‘1 Wessex: 1967-1995’
By Colonel Martin Lee-Browne. Hardback, 449 pages. Over 50 colour and black & white photographs.
This book is possibly the first-ever history of a Territorial Army battalion over the whole of its existence. It tells how, as part of the total reorganiosation of the Territorial Army in 1967, The Wessex Volunteers – soon to become the 1st Battalion The Wessex Regiment – was formed from the TA elements of six of the famous infantry regiments of the South West of England, and became one of the finest of the new ‘NATO battalions’, with a highly demanding wartime role as part of a Regular Army Brigade operating in Germany and Denmark.
A military history without battlefields – perhaps partly a social history – its main themes are hard training (and a lot of amusement) in the UK, Cyprus, Gibraltar, BAOR, Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark and Belgium, and a long-running struggle (which finally ended in defeat when the Battalion was amalgamated in 1995) to preserve the Battalion and its integrity intact during the expansion of the TA in the 1980s and its reduction in the 1990s. There is also much material about the TA in general, and the Terriotorial & Auxiliary Reserve Associations. Largely drawn from first-hand reports of the activities of its Companies and individual Volunteers, and the author’s own papers, it is above all a tribute to the dedication, enthusiam and professionalism of an ever-changing group of mainly young men (and a few ladies), who were sometimes described as being “Twice a Citizen”, in not only supporting the Regular Army, but also in making something work for its own sake.
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