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Gordon Highlanders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gordon Highlanders was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994, when it was amalgamated with the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons). Although the 'gordon highlanders' had existed as the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot since 1794, the actual 'Gordon Highlanders Regiment' was formed in 1881 by amalgmation of the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot and 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.

History

Early history

92nd Highlanders at Kandaharby Richard Caton Woodville (1856-1927).
92nd Highlanders at Kandahar
by Richard Caton Woodville (1856-1927).
Monument in Aberdeen to the Gordon Highlanders who fell in the Anglo-Egyptian War
Monument in Aberdeen to the Gordon Highlanders who fell in the Anglo-Egyptian War

The regiment was formed on 1 July 1881 instigated under the Childers Reforms as the county regiment of: Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, and Shetland.[2] Although the regiment was formed by two regular regiments, it in-fact controlled other units which were of the former Militia and Volunteer Force, including:[3][4]

  • Regimental Headquarters & Regimental Depot at Castlehill Barracks
  • 1st Battalion (Regular, former 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot)
  • 2nd Battalion (Regular, former 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot)
  • 3rd (Royal Aberdeenshire Highland Militia) Battalion (Militia) based at the King Street Barracks in Aberdeen
  • 1st Volunteer Battalion (Volunteers, former 1st Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, became 1st VB in 1884), later became 4th (City of Aberdeen) Btn
  • 2nd Volunteer Battalion (Volunteers, former 2nd Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, became 2nd VB in 1884), later became 5th (Buchan and Formartin) Btn
  • 3rd (The Buchan) Volunteer Battalion (Volunteers, former 3rd Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps)
  • 4th Volunteer Battalion (Volunteers, former 4th Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps), later became 6th (The Banff and Donside) Btn
  • 5th (Deeside Highland) Volunteer Battalion (Volunteers, former 1st (Deeside Highland) Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps), later became 7th (Deeside Highland) Btn

The 1st Battalion fought at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in September 1882 during the Anglo-Egyptian War, and then took part in the Nile Expedition in an attempt to relieve Major-General Charles Gordon during the Mahdist War.[5]

The 1st Battalion then took part in the Chitral Expedition and then the Tirah Campaign; it was during operations on the North West Frontier in October 1897, during the storming of the Dargai Heights, that one of the regiment's most famous Victoria Crosses was earned. Piper George Findlater, despite being wounded in both legs, continued to play the bagpipes during the assault. Another of the heroes involved in the charge of the Gordon Highlanders at Dargai Heights was Piper John Kidd. Piper Kidd was with Piper Findlater when, half-way up the heights, both pipers were shot down. Unmindful of his injuries, Piper Kidd sat up and continued to play "The Cock o' the North" as the troops advanced up the heights.[6][7]

Both battalions were sent to South Africa following the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899. The 2nd Battalion fought at the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899 and was part of force to relieve the Siege of Ladysmith in November 1899.[8] Meanwhile the 1st Battalion, which arrived a little later, saw action at the Battle of Magersfontein in December 1899 and was again in action at Doornkop, where they suffered severe losses, in May 1900.[8] The battalion stayed in South Africa throughout the war, which ended with the Peace of Vereeniging in June 1902. Four months later 475 officers and men of the 1st battalion left Cape Town on the SS Salamis in late September 1902, arriving at Southampton in late October, when the battalion was posted to Glasgow.[9]

In 1908 the Volunteers and Militia were reorganised nationally, with the former becoming the Territorial Force and the latter the Special Reserve;[10] the regiment now had one Reserve and four Territorial battalions.[11][12]

First World War

British troops, believed to be the 2nd Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders (20th Brigade, British 7th Division) crossing no man's land near Mametz on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
British troops, believed to be the 2nd Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders (20th Brigade, British 7th Division) crossing no man's land near Mametz on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Gordon Highlanders (Plymouth, 1914)
Gordon Highlanders (Plymouth, 1914)

Regular Army

The 1st Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 8th Brigade in the 3rd Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front; they suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914.[13] The 2nd Battalion landed at Zeebrugge as part of the 20th Brigade in the 7th Division in October 1914 for service on the Western Front and then moved to Italy in November 1917.[13]

Territorial Force

The 1/4th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 8th Brigade in the 3rd Division in February 1915 for service on the Western Front.[13] The 1/5th (Buchan and Formartin) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front.[13] The 1/6th (Banff and Donside) Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 20th Brigade in the 7th Division for service on the Western Front.[13] One of the longest 1914 Christmas truces was upheld by this battalion: it lasted until the afternoon of 3 January 1915.[14] The 1/7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front.[13]

New Armies

The 8th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 26th Brigade in the 9th (Scottish) Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front.[13] The 9th (Service) Battalion and the 10th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 44th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division in July 1915 for service on the Western Front.[13]

