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on 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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on 18 May 2012
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 June 2014
This is a good book but it tells more of a story about the 51st Highland Division and less than Renouf's life as a soldier. So if you're looking for a good memoir this isn't for you. If however you want a potted recounting of the 51st Div's campaign from D Day to VE day then this is the book for you and it also contains some personal recollections from Tom Renouf and a few others,
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on 7 June 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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on 17 December 2013
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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on 17 May 2011
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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on 26 May 2011
'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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on 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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on 9 May 2011
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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on 24 April 2011
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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