THE Dorset Regiment will meet for what is likely to be the last formal event in its 300-year history.
Until now, the Regiment’s story has stopped abruptly at 1939. But now a new book completes its story and will be launched in Dorchester on September 27 in the presence of Regiment veterans.
They Couldn’t Have Done Better tells the story of the four Dorset battalions who fought in the Second World War and of the Regiment’s post-war service in the years of Britain’s withdrawal from empire, the Cold War and National Service.
This year marks three 70th anniversaries for the Regiment. In May 1944 the 2nd Dorsets won a bloody battle at Kohima, which proved the turning-point in the war in Burma. OnJune 6, 1944 the 1st Dorsets were one of the first assault troops to land on the Normandy beaches and, despite their losses, captured all their objectives on D-Day. And, in late September 1944, the 4th and 5th Dorsets fought near Arnhem and enabled some of the Airborne troops trapped north of the Neder Rijn to escape across the river.
The 4th Dorsets, who sacrificed themselves to save their Airborne comrades, were the only non-Airborne unit to be awarded the Arnhem battle honour.
Bill Chutter, fought in Malta, Sicily and Italy with the 1st Dorsets before landing with them in France on D-Day and in May he celebrated his own centenary.
Beale and Harry Carter served in the 4th Battalion, which (beside the 5th) fought its way from the Normandy beach-head in June 1944 to Bremerhaven the following May. The fourth is Cliff Lloyd of the 4th Dorsets. Wounded in Normandy in July 1944, he returned in September to take part in the Arnhem operation. Crossing the river to help the Airborne troops fight their way out, he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of the Germans. Mr Lloyd has written a foreword for the Regiment’s new book. So has Major-General Colin Shortis, the senior surviving Dorset.
The book’s author, Christopher Jary, said: “Most of the veterans attending the party are now in their late seventies and eighties and this is likely to be the last formal event for the Dorset Regiment. After the war they served in the Regiment in Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, Malaya, Hong Kong and Korea. “They will all have much to remember when they meet to launch the Dorsets’ new book. A book which finally tells their story.”