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

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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


In Poland and western Europe in 1939 and 1940, the German armoured formations demonstrated what some observers felt were dramatically improved new tactics, leaving the Allied forces with a perceived need to address these developments. The continued evolution of the Royal Armoured Corps was the British answer.

The Division was organized in March 1941, in Yorkshire under Major General Percy Hobart. A veteran of the Royal Tank Corps, he had already strongly influenced the shape of the 7th Armoured Division, but his original and innovative ideas had led to his retirement from the army. Β] Reinstated after the disasters of 1940, he further realised his vision with the 11th Armoured. Under his leadership the Division adopted the “Charging Bull” as its emblem. From 1942 to 1944 it conducted intensive training while gradually receiving new, more modern equipment. Γ]

In July 1944, after the Allied invasion of Normandy, the British 11th Armoured Division participated in Operations Epsom and Goodwood. It also participated in the drive to Amiens, the fastest and deepest penetration into enemy territory ever made at that time. On 4 September, the Division captured the city of Antwerp.

Soon thereafter, the Division pushed forward into the German-occupied Netherlands. In March 1945, it crossed the river Rhine and captured the German city of Lübeck on 2 May 1945. It occupied the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 15 April 1945. When the Division entered the camp, more than 60,000 emaciated prisoners were found in desperate need of medical attention. More than 13,000 corpses in various stages of decomposition lay scattered around the area. Units of the Division and its higher formations were detached to oversee the cleanup of the camp. From the end of the war in Europe (8 May 1945), the Division controlled the province of Schleswig Holstein until it was disbanded in January 1946.

The 11th Armoured Division was reformed in the autumn of 1950, but was converted into the 4th Infantry Division in 1956.

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

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Review of
The Black Bull – From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division
By Patrick Delaforce
ISBN 9781848842281
Published by Pen and Sword ( )
GBP £19.99


The 11th Armoured Division is famous for its operations in Northern Europe between June 1944 and Victory in Europe (VE) Day in May 1945. Its insignia of a black bull inspired fear in its adversaries as the 11th Armoured were known as splendid fighters. The 11th Armoured were in the thick of the action from their landing in Normandy to the close of hostilities in Europe.

Often divisional histories are factual affairs and lack the personal touch of the men who served with the formation. Others are biographies of the war time experiences of the men who served with a particular unit. However this book combines the two. The factual data on the Division is presented but it is interspersed with personal anecdotes from the letters and diaries of the brave men of the 11th Armoured. There are first hand descriptions of the life at the front line from various men and these comments cover the range of the division’s constituent regiments.

The author uses the recollections and personal papers of the men of the Division to great effect. These anecdotes bring life to the division’s history and present the raw emotions of combat. He does not concentrate on his own personal exploits as some biographies do but rather on the story of the division with some personal notes. He presents a few pictures of himself and limited notes from his own diaries. There are plenty of recollections from other member of the division.

The 11th were fabulous fighters and there are excellent descriptions of the component regiments’ encounters with the Germans. The 11th Armoured were concerned that the principal armament of their Sherman tanks was not a match for the well armoured German Panthers, Tigers and King Tigers. The author describes how the shout “Tiger tank” would bring extreme dread and fear into the crews of the Sherman tanks. The Sherman was petrol driven and the effective range of the main gun was significantly less than that of the Germans’ tanks. In order to get an advantage the Sherman’s crews had to get close up to the German tanks for their gun to be effective on the enemy’s main armour.

Even later in the war when the 11th Armoured was re-equipped with newer and more modern tanks their equipment was still limited in its effectiveness. The author details how range based test firing against captured German tanks was conducted. The British often found that their tank shells when fired at a distance would either ricochet off the Germans’ armour or not penetrate the armour of the enemy tanks. Their only option was to fire at close quarters. Generally all the tanks used by the 11th Armoured were out-gunned and out-armoured when compared to the Germans’ tanks. However, the regiment fought bravely against these odds and their exploits are well documented in the book.

In the year or so in Northern Europe the division suffered about 10,000 casualties with almost 2,000 lost in action. They liberated Belsen concentration camp and discovered the horrors of this location. This book is a splendid read and very engrossing. If you are interested in the Northern European campaign of 1944 / 45 then this book deserves serious space on your bookshelf.

The Black Bull: From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division by Patrick Delaforce (Paperback, 1994)


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This WWII history chronicles the legendary British Armored Division in combat across northern Europe with veterans’ personal recollections.

The British Army’s 11th Armored Division, famous for its Black Bull insignia, was famous for its courageous fighting during the Second World War. In this volume, Black Bull veterans tell the story of their Division in their own words. Beginning with the Normandy invasions, they vividly describe the role they played in Operations Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat. They bring readers with them on the “Great Swan' through France and Belgium the taking of Antwerp Operation Market Garden and the final slog into Germany across well-defended river barriers. They also recount stories of casualties and losses, the hardships of a winter campaign, and the comradeship and bravery it takes to persevere.

