British Empire Books

In Search of The Forlorn Hope

AuthorJohn M Kitzmiller II
Originally published1988
Original publisherManuscript Publishing

This is an essential tool for the military or genealogical researcher. These two volumes (plus a supplement) tells you exactly which regiment was posted where from 1640 to 1914. In fact, the book does this in reverse, you need to look up the name of a town, place or campaign and the book will tell you which regiments were there and for how long they were posted there. The fact that there are over 3,000 pages should illustrate the comprehensiveness of the work. Unfortunately, I can't help but feel that this information would be much more useful on a CD ROM or as a database. You would then be able to do all sorts of interesting concordancing and analysing. As it is, I would almost prefer to have this book do the opposite of what it does. I would prefer a listing of the regiments and then have the book tell me exactly where they were posted to over this time period. In order to do this, I would have to sit down with pencil and paper and do a lot of flicking around the pages in order to track down the movements of a particular regiment. The way it is set out is more to help the genealogist than the military researcher, but it can still be an invaluable tool for the latter.

In addition to the two volumes, there is an interesting supplement that helps you with research that you might want to conduct with the official War Office Records. Again, this is mainly for genealogists but can still be invaluable for the military historian. Also, the supplement provides information on the dates of creation of all the regiments of the British Army and the complicated issues of amalgamation and name changes. There is also a list of the names of the Colonel's of each regiment (upto 1881).

If you buy these books, you must be aware that they do not provide a bedtime read. There is no narrative as such, it is more a collection of tables and data. But, if you need to know who was posted in a particular town or garrison at a particular point in time then this is the book for you.

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by Stephen Luscombe