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 2018 in association with the Gallipoli Association and the Western Front Association
Hardback ISBN 978 1 911096 68 9
261 pages plus index. Some of the papers are B&W illustrated
Cover price not stated
Reviewed by Chris Baker

This collection of twelve papers originated at a conference jointly hosted by the Gallipoli Association and the Western Front Association in 2015. They represent a rather eclectic mix of subject matter. A few of the papers make direct comparisons and contrast the two campaigns as they were in 1915; the others set Gallipoli within the longer context of the whole of the Great War. The perspective is wholly from a British and Dominion viewpoint, for there is virtually no French or Turkish voice here.

The authors of the papers include some that have long been associated with Gallipoli study: Dr. Chris Pugsley, Peter Hart and Stephen Chambers. Some are from the Birmingham/Wolverhampton university school of study of military history: Professor Gary Sheffield, Rob Thompson and John Sneddon. The remainder are all well established, mainly academic, historians. All contribute an interesting and well presented paper, although I am not sure that experienced students of the two campaigns will find much that is genuinely new here and there is no paradigm-shifting conclusion.

The two campaigns were of course markedly different in intent, geography and climate, the forces involved and in their lifespan and outcomes. The authors pick through the common threads: of munitions supply and logistical difficulty; of the faltering development and adoption of technologies and fighting methods suitable for victory; of learning, transition and the cost such warfare. Overall although the papers cover a wide variety of subjects they do present a reasonably coherent whole and make for good reading. It is a pity that a number of typographical errors have slipped through the net.

The various papers cover, amongst others, logistics; munitions and trench warfare; tunnelling; and the experience of Irish, New Zealanders and Canadians (the latter being nurses).

Overall I can’t recommend that you rush and out buy this book, but it is worth seeing especially if you are one of the many interested in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. I also note that, at time of writing this review (January 2019), copies can now be picked up fairly cheaply.

Buy it