New book details history of army regiment with strong Melton links
It details the recent history of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), which is based at the town’s Remount Barracks and supports the military’s working dogs and horses.
Her Royal highness The Princess Royal, the Colonel in Chief of the RAVC, recently attended the launch of the book, which has been compiled by retired Lt Col Chris Ham MBE RAVC.
It covers activities and operations between 1962 and 2021, including the work of the RAVC’s subsidiary regiments, the Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR) at Melton and the North Luffenham-based 1st Military Working Dog Regiment.
The book showcases the importance of Military Working Dogs (MWDs) as relatively inexpensive, extremely adaptable and an unrivalled constant on operations in an ever-changing hi-tech world.
Commenting on the new publication, Lt Gen Sir Roly Walker KCB DSO said: “To the uninitiated, the idea of animals in modern warfare is a strange one.
"What place do they have in this era of increasingly lethal military-technological development, hypersonic missiles and cyberspace?
“This history shows that animal capabilities continue to be a cornerstone to operations in almost every environment.”
The A4 hardback, with wide and varied research, outlines the involvement of this unique Corps during conflicts such as, Malaya, Dhofar, Aden, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are comprehensive sections on the RAVC’s units while they were based at Aldershot, Germany, Cyprus, Hong Kong, North Luffenham and Melton’s Remount Barracks, where today’s Military Working Animals and their handlers are trained.
Other segments are about the triumphs of the Mixed Service Organisation – a huge entity of the RAVC in Germany during the Cold War era - the inception of RAVC TA and Reserves, plus the Women of the WRAC and RAVC, who have played an immense part in the Corps’ history.
The book also touches on pack animal transport and ceremonial or ‘Warrior Horses’.
It describes the formation of Rutland-based 1st Military Working Dog Regiment (RAVC), which is one of the youngest regiments in the British Army today, and which provides veterinary support and dogs for military operations worldwide.
The importance of animals in combat is summed up by Brig (Retd) Gareth Collett CBE, who said: “Many lives were saved thanks to military working dogs (MWD) allowing UK capacity in Afghanistan to increase and improve freedom of manoeuvre.
"Today the MWD is an unrivalled component in counter-IED operations.”
The Princess Royal was presented with a signed copy of the book at the launch reception, at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.
She was introduced to prominent serving members of the RAVC and personnel from both the DATR and and 1st Military Working Dog Regiment (RAVC).
The History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps 1962-2021, by Lt Col Chris Ham MBE RAVC, published by Crest Publications, is now available from the RAVC Regimental Secretary. Email [email protected] to get a copy.