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The Wider Regimental Family and TA 1967-1977

Between 1967 and 1977 the accelerating pace of change put considerable pressure on the backbone of the British Army: the Regimental system. Training was rationalised: Wyvern Barracks, Exeter, the home of the Wessex Brigade Depot until 1968, when it became the Prince of Wales's Division Depot, closed in 1974. The Depot then moved to Crickhowell in Wales before further rationalisation sent adult recruits to Lichfield for their training, while junior soldiers remained at Crickhowell. The Depot's move from Exeter to Crickhowell was a particular blow since it brought Regular Infantry representation in the two counties to an end.

The TA battalions of The Devonshire and The Dorset Regiments were disbanded on 31 March 1967. This weakened the military presence in the two counties, although C Company, The Wessex Volunteers, in Dorchester and E Company, The Wessex Volunteers, in Exeter maintained the highest standards, with the Regiment still supplying the permanent staff instructors.

In 1967 the Regimental Associations of the two former Regiments and that of The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment were still running in parallel. Prior to 1972 the Half Day's Pay Scheme contributions were allocated solely to Devon and Dorset Welfare Funds. From that year onwards twenty per cent of the total was donated to the two old Associations, since the number of their members in need of assistance was steadily increasing. In 1974 the first Devonshire and Dorset Regimental Association reunion took place in Exeter.

The disbandment of the Wessex Brigade meant that, from 1970 onwards, the Regiment was able to wear its own cap badge. That same year the Freedoms granted to the two former Regiments were transferred to The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. After the first 'active service' casualties in Northern Ireland, there was strong support for a Devonshire and Dorset Regimental Chapel, which was established in the Chapel of St James and St Thomas, Exeter Cathedral in June 1974. New Rolls of Honour, kneelers worked by Regimental wives and wartime plaques recovered from Malta after independence all contributed towards a strong Regimental identity. The Devonshire Regiment Chapel, also in Exeter Cathedral, and the Dorset Regiment Chapel in Sherborne Abbey were both retained. Regimental memorials were a source of constant concern: the 2 Dorset memorial at Kohima was in a poor state of repair by 1973 while that to 2 Devon at Bois des Buttes in France had to be re-sited as a result of a road-building programme. These - and many other matters - were the responsibility of an over-stretched RHQ staff.