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Unit History: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 through the amalgamation of the 91st and 93rd Regiments of Foot but its history can be traced back nearly a hundred years earlier.
 
The 91st Regiment was officially formed in 1793 by John Campbell 5th Duke of Argyll.  However it had been formed and disbanded three times prior to this date from 1759.  The Regiment was initially numbered as the 98th Argyllshire Highlanders but was renumbered as the 91st in 1798.  The Regiment was first in action in South Africa to capture the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch and remained garrisoned there for 7 years.  In 1808 the Regiment was deployed to Portugal and acted as a rear guard action against Napoleon’s Army during the evacuation of Corunna which signalled the start of the Peninsular War.  The 91st was then deployed on the unsuccessful Walcheren Campaign before returning to Spain to fight at the Battles of Vittoria, Sorauren, Nivelle and Bayonne as well as at the Battle of Toulouse which ended the Peninsular war in 1814.
 
In 1871 Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter Princess Louise married John Campbell, Marques of Lorne, and the Duke of Argyll's heir.  The 91st provided the Guard of Honour at the wedding and in 1872 Princess Louise became their Colonel-in-Chief. In recognition of this the Regiment was renamed the 'Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders'.  The Regiment then moved to Inverness on its first Scottish tour of duty in 80 years before returning to South Africa during the Zulu Wars 1879.
 
The 93rd was first raised in 1799 by Major-General William Wemyss for his cousin the 16-year old Countess of Sutherland, Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower.  Men were recruited to the Regiment through a highly original form of conscription.  General Wemyss lined up the young men of each parish and invited them to drink from a large silver bound horn, having drunk his dram it was understood he consented to join the Regiment.  The only objections came from the parents and the Countess was able to reconcile these by granting more advantageous land leases.  In 1808 the 93rd felt the need for a ‘Kirk Session’; an ecclesiastical court composed of a minister and elders subject to the Presbytery Church.  The soldiers elected the members and paid for a minister from their own pockets.
 
In 1814 the 93rd embarked for the Americas in an ill fated attempt to capture New Orleans.  On the 23rd Dec 1814 the American forces made a stand behind the well fortified Rodriguez Canal.  The 93rd were able to push to the centre of the ditch but without ladders were unable to advance further and with no orders to retreat remained in position, slowly being cut down by the American line.  Finally the surviving General Lambert gave the order to retreat and the 93rd fell back with parade-ground precision leaving three-quarters of their original strength behind.  This laid the foundation for a reputation of discipline and courage.  Ironically due to a lack of communication neither side was aware that a peace deal had been signed two weeks before the battle.  In 1854 the Regiment gained the nickname ‘The Thin Red Line’ at the Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War, when they were the only thing that stood between the undefended British base and the 25,000 strong Russian Cavalry.  This great feat of arms is still recognized today by the plain red and white dicing worn on the cap band.
 
The Regiments were amalgamated in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms which restructured the British army into a network of multi-battalion Regiments and became the Princess Louise's Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.  The Regiment went on to serve in South Africa, Ceylon, Hong Kong and the Boer War as well as two World Wars.  After the threat of disbandment in 1970 was overcome the Regiment was amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2004, along with The Royal Scots Borderers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Black Watch and The Highlanders.

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during WW1

The Regiment raised a total of 16 Battalions and was awarded 68 Battle Honours, 6 Victoria Crosses and lost 6,900 men during the course of the First World War.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dinapore, India.
19.10.1914 Embarked for England from Bombay arriving at Plymouth 19.11.1914 and then moved to Winchester to join the 81st Brigade of the 27th Division.
20.12.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The action of St Eloi, The Second Battle of Ypres.
27.11.1915 Embarked for Macedonia from Marseilles arriving at Salonika 12.12.1915 and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The capture of Karajakois, The capture of Yenikoi, The battle of Tumbitza Farm.
1917
The capture of Homondos.
1918
The capture of the Roche Noir Salient, The passage of the Vardar River and The pursuit to the Strumica valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war at Izlis N.W. of Doiran, Macedonia.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Fort George, Scotland
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and moved to defend the Lines of Communication.
22.08.1914 Joined the 19th Brigade at Valenciennes.
12.10.1914 The 19th Brigade attached to the 6th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
31.05.1915 The 19th Brigade attached to the 27th Division.
19.08.1915 The 19th Brigade attached to the 2nd Division to replace the 4th Guards Brigade.
25.11.1915 Transferred to the 98th Brigade of the 33rd Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The attacks on High Wood, The capture of Boritska and Dewdrop Trenches.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The actions on the Hindenburg Line, Operations on the Flanders coast (Operation Hush), The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood.
1918
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bailleul, The defence of Neuve Eglise, The First Battle for Kemmel Ridge, The fighting for and recapture of Ridge Wood, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Sassegnies S.W. Of Aulnoye, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Stirling and then moved to Woolwich.
May 1915 Moved to Edinburgh.
Mar 1917 Moved to Dreghorn, North Ayrshire and then Ireland stationed at Kinsale as part of the 25th Reserve Brigade.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Paisley and then moved to Devonport, Plymouth and then moved to Sunderland.
Feb 1915 Moved back to Plymouth and then Edinburgh
July 1918 Moved to Dunbar, in East Lothian.

