A recently-published book has shed new light on the controversial sacking of a World War One general from Oxfordshire.

Buckinghamshire-based military historian and author, Derek Plews, delves into the story of major general Sir Robert Fanshawe in 'A Brilliant Little Victory'.

The leader of the 48th (South Midland) Division hailed originally from Milton Common, near Thame, before coming under scrutiny and being sent home several months before the end of the war.

His downfall was reportedly due to a lack of "generalship" when Austrian forces managed to penetrate his frontline near Asiago, in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites, in June, 1918.

Oxford Mail: Major general Sir Robert FanshaweMajor general Sir Robert Fanshawe (Image: Derek Plews)

However, Mr Plews' research reveals political motives behind Sir Robert's treatment.

Mr Plews said: "I believe Fanshawe was treated very harshly by his immediate superiors, Lt General Lord Cavan, commanding XIV Corps, and General Sir Henry Wilson, the chief of the imperial general staff – even by the standards of that time."

Among the troops under Sir Robert's command were men of the 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion and the 1/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

The latter took much of the weight of the initial Austrian attack.

Mr Plews continued: "If you look at the line he was defending, running through dense pine forest, with a very obstructed field of fire, it was inevitable that a determined attack by a strong, well-motivated enemy would penetrate the front trenches.

"The key objective was to prevent a break-in becoming a break-through and that is exactly what Fanshawe achieved."

He added: "His dismissal was entirely unjustified on military grounds."

The book has been published by Warwick-based Helion and Co.

It documents the story of the 48th Division from its establishment in 1908 to its ultimate victory in Austria in November, 1918.

Plews covers the division's introduction to trench warfare near Ypres, Belgium, in Spring 1915, their experiences during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and their subsequent pursuit of the German army to the Hindenburg Line.

In November 1917, after the crushing defeat of Italian forces in the Battle of Caporetto, the 48th Division was chosen as part of a united Franco-British force despatched to strengthen the routed Italian army.

Derek Plews is a retired journalist, former civil servant, army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the chair of the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust, a small charity that seeks to maintain the military history and heritage of the county.

His research and writings bolster efforts to preserve the military history and heritage of Buckinghamshire.