The Dorsetshire Regiment

As part of the Childers Reforms of 1881, the 39th and 54th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated to form a new Regiment. This newly formed Dorsetshire Regiment had two regular Battalions, the 1st Battalion formed from the 39th Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 54th Regiment of Foot.

I believe the Dorsetshire Regiment were the only regular infantry regiment of the British Army to not be awarded a Victoria Cross in the Great War. This was more down to misfortune rather than a lack of valour, the regiment serving with distinction throughout.

At the outbreak of the Great War, the Dorsetshire Regiment consisted of:

1st Battalion (Regular Army)

Stationed in Ireland.


2nd Battalion (Regular Army)

Stationed in India.


3rd Battalion (Special Reserve)

Based in the Regimental Depot, Dorchester. The role of this battalion was to supply trained reserves to the two regular battalions in times of war.


4th Battalion (Territorial Force)

Companies based in Bridport, Wareham, Dorchester, Poole, Shaftesbury, Wimborne, Sherborne and Blandford. The territorial battalion consisted of part time soldiers who could be used for home defence, or mobilised for active service in wartime.


During the Great War, the Dorsetshire Regiment expanded to meet the demands of wartime requirements. The following Battalions were created:

1/4th Battalion (Territorial Force)

This ‘first line’ battalion was created from men of the 4th Battalion who were willing to be mobilised for overseas service.


2/4th Battalion (Territorial Force)

This ‘second line’ battalion was created from the remainder of the 4th Battalion who did not volunteer for overseas service. They provided a home defence role, and drafts of men for the 1/4th Battalion.


5th Battalion (Service Battalion)

The battalion was created from volunteers who had enlisted for war service as part of the ‘New Army’ or ‘Kitchener’s Army’ scheme.


6th Battalion (Service Battalion)

The battalion was created from volunteers who had enlisted for war service as part of the ‘New Army’ or ‘Kitchener’s Army’ scheme.


7th Battalion (Reserve Battalion)

This battalion was created to train and organise men ready to be sent to other battalions within the regiment (mainly the two service battalions).


1st (Home Service) Garrison Battalion

Formed for home defence duties within the UK.


2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion

Formed for home defence duties within the UK. Later re-designated as the 8th (Home Service) Battalion.


9th Battalion

Formed towards the end of the war (June 1918), the battalion was short lived, being absorbed by the 6th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment after only 18 days of formation.


The Regimental Depot was based in Dorchester, and The Keep of the old barracks now serves as the regimental museum.

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