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4.4 out of 5 stars16
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2015
Good in parts, but with an error on Page 92, chapter relating to World War I, gives an incorrect picture of the Territorial battalions, suggesting that the 1/ and 2/ prefixes on battalion numbers were due to subsequent raisings after devastating casualties. In fact, all Yeomanry Regiments, and Territorial Force battalions duplicated, and later triplicated to form first, second and third lines of the original unit. In time, the first lines went to the front, soon followed by the second lines, with most third lines acting as reserve for the other two. Some units even formed fourth lines, which acted as the reserve, releasing the third line unit for frontline duties. Essentially each new "line" acted as a new battalion, operating in newly numbered Territorial divisions. For further information, see Brig EA James' British Regiments 1914 - 1918.
Amalgamation charts from p 114 onwards are well laid out and easy to follow.
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on 15 July 2010
There are not a great number of specialist publications on British Army regimental lineage and then, like London buses, three come along in a comparatively short period. This particular title, although an interesting look at the subject is easily beaten into third place by the recently-published 'Bloodline' (Iain Gordon) and, in first place, the excellent publication by Goff Lumley, 'Ancestry and Amalgamations in the British Army 1660-2008' which uses cap badge illustrations and family-tree charts to easy-to-follow great effect. Lumley has also produced, in the same format, 'Regiments and Mergers in the British Army 1907-2007'. Lumley's two publications complement and bring up to date the superb multi-volume series on British Army lineage by Anthony Baker. If you have an interest in this esoteric field of military history, you should not be without the publications herein referred to.
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on 31 May 2011
The title is promising, and the front cover looks impressive with the Household Cavalry. The main reason for buying this book was the author's interest in reading a recent lineage book, and seeing how it was dealt with. And perhaps something new might pop-up of course. The discussion relates of course only to the early part of the British Army, i.e., the period until 1714.

However, the book proved to be a minor disappointment at least. Whereas the title is boasting about the book's contents, and the back covers reads '... one indispensable volume.', the book is certainly not for those who are studying British regimental lineages seriously. (The comment by the regimental secretary of the Royal Irish Regiments make the author think he didn't read the book at all...)

To start with, the serious works are missing from the list of literature! There is no reference to the lineage bible written by Frederick in 1984; other books seem to be of the coffee table variety. They can be nice, no doubt about that, and full of details and anecdotes. But omitting Frederick is very serious.

Then to the contents. First there is the mistake that the future 19th and 20th Foot (Green Howards and Lancashire Fusiliers, respectively) were raised by James II. This mistake is seen often unfortunately. Next the author (Murphy) is wrong about the countries that made up the Grand Alliance against Louis XIV in 1689. Why listing Russia, but omitting such important members as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the Elector of Brandenburg?

Further the author writes that the British were defeated at Landen, whereas it was the Allied Army that was defeated, consisting of an amalgam of regiments. Here the author implicitly blames William III for not having Marlborough in command. That Marlborough's loyalties were at least debatable is omitted. Also, there were far more experienced continental generals.

And it goes on. In 1697 Louis XIV accepted William and Mary as rulers of Britain. Didn't Mary die earlier in 1694? About the disbandment of the army after the Treaty of Rijswijk, Murphy omits the debates on the standing army. Also the events surrounding the death of James II, the self-proclamation by James III as king and the support Louis XIV given to the latter is blurred. The Act of Settlement for ensuring a protestant line of succession to the British throne is also forgotten. Finally, the Treaty of Utrecht is apparently from 1715, and not from 1713 as I always thought ...

So, while I only read the parts related to the Stuarts, I cannot feel but irritated because of the many (small) errors made by the author. Errors that were not necessary with a little bit of research. Now, because of these errors the book made a very conservative and insular impression. Must in the same manner other British historians wrote about the War of the Spanish Succession for example, fought by Marlborough himself and British regiments (almost) only. In 2010, I think that this is not how a military historian should treat events. It is perfectly correct to write about a single army alone, but it is very sad that the same insular view is maintained witnessed in so many other books.

As a final judgment, the book might be nice for those with little knowledge about the British Army and its regiments, and the book it quite full of anecdotes and little details. The author certainly deserved credits for that!

But given the pretentious title of the book, and the mistakes I found while reading a small part, I would not recommend this book to anyone studying the British regiments seriously and looking for context, perspective and nuance. On the coffee table the book would do fine, and the tables the author compiled can be very handy. But for the serious library the book is just not good enough in my opinion. Therefor 2 out of 5.
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on 22 September 2013
Very interesting and comprehensive guide to the British army structure outline through the last 2 centuries. Lacks a more detailed Battle Honours list, and the development of some units (MG Corps, Reconnassaince, SAS, Parachute Regiment...)
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on 24 December 2014
As described, quick delivery. Many thanks.
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on 4 September 2013
Just the book I've been looking for, listing facts you really have to search many volumes for. Written in plain readable English.
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on 9 January 2016
Excellent book
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on 14 December 2014
It was a gift.
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on 4 August 2013
Just what I needed for my research and excellant value for money. Will recomend to my friends. Very good buy.
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on 24 June 2015
The most useful things here are the family trees of the regiments, shown in table form which works well. The very rapid whizz through centuries of British military history is far too sketchy to be of any use, but I didn't buy the book for that, so that's OK.
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