Thursday, 2 August 2007

The lineage book, part II

And thus a book-like thing was born of some 230 pages, which was titled

"The Territorial Army 1967 - 2000"

Above I used the term "book-like" thing, as it never became an official publication of course. All changes including the Strategic Defence Review of 1999 was included. So it proved to form a nice concice history and lineage of the TA from the creation of the TAVR in 1967 through the end of the cold war into the 21st century.

As far as possible all units of the TA were taken into consideration. However, given the more prominent presence of combat units (yeomanry, artillery and infantry) these have by far the most complete lineage. Followed closely by the Royal Engineers and Royal Signals. Supporting corps are far less well documenten unfortunately.

The main features of the book can be summed up as follows:

1. Lineage of all units of the TA (except RAMC) between 1967 and 2000
2. Lineage of the various brigades, divisions and commands into which the units were organised and administered
3. Outline history of the Territorial Army, giving the most important dates and events
4. Tables showing strength at specific years
5. Overview of the differences between TA units assigned to the BAOR, and assigned for ND

Despite all this, and given the fact that not all lineages are 100% complete, this book-like thing was well appreciated by the people I met via the internet with a similar interest in lineages. Most notably of course mr Mills, and dr Graham Watson from Wales.

Mr Watson had a big interest in the TA as well, and had performed some very good research in the years before 1999 (even before I took an interest in the subject). Mr Watson was so kind to provide me with his notes. Main reason was that he lacked time to put those notes into good use, and I could continue his work.

Following this book on the TA for 1967 - 2000, it was a natural step to extend the period to 1947. Whereas 1967 was of course a logical choice, the end of the Second World War and reconstitution of the post-war TA in 1947 was a logical choice as well.

Creating a "book-like thing" on the history of the TA for the period 1947 - 200? was the next task ahead!

To be continued ...

Monday, 30 July 2007

The lineage book, part I

So far I have detailed the background and history of my interest in the British Army and why a new publication on the topic would be welcome. In this post I will elaborate on the early start of my interest in lineages back in 1996 and how this gradually evolved into the current compilation.

As soon as I continued the discussion with mr Mills on lineages it was not long before I obtained the "Lineage Book" by Frederick. This book was, and still is, really amazing and contributed greatly to my knowledge of the British Army.

However, since the book published in 1984 it did obviously not contain information later than the late 1970s. It was not long before I started to make notes myself and put it together in digital form. Information was mostly and kindly received from mr Mills, and also the internet proved a valuable source as well. Another important way for obtaining bits and pieces was to contact the several regiments by letter.

This all contributed to a sort of private publication that dealt with the Territorial Army from 1967 on. The year 1967 was chosen because in that year the TA was dissolved and reconstituted as the TAVR, and forms in my opinion a milestone in the history of the TA. Though this was a nice way to organise my notes, and though it was good exercise in writing, there were some flaws.

(Besides of this the changes to the Regular Army were recorded as well, but that was a minor work compared to the work on the TA!)

Most important flaw was the ommitance of the regular regiments and their history. Allthough not needed per se, a brief outline of the regular regiment's lineage would give a nice background and embedding.

This proved a turning point in the history of the lineage book, and this all took place by 1999 - 2000. By that time the SDR was also being implemented and as such formed a nice moment to pinpoint the TA's lineage in a single piece of work.

To be continued .....

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Yet another book on the British Army?

With the massive amount of literature and publications on the regiments of the British Army, and on the British Army itself, one may wonder why there is need for another publication. I will try to answer this question in this posting.

While there are many books on the British Army, not many books are concentrating on the lineages of the various regiments and corps in details. As most of the books will be of the regimental history type, they will mostly deal with battles, uniforms and personalities. Also, any lineage information will obviously concentrate on the specific regiment only.

Likewise, more general books on the British Army deal with battles and general history of the army. Lineage information will be confined to basics regarding the complete army.

Hence, we may conclude that the number of books concentrating sec on the lineages of (almost) all the regiments and corps is not very large. In fact, the last major publication dates from 1984 which is the famous "Lineage book of British land forces" by J.B.M. Frederick.

However, more than 20 years later the situation in the world has changed a lot. Following the demise of the Iron Curtain the British Army underwent several serious reorganisations (Options for Change (regular army), Strategic Defence Review (territorials)). This was followed in 2004 by the Future Army Structure which was to streamline the army for the 21st century and the new wars to come.

Furthermore, there are several areas on which the said book could be improved. This being both on contents and on presentation and layout. Also, there are several areas that were left uncovered, and the topic would seriously profit when these are discussed as well. Often this are very obscure and little known units and periods in history, but should not be an argument of course.

From the above it will hopefully be clear why I have started this project and that there are sound arguments for its usefullness.

How it all began.....

Over the past years I was frequently asked by fellow researchers of the British Army's history how a Dutch guy became involved into this area of research. The origin dates back till my time at secondary school, when I was around 14-15 years of age.

Even before that time I had developed a strong interest into history, and when I grew older the second world war became a special area of interest. In particular I took an interest in the fightings that took place in the Netherlands in 1944 - 1945.

While reading about the events, I noticed that the regiments of the British (and Canadian) Army were not denoted by numbers (like in the US and German Armies), but by names. So I became intrigued by names like "The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders", and "The Buffs", and "The Royal Welch Fusiliers". Not to forget the names of the Canadian regiments that took part in the liberation of course!

As such, I started to compile orders of battle and gradually I expanded from Western Europa towards North Africa and the Far East campaigns as well. However, apart from writing down names and numbers I still wan not aware of the many hidden characteristics of the regiments.

This changed in early 1996, if I am not mistaken, when I found Todd Mills' website on the then much smaller internet. As soon as I started to discuss with him about the British Army I became aware of these hidden features. Initially I thought there was just one army. How wrong could I have been....

There was the regular army, dating from 1661. The regular battalions of infantry regiments where mostly numbers 1st and 2nd. However, some used to have also a 3rd and 4th. Then I learned about the Territorial Army, with battalions numbered 4th, 5th etc, and dating from 1859. Also about war-formed battalions, duplicate battalions. About battalions of militia/special reserve (numbered 3rd) that had ceased to exist effectively before the Second World War.

So I had to learn a lot, and I learned it the fast and the hard way. The restriction I initially had was that I focussed on the period 1939 - 1945 only. But that was to change during the past 10 years.

I learned about the Cardwell reforms, the Haldane reformed, the creation of the TAVR in 1967, Options for Change, the Strategic Defence Review. But also about the reorganistion of the miltia back in the 1750s, the Irish Yeomanry (that consisted of infantry as well!) of 1796 - 1830s, the Supplementary Militia of 1798, and many more.

And somewhere between 1996 and 2007 the idea to write a book about took form. About the initial ideas, the reasons for writing a book (yet another on the British Army) will be next!

First steps into blogging

From a collegue I learned he kept a blog to write down ideas and issues. Following the example, I thought it fitting to keep a blog for my research into the lineages of the regiments and corps of the British Army.

What is the purpose of this blog? Well, that be summarized as follows:

1. Use it as an online note book to record problems I am currently researching.
2. Notification of newly added material.
3. Keep track of overall progress.

What will not be found?

I think anyone will understand I shall not put large chunks of research on this blog. Some individual research might show up to support the topic of a posting, but my complete work will appear of course some other day.

Thanks for looking and happy reading!