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

The 11th Armoured Division, famous for its Black Bull insignia, was widely recognized as being among the best armored divisions in north-west Europe during the Second World War. This book tells the story of the Division in the words of the soldiers who fought with it: of its part in the three ferocious battles in Normandy Operations EPSOM, GOODWOOD and BLUECOAT, the great Swan to Amiens, the taking of Antwerp right flanking for MARKET GARDEN, back-up in the Ardennes and the final slog into Germany across well-defended river barriers, to the liberation of Belsen, Lbeck and the Danish frontier. The Division suffered 10,000 casualties, with almost 2,000 lost in action, and so this is also a story of courage and the hardships of a winter campaign, of being wounded, comradeship and fighting fear.

Contributions are included from twelve of the regiments who proudly wore the sign of the Black Bull. Memories from troop commanders and riflemen, bombardiers and signalmen, tank crews, troop leaders and from the dashing GOC are brought together to reveal what life was like at the sharp end.

The Black Bull is liberally illustrated with contemporary photographs showing the Division in action. It will appeal not only to those who still have memories of the battles and to those who fought in the Second World War, but also to readers interested in the day-to-day actions and thoughts of soldiers in the front line for almost a year.

About The Author

Patrick Delaforce served with 11th Armoured Division during the advance through NW Europe.

After a career in the wine trade he became a professional writer. Among his books in print with Pen and Sword are Churchill’s Desert Rats in North Africa, Burma, Sicily and Italy, Wellington Le Beau and Monty’s Marauders.


"If you are looking for a good account of operations from the perspective of those who were there, look no further."


". a book that will be of great interest to military historians."

- AMPS Indianapolis

Units of rifle volunteers were formed throughout Great Britain in 1859 and 1860 in response to a perceived threat of invasion by France following the Orsini affair. The raising of such units was to be authorised by lieutenants of counties in England, Wales and Scotland. [6] The first corps in Monmouthshire was raised on 9 September 1859. [1] [7] By 1880 the various small corps in the county had been consolidated into three battalion-sized units, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Monmouthshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. [1] [7] [2] [3] In the following year the Childers Reforms of line infantry saw the three Monmouthshire corps becoming volunteer battalions of the regular South Wales Borderers. In 1885 they were redesignated as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Volunteer battalions of the South Wales Borderers (the 1st Volunteer Battalion being formed at the same time from the 1st Brecknockshire Rifle Volunteers). [1] [7] [2] [3]

Although the volunteer battalions saw no active service as units, during the Second Boer War they provided volunteer Active Service Companies to serve in South Africa, all of which were attached to the regular 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers, and they received the battle honour "South Africa 1900-02". [1] [2] [3] [8]

Reserve forces were reorganised under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907. Among other provisions the act abolished the Volunteer Force and replaced it with a new Territorial Force. Units were transferred, with changes in nomenclature, to the new force on 1 April 1908. [9]

The three Monmouthshire volunteer battalions were redesignated (and partially reorganised) as battalions of a new territorial-only Monmouthshire Regiment: [8] [9]

  • 1st (Rifle) Battalion. Based at Lower Dock Street in Newport and formed from the 2nd Volunteer Battalion [1]
  • 2nd Battalion. Based at Osborne Road in Pontypool (since demolished) and formed from the 3rd Volunteer Battalion [2]
  • 3rd Battalion. Based at Baker Street in Abergavenny and formed from the 4th Volunteer Battalion [3]

The Territorial Force was organised into 14 infantry divisions, and the 1st-3rd Battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment, along with the 1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment, formed the Welsh Border Brigade, part of the Welsh Division. [4] [5]

With the outbreak of war in August 1914 the Territorial Force was mobilised. In all the Monmouthshire Regiment formed battalions, most of which fought on the Western Front, during the conflict as follows: [10] [11]

