Book Review: The French Army's Tank Force and Armoured Warfare in the Great War: The Artillerie Speciale


by Tim Gale

Farnham, Surrey, Eng. / Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2013. Pp. xvi, 260. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $124.95. ISBN: 1409466612

The French Role in the Introduction of the Tank

English-language literature has extensive coverage of the British contributions to the development of the tank during World War I, but until now has been almost silent on the important French side of the subject.  In this work, British historian Gale does an excellent job of covering the French side of the story. 

Gale opens with a look at the conception and early experimentation of French tanks.  He is primarily concerned with how the French reconciled the new and initially very fragile technology into their existing organization, tactics, and employment.  Gale demonstrates how the French used an iterative approach, learning from experience through the interactions of tanks with existing doctrine and techniques to further the development of the tank force.  He also addresses some of the controversies that arose because of the new weapon system.  This is particularly useful because as the war went on the Artillerie Spéciale played an increasing role in a surprisingly large number of actions, which are almost totally ignored in most accounts of the origins of the tank. 

This volume in the series “Ashgate Studies in First World War History” will prove a  valuable read for anyone having an interest in the tank, the evolution of Allied tactics in the Great War, or the history of the French Army.

Note: This work is also available as an ePub, ISBN 978-1-4094-6663-5 or in PDF format, ISBN 978-1-4094-6662-8

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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