A NEW book on the proud history of army personnel from Dorset, Devon and Hampshire regiments and their involvement in the Second World War is due to be published next month.

Roy’s Boys is produced by a team of volunteers from The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester and The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum in Winchester about the 231 Malta Brigade.

The second book in the Malta Brigade trilogy, named after Major General Robert ‘Roy’ Urquhart, tells the story of the 2nd Devons, 1st Hampshires and 1st Dorsets, describing their experiences in Sicily and Italy from July to September 1943.

Author Christopher Jary said: “The first book, Yells, Bells & Smells, in 2017 told their story during the siege of Malta. The second, D-Day Spearhead Brigade, described their experience minute-by-minute when they were the first British infantry to land on D-Day.

“This last one, Roy’s Boys, fills the gap in the middle by describing their landings in Sicily and Italy in 1943.

“All three are cracking stories but often very sad because so many young men, who you get to know as you go through the three books, didn’t come home.”

Supported by museum staff, the books are primarily the work of seven volunteers.

They include Lieutenant-Colonel James Porter, Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Edwards, Major Nick Speakman MBE TD, Major Ian Taylor TD and Captain Laurence Thornton Grimes, with Peter Turner drawing the trilogy’s many maps.

Mr Jary added: “There is a team of seven of us – six researchers, I write it and we have one map person, Peter Turner who draws all the maps.

“We come from both museums, but we all have deep connections to men mentioned in these books.

“The research is fun but the best bit is finding the families of the veterans and hearing their stories, which really bring history to life.”

The team use the extracts from letters written by the soldiers on the ground to tell its story but were also helped by the recounts of their last surviving veteran – Denis Bounsall of the 1st Dorsets.

Having enrolled at the age of 16 in 1921, he was first deployed to India, then to Malta in July 1939 where he was based throughout the war.

Now 99-years-old and residing in New Zealand, Denis told the team his memories of his time as a bandsman and stretcher bearer.

“He is an absolutely astonishing man,” said Christopher Jary.

“When he was out there, in his first battle at the age of 22, he rescued a number of men who were under immense bombardment from artillery shells and machine gun fire.

“He also recalled how he rescued a badly wounded man from the battle ground, and it took him a whole day to drag this man to safety and save him and they both survived.

“He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal as a result of this and was also part of the Dorset regiment that landed in Normandy and survived right to the end.

“Denis has contributed immensely to all three books so, for his birthday on March 2, we had produced the book early and have arranged to send out the three copies of the books plus a birthday card from the team for him and his neighbour is going to give it to him on the day.”

All seven volunteers gave their time free, enabling both museums to sell and make a profit on every book.

The books are available separately or as a trilogy from bookshops but, if bought from either museum, all proceeds will go sustaining them.