A Lack of Offensive Spirit?

The 46th (North Midland) Division at Gommecourt

A Lack of Offensive Spirit?’ is a companion volume to Alan MacDonald’s recently revised book ‘Pro Patria Mori – the 56th (1st London) Division at Gommecourt, 1st July 1916’. The attack of the 46th (North Midland) Division at Gommecourt on the first day of the Battle of the Somme is one of the most controversial incidents of the Great War. The men were effectively accused of cowardice (“A lack of offensive spirit”) and of being drunk and the Division was the only one subject to a Court of Inquiry into its conduct. Their commander, Maj. Gen. Eddie Stuart Wortley, was the only General sacked as a result of the catastrophe of the 1st July 1916, a day when the British Army suffered its worst casualties in a single day in its entire history.

A Lack of Offensive Spirit?’ tells the story of Stuart Wortley and the 46th Division from the opening of the war, through the tragedy of the Hohenzollern Redoubt and then, day by day, through the preparations for the attack on Gommecourt.

“The detail and in-depth research is excellent and it is a book that belongs in any library of a Great War enthusiast.”

Additional Reviews Below

Reviews and comments

Stand To! No.84, Dec. 2008/Jan. 2009

Western Front Association

The main story is of the unfair criticism of this Territorial division by the higher command for their ‘lack of offensive spirit’ and of their commander, Major General Edward Stewart Wortley… How could this be when two of the battalions suffered such huge casualties on the day? Rather than lacking in offensive sprit, the men fought well and it was the plan that was tactically flawed. The action was futile, sure to fail but, nevertheless heroic.

This well recorded and well-argued book is one of the best titles I have read for some time and the author deserves our congratulations on the work and the very reasonable price for such a substantial volume.

Col. Bob Wyatt

GRANDAUGHTER on Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars. Son’s verdict.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 February 2013
My grandfather was injured on July 1st at the battle of Gommecourt. I recently purchased this book for my father who is 90 this year. He thought it was a fantastic read and although he said at times it was so moving he had to put it down, it has been an amazing eye opener for him and he has really enjoyed reading it.

Ralph J. Whitehead on Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any Great War enthusiast.
Reviewed in the United States on 14 January 2015
I have studied the German side of the fighting in WW1 and know relatively little about the opposing side. I have read this book with great eagerness as I am familiar with the superb writing style of Alan MacDonald. The book was extremely interesting, well researched and is presented in a clear, concise manner which made it a joy to read. I learned a great deal from the book, especially when comparing the British accounts with what was written from the German side. The detail and in-depth research is excellent and it is a book that belongs in any library of a Great War enthusiast. I highly recommend the book to any reader with an interest in the war as well as his earlier book on the 56th Division at Gommecourt. A superb work!

(Ralph Whitehead is a noted writer on the German Army in WW1)

Saracen on Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 June 2009
This book admirably unravels in great detail the TRUE story, never told before, about what really happened before, during and after the disastrous attack on Gommecourt by the 46th North Midland Division on 1st July 1916. It details the self serving and utterly DISGRACEFUL SLANDER that was imparted on the soldiers of the Division who died in their hundreds on 1st July 1916, carrying out an attack that should never have been ordered in the first place. This book is the first to properly delve into the detail of what happened and the author has done a tremendous job in finally allowing the truth to come out. I highly recommend it.

(Saracen is the grandson of one of the battalion COs involved)

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My three previous books about the first day of the Battle of the Somme are all available through Amazon. Follow the link below.