1/5th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Greenock as part of the Black Watch Brigade on the Scottish Coast Defences.
24.04.1915 Moved to Dunfermline and transferred to the Highland Light Infantry Brigade of the Lowland Division.
11.05.1915 The formation became the 157th Brigade of the 52nd Division.
01.06.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Devonport, Plymouth via Alexandria
01.07.1915 Arrived at Mudros
03.07.1915 Landed at Cape Helles and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
Attacks at Gully Ravine, Achi Baba Nullah, Krithia Nullahs and The evacuation of Helles.
08.01.1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
Feb 1916 Deployed to Egypt took over Suez Canal defences.
11.04.1918 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles 17.04.1918.
28.06.1918 Transferred to the 103rd Brigade of the 34th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the Soissonais and of the Ourcq, The capture of Baigneux Ridge, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem, The action of Tieghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Halluin, France.

1/6th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Paisley as part of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Brigade of the Highland Division.
Aug 1914 Moved to Bedford.
15.04.1915 Transferred to the 1st Highland Brigade.
May 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
12.05.1915 Formation became the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front;
1915
The Battle of Festubert, The Second Action of Givenchy.
12.06.1916 Transferred to the 5th Division as a Pioneer Battalion and then Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The Battle of Vimy, The Attack on La Coulotte, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Oppy Wood, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Dec 1917 Deployed to Italy to stiffen Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto. The Division was positioned along the River Piave. until late January 1918.
April 1918 Returned to France
1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, Defence of Nieppe Forest, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
05.10.1918 Transferred to the 153rd Brigade of the 51st Division
11.11.1918 Ended the war near Houdain north of Cambrai, France.

1/7th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Stirling as part of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Brigade of the Highland Division.
Aug 1914 Moved to Bedford.
Dec 1914 Mobilised for war landed in France leaving the Highland Division.
06.01.1915 Transferred to the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of Messines 1914.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres.
27.05.1915 Amalgamated with the 1/9th Battalion.
20.07.1915 Resumed its identity.
01.03.1916 Transferred to the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division;
1916
The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The capture and defence of Roeux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The tank attack, The capture of Bourlon Wood, The German counter attacks,
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of the Tardenois, The Battle of the Scarpe, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war north of Cambrai, France.

1/8th (The Argyllshire) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dunoon, Argyll as part of the s part of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Brigade of the Highland Division and then moved to Bedford.
15.04.1915 Transferred to the 1st Highland Brigade.
May 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
12.05.1915 The formation became the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
The Battle of Festubert, The Second Action of Givenchy.
1916
The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The capture and defence of Roeux, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The tank attack, The capture of Bourlon Wood, The German counter attacks,.
07.02.1918 Transferred to the 183rd Brigade of the 61st Division.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune.
01.06.1918 Transferred to the 45th Brigade of the 15th Division absorbing surplus personnel from the 11th Battalion.
The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonais, The attack on Buzancy, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended that war south of Leuze, Belgium.

1/9th (The Dumbartonshire) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dumbarton as part of the s part of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Brigade of the Highland Division and then moved to Bedford.
Early 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France leaving the Highland Division.
23.02.1915 Transferred to the 81st Brigade of the 27th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The action of St Eloi, The Second Battle of Ypres
21.05.1915 Transferred to the 4th Division and amalgamated with the 1/7th Battalion.
20.07.1915 Resumed identity and transferred to the VI Corps Troops.
27.02.1916 Moved to Base and used to supply drafts.

2/5th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Greenock, Inverclyde.
30.11.1915 Absorbed by the 2/8th Battalion as part of the 193rd brigade of the 64th Division.

