By Michael Scott
Tigers at War is the remarkable story of the infantrymen of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, the Tigers by nickname, who, since the end of the Cold War and fall of the Iron Curtain, have served on the front line in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as the many small wars and brush fires across Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Regiment’s unstinting and courageous service around the globe reflects Britain’s political and military engagement on the world stage over the last quarter-century, and the Tigers emerged from the Second Gulf War (2003-09) with the distinction of having won more gallantry decorations for valour than any other regiment in the British Army.
Michael Scott, himself a Colonel in the Tigers, has had exclusive access to draw upon the personal testimonies and photographs of the infantrymen in his Regiment to vividly capture their day-to-day experiences of modern warfare. In gathering reminiscences with which to illustrate the narrative, it was requested only that individual officers and soldiers should record what they remembered as being ‘particularly memorable about their operational experiences’, so as not to unduly steer or encourage any to focus upon matters that did not naturally come to mind. The basis of this approach was to seek to collect as broad a base of reminiscences, as objective and uninfluenced, as possible.
Drawing thus upon the testimonies of the Tigers, Michael Scott captures in vivid detail the infantrymen’s day-to-day experiences of war. Embroiled in conflicts often too dangerous or sensitive for reporters to cover, these soldiers – most of them young, many without any previous experience of warfare – have kept ongoing records of the drudgery, excitement, anxiety and horror involved in fighting violent and often unpopular wars against ruthless and resourceful enemies. All have risked their lives, and many have died. Others have been recognised and awarded for their courage, resourcefulness and gallantry – in Iraq Private Johnson Beharry became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in 23 years. With these intimate and revealing glimpses of life in the modern army, the author paints a sweeping portrait of a new generation of soldiers – grunts, gallants and heroes – and the sacrifices made.
This work is thus essentially a contemporary history of British military intervention, in the quarter-century, post-Cold War, viewed through the unique perspective of a single infantry fighting regiment, the Tigers, and the narrative is richly illustrated with the personal reminiscences of the officers and soldiers involved. Despite 24-hour rolling media coverage of modern conflict few understand what is demanded of the contemporary infantryman – what it’s like when one’s day job includes grenades, bayonets and night operations. Now, in Tigers at War, we have an expert insider’s compelling, exciting, sometimes terrifying picture of real life in the modern British infantry.
However, Tigers at War is not just the story of a battle-hardened regiment, but something more extraordinary, the triumph of men against long odds, in near-impossible circumstances. Writing as a serving, senior officer and from a position of exclusive access to the soldiers whose tales of courage, restraint and fortitude provide an unforgettable portrait of one of Britain’s finest fighting regiments, Michael Scott paints a picture of a remarkable band of warriors. Thought-provoking and profoundly perceptive, as a piece of contemporary military history this book, in its inspiring story of courage, discipline and selfless comradeship, will open eyes to the stirring realities of life at the tip of the bayonet.
A compelling and absorbing narrative, the book serves also to mark the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the latest incarnation of this remarkable, and quintessentially English infantry regiment, which reaches back over 445 years of unbroken regimental soldiering in the service of the crown, and spanning the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I to Queen Elizabeth II.
Tigers at War: The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. 25 Years in Front-Line Modern Conflict is available to order here.