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Unit History: Seaforth Highlanders

Seaforth Highlanders The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 78th and the 72nd Regiments of Foot were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms; however it can trace its history back a further 103 years prior to this date.

The 78th was first raise in 1778 by Kenneth Mackenzie in gratitude to King George III for restoring the family title of ‘Earl of Seaforth’ to him, after it had been removed following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. In 1782 the Regiment embarked on its first major foreign service to assist the East India Company against the aggressions of the Sultan of Mysore in India during the Second Mahratta War (1803-05). In 1786 the naming convention was simplified with all British Regiments assigned a ranked number of precedence (instead of naming after the present colonel) therefore the Regiment became the 72nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. In 1805 the Regiment was deployed to capture the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch and then remained garrisoned in Cape Town until 1810 when it helped to capture Mauritius from the French. Until 1822 the Regiment was either in India or South Africa. In 1823 the 72nd was awarded the title of ‘Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders’ (possibly after the Commander-in-Chief Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany and heir presumptive to his elder brother King George IV). The Regiment once again served for 10 years in South Africa from 1828 fighting during the Cape Frontier Wars (1811-1858) when the native Xhosa tribes became armed and rebelled against continuing European rule. The 72nd also served in The Crimean War (1855), The Indian Rebellion (1858), and The 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880).

The 78th was raised by Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth (grandson of Kenneth Mackenzie, 4th Earl of Seaforth) in 1793 and named the 78th Ross-shire Buffs. The Regiment saw its first action in the Netherlands during the French Revolutionary War fighting at Nijmegen. In 1795 the Regiment was deployed to South Africa capturing the Cape Town, Wynberg and Muysenberg from the Dutch. The Regiment was then deployed to India to serve during the Second Mahratta War 1803-05 and under the command of Arthur Wellesley (who later became the Duke of Wellington) at the Battle of Assaye. The 78th also participated in the Invasion of Java of 1811 capturing the Dutch Fort Cornelis during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1814). The Regiment returned to India in 1842 to serve in the First Anglo-Afghan War and then the Anglo-Persian War of 1857 fighting at the Battle of Khushab and Mohammerah. The 78th also served during The Indian Rebellion (1857-58) recapturing the town of Cawnpore and fighting at the first relief of Lucknow.

In 1881 both Regiments were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms to become The Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany’s). The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions. The newly formed Regiment went on to serve in various foreign campaigns including; the Anglo-Egyptian War (1882 ), Tel El Kebir (1882), the Chitral Expedition 1895, the Second Sudan War (1896 – 98) fighting at the Battle of Atbara and the Battle of Khartoum, The Second Boer War 1899 – 1902 fighting at The Battle of Paardeberg and two World Wars.

In 1961 The Seaforth Highlanders and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders merged to form the Queen's Own Highlanders. In 1994 the Queens Own Highlanders was further merged with the Gordon Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons). In 2006 the Regiment once again amalgamated, with The Royal Scots Borderers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Black Watch, and The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Seaforth Highlanders during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised a total of 17 Battalions during the course of the First World War. The 2nd Battalion was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and all service battalions fought in most theatres of operations, receiving 60 Battle Honours and 7 Victoria Crosses losing 8,830 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1918 Stationed at Agra, India as part of the Dehta Dun Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division.
Sept 1914 Mobilised for war and embarked for France arriving in Marseilles, and the formation renamed the 19th Indian Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division. The Division was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; the Battles of La Bassee, the First Battle of Messines, Armentieres and the Battle of Loos.
Dec 1915 Embarked to Mesopotamia and upon arrival the Division engaged in various actions against the Ottoman Empire including; The battles at the Sheikh Sa'ad, Wadi, Hanna, Dujailia, Sannaiyat, The fall of Kut, and The capture of Baghdad.
04.02.1916 Amalgamated with the Black Watch until 12.07.1916 due to heavy casualties received by both battalions.
Dec 1917 Moved to Egypt and Palestine and the Division was engaged in various actions including; The captured 'North and South Sister' Hills, The raid of 'Piffer Ridge' and The Battle of Megiddo.
Jan 1918 Ended the war in Palestine, Khan Abdi N.E. of Tripoli.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division, then move to Harrow.
22.08.1914 Mobilised for war as part of the BEF and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of Messines 1914.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The First Battle of Passchendaele.
During 1918
The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Advance in Flanders, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Fort George and then moved to Cromarty where it remained.

1/4th (Ross Highland) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dingwall, Scotland as part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division and then moved to Bedford.
07.11.1914 Mobilised for war leaving the Highland Division and landed at Havre and transferred to the Dehra Dun Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.
06.11.1915 Transferred to the137th Brigade of the 46th Division
13.11.1915 Transferred to the 46th Brigade of the 15th Division
07.01.1916 Transferred to the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division
During 1916
The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The capture and defence of Roeux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, Battles of the Marne, The Battle of the Scarpe, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Final Advance in Picardy.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Escaudoeuvres N.E. of Cambrai.

1/5th (The Sutherland & Caithness Highland) Battalion Territorial Force and 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/5th stationed at Golspie, Scotland and the 1/6th stationed at Elgin, Scotland. Both part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division and then moved to Bedford.
02.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France where the formation became the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division which engaged in various actions including;
During 1915
The Battle of Festubert, The Second Action of Givenchy
During 1916
The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The capture and defence of Roeux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, Battles of the Marne, Second Battles of Arras, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Iwuy N.E. of Cambrai.

