VETERANS of the Dorset Regiment gathered for what could have been the last formal event in its 300-year history.

More than 200 people came together at The TA Centre, Dorchester, to celebrate the Regiment’s three centuries and the launch of a new book.

Former comrades were invited to attend the launch of Christopher Jary’s They Couldn’t Have Done Better along with members of their family.

The Mayor of Dorchester, Peter Mann, and the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell, were also among the guests.

Most of the veterans who attended the party were in their late seventies and eighties. Between them they have served in the Regiment in Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, Malaya, Hong Kong and Korea.

Until recently, the Regiment’s published histories stopped abruptly in 1939. Mr Jary’s new book tells the story of the four Dorset battalions who fought in the Second World War and of the Regiment’s post-war service.

Major Nick Speakman, a former member of the Dorset Regiment, provided research for Mr Jary’s book and helped organise the celebratory event.

He said: “Today is a celebration for old Dorset Regiment soldiers and their relatives to celebrate the launch of this book.

“It’s exceeded my expectations. There’s around 220 people here.

“It’s been a very exciting project. What it does is complete the story of the Dorsets. From 1945 onwards there was nothing. This completes it.”

The event was also attended by four Dorset Regiment veterans of the Second World War, including 100-year-old Bill Chutter.

Mr Chutter fought in Malta, Sicily and Italy with the 1st Dorsets before landing with them in France on D-Day.

He was joined by Ron Beale and Harry Carter, who both served in the 4th Battalion and fought their way from Normandy beach-head in June 1944 to Bremerhaven.

Cliff Lloyd, of the 4th Dorsets, was wounded in Normandy in July 1944. He returned in September to take part in the Arnhem operation. He was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

Each of the veterans was presented with a complimentary copy of the new book.

Mr Jary described writing the book as a fantastic experience.

He said: “I feel like I was welcomed into the Dorset Regiment.

“They have been extremely helpful, very friendly and have made me feel one of them.

“We’ve got about 60 to 70 national service people from the 1950s who served for the regiment in Korea, Malaysia, and in Germany – and that’s quite extraordinary.”

Despite being the last formal get together, Mr Jary said he expected future meet-ups to take place.

He said: “You won’t be able to keep them from doing this. They will get together.”