QUOTE (Mark Hone @ Nov 11 2005, 01:19 PM)
Bob-The letter describes the action fought by 7th Kings Royal Rifle Corps on 31st July 1915, i.e.the Hooge flamethrower attack. Holmes was in a reserve trench and reports the front line going up in a 'mass of flame' before his unit is ordered to counter-attack.
Very interesting. I am attempting to write my book as much as possibly from primary sources, and have little or nothing of this kind of source from the British side. I would love to cite the letter in my book, with a proper citation, which would also help preserve the memory of the brave men who were struck with this terrible weapon. Is it at all possible to receive a scan of the entire letter? I would be happy to meet any requirement as to handing it, releasing it to others (or not), etc., and meet costs, if any. I certainly would want a complete description of the lad who penned the letter, to give him his due. I do not plan to use anything without a full scholarly citation.
I do not know too much about the German side of the attack, yet, but I assure you that the brief citation I posted is completely authorative. I have to be coy about the exact source until my book is out. The German Highest Army Command's daily communique for August first mentions the attack, cites booty, but of course does not mention Flammenwerfer
I have the complete death roll of the German flame units, and the flame troops themselves did not lose a single man in this attack. Here, as often happened, the shock of such an attack simply collapsed the defense, at least the first line. In the largest flame attack 154 flame throwers were used, their advance directed from the air. The opening barrage was often two minutes, just to get the defenders' heads down and give the attackers a few more seconds, or sometimes there was no barrage. There was an extensive effort to obscure the effectiveness of this weapon, which was actively pursued till at least 1934 by an American and a British general, and which really obscured and distorted the history of this weapon till the present day.
Many thanks for any help.
I hope you guys don't mind my frequent self-annointed pronouncements as a Hunnish "Devil's Advocate". Happily, in this miserable war I think outright brutality was the exception rather than the rule, and the "tales" were more common than the actual events. There was a lot of fabrication. I have a book by a Canadian disabled soldier, an actor, who after returning to Canada was hired by the English to write the book (If he did it himself), tour the US to give lectures, and even make a Hollywood movie. Much of the material was obviously physically impossible, as well as historically improbable, and was clearly intended to inflame US public opinion, get them further into the war, and bolster Canadian/UK solidarity.
My own father got shot on Hill 304 at Verdun attempting to save the life of a French officer on a pre-dawn raid. ("No good deed goes unpunished.")