Ypres:The First Battle, 1914

Ian F.W. Beckett  
Pearson Longman
September 2004


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Ypres:The First Battle 1914
1 Juli 2006 21.30


The battle for Ypres in October and November 1914 represented the last opportunity for open, mobile warfare on the Western Front for the next four years. It marked the transition between war as it had been and war as it would become. The first battle to associate the British army with the 'immortal salient' and, indeed, regarded as the end of the 'old army', the mythologizing of the British struggle has obscured the major role of the French and Belgians in defending Flanders. But it has also been mythologised from the German perspective, the so-called kindermord (slaughter of the innocents) proving a useable myth for the Nazis through the participation of the young Adolf Hitler. In the first study of First Ypres for almost 40 years, Ian Beckett draws on a wide range of sources never previously used to reappraise the conduct of the battle, its significance and its legacy.


  • Together with the Somme (1916) and Passchendaele (1917), this battle defined World War One
  • Draws on wide range of British, French, Belgian and German primary sources
  • Many new personal accounts and sources which were simply not available to authors of the previous books on the subject
  • Shows the beginnings of trench warfare...and also the last gentleman's conflict.

Table of Contents

1. The Belgian Option and the Race to the S ea

2. Four Armies in Flanders Fields

3. Advance to Contact

4. Kindermord

5.The South

6.Army Group Fabeck


Conclusion: The Immortal Salient

Appendix: Orders of Battle

Back Cover

First Ypres in 1914 was a devastating battle for the British and a turning point for all four of the major armies involved.

Ypres: The First Battle draws on a wide range of British, French, German and Belgian sources in order to reconstruct the battle from all sides. Many of these personal papers and public accounts have never before been published.

Through a shrewd analysis of the most recent secondary works as well as archival materials, Ian F. W. Beckett appraises the significance of First Ypres as a key moment in the Great War marking the transition from war as it had been to war as it would become.


Professor Ian F W Beckett is an internationally known specialist on the British army and the First World War who has taught at both British and American universities. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he was formerly Professor of Modern History at the University of Luton and a Senior Lecturer in War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. His many publications include The Great War, 1914-1918, The First World War: (Longman),The Essential Guide to Sources in the UK National Archives (The National Archives),The Army and the Curragh Incident, 1914 (Bodley head), The Judgement of History: Lord French, Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and 1914 (Tom Donovan Publishing).

Reader Review(s)

'...this is a well-researched and readable book that should become the standard scholarly account of First Ypres.'

'Ian F W Beckett's study offers a new examination of First Ypres based on a much broader range of sources, including British and French archival materials as well as memoirs, contemporary accounts and modern schloarship.'

Nikolas Gardner, University of Salford, The Journal of Military History

'...this title earns its place on the bookshelf of anyone with a considered interest in World War One.'

SOFNAM, February 2005

'A first rate work by one of the leading specialists on the First World War, this study draws appropriate attention to the role of the Belgian  and French forces at First Ypres...'

Jeremy Black, University of Exeter, Historical Association Reviews July 2005

"… a very well respected historian of World War One… Beckett has an engaging writing style… this is an accessible account of a key battle"- Military Illustrated January 2007