There is so much I’m learning about my own town and surrounding area as I research for book II.
I’m presently writing about the times my father (Albert Darch b1910) would have been a child, growing up in Weymouth during WWI. You know that old saying about talking to your parents before its too late…well do it!
I so wish I’d listened to my old Dad, as many a time he tried to tell me about the Weymouth he knew.
I’m no military buff, and trying to fathom out regiments as they morph from one name to another, or the reasonings behind decisions made such as uniforms, (minor details which they seemed to have changed with regularity from what I can see.)
But the biggest thing I’ve learnt is just how much military and naval activity there was in and around Weymouth and Portland. I would love to hear from any local people if they have family stories about the men being stationed here.
In WWI the Dorset Regiment was billeted in and around Wyke Regis.
(Recruiting poster WWI)
During their posting at Wyke ‘many thousands have been trained here and have departed for the various fronts. To feed the four active service battalions.’ (Western Gazette August 1919)
1899 Navy & Army Illustrated.
They moved into the hutment camp that was built, later occupied by AIF troops who arrived on our shores.
The 2nd Dorsets then moved over to the Verne Citadel until their departure for India in 1919.
Navy & Army January 1897
The 2nd Battalion of the Dorsetshire regiment, which has just left England for Malta, has, as the old 54th foot, distinguished record covering a period of nearly a century and half. It was raised originaly in the time of George the Second at the beginning of the Seven Year’s War, and has done good service for England in times past all the world over. It fought in America during the war of Independence; with the Duke of York as part of the army in Flanders during the War with the French Revolution; with Abercrombie in Egypt, at Aboukir and Alexandria; with Wellington’s pursuing army after Waterloo; and in the first Burmese War.
During the Russian War the old 54th were in garrison at Gibralta, where also, just a hundred years before, they had done their first tour of foreign service immediately after they were first raised.
The special badge of the Battalion is the Sphynx, born over the label “Marabout,” a distinction granted in recognition of the distinguished conduct of the 54th at Alexandria where the regiment captured an important fortified post of the enemy, the Castle of Marabout, together with a French field piece, still preserved as a trophy.
The old grass-green facings of the 54th were replaced by white facings in 1881, on the regiment being given its present designation under the Territorial system.
If you enjoy a bit of local history with some military hardware thrown in, then check out my book Nothe Fort & Beyond.
Love, hate, crimes, community, marriage and murder, life for soldiers, their families and civilians was never dull in a military town.
Available at the Nothe Fort and Weymouth Museum books shops.
Please shop locally if possible as it supports our community.