Crossing No Man’s Land

Experience and Learning with the Northumberland Fusiliers in the Great War

Tony Ball

Publication date:
April 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Military Studies
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781910777732

This book is available


This book addresses the potentially deadly challenge of getting across No Man's Land in good shape to fight at the other side. It explores the development of the British Army's infantry battle tactics during the Great War using the largest infantry regiment, the Northumberland Fusiliers, as a case study. Principles and, in particular, practice are covered. The study demonstrates the transformation of the British Army from an essentially Victorian army to a recognisably modern army; adapting tactics to the circumstances and saving lives in the process. A novel research approach is used; comparing Army doctrine with the reality at battalion level which yields a unique insight into experience and learning on the Western Front. Two hundred and eleven attacks and 75 raids are identified through a census of all 28 of the Regiment's battalion war diaries covering 25,876 diary days. The analysis is set in the overall context of the War taking in the full sweep, from beginning to end, and also gives some small insight into the so called sideshows. A by-product of the research approach has been a detailed activity analysis, the ‘doings', summarising what each Northumberland Fusiliers' battalion was engaged in every day and for the Regiment in aggregate. This is a secondary but no less valuable theme of the study, which also yields good material on infantry training. Furthermore, when activities are known on a daily basis, it is possible to correlate attacks with fatalities and to attempt to discover relationships between the two.


The Northumberland Fusiliers are feted in this stirring and inspirational account of their contribution to the Great War. Once again the author draws on a wide variety of sources, but for me, as always, it is the soldiers' own words in their notes and diary entries that provide the most informative and revealing comments on the conflict.
Books Monthly

Manages, successfully, to evade the biggest trap in studies of individual regiments, easy parochialism.
Society of Friends of the National Army Museum