2/4th (Ross Highland) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Dingwall, Scotland and then joined the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Fort George, then Blair Atholl and then Pitlochry.
Mar 1916 Moved to Norwich then Blickling Park, then Holt and then Cromer.
May 1917 Moved to Kelling and back to Cromer where it was disbanded.

2/5th (The Sutherland & Caithness Highland) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Golspie, Scotland and joined the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Fort George, then Blair Atholl and then Pitlochry.
Oct 1915 Absorbed by the 2/6th Battalion.

2/6th (Morayshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Elgin, Scotland and joined the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Fort George, then Blair Atholl and then Pitlochry.
Oct 1915 Absorbed the 2/5th Battalion.
Mar 1916 Moved to Norwich, then Blickling Park, then Holt and then Cromer.
May 1917 Moved to Kelling and back to Cromer where it was disbanded.

3/4th 3/5th 3/6th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 Formed and then moved to Ardersier, Nairn and then on to Ripon.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th 5th and 6th Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 The 4th absorbed the 5th and 6th as part of the Highland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force.
May 1918 Moved to Glencorse near Edinburgh where it remained.

7th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Fort George as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division and later moved to Bordon.
May 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The action of Welsh Ridge.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First and Second Battles of Kemmel, The Final Advance in Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Harlebeke north of Courtrai.

8th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Fort George as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division and later moved to Petersfield and then Chisledon and Tidworth.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
Defence during The Actions of Spring, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First and Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilckem, The Battle of Langemark.
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais, The Battles of the Marne 1918 and The Final Advance in Artois
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Huissignies south of Ath.

9th (Service) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Fort George and then moved to Aldershot to the 9th Division.
Early 1915 Became a Pioneer Battalion of the 9th Division and then moved to Franham.
10.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France where the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Third Battle of Ypres, The Cambrai operations.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First and Second Battles of Kemmel, The Final Advance in Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, near Harlebeke north of Courtrai.

10th (Reserve) Battlaion
28.10.1914 Formed as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) in Cromarty as part of the 101st Brigade in to original 34th Division.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion in the 9th Reserve Brigade.
May 1915 Moved to Tain and then Catterick.
April 1916 Moved to Dunfermline and became the 39th Training Reserve battalion.

1st Garrison Battalion
July 1916 Formed at Tillicoultry, Scotland.
Aug 1916 Moved to Salonika.
01.03.1917 Transferred to the 228th Brigade of the 28th Division.
30.09.1918 Ended the war in Macedonia near Doiran.

Seaforth Highlanders during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders

1st Battalion:
1942: The Battalion was involved the Burma Campaign and attached to the 23rd Indian Div.

2nd Battalion:
1940: The Battalion were part of the BEF and of the reconstituted 152 Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division
September 1944: It fought at Le Harve.
03 October 1944: The Battalion along with the 5th Battalion went to Best, Holland

4th Battalion:
1940: The Battalion was part of the BEF and of the 152 Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division.

5th Battalion:
The Battalion was nicknamed the 'Highway Decorators'. It was part of the reconstituted 152 Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division.
10/11 September 1944: Were along with the 5th Camerons, leading Battalions on the assault at Le Harve.
03 October 1944: The Battalion along with the 2nd Battalion went to Best, Holland

6th Battalion:
1940: The Battalion was sent to France as part of the BEF.
May 1940: It was involved in the Blitzkrieg.
01 June 1940: The remains of the Battalion were evacuated from Dunkirk.

7th Battalion:
26 June 1944: The Battalion in the 15th (Scottish) Division

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching Seaforth Highlanders

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Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving Seaforth Highlanders

"I am searching to find anyone who knew Joseph Gilchrist (I am his Grandaughter) during his time with the seaforth highlanders. I am trying to find out where he served and any war stories from this time. Grandad died in 1987 and no one in our family is able to pass on any information relating to his war years. Please contact me if you are able to help. Your assistance would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you."
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"This is a combination of the former museums of the Seaforth Highlanders, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and the Lovat Scouts. The museum owns a unique collection of regimental uniforms, medals (including mine!) pictures, weapons, colours, pipe banners and other items of interest. They include items from the Regular Army, Volunteers, Militia, TA and allied regiments. Housed in the Old Lieutenant Governor’s house at Fort George, which was extensively modernised during 1983-86, it has the..."
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"...demise .........The Argylls relieved the Black watch in Iraq, and were in turn relieved themselves when the Black watch returned for their second stint. I listed the disbanded regiments in my first post..........though I forgot to add the Seaforth Highlanders to my list.........apologies to all former Seaforths"
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"...Howland ( otherwise known as Mr. Pumpernickel) is famous in Germany for his radio broadcasts and many public appearances and he has asked me, as a close friend, to try and trace John Russell, son of Evelyn Russell, his step brother. He was in the Seaforth Highlanders, attended Fonthill School and later Blundells. If he is alive, he should be about 82 years of age. Please can anyone help. Thank you. Anne MacLeod Crisp "
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"...owe a huge debt to them all and to those who followed in their steps, their indomitable spirit still exists in the British forces today. My family moved to Scotland for a short period and while there an uncle of mine, whom I never met, joined the Seaforth Highlanders and went to France sadly he never came back, he was killed three weeks before the Armistice... aged 18. Below is the CWGC. information. The extension was made by the 51st (Highland) Division Burial Officer in November 1918. At..."
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Active From: 1881 - 1961

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