2/6th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Paisley and then moved to Falkirk as part of the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
Autumn 1915 Moved to Forfarshire.
08.11.1915 Became the No. 10 Battalion.
Mar 1916 Resumed identity and moved to Norwich.
April 1917 Moved to Taverham and then Norwich.
Mar 1918 Left the 64th Division.
13.03.1918 Disbanded.

2/7th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Stirling and then moved to Falkirk to join the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
Autumn 1915 Moved to Forfarshire.
08.11.1915 Became the No. 11 Battalion.
Mar 1916 Resumed identity and moved to Norwich.
April 1917 Moved to Taverham and then Norwich.
Autumn 1917 Disbanded.

2/8th (Argyllshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Dunoon, Argyll and then moved to Falkirk as part of the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
Autumn 1915 Moved to Forfarshire.
08.11.1915 Became the No. 9 Battalion.
30.11.1915 Adsorbed the 2/5th Battalion.
Mar 1916 Resumed identity and moved to Norwich and then Sheringham.
April 1917 Moved to Taverham and then Norwich.
Early 1918 Left the 64th Division.
19.07.1918 Disbanded.

2/9th (The Dumbartonshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Dumbartonshire and then moved to Falkirk as part of the 193rd Brigade of the 64th Division.
Autumn 1915 Moved to Forfarshire.
08.11.1915 Became the No. 12 Battalion.
Mar 1916 Resumed identity and moved to Norwich.
April 1917 Moved to Taverham and then Norwich.
Oct 1917 Disbanded.

3/5th 3/6th 3/7th 3/8th & 3/9th Battalion Territorial Force
April 1915 Formed at home stations and then moved to Ripon.
08.04.1916 Became the 5th 6th 7th 8th & 9th Reserve Battalion.
01.09.1916 The 5th absorbed the rest as part of the Highland Reserve Brigade.
May 1918 Moved to Galashiels where it remained.

10th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Stirling as part of the First New Army (K1) joining the 27th Brigade of the 9th Division
Nov 1914 Moved to Alresford, Essex.
Feb 1915 Moved to Bramshott, Hampshire.
11.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
06.05.1916 Transferred to the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
The Battle of Loos
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The action of Welsh Ridge.
17.02.1918 Transferred to the 97th Brigade of the 32nd Division and continued to engage in various actions including;
1918
The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war near Avesnes, France.

11th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Stirling as part of the Second New Army (K2) joining the 45th Brigade of the 15th Division and then moved to Bramshott, Hampshire.
Feb 1915 Moved to Basingstoke and then Chisledon, Wiltshire.
09.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Loos
1916
German gas attacks near Hulluch, The defence of the Kink position, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilckem, The Battle of Langemark.
09.06.1918 Reduced to training cadre as part of the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division, with the surplus personnel transferred to the 1/8th Battalion.
30.07.1918 Transferred to the X Corps Reinforcement Battalion.
26.08.1918 Disbanded in France.

12th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Stirling as part of the Third New Army (K3) joining the 77th Brigade of the 26th Division and then moved to Codford St. Mary and then on to Bristol.
Feb 1915 Moved to Sutton Veny, Salisbury Plain.
Sept 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
Nov 1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The Battle of Horseshoe Hill.
1917
The Battles of Doiran.
1918
The Battle of Doiran, The Pursuit to the Strumica Valley.
30.09.1918 Ended the war near Strumica north-west of Lake Doiran, Macedonia.

13th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Blackheath as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) and joined the 106th Brigade of the 35th Division
Jan 1915 Moved to White City, London.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd reserve battalion and moved to Dorking and then Tain.
Oct 1915 moved to Richmond as part of the 9th Reserve Brigade.
June 1916 Moved to Dunfermline.
01.09.1916 became the 41st Training Reserve Battalion.

14th (Service) Battalion
1915 Formed and then moved to Plymouth.
Sept 1915 Moved to Witley and joined the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division.
23.02.1916 Moved to Blackdown and transferred to the 120th Brigade of the 40th Division.
June 1916 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March), The capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich, Beaucamp and La Vacquerie, The Cambrai Operations.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck.
07.04.1918 Reduced to cadre and transferred to the 90th Brigade of the 30th Division and surplus personnel of 24 Officers and 296 men transferred to drafts.
15.06.1918 Transferred to the 14th Division and crossed to England, stationed at Cowshot, Perbright.
18.06.1918 Reconstituted by absorbing the 17th Battalion and joined the 42nd Brigade of the 14th Division.
04.07.1918 Returned to France landing at Boulogne and once again engaged in actions including;
The Battle of Ypres 1918 and the final advance in Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war Evregnies east of Roubaia, Belgium.