  • 1/1st (Rifle) Battalion: redesignation of 1st Battalion in September 1914 on formation of second-line 2/1st Battalion. Transferred to 84th Brigade of the newly formed 28th Division in France in February 1915, it soon saw service in the Second Battle of Ypres, suffering severe casualties. In May 1915 it was temporarily amalgamated with the 1/2nd and 1/3rd Battalions at Vlamertinghe in Flanders to form a composite unit. Brought up to strength with replacements, the 1/1st resumed its own identity in August 1915. In September 1915 it was assigned to the 46th (North Midland) Division as a pioneer battalion. It remained with the division for the rest of the war, and was at Avesnes in northern France at the time of the Armistice of 11 November 1918. [1][4][5]
  • 2/1st (Rifle) Battalion: formed as a second-line duplicate of the 1st Battalion in Newport in September 1914. It did not move outside the United Kingdom, performing home defence duties, mostly in Suffolk, as part of the 53rd and 68th Divisions. It was disbanded at Lowestoft in March 1918. [4][5]
  • 3/1st (Rifle) Battalion: formed as a "third-line" duplicate of the 1st Battalion in February 1915. It remained in the United Kingdom (in Shropshire and Flintshire). In April 1916 it was redesignated as the 1st (Reserve) Battalion. [4][5]
  • 1/2nd Battalion: redesignation of 2nd Battalion in September 1914 on formation of second-line 2/2nd Battalion. Transferred to the 12th Brigade, 4th Division in France in November 1914. It spent the winter taking part in trench warfare near Armentières. It subsequently took part in the Second Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915, fighting alongside the 1/1st and 1/3rd Monmouths in the 28th Division. Such were the losses that the three battalions were temporarily amalgamated. By July 1915 the 1/2nd had been brought up to strength and resumed its own existence. It transferred to the 29th Division as a pioneer battalion. It stayed in this role for the rest of the conflict, ending the war near Renaix in Belgium. It formed part of the army of occupation of Germany before returning to Pontypool where it were disbanded in June 1919. [4][5]
  • 2/2nd Battalion: formed as a second-line duplicate of the 2nd Battalion in Pontypool in September 1914. Its service and stations were identical with those of the 2/1st Battalion. It was disbanded at Lowestoft in April 1918. [4][5]
  • 3/2nd Battalion: formed as a "third-line" duplicate of the 2nd Battalion in February 1915. Its service and stations were identical with those of the 3/1st Battalion. In April 1916 it was redesignated as the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion and in September 1916 was absorbed by the 1st (Reserve) Battalion. [4][5]
  • 1/3rd Battalion: redesignation of 3rd Battalion in September 1914 on formation of second-line 2/3rd Battalion. Transferred to the 83rd Brigade of the newly formed 28th Division in France in February 1915, fought alongside 1/1st and 1/2nd Battalions at the Second Battle of Ypres, due to losses it was temporarily amalgamated with the 1/1st and 1/2nd Battalions. Brought up to strength with replacements, the 1/3rd resumed its own identity in August 1915. In September 1915 it was assigned to the 49th (West Riding) Division as a pioneer battalion. In 1916 it became GHQ troops. Due to the fact that many men in Monmouthshire were engaged in the vital wartime industries of coal-mining and steel making, it was found increasingly difficult to find drafts to reinforce the battalion, and on 31 August 1916 it was disbanded with troops transferred to the 1/1st and 1/2nd Battalions. [4][5]
  • 2/3rd Battalion: formed as a second-line duplicate of the 3rd Battalion in Abergavenny in September 1914. Its service and stations were identical with those of the 2/1st and 2/2nd Battalions. It was disbanded at Herringfleet in August 1917, with troops transferred to 2/1st and 2/2nd Battalions. [4][5]
  • 3/3rd Battalion: formed as a "third-line" duplicate of the 3rd Battalion in February 1915. Its service and stations were identical with those of the 3/1st Battalion. In April 1916 it was redesignated as the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and in September 1916 was absorbed by the 1st (Reserve) Battalion. [4][5]
  • 4th Battalion: a redesignation of the 48th Provisional Battalion, Territorial Force in January 1917. This unit had been formed in June 1915 from personnel of the Monmouthshire and Herefordshire Regiment who were ineligible for service overseas. Stationed in Norfolk. [4][5]

All units of the Territorial Force were disbanded soon after the end of the war in 1918 and 1919. Early in 1920 recruitment restarted and in October 1920 the force was renamed to the Territorial Army. [12] [13] The three battalions were reconstituted in February 1920:

  • 1st (Rifle) Battalion at Newport [1]
  • 2nd Battalion at Pontypool [2]
  • 3rd Battalion at Abergavenny [3]

In 1921 it was announced that there would be a reduction in the size of the Territorial Army with a number of pairs of infantry battalions amalgamated. [14] [15] The 3rd Battalion was amalgamated with the Brecknockshire Battalion, South Wales Borderers to become the 3rd (Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire) Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment in 1922. [3]

In 1938 and 1939 there was a reorganisation of the Territorial Army as the threat of a new European war re-emerged. Many infantry battalions were converted to an anti-aircraft role: in 1938 the 1st Battalion became a searchlight regiment as 1st (Rifle) Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment (68th Searchlight Regiment). [1] [7] [16]

In March 1939 it was announced that the size of the TA was to be doubled, with each existing unit forming a duplicate. [17] [18] By June 1939 the regiment comprised four battalions: [8] [19]

  • 1st (Rifle) Battalion (68th Searchlight Regiment)
  • 2nd Battalion
  • 3rd Battalion (the amalgamation with the Brecknockshire Battalion had ended with the formation of a duplicate battalion)
  • 4th Battalion (duplicate of the 2nd Battalion.)

