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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read
This is a fascinating read. The author has managed a rare feat in weaving his personal story as a soldier fighting his way across Europe against the fanatical Hitler Youth, alongside the remarkable story of the famous 51st Highland Division and those comrades who fought alongside him.

He tells how the 51st Highland Division were captured during the debacle at...
Published on 10 May 2011 by Eldrick Woods

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit hit and miss for me i'm sorry to say
I finished this a few weeks back and felt like something was missing while reading it and also when it was finished. I have read a good few ww2 books over the years and this one ranks near the bottom of the pile.

I would never claim to be able to go through half as much as Tom Renouf did but i just felt like this book was mainly about the whole Highland...
Published 12 months ago by BALLYSEAGAL


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read, 10 May 2011
This is a fascinating read. The author has managed a rare feat in weaving his personal story as a soldier fighting his way across Europe against the fanatical Hitler Youth, alongside the remarkable story of the famous 51st Highland Division and those comrades who fought alongside him.

He tells how the 51st Highland Division were captured during the debacle at St Valery at the start of the war, before rebuilding, and going on to restore their honour, with incredible bravery at historic battles, including El Alamein, D-Day and Normandy, Holland, before fighting their way across the Rhine into Nazi Germany and playing a huge role in ending the war.

Renouf writes with an elegant simplicity of the horrors of war and brings to life his upbringing in the small Scottish coastal town of Musselburgh, his army training, and own war which ends in the capture of one of the world's most wanted men, Heinrich Himmler.

A cracking tale that will appeal to a wide range of readers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Campaign History from Veterans' Perspective, 18 May 2012
By 
James Kemp (Merstham, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a campaign history written by a veteran of 5th Bn Black Watch who later became the secretary of the Highland Division Association. Direct personal accounts, both from the author and other veterans, are used to tell the story of the 51st Highland Division in a very personal way. This book offers some new perspectives on the battles of the 51st, especially those in the final months of the war in which the author was personally involved.

The book starts with some background on the author's family and his early life. His link to the Highland Division starts with his father's WW1 service. When war comes he is still too young to be involved, but at the earliest opportunity he volunteers for service in the hope that he can join the 51st Highland Division. However the ways of the Army don't work out as he would have preferred, and he ends up in a replacement company of the Tyneside Scottish (a Black Watch battalion) and spends the first few weeks after D-Day in Normandy waiting to be assigned as a replacement. Eventually though he is assigned to a rifle company and blooded.

After the breakout his battalion is broken up and he is assigned to the 5th Black Watch. Shortly afterwards he is wounded and spends time recovering and then working his way through the replacement system to re-join his company in the Autumn. All the period when he is out of the line he uses other veterans stories to tell what happened to the Division (and indeed also for context around his personal accounts too).

Whether you have an interest in the Highland Division, in the infantry experience in the Second World War or the campaigns it is well worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put it down, 7 Jun 2011
This book is a real page turner, and I just could not put it down as I read about Tom's incredible life. The writing style is so gripping and the subject so fascinating, it pulls you right in to the heart of the story. Filled with wonderful anecdotes and deeply moving accounts, this is one of the most insightful books I have ever read about WW2. Anyone who is interested in or studying this period of our history should read Tom's story. Wonderful, simply wonderful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Watch, 17 May 2011
By 
Mr. Ian G. Thomson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Tom Renouf's book "Black Watch " is not only an account of the Second World war , but also a deeply personal observation of the atrocities that men can inflict on their fellow men-from fighting in the battles for Normandy, and the Bulge, to liberating Holland,ahttp://www.amazon.co.uk/review/create-review?ie=UTF8&asin=1408702711&store=nd invading Germany where the discovery of the concentration camps appalled the author.
Renouf was promoted in the field, which is the pinicle of a soldier's career, and a great honour. His unit of the Black Watch captured Himmler who was trying to run away, just days after Hitler's suicide ,giving them a great sence of achievement.
I would recomend this book to anone as a thoroughly good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Kind of WW2 Memoir, 26 May 2011
By 
Matthew D. Low "Booker" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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'BLACK WATCH' is, in many ways, a new type of Second World War memoir, and a welcome departure from the increasing formulaic yarns now beginning to saturate the bookshelves of military and World War Two enthusiasts. The deeply personal recollections of Dr Renouf not only address the life of a Scottish WW2 combat soldier but offer an insight into the life from which they came; a life that would be lost to them, and the world, forever. This is an aspect of World War Two memoirs too readily overlooked and adds to the increasingly widespread and dangerous misconception that the conflict, and the impact it had on the people and nations who took part in it, can be viewed in isolation of what came before and after. 'Black Watch' is also unique in that although a deeply personal account, it manages to maintain its intimate storyline while seamlessly weaving the personal experiences of Renouf's comrades into the narrative. This fresh approach offers a more general and delineative context in which to set the daily life of the 'Jock' as he was confronted with horror so starkly at odds with his life at home. A new take on the genre and a successful one made all the more fascinating by the author's date with destiny...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit hit and miss for me i'm sorry to say, 17 Dec 2013
By 
BALLYSEAGAL (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I finished this a few weeks back and felt like something was missing while reading it and also when it was finished. I have read a good few ww2 books over the years and this one ranks near the bottom of the pile.

I would never claim to be able to go through half as much as Tom Renouf did but i just felt like this book was mainly about the whole Highland Division and what they did before he joined up. Its more like a Regimental history book with a little bit of personal first hand details included compared to an out and out one mans story during the war. I have no doubt he seen and experienced some terrible things but for me the book never really made that very clear.

I have the utmost respect for any member of the armed forces regardless of what war they fought it and i hope this isn't seen as anything personal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and factual, 9 May 2011
By 
C. Beharrie "Stuart Bookworm" (Dundee Scotland) - See all my reviews
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A must read for everyone! There are many 2nd World War books out but this is definitely one of the better ones, very well researched and full of great historical facts. The author clearly shows the horrors of war, which we should never forget, and allows us to remember how grateful we should be to out forefather heroes. Fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and an informative read., 8 May 2011
A friend came to visit me for a few days and I picked up this book, just for a browse. I had to make sure he finished it before his departure.
The following day I read it pausing only for caffeine breaks.

Tom Renouf has helped me piece together the history of WW2 and captured for me the bravery and heroics of so many men.

Definitely a 5* read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pithy and badly written, 15 Feb 2013
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Not a great war diary. I couldnt finish which is a rare thing. Lots of repeated phrases like 'massive casualties' with a general lack of detail. The writing style and tone of voice is really quite dull and lacks any care with the narrative. The author just could not write very well. He's clearly proud of his achievements, and rightly so, but he also points out he spent extra time shirking his duty and letting his comrades down by playing piano in an army hospital so there is an obvious duality there. You dont really get to know the man or his comrades. Not a patch on Rifleman or The Honour and the Shame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicky Dorrian, 24 April 2011
By 
Nicky Dorrian (Dundee Scotland) - See all my reviews
This is an excellent book that brings to life the Second World War in Western Europe in addition to vividly recalling the social history of this time. Anecdotally war books are the domain of men but I found this book immensely readable as the author was able to relay the complexities of military activity in a way that is palatable to readers that are new to this genre of books. I would especially recommend this book to the baby boomers who knew someone involved in the war in Western Europe as it succinctly captures the experiences of brave people which will resonate with many memories held today.
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