on items queried.
 
I must say that I would be happier with a supplement (as with Above the Trenches) with amendments/additions, rather than a second edition at £45+ !
 
Presumably, almost the entire projected market for the 2nd edition will have the 1st edition already ?
Nick
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