Book Review
The Black Bull
The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the British 11th Armoured Division, by Patrick Delaforce
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by: Anthony Sewards [ RECCEBOY ]


This book written by the decorated veteran of the 11th Armoured Division, contains not only the history of this unit, but many firsthand veterans accounts from the tankers from the beaches of Normandy to the German surrender in the summer of 1945. The 11th Armoured Divison on its advance from the beaches fought many notable battles in the Normandy campaign, Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat. They were tasked with the liberation of many cities like Amines and Antwerp. On the final battles of the war they discovered the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The book was originally printed back in 1993 by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd.


Published in 2011 by Stackpole Books, this paperback book is printed in a standard 6x9-inch format. There are 266 pages, broken down into 252 of text in 33 chapters and a 13 page reference section of other great Stackpole books. Included are two pages dedicated to the contributors of the very fine book. Then there are 44 black & white photos and 13 maps throughout the text.


The author, Patrick Delaforce, has done an excellent job of telling the story of the 11th Armoured Division from June 1944 until the final German surrender in May of 1945. The stories of the men of the 11th Armoured while conducting their business in the great advance from the beaches to the plains of Germany, in this book brought back a few memories of my career as a Tank Commander as well, and got a good feel of the story what was going on with the hardships of keeping everything going.

From the machines and the men who crewed them, Patrick has told their stories, and with the inclusion of their personal accounts has made this an excellent read. As the war started to wind down the 11th Armoured was given the task to deal with many prisoners of war and displaced persons. Plus the role in Operation Eclipse the business of occupation was completed to a high standard, until their Division was disbanded in January of 1946.


This is an interesting and very readable book and you will get the feel of these men as they advanced across Europe in their many different vehicles from Sherman’s to Cromwell’s to the final surrender. As my background serving with an Armoured unit for 22 years, with 6 overseas rotations, and with 2 of them in Afghanistan, and being a veteran combat tank commander, I had the familiarity with the tankers' choice of words and doctrine which made it easy to follow the various engagements of the Black Bulls. Plus with the firsthand accounts of the men, who sat in these tanks and fought, will give any reader the insight to the hardships of combat.

Many thanks to Chris Evans at Stackpole Books for the review copy!
Highs: Fine history of the 11th Armoured Division through the Normandy campaign, the liberation of Amiens and Antwerp, flank protection during Operation Market Garden, and the final drive into Germany.
Lows: Would have been great if more photos were included.
Verdict: Great book with firsthand veterans accounts from those who were there and fought during those hard times with raw firsthand accounts from commanders, riflemen, bombardiers, and tank crews.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9780811708975
  Suggested Retail: $18.95
  PUBLISHED: Sep 27, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Anthony Sewards (recceboy)

Served with the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) for 26 years. Was chief gunnery instructor on the Lav-Recce (Coyote), Lav-3, Leopard C-2 / Leopard 2. And various small arms from pistol to .50 cal. and 84mm . Have been working behind the scenes with REALMODELS, BLACKDOG, MENG,LEGEND,HOBBY ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Anthony Sewards [ RECCEBOY ]. All rights reserved.


I've had the Sutton publishing of this book for some time and can only echo what Anthony says - a really excellent read and well worth having on your shelf for reference too.
SEP 26, 2011 - 09:56 PM
Sounds like a good buy, thanks Anthony. Al
SEP 28, 2011 - 06:00 AM

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