1st (Rifle) Battalion Edit

On 1 August 1940 all the infantry battalions that had converted to anti-aircraft roles transferred to the Royal Artillery (RA) and from that date ceased to be part of the corps of their parent regiments. 68th Searchlight Regiment (which regained its Monmouthshire Regiment subtitle in 1942) served through the war in Anti-Aircraft Command until in November 1944 it reverted to infantry as 68th (Monmouthshire) Garrison Regiment, RA (later 609 (Monmouthshire) Regiment, RA) and carried out duties on the Lines of Communication for 21st Army Group in North West Europe. [16] [20] [21]

2nd Battalion Edit

The 2nd Battalion was mobilised on the outbreak of war in September 1939, as part of 160th Infantry Brigade, which also included the 1/4th and 1/5th battalions of the Welch Regiment, attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. After a long period of training in Northern Ireland and England, they landed in Normandy on 28 June 1944, twenty-two days after the initial D-Day landings, with the rest of 53rd Division and fought in the Normandy Campaign in the Battle for Caen. Soon after arrival, they took part in Operation Epsom, spending two weeks in trenches between Hill 112 and the River Odon. [22] [23]

They next saw action in the Battle of the Falaise Gap in August 1944, where the battalion suffered heavy casualties and 'A' and 'B' Companies had to be amalgamated. 'B' Company was soon reformed again from a large number of men from the now disbanded 5th East Lancashire Regiment of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division. [22] The battalion later advanced with the 53rd (Welsh) Division, liberating Merville and crossing into the Netherlands. By October they had reached the Nederrijn and took part in the attack on 's-Hertogenbosch. [22]

In December 1944 they took part in the counter offensive against the German advances in the Ardennes forest. [22] In January 1945 they moved to The Netherlands for a period of training prior to Operation Veritable, also known as the Battle of the Reichswald. They entered Germany on 8 February, taking part in a month's heavy fighting and suffering 300 casualties before being withdrawn for rest. [22]

The battalion continued to advance across Germany, forcing a crossing of the River Aller at Rethem on 11 April 1945. This was their last major action of the war: they were at Hamburg when the German Instrument of Surrender came into effect. [22] Later, the battalion was sent to Italy in November and was disbanded the following September. [22]

3rd Battalion Edit

The 3rd Battalion was mobilised at the same time as the 2nd Battalion as part of the 159th Infantry Brigade, alongside the 4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment, part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division and trained alongside it in Northern Ireland and England. In May 1942 the battalion, together with the rest of the 159th Brigade, were transferred to the 11th Armoured Division and trained for another two years before, on 14 June 1944, the battalion landed in Normandy, just eight days after D-Day. They spent several weeks attempting to break out of the bridgehead in the vicinity of Caen as part of Operation Goodwood and Operation Bluecoat. On 5 August they were nearly surrounded by enemy forces on Bas Perier Ridge and suffered heavy casualties and were reduced to half strength, forcing them to temporarily amalgamate with the 1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment of the 185th Brigade, of 3rd Division, which was temporarily attached to the 11th Armoured. [23] [24] It was during the fighting that eventually lead to Corporal Sidney Bates, of the 1st Royal Norfolks, being posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. [25]

Reinforced, the battalion advanced after the retreating German forces, passing through Belgium and taking part in the liberation of Antwerp in early September 1944. They moved into the Netherlands as part of the force protecting the flanks of the airborne troops that had landed in Operation Market Garden. [24] The commanding officer of the battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Gerald Orr, was killed on 25 September 1944 at Sint Anthonis along with the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment. [24] [26] In November 1944 they took part in the Battle of Broekhuizen (also known as the Battle of the Venlo Pocket). [24]

In February 1945 they broke through the Schlieffen line after which they were withdrawn to Belgium where they were re-equipped for the advance into Germany. In April 1945 they crossed the Rhine into the Teutoburg Forest where they had the task of clearing the road to Ibbenbüren. The battalion encountered very heavy resistance and failed to achieve its objective. Corporal Edward Thomas Chapman was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during this action. [24]

Such were the battalion's casualties (40 killed in action, 80 wounded) that it took no further part in the conflict and was replaced in the 159th Brigade by the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. The battalion was transferred to the 115th Independent Infantry Brigade. It was disbanded in January 1946. [24] Throughout the whole campaign, the battalion had suffered 1,156 casualties, including 67 officers, 25 killed, and 1,089 other ranks, with 242 (of 267?) of them paying the ultimate price. [27]

