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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 168 pages of information about Fields of Victory.

A WORD OF INTRODUCTION

May 26th.

It is a bold thing, I fear, to offer the public yet more letters based on a journey through the battle-fields of France—­especially at a moment when impressions are changing so fast, when the old forms of writing about the war seem naturally out of date, or even distasteful, and the new are not yet born.  Yet perhaps in this intermediate period, the impressions of one who made two journeys over some of the same ground in 1916 and 1917, while the great struggle was at its height, and on this third occasion found herself on the Western front just two months after the Armistice, may not be unwelcome to those who, like myself, feel the need of detaching as soon as possible some general and consistent ideas from the infinite complexity, the tragic and bewildering detail, of the past four years.  The motive which sent me to France three months ago was the wish to make clear to myself if I could, and thereby to others, the true measure of the part played by the British Empire and the British Armies in the concluding campaigns of the war.  I knew that if it could be done at all at the present moment—­and by myself—­it could only be done in a very broad and summary way; and also that its only claim to value would lie in its being a faithful report, within the limits I had set myself, of the opinions of those who were actually at the heart of things, i.e., of the British Higher Command, and of individual officers who had taken an active part in the war.  For the view taken in these pages of last year’s campaigns, I have had, of course, the three great despatches of the British Commander-in-Chief on which to base the general sketch I had in mind; but in addition I have had much kind help from the British Headquarters in France, where officers of the General Staff were still working when I paid a wintry visit to the famous Ecole Militaire at the end of January; supplemented since my return to London by assistance from other distinguished soldiers now at the War Office, who have taken trouble to help me, for which I can never thank them enough.[1] It was, naturally, the aim of the little book which won it sympathy; the fact that it was an attempt to carry to its natural end, in brief compass, the story which, at Mr. Roosevelt’s suggestion, I first tried to tell in England’s Effort, published in 1916. England’s Effort was a bird’s-eye view of the first two years of the war, of the gathering of the new Armies, of the passing into law, and the results—­up to the Battle of the Somme—­of the Munitions Act of 1915.  In this book, which I have again thrown into the form of letters—­(it was, in fact, written week by week for transmission to America after my return home from France)—­I have confined myself to the events of last year, and with the special object of determining what ultimate effect upon the war was produced by that vast military

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