Starters reading list: the Western Front battles of 1915

Neuve Chapelle, March 1915

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle by Paul Kendall. A modern study of the battle and one of the very few that cover it in detail. A good starter read. It is affected by poor editorial control which allowed several typographical errors through, and it is written from a British perspective with little German-side input but nonetheless it is worth a look.

Morale: a study of men and courage by John Baynes. A detailed study of the 2nd Scottish Rifles (Cameronians) in this battle. Now becoming scarce in the original 1967 Cassell publication but reprinted in 1987 by Pen & Sword and (I believe) by Avery for USA publication in 1988. In an in-dept analysis of the fight as experienced by a hard-bitten regular battalion.

Volume I of the British Official History for 1915. Thorough, detailed and surprisingly engaging to read. This volume also covers the Second Battle of Ypres.

Second Battle of Ypres

A good account if (like too many military histories) it gives a rather one-sided view.

A decent modern study of the battle. The same author also earlier wrote “Hell in Flanders Fields: Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres”.


A serious disappointment by Adrian Bristow is one of relatively few modern studies of the battle. Also discusses the munitions shortage scandal that so badly affected the British during this period of the war.

Volume II of the British Official History for 1915. Again it is thorough, detailed and surprisingly engaging to read. This volume also covers the battles of Festubert and Loos.


Sad to say, this battle remains very poorly covered by historians and other than the Official History I can’t think of any single volume that studies it in any great depth. Michael Nugent’s “It was an awful Sunday” looks at the part played by the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.


Loos 1915 by Nick Lloyd is the best of a recent crop of studies of the battle.

The Great Push: an episode of the Great War by Patrick Macgill is one of comparatively few memoirs that are strongly focused on the battle.

With a machine gun to Cambrai by George Coppard ranks as one of the best of all memoirs of the First World War. His unit entered part way through the Battle of Loos and his descriptions of the area and fighting are vivid and evocative. If you only ever read one book  on this war, this is it.


Other reading lists

The battles and engagements

Commander’s despatches