4th Battalion Edit

The 4th Battalion, which had been created on 1 June 1939 as a duplicate of the 2nd Battalion, was mobilised in August 1939 as part of 113th Infantry Brigade, serving with the 15th and 2/5th Welch Regiment, part of the 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division, which was itself formed as a duplicate of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. The battalion did not leave the United Kingdom, performing guard duty and acting as a training unit. On 12 December 1942 it was redesignated the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers the original 1st SWB having been disbanded after most of the unit was captured in North Africa. [23] [28]

All Territorial and war-formed units were disbanded soon after the end of the war. The Territorial Army was re-established in April 1947, although there was a considerable reconfiguration with some pre-war units not reformed, or converted to a different role. The Monmouthshire Regiment was reduced to a single battalion: the 2nd Battalion, based in Pontypool. [2]

The former 1st (Rifle) Battalion did not return to the regiment after the war, but remained in Anti-Aircraft Command as 603rd (1st Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment) (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery ('Mixed' indicating that members of the Women's Royal Army Corps were integrated into the regiment). It continued to wear the distinctive silver or white metal cap badge of the 1st (Rifle) Bn, Monmouths, together with the Royal Artillery's collar badges. In addition, the buttons and non-commissioned officers' chevrons were black, to denote the unit's ancestry as a Rifle battalion. After the abolition of AA Command on 10 March 1955, the regiment formed 'P' (1 Monmouth) Battery in 283rd (Monmouthshire) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, later 'R' (1 Monmouth) Battery in a combined 282nd (Glamorgan and Monmouthshire) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. When the TA was reduced into the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) in 1967, 282 Regiment became 211 (South Wales) Battery in 104th Light Air Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery, with D (Monmouthshire) Troop at Newport. [7] [21] [29]

The 3rd Battalion was converted to form 637th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (TA) and similarly ceased to be part of the regiment. [3] It was eventually amalgamated in 1955 with 638th Brecknock Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (TA) and ceased to exist as a separate unit. [30]

In 1967 the remaining battalion was disbanded. A new unit, the Welsh Volunteers, continued the lineage of all Welsh territorial infantry battalions. The successor unit today is the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Welsh. [2] [8]

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours. Those shown in bold type were selected for display on the colours or appointments. [1] [2] [31]

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Message 1 - The Black Bull

Posted on: 12 July 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Patrick - read your tale of the Black Bull and have just finished reading your tale of the 7th Armoured Div - disappointed that you only told of their exploits in NW Europe - They were not at their best in Europe but fabulous in the Desert when they fought with old stuff held together with the proverbial string and baling wire. or do a number on the 6th Armoured Div . 78th Inf - 4th British. the old 1st Army Divisions ?

best regards
d day dodger !

Message 2 - The Black Bull

Posted on: 14 July 2005 by delaforce

Trooper Tom Canning
Many thanks for your comments. You may find my `Churchill's Desert Rats 2' of interest as it covers all three rats/jerboas, 7th A/Div. in N. Africa and Italy, Black rat and Green rat brigades in North Africa, Sicily, Burma and Italy. In it I quote the D-Day Dodgers' 6-verse poem about Lady Astor's ill-chosen comments (see p.184). ISBN No. of the book is 0-7509-2929-4. My limited expertise in NW Europe produced companion books about 3rd British, 43rd Wessex, 49th Polar Bears, 53rd Welsh and more recently `Monty's Northern Legions' (50 Tyne Tees and 15 Scottish in one volume).
Best wishes

Message 3 - The Black Bull

Posted on: 14 July 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Patrick - I look forward with great anticipation to your latest issues - have just completed reading "Monty's Ironsides" - as always ,full of interest. I lost a cousin to "friendly fire' when the Americans bombed Caen - he was with 11th DLI - I understand that the whole battalion got it that day !

Message 1 - The Black Bull

Posted on: 16 November 2005 by Georgetravers

My father Vernon (George) Travers,served with A company ,1st Battalion The Hereford Rgeiment,from march '45.I have his diary from that time and many photos.If anyone has any contacts for any of his comrades of this time,I would very much like to hear from them-and does anyone know if the Herefords have reunions/old comrades associations?

Message 2 - The Black Bull

Posted on: 19 December 2005 by ray griffiths

I am rwgriffiths and was in C Company of the 1st Herefords whom I joined at Haachtand served through to Flensburg and Wuppertall.

I also know Bob Price of A company
who has written a book about the Regiment.

I also have a collegue whos brother in law Billy Smith of A Company was killed on the 1st April 45
at the Teutoburger Wald. See our stories on the website
under the title Teutoburger.

