The book provides the formation date of each regiment, names of colonels prior to 1751, changes of title, battle honours awarded before 1881 and brief descriptions of uniform and badges worn. Helpful to the collector will be the badge authorisation dates included. With a view to further research, details of important published regimental histories have been noted. The numbering of infantry regiments reached 135 but, come the reforms of 1881, only 109 were still in existence. Much has already been written about these, but recorded here, in many cases for the first time, are details of the 110th to 135th Regiments of Foot and all others that were raised and disbanded, albeit that service was short for many. For easy reference, the text has been set numerically by regiment. Illustrations, most of them in colour, number 146 and include uniform, head-dress, badges and portraits.
39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment Richard Coote, who was later killed in a duel with Lord Mohun, was the regiment’s first colonel after it was raised in Ireland in 1702. He was replaced by Nicholas Sankey in March 1703, the successive colonels until 1751 being: Thomas Ferrers, William Newton, Sir John Cope, Thomas Wentworth, John Campbell Richard Onslow,Robert Dalway, Samuel Walter Whished and
Edward Richbell. Colonel Sankey, perhaps, would not have enjoyed his name being used as part of a nickname. In a hurry to get his men into battle at Almanza on 23 April 1707, he mounted them on mules and quickly the regiment became known,among others, as Sankey’s Horse. East Middlesex was added to the numerical title in 1782, this being changed to Dorsetshire in 1807. The Regiment provided the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in 1881 bringing with the battle honours: Plassey, Gibraltar, Albuhera, Vittoria, Nivelle, Pyrenees, Nive, Orthes, Peninsula, Maharajpore and Sevastopol.
By 1742, pale green was being used for the uniform facings and waistcoats. After that the colour would appear described as willow green, popinjay or light green. From the facing colour came the nickname of the Green Linnets. The Castle, Key and motto (Montis insignia Calpe, Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar) of Gibraltar were authorised as a badge in commemoration of its services during the great siege of 1779-83. Also used on insignia was the motto Primus in Indis (First in India) which recognises that the 39th was the first British regiment of the Line to serve in India. There exists a fine water-colour by Richard Simkin which shows a drummer of 1875. His side-drum has red hoops with a white worm-line running through a green central band. Cannon’s records terminate in 1853, the regiment’s history being carried on to 1893 by Captain P R Phelps. Volume 1 of C T Atkinson’s history deals with the 39th.