Iron Division is an excellent little reference book on the 3rd Divisions History from 1809-1989 the first edition was published in 1978 and written by Robin McNish. This review focuses on the revised edition, published in 1989. In 1986 the division approached Charles Messenger who was both a historian and a watch keeper on the Divisions staff to update the text to cover the Divisions activities in the period 1978 - 1989 which produced some very focused writing on the late Cold War period .
From my perspective all the post war content is relevant and illuminating charting as it does change in the British Army through the eyes of the Divison up until 1989 however the most useful chapters are 11 and 12 which deal respectively with:
- The 1970's; 3 Division Role as the UKMF which was a NATO rolled reinforcement division deployable to either flank.
- The 1980's; which covers the restructuring to and from field forces, the evolving doctrinal concepts around forward defence and a very detailed look at the life of the Division which is particularly revealing in the context of the exercises it participated in.
The remainder of the Book covers the History of the division through the following conflicts:
- Napolionic Wars
- Crimean War
- Boar War
- 1st World War
- 2nd World War
The bulk of the book covers post 1944 operations and about 1/3 is dedicated to post 1950s operations the final two chapters total around 140 pages and are focused fairly exclusively on activities in the later stages of the Cold War. It is very much a "unit" history and with extensive coverage of peace time life there is a fair bit of content on Royal visits and D Day commemorations. That aside their are some real gems in the last two chapters which benefited from being published post Cold War and written by an historian who was a Divisional watch keeper so had significant knowledge of the wider operational context.
I picked up my copy second hand, if you can source it for under £5 its definitely worth a look. Just make sure you get the right version as the 1978 publication probably has limited Cold War coverage.
Iron Division - History of 3rd Division: 1809-1989 @ amazon
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