In September 1939, on the outbreak of the Second World War, the Devonshire Regiment had two Regular battalions and six battalions of Territorials (part-time volunteers), three of which were new and in the process of forming. Two of the six Territorial battalions – the 5th and 7th – converted to become anti-tank regiments in the Royal Artillery and fought as gunners in North Africa and North West Europe. Of the other four, none saw action and only one served overseas (at Gibraltar). During the war three new battalions were formed. Two remained in the UK but one – the 12th – converted to an airborne role and fought in North West Europe as glider troops.
The three fighting battalions of the Devons – the 1st, 2nd and 12th – fought on Malta and in Sicily, Italy, Burma and North West Europe. Members of the Regiment also fought with other units in other theatres. Many Devons came from the county but many did not. Some were Regular soldiers, some Territorials. Most were wartime volunteers and conscripts. 1,050 of them were killed and perhaps 3,000 were wounded. In five years fighting in four campaigns they won 23 new battle honours for the Regiment and nearly 300 awards for gallantry.
A brief history of each unit can be found by clicking on its title.