Royal Berkshire Regiment (2 volumes)

Royal Berkshire Regiment 1743-1914

Martin McIntyre (Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2006), 24 cm x 17 cm. perfect bound, 128 pp.

Royal Berkshire Regiment 1914-1959

Martin McIntyre (The History Press, 2012), 24 cm x 17 cm. perfect bound, 128 pp.

These two books are published in association with Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regimental Museum. The author is a volunteer at the museum, and is a former member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). The museum contains in its collections many thousands of photographs and drawings that graphically trace the history of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and it is these illustrations that form the basis of the two books. Thus the two books are not formal histories, but they tell the story of the regiment through illustrations of the regiment’s actions, postings, presentations and personnel. Nearly every page of each book contains two images.

The two books follow a similar format in that the central three chapters deal with regimental colours, brief biographies of notable soldiers of the regiment, and with barrack life. The two chapters either side of the central part of the books look more specifically (and chronologically) at the major events in the regiment’s history. So the first two chapters of the 1743-1914 book take the reader through the regiment’s origins as the 49th and 66th regiments of foot, the wars of the Victorian period and the eventual formation of the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1881 as a result of the Cardwell army reforms. The last two chapters in this first book review the Boer War period and then the subsequent period leading to 1914. The first two chapters of the 1914-1959 book take the reader through the First World War and inter-war periods, while the last two deal with the Second World War and post-war periods. The end date of 1959 is that when the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) was amalgamated with the Wiltshire Regiment to form the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment.

I would reiterate that these books are collections of images rather than formal histories. As such there is no index to either book. Therefore for the researcher looking for an ancestor or relative who served with the regiment, it is a matter of searching through the images of the relevant period without any guarantee of success. But what the books do, and do well, is to provide researchers with an evocative flavour of what it was like to have served in the Berkshire’s at various points in time, and across the world, and thus understand and put into context the life led by their serving ancestors. For this reason these books are certainly worth considering as an adjunct to researching your Royal Berkshire regimental ancestor.

Tony Roberts

Postscript: The subsequent history of the regiment is that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment amalgamated with the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1994 to form the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. In 2007 the RGB&W, Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, the Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets merged to form The Rifles.

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