Dr Trevor Harvey’s remarkable work, An Army of Brigadiers. British Brigade Commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917 has been praised for offering ‘unique and original insights on British operations on the Western Front’.
His achievement comes after he signed up for the first cohort of the University of Birmingham’s MA in British First World War Studies, graduated in 2006 with distinction, and was awarded a PhD in 2016.
“It’s taken me six years to earn a PhD and to turn it into a book,” says Trevor, aged 67, who grew up in Great Barr, was educated at West Bromwich Grammar School and now lives in South Warwickshire.
“Retiring from my career in management education and beginning a new one in military history research and writing has been hugely rewarding, especially when combined with my role as Chairman of the Heart of England branch of the Western Front Association.
‘People tend to think that First World War generals were remote from their troops and enjoyed a risk-free existence far behind the frontlines, with all the benefits of chateaux-style living.
‘I hope that readers of my book will see this idea is ill-founded. There were more than 600 infantry brigade commanders in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front. Of these, 42 were killed in action or died of wounds and two were awarded the Victoria Cross.”
Focusing on five individual brigadier-general case studies, Trevor has drawn on a wide variety of sources including diaries, letters and personal papers privately held by descendants of his chosen subjects.
The resulting book has been commended by Professor Peter Simkins, President of the Western Front Association, who described it as a ‘scholarly and penetrating study of brigade command at the Battle of Arras’.
“Trevor is to be commended for making a very successful transition from the world of management education to military history scholarship, where he has won praise from exemplar institutions including the Universities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham,” says Duncan Rogers, Publisher at Helion and Company Ltd – based in Solihull.
“His book is the first major study of infantry brigade command, and is based on the service records of 116 brigadier-generals whose brigades played some part in the Battle of Arras. The five case studies he presents are uniquely fascinating, while the book as a whole reminds us that the longest advance since trench warfare began came at a high price: 160,000 casualties were inflicted on the British First and Third armies and a further 125,000 on the Germans.”
An Army of Brigadiers. British Brigade Commanders at the Battle of Arras 1917 is available direct from the publishers at www.helion.co.uk as well as from Amazon and all good bookshops.