Just released: With the 8th Rifle Brigade from Normandy to the Baltic

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by 8RB, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    After 6 years of preparation it is finally finished: the illustrated autobiography of Don Gillate, an 8th Rifle Brigade and 11th Armoured Division veteran I first met in 1999. Don recorded his experiences in the early 1990s. I have edited and researched his story, been in touch with his wartime platoon commander - who was kind enough to write the foreword to the book - and collected some 150 original photos and contemporary maps (in colour) to illustrate Don’s story. The book measures 7.0” by 10.0” is in full colour and has 276 pages.

    For a preview of the first 30 pages (use "Extract" button) or if you want to buy one or more copies, please take a look at the publisher's site at https://tredition.co.uk/publish-boo...8th-Rifle-Brigade-from-Normandy-to-the-Baltic . Quite soon now the book will also be available through your local bookshop or through Amazon. The hard cover version comes at £ 24.99 (ISBN 978-3-7439-9791-2) and also paper back (£ 19.99) and eBook (£ 3.99) versions are available.

    Cover full.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  2. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Just added full book cover to previous post, including brief summary on back...
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  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Congratulations on publication!
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  4. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Good work Ronald.

    I also happened to correspond with Donald Gillate back in the late 90-ies on his involvement in the Ardennes 1945 (his unit was on Chapel Hill or what they jokingly called 'Hill 113' looking down on the village of Bure). He had clear memories and was a good storyteller.

    I certainly would recommend Gillate's book .
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  5. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your kind replies.
    There indeed are some nice stories in the book about 8th Rifle Brigade's and Don's involvement in the Ardennes - from 21 December 1944 until mid January 1945 - at Givet, Beauraing and 'Hill 113', or Chapel Hill...
  6. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Now also available through Amazon... and through your local bookshop! For preview of first 30 pages, use link to publishers site in #1 above.
  7. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Ronald,

    Your book arrived today, and I am already a massive fan. I'm only a little way in (still at Hill 112) but finding it enormously interesting, moving and inspiring. Great work, and an enormously refreshing perspective. Once I am finished, I will post more, but in the meantime, many congratulations. I wish you lots of success.


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  8. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Hi Tom,

    Many thanks for your kind and enthusiastic reply. I hope you will enjoy the rest as much as the first part!

    Kind regards, Ronald.
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  9. ClémentH

    ClémentH Member

    About halfway through the book, a fantastic account! Well done it's such a great read!
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  10. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Hello Clement,

    Thanks for your enthusiastic comment! I hope (and expect) you will enjoy the second half just as much, it will take you through Belgium, Holland and Germany, all the way to the Baltic.

    Kind regards, Ronald.
  11. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Exactly 75 years ago today, the 8th Rifle Brigade, liberated Amiens. In a surprise attack the Pont Beauville across the Somme river was captured, intact, by a section 3 carriers of 13 Scout Platoon. Don Gillate was part of this section, that was led by Sgt, Stan Triggs MC. It was a reason to use the first of the attached photos for the cover of Don Gillate's autobiograpy "With the 8th Rifle Brigade from Normandy to the Baltic" (available through Amazon.co.uk or https://tredition.co.uk/boo…/book-of-the-month-uk-june-2019/ ). All photos attached were taken at Amiens on 31 August 1944. Photos 1, 2 and 3 are of 8th Rifle Brigade Scout Platoon carriers, rushing across the Boulevard d'Alsace Lorraine. The last photo is of the Beauville bridge, just after it being captured by the 8th Rifle Brigade.

    17c - 31081944 - 11th Armd Bren carrier Amiens - 10Z1043.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  12. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Sea mines and Bren carriers

    Today, 75 year ago, the war in Europe and for the 8th Rifle Brigade came to an end. Just six days earlier, Corporal Don Gillate (author of “With the 8th Rifle Brigade from Normandy to the Baltic”) had his last of many narrow escapes. Although well inland, his carrier was nearly blown up by sea mines:

    “It was about half past six in the morning when we started off and during one of the many stops I noticed far away, as a speck in the sky, very high, an aircraft. It was impossible to tell what it was, whether it was one of theirs or one of ours, even if you were good at aircraft recognition. I did not really think it was taking much interest in us but on the other hand one always looks out for these things, forewarned is forearmed. So we crawled on a few yards and quite suddenly in front of our carrier there was the most colossal explosion. The whole world went black for us. Mud and sticks and bits of grass and stones all went up in the air and for a moment we could see nothing. I gave the standard order at that moment for the crew to bail out, which we did. We got down into a ditch while this stuff, having gone up about fifty yards in the air, came down and landed on us. All my thoughts and curses were for that aircraft, although I could not really understand how anything so far away could possibly have dropped a bomb right in front of our carrier with such accuracy. I had however not much time to think about it because quite suddenly there was an equally large explosion and exactly the same thing happened right behind my carrier. The world went black again and down came the muck. As it cleared, I remembered that there ought to be another carrier there, the command carrier, where was it? I climbed up the bank to see, because by this time I could hear the radio going. When I got up there, I was absolutely shattered. The other carrier had been literally lifted up by this mine, carried right over the hedge and landed in the field, about twenty yards in, standing on its hind legs. With the radio still going and the crew either blundering around, like Charlie Read, who was grumbling about having lost his glasses, or lying wounded. All three of them were wounded, also Charlie Read, even though he was blundering around. His concern was more for his glasses than for his wounds. The other two were lying fairly senseless but mercifully all three were wounded and none of them was killed.”

    So, what had happened? The people the 8th Rifle Brigade was pursuing were German marines. These were fighting very hard in the only way they knew and that was the laying of mines. And being marines, mines meant only one thing: sea mines!

    Don Gillate was a lucky man indeed. Out of his platoon of some 42 men, he was one of only three to stay with the platoon, all the way from Normandy, without getting killed or wounded. Don passed away in 2009.
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  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian


    I finally read my copy of the book. Phew! Don was a lucky man to survive. He lost so many friends.

    I have a question about 1945, though. Was 29th Armoured Brigade left out of Operation Blockbuster (late Feb/early March)? I know the division wasn't but I wasn't aware that the division was operating on reduced strength.
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  14. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member


    Thanks for getting back about Don Gillate's book! Regarding your question:
    29th Armoured Brigade was supposed to get its new Comet tanks in mid-December 1944, but after two or three days rest in the area of Ypres, they were unexpectedly called back to action again and to go to the Ardennes. Their Shermans, which they had left in Brussels, they had to pick up again on the way to the Ardennes (Dinant area), where they remained until mid-January. The tank regiments in the Brigade (23H, 2FFY and 3RTR) only then finally went back to the west of Belgium and northern France to receive their new tanks and to do training with them. The 8th Rifle Brigade (29AB's Motor Battalion), first had a few weeks break at Bree, Belgium, and then went to Holland, to act as infantry, guarding the rivers Maar and Waal against German infiltration. Only by 12 March, they rejoined the tank regiments in Belgium. Then, then on 28 March 1945, they all left Belgium to cross the Rhine as Wesel, Germany, that same day. From 29 March on, they were in action again, leading the advance to the Baltic, which they reached on 3 May 1945. To read a bit more and to see some photos, have a look at my website: D-Day to VE-Day - 8th Rifle Brigade
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Right, ok, I knew that they had to leave the Shermans behind, but I wasn't sure how long they were allocated to train on their new Comets.
  16. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Suppose they also were entitled to some rest, not having had much of that from mid-June 1944 until mid-January 1945, at least as far as 8RB was concerned.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2023
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