Osprey's Blanc Mont Ridge 1918


Romaine Cansiere & Ed Gilbert


Osprey Publishing


$24.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-4728-2496-7

This latest book is part of Osprey's Campaign series and is undoubtedly the largest series is Osprey's extensive catalogue.  I am not a student of WWI, which is why I find books like this so interesting though I have heard of most WWI battles. This is one I did not know existed. In fact, the author states that this campaign is one that, for whatever reason, is rarely mentioned in histories of the war and on which nearly nothing has been written. Why this is the case is a real puzzler as it was a victory for the French and US Marine Corps; an event that was just as important as the Argonne and Bella Wood. Interestingly, a major source of information was a German book about the campaign as nothing had been written by the US and there was no official history of the campaign.

Basically, it is pretty standard WWI battle where plans start to fall apart as soon as the battle starts. It lasted for about a month of very heavy fighting with the Germans requiring a rather heavy price for what ground was taken. For the US side of the battle it was the US's Second Division which included the 4th Marine Brigade as well as Texas and Oklahoma National Guard to provide the troops and operated in concert and under the overall control of the French. The reason for the US troops was that the French troops were quite war weary and the French generals were concerned that they were not up to the task without help.

The campaign started with the most experienced Marine soldiers in the line and eventually brought in green troops from the reserves in some of the less dangerous sectors to provide them with battle experience. This experience is very quickly learned if a soldier wants to stay alive. Despite the usual goofs and glitches, fairly steady progress was made to capture the heavily defended Blanc Mont high ground that was the main objective of the battle. Eventually gaining this as an observation area for future advances was a major plus for the French and Americans.

While it was possible in terms of troops to continue the advance, logistics determined that this was not possible. A major issue during WWI was always being able to provide supplies and not just weapons and ammunition but also food and other materiel. About two weeks after this campaign, the war was over. An interesting bit of information about this battle is that it is the first time that Native American code talkers were used. In this case it was members of the Choctaw Nation that performed this task.

I found this title to be very interesting and learned quite a bit from reading it. It is well written and helps to clear up the usual fog of war. There are the usual great period photos as well as useful maps and other illustrations typical of the series. I liked it and I know you will as well.

November 2018

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