26 October 2013

The invincible black brigade [book review]

The only book fully in English that I bought from “Historyton” was the "Invincible Black Brigade: Polish 10th cavalry brigade 1939" by Jerzy Majka. This is a soft cover, A4 format, 120 page book focusing solely on the Polish 10th motorized cavalry brigade, which is one of the most famous combat units from the September campaign, and easily the most distinguishable in terms of look, organization and their combat track record.

The book may be thin, but it comes with valuable information about the organization of the 10th motorized cavalry brigade - complete with a spreadsheet of formations within the brigade as well as a superb roster that tells you exactly how many soldiers, officers, vehicles, weapons etc each unit had.

This allows you to use the information to build specific parts of the 10th motorized cavalry brigade in a miniature wargame, for instance if you want to build an accurate depiction of the Reconnaissance tank company which was attached to the brigade you can see that it contained 2 platoons of 6 tankettes each and a command tankette, reading the unit description in the book you will also learn that the brigade only had 4 tankettes armed with the 20mm gun.

However perhaps the most valuable thing in the book is the picture material. There are easily over a hundred pictures, most of them in crystal sharp quality, that depict various units and vehicles of the 10th motorized cavalry brigade. The pictures depicting soldiers from various units show what uniforms they used, as it has been debated whether the 10th used black leather jackets or not for all its troops. From the material it looks like a healthy mix of leather jackets and greatcoats, the headwear being a mix of the WW1 German helmet and black berets. It is quite remarkable that there is a complete lack of the Rogatywka cap garrison or field version in the pictures showing troops in the field. The only times anyone is wearing a Rogatywka is when it's a high ranking officer on a portrait photo.

This book is really mainly a photo book, and you will get the most out of it with other materials delving deeper into the 10th Motorized cavalry brigade - especially if you want to get some good use out of the organization chart and roster sheet. Also an overwhelming amount of the pictures in this book are unique and can't be found on the internet. The written parts are short introduction pieces and serve mostly to give the reader a short summary of the unit history, it's creation, combat during the Polish campaign and it's later fate.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in the Polish Early War army and the 10th motorized cavalry brigade in particular.


  1. That's an amazing find thanks for sharing.

  2. A great looking book and excellent source material if you are interested in that period.

  3. Very nice. If you're doing early war Polish this looks like a must have.

  4. Yep, a very nice book indeed. Read it a couple of months ago. Fully recommended.

  5. Many thanks for the review (and for your excellent blog in general). I am building a Black Brigade themed army at the moment and so this book is perfect. Tracking down a copy of the book was quite a test of my Google-fu. Amazon doesn't stock it and the first few copies I found were all coming out at over $500! I eventually found copies at www.polartcenter.com for a much more reasonably $30.

    1. Glad you finally found the book Nick, it's a great addition to anyone interested in the Polish armies during the September campaign :-)
      Wow, 500 dollars!? I can't remember what I paid in the Polish book store in Warsaw but it was along the 30 dollars you finally paid for yours.

  6. Unfortunately I spoke too soon. Polartcenter emailed me back a few hours later to say that it's no longer available and refunded my payment. But I found a copy on Ebay for $45 instead. Still, there is one seller on amazon.co.uk who has it listed at GBP4000, so compared to that price it is still a bargain! So take good care of your copy - it's worth a fortune!


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