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When tanks, the newly invented British weapon, were used for the first
time in a mass attack on 20th November 1917, they not only achieved one of the
most remarkable successes of the First World War but set the pattern for the
future of mechanised warfare. For the first time in three years of bloody trench
warfare, epitomised by the slaughter at Passchendaele which was then reaching
its climax, tanks brought about a breakthrough of the massive German defence
system of the Hindenburg Line, followed up by British infantry and cavalry
divisions. They were supported for the first time by low flying fighter aircraft
of the Royal Flying Corps. The initial victory at Cambrai brought cheering
crowds into the streets of London and the ringing of church bells in
celebration. In seemed possible that the success might bring about the final
defeat of Germany. But the British High Command failed to exploit the success.
Generals who still dreamt of massive cavalry charges had not had much faith in
this strange new weapon that had been brought to them – funded initially by the
Royal Navy at the behest of Winston Churchill who was then First Lord of the
Admiralty and did see its value. The High Command did not really believe the
breakthrough was possible and tragically miscalculated the necessary steps to
follow it up. Within days the Germans counter-attacked and regained much of the
ground that the British had won. What could have been the final victory was
delayed for another year.
  • AUTHOR: Cooper, B
  • FORMAT: 244pp 30 Bw 234x156 Hb
  • Code: 20360

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