The folk singer and Scottish Traveller Jimmy MacBeath served with the regiment during the war.[15]

Second World War

The 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders was a Regular Army battalion that served originally with the 2nd Infantry Brigade, part of the 1st Infantry Division, and was sent to France in September 1939, shortly after the declaration of war, as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF): it remained there until May 1940. On 7 March 1940 the 1st Battalion exchanged with the Territorial Army 6th Battalion and transferred to the 153rd Infantry Brigade, part of the 51st (Highland) Division. The battalion served with the 51st Division during the Battle of France in 1940 when they were trapped and the majority of the division was forced to surrender at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, with very few men escaping capture. The 1st Battalion was, however, reformed in the United Kingdom in August 1940 and went on to serve with the second formation of the 51st (Highland) Division (formed by redesignation of the 9th (Highland) Infantry Division throughout the rest of the Second World War, serving in North Africa at El Alamein, Tunisia, Sicily and North-western Europe, ending the war in Germany.[16]

The 2nd Battalion was based in Malaya as part of the Singapore garrison and fought in the battle for Singapore in February 1942, surrendering along with 130,000 other British Commonwealth soldiers on 15 February. The men of this battalion suffered more casualties as prisoners of war in Japanese captivity than they did during the fighting on Singapore Island and Malaya. The 2nd Battalion was reformed in May 1942 from personnel of the 11th Battalion and fought with the 15th (Lowland) Division, throughout North West Europe. They formed part of 227th (Highland) Brigade, the Junior brigade in the division. They were involved in the heavy fighting around Cheux and Tourville-sur-Odon in Normandy, the fight for the Netherlands and in the Battle of Uelzen in Germany near to the end of the war.[17]

Men of the 2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders during the assault on Tilburg in October 1944.
Men of the 2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders during the assault on Tilburg in October 1944.

The 4th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion served as a Machine Gun Battalion in the Battle of France and was later converted to a Royal Artillery regiment on 1 November 1941, becoming the 92nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, as part of the 9th Armoured Division, but saw no active service during the war.[18]

British tanks supported by men of the 2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders in the Netherlands in November 1944.
British tanks supported by men of the 2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders in the Netherlands in November 1944.

The 5th Battalion went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force: they were serving as part of the 153rd Brigade in the 51st Division during the Battle of France in 1940 when they were trapped and the majority of the division was forced to surrender at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. The 5th Battalion was, however, reformed in the United Kingdom in August 1940 and went on to serve with the second formation of the 51st (Highland) Division (formed by redesignation of the 9th (Highland) Infantry Division throughout the rest of the Second World War, serving in North Africa and taking part in the Normandy landings.[19]

Pipers of the 5/7th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders gather round as the mail arrives, 24 July 1944.
Pipers of the 5/7th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders gather round as the mail arrives, 24 July 1944.

The 6th (Banffshire) Battalion, a Territorial Army battalion, was transferred from the 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division before it joined the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. It took part in the Dunkirk evacuation. The 6th Battalion fought through the Tunisian, North African and Italian campaigns, in both the Battle of Anzio and Operation Diadem, and later the Battle for the Gothic Line, before ending the war on garrison duty in Palestine.[20]

The 7th (Mar and Mearns) Battalion amalgamated with the 5th Battalion, becoming the 5th/7th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, and served with the second formation of the 51st (Highland) Division throughout the war.[21]

The 8th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion was also converted to artillery, becoming the 100th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. This battalion served with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Burma Campaign.[22]

Bren gun carriers of the 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders pass between the prehistoric standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, 18 June 1941.
Bren gun carriers of the 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders pass between the prehistoric standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, 18 June 1941.

The 9th (Donside) Battalion (originally part of the 9th (Highland) Infantry Division along with the 11th Battalion) were initially posted to the Shetland islands. Later they were amalgamated with the 5th Battalion and sent to India for training. Converted to an armoured regiment in 1942 as the 116th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (Gordons), they continued to wear the Gordons cap badge on the black beret of the RAC.[23] 116th RAC were sent to India and joined 267th Indian Armoured Brigade; later they served in Burma where as part of 255th Indian Tank Brigade they were involved in the dash for Rangoon and were heavily involved in the battle of Meiktila, signalling the end of Japanese hopes in Burma.[24]

Post-War

After the war the Gordons saw active service in the Malayan Emergency, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland. The regiment was amalgamated with The Queens' Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) on 17 September 1994 to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons).[12] In 1997, the Gordon Highlanders Museum opened, in the former regimental headquarters in Aberdeen.[25]

Victoria Cross recipients

Honours

Battle honours

Battle honours awarded to the regiment included:[12]

