By Christmas 1915, the wild wave of enthusiasm that had sent men flocking to join up a few months earlier had begun to tail off, and though the Regulars of the original Expeditionary Force had suffered 90 percent casualties, most, particularly the soldiers themselves, still believed that 1915 would see the breaking of the deadlock. Their hopes were shattered on the bloody battlefields at Neuve Chapelle, at Ypres, at Loos, and far away on the shores of Gallipoli. Generals failed to understand the importance of heavy howitzers and machine guns, convinced that wars were won by the cavalry. They could not imagine a war in which hundreds of advancing troops could be wiped out in minutes by machine-gun fire. As disillusionment began to set in and grim resolve replaced easy optimism, innocence was among the casualties in the trenches that ran through the Flanders swamps.
The story of 1915 is stark, brutal, frank, sometimes painfully funny, always human. Above all, it is history from the ground up, told from the point of view of the men themselves. Never before has any writer collected so many firsthand accounts of the experiences of ordinary soldiers, through diaries, letters, and interviews with survivors--and it is the dogged heroism and sardonic humor of the soldiers that shine through the pages of Lyn Macdonald's epic narrative. 1915: The Death of Innocence is a uniquely compelling blend of military history and poignant memories of the fighters who survived the ordeal.