I look forward to your reply

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The author fought vigorously as a young RHA officer in the five great river battles - Rhine, Dortmund-Ems, Weser, Aller and the Elbe. Soon after VE Day he was the junior officer in War Crimes Tribunals in Hamburg and Oldenburg and witnessed Mr Alfred Pierrepoint administering the hanging of prison camp guards. This is his 40th book and the sequel to The Rhine Endeavour (Amberley, June 2010).

A brand new title from one of WW2 History's most important names and a sequel to his recent The Rhine Endeavour.

Patrick Delaforce is one of the most respected names in WW2 history, having been in the thick of the action in several of the key operations of the war, wounded in Holland and again in Germany. He was awarded the Bronze Cross of Orange-Nassau and two Mentions in Despatches.

Features editors will be interested in the provocative subjects in the book: Hobart's Terrible Funnies Thieving Magpies Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Donitz's Fourth Reich' Hitler's Nuclear Option. Patrick can supply features (free) about your county regiments' exploits in Operation Eclipse. E-mail [email protected]

Published by Michael O'Mara Books:-


This collection of little-known anecdotes, speeches, quotations and stories about one of the most famous statesmen of our era, celebrates his life and his numerous and wide-ranging achievements. Employing long out-of-print and forgotten sources author Patrick Delaforce has produced a multi-faceted account of the public and private lives of Winston Churchill.

274 Things You Should Know About Churchill takes as its subject a man alternately Prime Minister, wartime leader, master strategist, soldier, journalist, writer, inventor - in short, a true colossus of a man - Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 -1960), undoubtedly the greatest Briton of his age. Born at the height of British imperial power, and twice elected Prime Minister, he galvanized the British people and,their allies to resist the onslaught from Nazi Germany and, later, Japan, and in doing so became the architect of the enemy nations' downfall.

274 Things You Should Know About Churchill is a celebration of the man, his life and his monumental achievements, presented as an attractive hardback gift book and written by expert in the subject.

£9.99 - For further information please contact Hannah Robinson on: 020 7819 5917 email: [email protected] or Ana Sampson on 020 7819 5911 email: [email protected]


Published by Robert Hale:-


The Story of Hobart's Funnies

NOW published in paperback for the first time by Robert Hale -

"Strong in detail and focuses on action at the sharp end." York Evening Press

"Patrick Delaforce's narrative of events moves swiftly, interspersed with personal reminiscences by men who felt the excitement of using these new weapons for the first time" Army Quarterly & Defence Journal

"A detailed look not only at the genesis of these latter-day siege engines but also at the way in which they were employed by the units equipped with them." Jersey Evening Post

In the desperate early days ot the Second World War when Britain fought alone against Adolf Hitler's Panzers and Luftwaffe, the Pnme Minister, Winston Churchill, wrote to his Cabinet: 'This war is not a war of masses of men hurling masses of shells at each other. It is by devising NEW weapons and above all by scientific leadership that we shall best cope with the enemy's supenor strength.'

Apart from Lord Cherwell ('The Prof') his brilliant main scientific adviser, Churchill relied heavily on two relatively unknown men who contributed enormously to the country's offensive capabilities. Millis Jefferis, an explosives expert, ran MDI which was also known as Churchill's Toy Factory'. This highly secret weapons development unit was originated by Churchill and reported directly to him. After the disaster at Dieppe a whole gamut of brutal new weaponry was devised (some by Churchill himself) specifically to break through concrete, wire and minefields along the French coast. Churchill also personally rescued from the Home Guard a talented tank expert, Major General Percy Hobart, who lormed, trained and then led a huge secret armoured division which stormed the Normandy beaches, and helped take all the Channel ports and every major river crossing. All these tank-based secret weapons, usually with animal names (Crab, Crocodile, etc.), supported every British and Canadian army formation and many Amercian units in the eleven months of savage fighting in NW Europe in 1944-5.

There is no doubt that Churchill's personal weaponry knowledge and his shrewd choice of his two 'protege's' helped win the war.

Patrick Delaforce served with the Royal Horse Artillery of the 11 th Armoured Division as a troop leader in Normandy and as FOO (Forward Observation Officer) in Holland and Germany during the Second World War. He was awarded the Bronze Cross of Orange-Nassau and was twice mentioned in dispatches during the campaign. He then joined the 7th Armoured Division at the end of 1945 and commanded Java Troop, 3rd Royal Horse Artillery After leaving the army he worked as a port wine shipper and in advertising before becoming a professional writer. Patrick Delaforce has written nine histories of World War Two formations and is the author of several other military titles as well as a number of travel books and biographies. Churchill's Secret Weapons is his thirtieth book.

