By Nicholas C. Watkins
Forewords by Jane Carmichael and Group Captain Thornber
The photographs included and analysed here were taken by the Royal Flying Corps to provide reconnaissance for the British Army on the Western Front and are drawn for the huge archive held by The Imperial War Museum. Few have had the courage to delve into the 'Box Collection'. Nicholas Watkis is one. The images have been chosen to reveal significant actions and have been carefully annotated to show the terrain and defences, pinpointing strongpoints, machine guns, mortars and gun batteries. The seven battles are Neuve Chapelle, Loos, La Boiselle, Flers, Vimy Ridge, Cambrai and Amiens. Not only does the real work of the RFC become clear - shooting down enemy aircraft was entirely ancillary to photo recon - the reader also, quite literally, sees for himself just what the Western Front looked like. He also understands how that appearance affected the plans of British High Command.