Most of the decision-making fell to brigade and battalion commanders. Their initiative was critical. Units were sometimes hastily cobbled together from whatever troops were available and then thrown in to stem the German tide. As there were no permanent trenches, the battles were fluid with wide-ranging flanking movements commonplace. At one extreme, the bayonet figured prominently; at the other, tanks fought each other for the first time.
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Villers-Bretonneux by Peter Pedersen is part of the highly praised Battleground Europe series. This volume offers a clear, concise description of the military engagements which took place near¿and at times in the very heart of¿a small village not far from the Somme River in northern France. Pederson focuses on two extremely complex battles in April 1918 and renders them comprehensible even to the novice reader. In doing so, he makes especially intelligent use of contemporary and modern photographs as well as personal recollections of the unfortunate soldiers. Beyond offering an informative and interesting history, the book serves as a guide for the modern reader wishing to tour the battlefield and village. The work closes with a chapter which includes several self-guided tours of the immediate and surrounding areas. Here the book succeeds wonderfully. Indeed, it is the next best thing to having a personal guide.