15th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1915 formed at Gailes as a service battalion and then moved to Montrose.
June 1916 Moved to Lanark.
01.09.1916 Absorbed into the Training Reserve Battalions of the 9th Training Reserve Brigade at Dunfermline.

16th Battalion Territorial Force
01.01.1917 Formed at Sandwich from the 3rd Provisional Battalion of the 221st Brigade.

17th Battalion
01.06.1918 Formed at Deal.
18.06.1918 Absorbed into the 14th Battalion at Cowshot, Hampshire.

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during WW2

There were nine Argyll and Sutherland battalions raised during the Second World War.

The 1st Battalion fought in the Western Desert Campaign, Crete, Abyssinia, Sicily and in the Italian Campaign. The first action for the 1st Battalion was at Sidi Barani where they joined the battle on 10 December 1940 as part of the 16th Brigade. On 17 May 1941 the battalion moved to Crete where they formed part of the defence based on the east side of the island at Tymbaki. Most of the Argylls marched from Tymbaki to the airfield at Heraklion on the night of 24 May to help support the 14th Infantry Brigade in the fighting at that airfield. They were successfully evacuated on 29 May from Heraklion but their convoy suffered air attacks and many casualties on the route away from Crete. The Argylls left at Tymbaki were captured when the island surrendered. The 1st Battalion was shipped to Alexandria and after garrison duties followed by a raid into the Gondar region of Abyssinia, they were sent back to the Western Desert where they were eventually attached to the 10th Indian Infantry Division and fought at the Battle of El Alamein. The 1st Battalion landed on Sicily during Operation Husky in 1943 and fought throughout the Italian Campaign with firstly the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and then the 8th Indian Infantry Division.

The 2nd Battalion fought valiantly against the Japanese Army during the fighting in Malaya and Singapore (See Battle of Bukit Timah). Led by the tough Lieut. Col. Ian Stewart they were one of the very few British units that was prepared for the jungle warfare in Malaya. In the months before the invasion of southern Thailand and Malaya in 1941, Stewart took his battalion into the harshest terrain he could find and developed tactics to fight effectively in those areas. This training that the 2nd Argylls went through would make them arguably the most effective unit in General Percival's Malayan Command, earning them the nickname 'the jungle beasts'.[1]

During the withdrawal of the Indian 11th Infantry Division the 2nd Argylls slowed the enemy advance and inflicted heavy casualties on them. After suffering massive losses themselves, due to being continuously used as the buffer to protect the retreating army (especially at the Battle of Slim River), the remaining Argylls were reinforced with Royal Marines who had survived the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in December 1941 changing their name to Plymouth Argylls (in reference to the Argylls affiliation to the Plymouth Argyle Football team and that all the Marines were from the Plymouth Division). The battalion surrendered with the rest of General Percival's army in Singapore in February 1942. Many Argylls died in captivity as P.O.W's or in the jungle trying to avoid capture. Two Argyll soldiers even managed to avoid capture throughout the war in Northern Malaya, where they had remained since the Battle of Slim River. Only 22 of the Plymouth Marines (out of 210) and 52 Argylls reached Ceylon.

A few Argylls managed to escape to India, including Lt.Col.Stewart, where they lectured on Jungle warfare tactics. After this the evacuees became part of No.6 GHQ Training Team which organized training exercises and lectures for the 14th Indian Infantry Division and British 2nd Infantry Division.[2]

In May 1942 the 15th Battalion was redesignated as the new 2nd Battalion. This battalion took part in the Normandy battles with the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division and ended the war on the Elbe River.

In March 1942, two British privates of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Macfarlane and Goldie, escaped from Stalag IX-C at Bad Sulza in Thuringia. They jemmied their way out of their barrack hut wearing their blue work detail overalls over their battledress. These were boldly marked 'KG' (Kriegsgefangener, prisoner of war) on the back in red.

Throughout their escape bid, both men wore 40 lb rucksacks that concealed the markings and which they never took off in public. One of them later recalled, 'We attracted a certain amount of attention on the road because of our large packs but we made a point of keeping ourselves clean and shaven and also cleaned our boots regularly. No one stopped us on the way.'

After enduring a week in a salt wagon bound for Belgium, the two men made contact with an escape line there and, by mid-summer, they were safely back in Scotland.

After the war, in 1948, the two regular battalions were merged into one, forming a single-battalion regiment.
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