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The Black Watch: A Record in Action by Joe Cassells

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The Black Watch: A Record in Action by Joe Cassells


The Black Watch, also known as the Royal Highland Regiment, is one of the oldest and most storied regiments in the British Army. Its history is a rich tapestry of heroism, sacrifice, and courage, and it has played a significant role in many of the major conflicts of the past three centuries. Joe Cassells’ book, “The Black Watch: A Record in Action,” is a comprehensive account of the regiment’s actions from its formation in 1739 to the end of the Second World War.

The book begins with the origins of the Black Watch, tracing its formation as a response to the Jacobite uprisings in Scotland. Cassells provides a detailed account of the regiment’s early years, including its role in the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution. He then moves on to the regiment’s actions during the Napoleonic Wars, where the Black Watch fought in some of the most famous battles of the era, including Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

Cassells’ book also covers the regiment’s involvement in the Crimean War, where it fought in the battles of Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman. He describes the difficult conditions faced by the soldiers, including the harsh winters and the threat of disease. He also provides insight into the leadership of the regiment during this time, including the role played by Colonel William McBean, who led the Black Watch during the early part of the war.

One of the strengths of Cassells’ book is his ability to bring the soldiers of the Black Watch to life. He provides vivid descriptions of the battles in which they fought, and he highlights the bravery and determination of the men who served in the regiment. He also includes personal stories of individual soldiers, which add depth and emotion to the narrative. For example, he describes the story of Private Peter Robertson, who won the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle of Loos in 1915.

Cassells’ book also covers the Black Watch’s actions during the First and Second World Wars. He describes the regiment’s role in the battles of the Somme, Ypres, and Passchendaele, as well as its involvement in the Normandy landings and the liberation of France. He also provides insight into the challenges faced by the soldiers during these conflicts, including the horrors of trench warfare and the threat of enemy fire.

Overall, “The Black Watch: A Record in Action” is a fascinating and informative account of one of the most storied regiments in the British Army. Cassells’ writing is engaging and accessible, and he provides a wealth of information that will be of interest to anyone interested in military history. His book is a valuable resource for scholars and students, as well as for anyone who simply enjoys a good history book.


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