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Pill Boxes on the Western Front: A Guide to the Design, Construction and Use of Concrete Pill Boxes, 1914-1918 [Paperback]

Peter Oldham
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 27.88 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

March 1 2011
When the First World War froze into a static line of trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss border, the most obvious means of protection against the murderous machine-gun fire which both sides inflicted upon each other was some form of shell-proof shelter which from which fire could be returned in safety, hence the development of the pill box. The idea was certainly not new but the technology required to build them under the prevailing circumstances presented problems hitherto undreamed of. In this remarkably absorbing study of what at first seems a somewhat arcane study of what at first seems a somewhat arcane subject, Peter Oldham, himself a concrete technologist, examines the problems of the design and construction of the pill boxes of the Western Front. He describes how the innumerable difficulties involved in what might to the untrained eye seem to be a fairly simple structure, were gradually overcome. Containing as it does, a gazetteer of the remaining pill boxes and bunkers still to be found in Flanders and Picardy, this book will prove an invaluable guide to the members of many clubs and societies which annually make pilgrimages to the battlefields of the First World War and certainly add a new dimension and interest to their visits to the Western Front.

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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
excellent insight into these constructions, very well researched on a topic that needed to be written about. I loved it
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Workmanlike Study Sept. 9 2012
By N. Dubeski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is everything it promises to be, but little more. It is a thorough examination of Western front pillboxes. Period and contemporary photographs are provided, as well as period sketches and blueprints. However, there is nothing that gives someone the verismilitude of constructing or living in one or the use of re-enactments or computer graphics.
3.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate defense Oct. 18 2013
By Les Pitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After 1915 the Germans were fighting more or less a defensive war and part of their strategy involved static defense points which were invulnerable to shelling. This book explains in a very dry manner how they researched reinforced concrete and were able to build these strong points behind their lines in anticipation of allied attack. Because the Dutch were amenable to them shipping supplies via canals they were able to move the massive amounts of cement and aggregate needed. The allied forces being offensively minded only decided late in the war that some protective measures might be a good thing and developed their own structures.
I have seen in many books about WW1 that the concrete was very thick, 2 feet being probably the most common figure stated, however they were in reality much thicker, up to 8-9 feet with what they called "burst layers" on top to detonate the shells before they impacted on the actual concrete.
This is what I learned, although the book itself is informative it is rather hard going. Unless you want to get down to the nitty gritty of these structures don't bother.
Often you will read in any book on the battles of WW1 that after the shelling the Germans would reappear and have their machine guns set up to mow down the attackers. This was an integral part of pillboxes which were built with firesteps.
Pictures in the book are a little low res but show the various types of pill box.
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