216x138mm p/b 256pp, 31 b&w illustrations & l7 maps. Rights: World 0 7090 6722 4 £12.99 July 2000
Category: World War II

Any veteran or ex-Service families can buy a copy direct, signed by the author, at the special price of £12-00 inc packing and UK postage. Send orders direct with sterling cheque to 2,Hamilton Road Brighton UK, BN1 5DL Tel/Fax 01273-564372

Published by Windrush Guides:-

The Nature Parks of France

Discover the Green Heart of France in Les Parcs Naturels
lt is quite easy to miss - even drive through - many of France's lovely nature parks and be unaware of their existence. The six national parks (Ecrins, Cevennes, Pyrenees Occidentales, Mercantour, Vanoise and Port-Cros) have a neglible population, are often mountainous, but are very rewarding once found. There are also 26 PNRs (parcs naturels regionaux) some of which are in reach of the channel ports and make a most agreeable 'target' destination. They too, are often hidden in the arrière pays, the green hinterlands.

Some are in the Alpine massifs, some in the western 'wetlands' others are heavily wooded and three are off-shore islands. For the holidaymaker they offer the chance to stay in the best of unspoilt France, either on camp sites, in gîtes d'étape or modest auberges. Consider the fauna - wild boar, stags, a lynx or two, chamois, ibex, mouflun, a pack of wolves and, if you are Fortunate, a glimpse of the Pyrenean brown bear.
The bird life is an ornithologist'sdream - pink flamingos in the Camargue, migrants in the wetlands of the Brière and the Brenne, and birds of prey in every park. Wild flowers and spectacular and varied landscapes, all of which have marked walks - randonnees - also characterise the parks.

This excellent reference book will tell you where the parks are, give you a detailed map of the area, addresses of the parks' headquarters and Tourist Information offices, and list what activities are available in the park such as cross-country cycling, canoeing. riding, fishing, hangliding, pot-holing and climbing.

Signed copy available direct from author at the special price of £10- inc postage and packing in UK. Send orders direct with sterling cheque to Patrick Delaforce, 2, Hamilton Road, Brighton, East Sussex, UK BN1 5DL. Tel/Fax 01273 564372.

Published by Alan Sutton Publishing:-


'No division has contributed more to the downfall of the Axis Powers and to the total defeat of Germany. The Desert Rats saw service in the Middle East when Italy declared war on us in 1940. They fought with great distinction all through the long campaign which culminated in the victory of Alamein. They took a leading part in the pursuit of Rommel's defeated forces and in the final breakthrough to Tunis. The division was the first British Armoured Division to land in Europe when it took part in the assault landing at Salerno. lt served through the Italian campaign till brought back to England early in 1944 to prepare the great assault on western Europe.' So wrote the GOC of the Desert Rats, Major-General L.O. Lyne, amid the ruins of Berlin during the victory parades.

The Desert Rats, the 7th Armoured Division, wore its famous insignia of the jerboa, the long-tailed rodent, with pride. It was Winston Churchill's favourite division and was widely recognized as being among the most powerful in Europe during the Second World War. This book tells the story of the division's final campaign, from Normandy to Berlin, in the words of the soldiers who fought with it: troopers and privates, sergeants, young troop leaders and company commanders, all have their individual tales to tell. Here are first-hand accounts of the terrible struggle in Normandy after the D-Day landings, and the division's part in operations Goodwood and Bluecoat of the break-out and great 'Swan' to liberate all northern France and Belgium the taking of Ghent, andt the long months of fighting in the Peel country in the Netherlands Operation Blackcock, the crossing of the Rhine and the march through Germany the capture of Hamburg, and the final triumphant entry into Berlin.
Published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Churchill''s Desert Rats is illustrated with over forty black and white contemporary photographs showing the division in action. It will appeal not only to those who still have memories of the battles and to those who fought in the Second World War, but also to readers interested in the day-to-day actions of soldiers in the front line for almost a year.

Also available from Alan Sutton Publishing by Patrick Delaforce


The first Churchill's Desert Rats hook - 7th Armoured Division in NW Europe 1944-5 - is still in print and has sold 17,000 copies. This new hook covers the campaigns and battlefields which earned the Desert Rats their fame. They fought throughout the war from 1939 on the Libyan frontier to Berlin in 1945. They were mentioned and praised by Winston Churchill more frequently than any other formation. They won three Victoria Crosses in the Desert and produced heroes such as Strafer Gott, Jock Campbell, Beeley and Ward Gunn. Other famous warriors were the late Field Marshal Lord Michael Carver and Major General 'Pip' Roberts. Few people realise that there were actually four different 'jerboaldesert rat' identities: the original produced in 1940 next the black rat worn by 4th Armoured Brigade (when they went independent) the green rat worn by 7th Armoured Brigade (independent in Burma) and the frnal sophisticated jerhoa emblem worn for the NW Europe campaign. Patrick Delaforce, as a RHA troop comaaander, wore this version proudly in 1945-7.
All three superb formations were in at the kllll: 7th Armoured Division into Berlin with 4th Armoured Brigade meeting the Russians on the Baltic coast 7th Armoured Brigade fought the length of Italy and their DD schwim-panzers were first into Venice and Trieste before reaching the Austrian border.
Over 50 contributors have helped make this an exciting and unique story. These literary heroes came from I RTR, 2RTR and 5RTR, 7th and 11th Hussars and also from 3RTR, 6RTR and 44RTR. Over 200 pages with many unusual photographs and maps.

