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With the Jocks: A Soldier's Struggle for Europe 1944-45 Paperback – 24 Oct 2002


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With the Jocks: A Soldier's Struggle for Europe 1944-45 + Black Watch: Liberating Europe and catching Himmler - my extraordinary WW2 with the Highland Division + D-Day to Victory: The Diaries of a British Tank Commander
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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New Ed edition (24 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750930578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750930574
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Having slowly become addicted to military history, I've particularly enjoyed the grunt's eye view of battle, or more accurately, hanging around and waiting to be killed. The Sorrow of War, snippets in Stalingrad from diaries and Band of Brothers. However, it always seemed that such social histories were written about others. Glamourous Americans fighting across Europe, Exotic Vietnamese in guerilla engagements. In comparison my knowledge of the poor old British Tommy, or Jock, was poor. Did we have a boring regulation war? Did any turn their hand to recording the realities and horrors. White's book is an answer, an emphatic yes. It is is a diary, not a considered retrospective, so it does just give surnames and his officer-eye view. But his descriptions of huddling the earth in a scrape are incredibly evocative. It brings it home the mud, the sweat and the wasteful blood spilt as brave men battled.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Fraser on 14 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Anyone wishing to experience at first hand the horrors and mental strain of combat should delve into Peter White's fascinating personal archive. As a keen student of military history and particularly Stephen Ambrose, I was eager to read this book. Most ones I have read so far are focused on American units and Ambrose, although all his novels are diligently researched, seems to have little time for British units and their exploits. This is what gives this book such a fresh appeal.

I found White's narrative to be excellent. Easy to understand, not brimming with military jargon and certainly not patronising( I am a Scot too!). His regaling of the fighting itself is pretty grim and really did make for some uncomfortable reading. I did get the feeling that I was almost fighting alonsgside him sometimes and to be fair the fact that he got through at all never mind have the strentgh of mind to pen his memoirs is remarkable.

It's clear from the book that he had a strong affection for the men in his platoon and felt it as badly as the rest when one of them was badly injured or killed outright.

I've read this book twice now and the second time was much more rewarding than the first for reasons I find hard to fathom. A more keen and penetrating history of being a platoon commander in the final days of World War II you're unlikely to find. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carl on 11 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Peter White was a lieutenant, a platoon commander, assigned to the 4th King's Own Scottish Borderers itself part of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division. `With the Jock's' is White's personal experience, based off his diary and edited by himself post-war, of the Second World War, from when the division landed in Belgium, in October 1944, through to the end of the war where he was based in the countryside outside of Bremen, Germany.

White uses plain language making the book accessible and very easy to read, but at the same time it is beautifully written. If one did not know that this was a personal account, it could pass as a novel, as the exceptional descriptions, of each event that unfolds, is extremely vivid and detailed from the state of the terrain and damaged buildings, to the smells of war and the activities the men undertake. One can almost picture being there and smelling the cordite first hand.

White walks the reader through the everyday life of a soldier and a platoon commander during the war in Europe. This ranges from trying to catch up on sleep, guard duty, undertaking patrols, digging slit trenches, and censoring mail. Over the course of the book, this does become somewhat repetitive but that repetitiveness highlights the mundane life of a soldier and of White's experience. When it comes to the fighting, White is able to convey just how alone the platoon and section are on the battlefield. Hundreds of yards apart from the nearest support, every action of his platoon is their own mini-battle part of the larger one. Both the action and the time out of battle (the vast majority of the book) enables one to create an understanding of the extreme stress these men suffered, coupled with a lack of sleep and food.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By nmacleod on 11 July 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a disturbing and compelling read. It is the diary of a young conscripted officer (and artist) who was thrust into battle in Europe in 1944.
Diaries were forbidden from being kept by serving soldiers, which is why so few of them are in print. This particular diary remained unpublished until after the death of Peter White. Some enlightened individual decided to publish it.
This diary reveals the utter horrors of war - of constant bombardment; the randomness of death and injury - right through to the banal of everyday life on the front line.
For anyone interested in getting a genuine first hand account of what was is like, this diary reveals all. One reviewer criticised this book for the author not bringing out the personalities of his charges. It won't appeal to readers, like the critic, who wanted to know what the personalities of his fellow soldiers were like. But that is because this is not a memoir about personalities - it is a real-time snapshot of what war was really like, as seen through the eyes of this officer. It has not been written in recent years, with the benefit of hindsight or changes in opinion or when it becomes difficult to recall the actual feelings involved at the time. Instead this diary is a record of what was witnessed and felt as it happened in real time. As such it is a remarkable account, and it is written in such a compelling way, that I felt at times that I was on the ground with White.
This book will appeal to historians of that period, to readers interested in things-military, and to anyone who wants to feel the horrors of war, or likes real hand diaries. I would list it in my top 10 books - and I'm not a military history buff. It's just a compelling book.
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