The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division, Patrick Delaforce

The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division, Patrick Delaforce

11th Armoured Division arriving in Normandy a few days after D-Day, and after that played a part in most major British operations from then until the end of the war. They took part in Operations Epsom and Goodwood, two of Montgomery's more controversial battles, as well as the successful Operation Bluecoat, the 'great swan' across Northern France, and the invasion of Germany.

Divisional histories tend to fall into one of two camps - the analytical, looking at tactics, command and organisation, or the narrative, telling the story of the division. This book falls firmly into the second camp.

One of the advantages of this sort of book is that we see familiar events from some unfamiliar angles. The division was on the right flank during Operation Market Garden, and was used to guard the northern flank of the German 'bulge' during the fighting in the Ardennes.

This book is unusual in that the author was both a professional military historian and a member of the division who fought in the campaign being described. He makes occasions appearances in the third person in the text, most of which can be justified. The text is also supported by some superb eyewitness accounts, something clearly made easier by the author's connections within the division.

This is a very good example of a divisional history, successfully providing both an overview of the division's overall activities and a feel for the life of the men at the 'sharp end'.

1 - The Sharp End
2 - In the Beginning
3 - Weaponry
4 - Forming Up
5 - 'War is Mostly about Waiting'
6 - 'Cry Havoc - and Let Slip the Dogs of War'
7 - Operation Epsom
8 - Interlude
9 - Operation Goodwood
10 - Another Interlude
11 - Operation Bluecoat
12 - Breakout
13 - The Great Swan
14 - The Taking of Antwerp
15 - Prelude and Right Flank to Market Garden
16 - Holland and the Peel Country
17 - In the Bleak Midwinter: October
18 - In the Bleak Midwinter: November
19 - In the Bleak Midwinter: Leave
20 - In the Bleak Midwinter: December
21 - The Ardennes
22 - In the Bleak Midwinter: January
23 - In the Bleak Midwinter: February
24 - Operation Blockbuster: the Hochwald Battle
25 - Anther Interlude: March
26 - The Rhine Crossing and Advance
27 - The Battle for the Teutoburger Wald (Ibbenbüren Ridge)
28 - The River Weser Crossing
29 - From the Weser to the Aller
30 - Towards the Elbe
31 - Belsen
32 - The Last Stretch
33 - Round-up

Author: Patrick Delaforce
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 252
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 edition of 1993 original

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