Review of “Two sides of the same bad penny?”

Two sides of the same bad penny? Gallipoli and the Western Front a comparison
edited by Michael LoCicero
published by Helion & Company in 2018
hardback ISBN 978 1 911096 68 9
261 pages plus index

This is a compendium of twelve papers, most of which were presented at a joint Gallipoli Association – Western Front Association conference held in September 2015, with some well-known names being amongst the authors including Peter Hart and Prof. Gary Sheffield. Many readers will also know the names of Stephen Chambers and Chris Pugsley for their previous outstanding work on Gallipoli and the New Zealanders respectively. For the most part, the authors are respected historians in their fields even if perhaps less well known to the general reader, including Rob Thompson, John Sneddon and Clive Harris, the latter also being a leading battlefield guide when it comes to Gallipoli. In other words, a good, solid team to be discussing this subject.

The conference set out to compare and contrast the two campaigns, which of course were fought in parallel during much of 1915. Same players on the Entente side (although with the introduction of the Anzacs in Gallipoli rather than the Canadians in Flanders); different enemies, although associated, in Germany and the Ottoman Empire. They had vastly different terrain, climate and logistical requirements, yet at one level of abstraction it might be said that both came to be characterised by the same entrenched positional warfare.

The papers look at the campaigns entirely from the Entente side, with nothing coming from a German or Ottoman perspective. I found Thompson’s work on logistics and Sneddon on munitions technology to be the most interesting. Other papers look at various British divisions, the New Zealanders, Australian Imperial Force, Australian tunnellers and, more unusually, Canadian nurses. With the exception of the latter, which is by Andrea McKenzie, I am not sure that there is much that would be genuinely new to anyone who has studied the two campaigns. The final two papers, by Stephen Chambers and Mark Connelly, look at aspects of photography and cinematic work and they do bring a different and refreshing perspective to the mix.

Good as a work of record of the conference; good for a one time read through; but not one that I will feel the need to keep for future reference,

Buy it