Military Identities: The Regimental System, the British Army, and the British People c.1870-2000

Paperback | June 15, 2008

byDavid French

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The regimental system has been the foundation of the British army for three hundred years. This iconoclastic study shows how it was refashioned in the late nineteenth century, and how it was subsequently and repeatedly reinvented to suit the changing roles that were forced upon the army. Based upon a combination of official papers, private papers and personal reminiscences, and upon research in the National Archives, regimental museums and collections, and other depositories, this book challenges the assumptions of both the exponents and detractors of the system. The author, DavidFrench, shows that there was not one, but several, regimental systems and he demonstrates that localised recruiting was usually a failure. Many regiments were never able to draw more than a small proportion of their recruits from their own districts. He shows that regimental loyalties were not aprimordial force; regimental authorities had to create them and in the late nineteenth century they manufactured new traditions with gusto, whilst in both World Wars regimental postings quickly broke down and regiments had to take recruits from wherever they could find them. French also argues thatthe notion that the British army was bad at fighting big battles because the regimental system created a parochial military culture is facile. This is the first book to strip away the myths that have been deliberately manufactured to justify or to condemn the regimental system and to uncover the reality beneath them. It thus illuminates our understanding of the past while simultaneously throwing glaring new light on the still continuingdebate over the place of the regimental system in the modern army today.

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The regimental system has been the foundation of the British army for three hundred years. This iconoclastic study shows how it was refashioned in the late nineteenth century, and how it was subsequently and repeatedly reinvented to suit the changing roles that were forced upon the army. Based upon a combination of official papers, p...

David Frech is Professor of History at University College London

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:414 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:June 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541051

ISBN - 13:9780199541058

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Cardwell-Childers Reforms and the Re-creation of the Regimental System2. Recruiting for the Regiments3. Basic Training4. The Construction of the Idea of 'the Regiment'5. Barrack Life6. The Leadership of the Regimental system: Officers and NCOs7. Deviancy and Discipline in the Regimental System8. The Auxiliary Regiments9. Civilians and their Regiments10. The Regimental System and the Battlefield11. The Creation of the Post-Modern Regimental System, c.1945-1970ConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`'[an] excellent history...Like all the best histories, this book has much to tell us about how to do our business today. This is a splendid survey of British armies... David French has made a heroic attempt to cover the ground; he succeeeds...because it is well-written and the subject isfascinating.''John Wilson, British Army Review