As the title says, this is the third volume of a pictorial guide and celebration of famous British regiments. It provides histories of 23 line infantry regiments, 5 line cavalry regiments, half a dozen territorial regiments and the Corps of Royal Engineers. I say 23 line infantry regiments. Bearing in mind that in 1872, Cardwell's reforms amalgamated almost twice that number of regiments of foot by number down to nearly half that number of two-battalion county-affiliated regiments. That's a lot of regimental histories.
- Dorian Bond
Unfortunately for me, this book was a thrown-in freebie, having volunteered to review another similar book, Where Did That Regiment Go? . If I'd read the two in the other order, I might have appreciated this one more. This being the third and final volume, without wanting to be disingenuous, the use of the term famous in the title I felt was pushing it a little. That isn't to say every one of these regiments wasn't served by entirely brave and honourable soldiers. Being a part of the British Army, it is of course the norm. But to Joe Public, few of these regiment names will have sprung immediately to mind.
Those who served in a regiment probably remember during training or on a Junior NCOs cadre being taught regimental history.
The regiment was founded on x by y at z. The following notable VCs were awarded. The following interesting people served. The following interesting event occurred. During the First World War, nn battalions were raised. The regiment was amalgamated on x with y to create z.
Each regiment got something like four pages of history presented in this format. My guess would be that the author approached regimental museums (each entry very usefully lists Regimental Museum address and contact telephone number) and a history was provided. I'd imagine that they arrived in this standard format and it was very easy to produce a book from them. Each regimental history includes a list of dates, battle honours, motto, alumni and anniversaries, and a number of colour plates showing uniforms and works of art (presumably copied from originals held in Officers' Messes).
Each history is complete in itself, and every one is a good read. But after a couple of dozen, reading about postings to the Caribbean and losing hundreds dead to disease, or reading an account of a battle fought alongside the previous couple of regiments you've just read, it gets repetitive.
The book will appeal to those whose regiment is listed in the book. Anyone who already has Volumes 1 and 2 will obviously want to complete the collection. A lot of good work went into the book and it was well presented, but sadly it didn't really grip my attention. Sorry.