'CHURCHILL'S DESERT RATS 2 in N.Africa, Burma, Sicily, Italy' - signed hardback, at special veterans' price of£13.00 (inc. p&p.) and/or
'CHURCHILL'S DESERT RATS 1 in NW Europe' - signed hardback, at special veterans' price of £7.50 (inc. p&p.)

Please send your details with cheque or postal order direct to the author for your signed copy.
To: Patrick Delaforce, 2 Hamilton Road, Brighton BNl 5DL (Tel/Fax 01273-564372)

Smashing the Atlantic Wall

Destruction of Hitler's Coastal Fortresses By Patrick Delaforce

When Adolf Hitler reluctantly called off Operation 'Sealion' (the proposed invasion of the United Kingdom) in Autumn 1940, he immediately ordered by secret edicts the building of his Atlantic Wall. The Todt Organisation was entrusted with this monumental task along 1,500 miles of coastline, from Denmark down to the Spanish frontier.
Adolf Hitler had an unexpected t,alent: he personally initiated the specific plans for 15 'fortresses' to guard vital ports, which he reckoned were vulnerable to a 'Second Front' attack by the Allies. He was always fearftil that Operation 'Barbarossa', the invasion and possible conquest of Russia, would be sabotaged by a successfiil breach of the Atlantic Wall.
Moreover, he personally designed the layout and military defences of each 'fortress' the quality and quantity of cement and steel needed for each 'blockhaus' and the selection of the fortress commandant. Each of these had a direct telephone line to the Fuhrer's HQ, swore a personal oath of allegiance, and promised to fight to the finish.
On the other side of the Channel, Churchill and his military advisers were planning how to break into Hitler's well-guarded coastline. After the success of Operation 'Overlord', the Allied forces gave priority to the opening of one or more large ports (Mulberry harhours were vulnerable to storm and tempest, and inadequate logistically for second and third phases of the invasion).
The American forces fought their way up the Cotentin Peninsula and with considerable help from US and UK airforces and navies captured Cherhourg - duly laid waste by the fortress commander. St Malo, a smaller port, took ten days to subdue - another wrecked port. Patton's armour surrounded Brest, Lorient and St Nazaire, not having sufficient strength to storm them. Meanwhile, Canadian and British forces were hammering their way up the left flank, captuning Le Havre, and on to Dieppe, Boulogne and Calais, bypassing Dunkirk.
Every fortress commandant fought his defensive hattIe hard and destroyed the port facilities efficiently, but the author's armoured division set the cat amongst the pigeons. A daring day and night drive captured Antwerp in a coup de main. Hitler was horrified and, acting swiftly, transformed Flushing and Walicheren, which guarded the Scheldt River entrance to Antwerp, into 'fortresses'.
By September 1944 there was a crisis of logistics. Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley and Patton were so determined to break into the Third Reich quickly that back-up supplies on all fronts were rationed, sometimes severely. Hitler's scorched earth policy in his fortress-ports had delayed plans for re-opening them.
The German defenders in Brest kept the American forces at bay for so long that the US generals only continued the siege to 'save the face and reputation of the American Army'. When Brest eventually fell, the port facillties were totally destroyed.
All the glamour and the news headlines concentrated on the Allied armour successes. No one gave a thought to the forgotten formations of Americans left behind in Brittany, or the Canadians and British fighting in appalling conditions in Operations 'Vitality' and 'Infatuate' to clear and reduce the sea-fortresses of Flushing and Walcheren. If they had held out for another month or so, with Antwerp free but useless, there would have been stalemate on the Western Front.

Please send your details below and return with cheque or postal order direct to the author for your signed copy at special veterans' price of £12.50 per book
Return to: Patrick Delaforce, 2 Hamilton Road, Brighton BNl 5DL (Tel. 01273-564372)


From Normandy to the Baltic with the 11th Armoured Division

The story of the 11th Armoured Division, famous for its Black Bull insignia, in the words of the soldiers who fought with it. The book tells of the division's part in the Normandy battles of Epsom, Goodwood and Bluecoat, the great 'Swan' to Amiens, the taking of Antwerp, right flanking for Market Garden, back-up in the Ardennes, and the final slog into Germany across well-defended river barriers, to the liberation of Belsen, Lubeck and the Danish frontier.

Watch the video: WW2 Polar Bears Remembered At Memorial. Forces TV