  • Early Wars: Mysore, South Africa 1835, Tel-El-Kebir, Egypt 1882 '84, Nile 1884–5, Chitral, Tirah, Defence of Ladysmith, Paardeberg, South Africa, 1899–1902
  • The Great War: Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 '18, Aisne 1914, La Bassée 1914, Messines 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Neuve Chapelle, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Hooge 1915, Loos, Somme 1916, 18, Albert 1916 '18, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Le Transloy, Ancre 1916, Arras 1917 '18, Vimy 1917, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Bullecourt, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle. Passchendaele, Cambrai 1917 '18, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Lys, Estaires, Hazebrouck, Béthune, Soissonnais-Ourcq, Tardenois, Hindenburg Line, Canal du Nord, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914–18, Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Italy 1917–18
  • The Second World War: Withdrawal to Escaut, Ypres-Comines Canal, Dunkirk 1940, Somme 1940, St. Valery-en-Caux, Odon, La Vie Crossing, Lower Maas, Venlo Pocket, Rhineland, Reichswald, Cleve, Goch, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940, '44–45, El Alamein, Advance on Tripoli, Mareth, Medjez Plain, North Africa 1942–43, Landing in Sicily, Sferro, Sicily 1943, Anzio, Rome, Italy 1944–45

Sporting honours

Winner of the Irish FA Cup in 1890[39]

Colonels-in-Chief

Colonels in Chief were as follows:[12]

Regimental Colonels

Major-General Sir James Burnett, Bt
Major-General Sir James Burnett, Bt

Colonels of the regiment were:[12]

Alliances

Alliances were:[12]

Notes

  1. ^ Meaning abiding, steadfast, an adjectival use of the Middle Scots present participle of bide Archived 2012-01-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "The Gordon Highlanders [UK]". 28 October 2007. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  3. ^ "No. 24992". The London Gazette. 1 July 1881. pp. 3300–3301.
  4. ^ Frederick, pp. 102–5.
  5. ^ "History of the Gordon Highlanders". Gordon Highlanders. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Death of Piper Kidd". The Argus. 21 May 1934. p. 8. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  7. ^ "No. 26968". The London Gazette. 20 May 1898. p. 3165.
  8. ^ a b "Gordon Highlanders". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  9. ^ "The Army in South Africa - Troops returning Home". The Times (36890). London. 4 October 1902. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907". Hansard. 31 March 1908. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  11. ^ These were the 3rd Battalion (Special Reserve), with the 4th (The City of Aberdeen) Battalion at Guild Street in Aberdeen, the 5th (Buchan and Formartin) Battalion in Kirk Street in Peterhead (since demolished), the 6th (The Banff and Donside) Battalion at Union Street in Keith and the 7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion at Kinneskie Road in Banchory (all Territorial Force)
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Gordon Highlanders". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 30 December 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2016.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Gordon Highlanders". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  14. ^ Van Emden, Richard (2013). Meeting the Enemy. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-4088-4335-2.
  15. ^ "Portsoy's Haal festival remembers folk legend Jimmy MacBeath". The Scotsman. 21 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  16. ^ "1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  17. ^ "2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  18. ^ "4th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  19. ^ "5th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  20. ^ "6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  21. ^ "7th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  22. ^ "8th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  23. ^ Forty p. 51.
  24. ^ "9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Gordon Highlanders Museum". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  26. ^ "The Victoria Cross". The Gordon Highlanders Museum. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  27. ^ "No. 26968". The London Gazette. 20 May 1898. p. 3165.
  28. ^ "No. 27212". The London Gazette. 20 July 1900. p. 4509.
  29. ^ "No. 27212". The London Gazette. 20 July 1900. p. 4509.
  30. ^ "No. 27208". The London Gazette. 6 July 1900. p. 4196.
  31. ^ "No. 27219". The London Gazette. 10 August 1900. p. 4944.
  32. ^ "No. 27233". The London Gazette. 28 September 1900. p. 5966.
  33. ^ "No. 27462". The London Gazette. 8 August 1902. p. 5085.
  34. ^ "No. 29074". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 February 1916. p. 1699.
  35. ^ "No. 29074". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 February 1916. p. 1700.
  36. ^ "No. 30272". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 September 1917. p. 9260.
  37. ^ "No. 31536". The London Gazette. 2 September 1919. p. 11205.
  38. ^ "No. 36646". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 August 1944. pp. 3695–3696.
  39. ^ Kennedy, Liam (22 November 2012). Ulster Since 1600: Politics, Economy, and Society. UK: Oxford University Press. p. 264. ISBN 0199583110.

References

External links

This page was last edited on 28 February 2021, at 09:27
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