The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset
The parade that marked the amalgamation of The Devonshire Regiment with The Dorset Regiment took place at Minden in Germany on 17 May 1958. Those taking part were drawn from the 1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment (1 Devon) and the 1st Battalion, The Dorset Regiment (1 Dorset). The parade was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Guy Young, formerly the Commanding Officer (CO) of 1 Devon, and now the first CO of the newly-formed 1st Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (1 D and D), more commonly referred to in Regimental circles as 'the 1st Battalion'. The amalgamation parade was the culmination of a great deal of hard work by Major General George Wood, Colonel of The Dorset Regiment, and his Devon counterpart, Colonel Monty Westropp.
The Colonels of the two Regiments had been summoned together to the War Office several months before, to be told by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, that their Regiments were to be amalgamated. General Wood and Colonel Westropp immediately brought their wisdom and experience to bear in ensuring a swift and successful amalgamation between two historic West Country Regiments with a great deal in common. There were already strong links from the service together of 2 Devon and 1 Dorset in 231 (Malta) Brigade during the Second World War. Needless to say, the two Commanding Officers, Lieutenant Colonel Young and Lieutenant Colonel Nicoll of 1 Dorset also played a prominent role in the discussions.
Before the parade, details such as cap badges, uniforms, Regimental Colours, Regimental funds, property, affiliations with other regiments and ships and the marking of special historical events had to be decided upon. A base in the counties was of great importance and Topsham Barracks in Exeter was selected as the Regimental Depot. As will be seen, the parade was just the first - albeit the most vital - step. Many of the more sensitive matters were wisely left to evolve over time. Perhaps the two most important of these were Regimental Museums and Regimental Associations. Old Comrades' Associations develop from the camaraderie and demands of their members - and tend to be rather unresponsive to edicts from the War Office! In 1958 allegiances to the former Regiments were naturally extremely strong, stemming as they did from shared experiences in a war that had ended just thirteen years earlier.
With the parade over, Colonel Young naturally wanted to create a cohesive fighting unit as soon as possible. It was therefore particularly helpful that the 1st Battalion left Germany just three months later, staging briefly at Piddlehinton Camp, near Dorchester, before sailing to Cyprus in November, where they would be on operations against EOKA terrorists. Thus there was a real sense of purpose and urgency from the outset. Colonel Young capitalised on this good fortune by taking the Battalion away on exercise in the Harz Mountains, from where all ranks marched 100 miles back to Minden. Thus, before even leaving Germany, much had already been achieved. The three-month period at Piddlehinton Camp provided an opportunity for the 1st Battalion to build on this platform and get ready for an operational tour. Everyone had to become familiar with the newly-issued self-loading rifle (SLR) while there were preparations for the disruption that inevitably resulted from a move from one overseas posting to another, but in a very different theatre.