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Unit History: Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
The Regiment was first raised in the wake of the a Jacobite rebellion (1715), when James Stuart the son of the deposed James II raised the Scottish Clans in rebellion against King William III and attempted to retake the crown his father had lost in 1688.  The British government lacked the resources to keep a standing army in the Scottish Highlands to oversee the clans and ensure their loyalty.  Therefore six Companies were recruited in 1725 from the loyal and trustworthy highland clans of; Campbell, Grant, Fraser and Munro, to prevent inter-clan fighting, raiding and enforce the law.  The Regiment was initially known as the Regiment of the Line in 1739 but became the 43rd Highland Regiment of Foot in 1740 and renumbered the 42nd in 1742.  It was commonly called ‘The Black Watch’ possibly due to the dark regimental tartan worn.
 
In 1745 The Regiment went on its first foreign conflict in Flanders against the French during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) fighting at the Battle of Fontenoy.  However it soon returned to England when Bonnie Prince Charlie (the grandson of James II) landed in Scotland, again attempting to regain the lost crown to the Stuart family and incited the 1745 Jacobite Rising.  The Regiment remained in the south of Britain in anticipation of a French invasion, except one company which fought for the Hanoverian King George II at the Battle of Culloden and suffered no casualties.
 
The Regiment was involved in various conflicts throughout its history.  During the Seven Years War (1754–1763) it served in America fighting at the First and second battles of Ticonderoga (also known as Carillon).  The Regiment also saw action in the West Indies in the capture of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Havana during 1759.  It went onto serve during the American War of Independence (1775–1783) fighting at the Battles of Long Island, Harlem, Brandywine, Monmouth and the siege of Charleston.
 
During the next 15 years the Regiment was mainly in action against the French firstly, during the Egypt Campaign of 1801 fighting at the Battle of Alexandria, before serving in Peninsular War (1808-1814) and at the Battle of Waterloo (1815).  It was part of the Highland Brigade which served in the Crimean War (1853–1856) fighting at Cawnpore and Lucknow as well as in the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902).
 
In 1881 the 42nd was merged with the 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot as part of the Childers Reforms and renamed The Black Watch (Royal Highlands).  The Childers Reforms restructured the British army into a network of multi-battalion Regiments.
 
The 73rd was raised in 1780 when the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Regiment became independent, having been raised and disbanded twice since 1756.  It went on to serve in India fighting during the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1779–1784), the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789–1792), fighting at the Battle of Pondicherry in 1793 and in the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1805) not returning to Britain until 1808.  The Regiment then served for four years in New South Wales guarding convicts until 1814, when the Regiment moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and took part in the Second Kandyan War (1815) and suppressing the Uva Rebellion (1817–1818).  The Regiment gained enduring admiration in 1852, when it, along with the 74th of Foot, was shipwrecked on board HMS Birkenhead.  The Regiments paraded on deck while the women and children were put into the lifeboats.
 
The newly formed Regiment served in the African Conflicts; Tel-el-Kebir in 1882, El Teb and Tamai 1884 and the Nile Expedition (1884-5) and fighting at Kirbekan and Abu Klea 1885, and The Second Boer War (1899-1902) as well as two World Wars.  In 2006 the Regiment was further merged with The Royal Scots Borderers, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Highlanders, and The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Black Watch (Royal 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 25 battalions during the course of World War I, and mainly fought in France and Flanders, with the exception of the 2nd and 10th Battalions which fought in Mesopotamia, Palestine, and the Balkans. The Regiment was awarded 25 Battle Honours and 4 Victoria Crosses during the course of the war and lost 8,000 men.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Aldershot as part of the 1st Brigade in the 1st Division.
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Retreat from Mons, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, Battle of Givenchy.
During 1915
Winter Operations 1914-15, The Battle of Aubers, The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Second Battle of Passchendaele,
During 1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Fresnoy-le-Grand S.W. of Bohain.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Bareilly, India as part of the Bareilly Brigade of the Meerut Division.
21.09.1914 Mobilised for war and embarked for France at Karachi arriving in Marseilles by 12.10.1914 and engaged in various action on the Western front including; Battles of La Bassee, 1st Messines, Armentieres and Battle of Givenchy.
05.12.1915 Embarked for Mesopotamia from Marseilles arriving in Basra 31.12.1915, the formation renamed the 21st Indian Brigade of the 7th Indian Division and engaged in various against the Ottoman Empire including; The Battles of Sheikh Sa'ad, The Battles of Wadi, The Battles of Hanna, The Battles of Dujailia, The Battles of Sannaiyat and The the fall of Kut.
04.02.1916 Transferred to the 19th Brigade of the same Division and absorbed the 1st Seaforth Highlanders due to heavy casualties.
12.7.1916 Transferred back to the 21st Indian Brigade and participated in the capture of Baghdad in March 1917.
01.01.1918 Embarked for Palestine from Koweit arriving in Suez 13.01.1918 and engaged in various actions including; the captured of 'North and South Sister' Hills, raided 'Piffer Ridge' and the Battle of Megiddo.
31.10.1918 Ended the war in Palestine, Ras El Rados N.E. of Triopli.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Perth, Scotland then moved to Nigg, Ross-shire.
Nov 1917 Moved to Aghada, Ireland and then to Curragh in 1918.

1/4th (City of Dundee) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dundee as part of the Black Watch Brigade
Sept 1914 Moved to Buddon near Carnoustie.
26.02.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and joined the 21st Indian Brigade of the 7th Indian Division and engaged in various action on the Western Front including The Battle of Neuve Chapelle and Festubert.
06.11.1915 Transferred to the 139th Brigade of the 46th Division.
14.11.1915 Transferred to the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division.
07.01.1916 Transferred to the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division.
29.02.1916 Transferred to the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division.
15.03.1916 Amalgamated with the 1/5th Battalion to form the 4/5th Battalion and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The fighting on the Ancre, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre heights, The Battle of the Ancre.
During 1917
Third Battle of Ypres.
14.05.1918 The Battalion was reduced to company strength due to heavy losses and transferred to the 46th Brigade of the 15th Division and absorbed surplus personnel from the 9th Battalion.
05.06.1918 Transferred to the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Huissignies sourth of Ath.

1/5th (Angus and Dundee) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Arbroath as part of the Black Watch Brigade.
Aug 1914 Moved to the Tay Defences.
02.11.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and joined the 24th Brigade of the 8th Division and engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The action of Bois Grenier.
18.10.1915 Became a Pioneer Battalion.
06.01.1916 Transferred to the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division
29.02.1916 Transferred to the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division
15.03.1916 Amalgamated with the 1/4th to form the 4/5th Battalion.

1/6th (Perthshire) Battalion Territorial Force and 1/7th (Fife) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 The 1/6th stationed at Perth, Scotland as part of the Black Watch Brigade, and then moved to Queensfeery, Forth defences and then on to Tay defences.
04.08.1914 The 1/7th stationed at St. Andrews as part of the Black Watch Brigade and then Moved to Kinghorn, Forth defences.
16.04.1915 Both transferred to the 2nd Highland Brigade of the Highland Division.
02.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and the formation became the 153rd Brigade of the 51st Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front 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 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.
During 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 in France, Lwuy N.E. of Cambrai.

2/4th (City of Dundee) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Dundee and then moved to Tay defences.
Jan 1915 Moved to Roxburgh and joined the 2/1st Black Watch Brigade then moved to Perthshire.
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.

2/5th (Angus and Dundee) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Forfar.
Jan 1915 Moved to Roxburgh and joined the 2/1st Black Watch Brigade then moved to Clyde defences and then to Perthshire.
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.
Nov 1915 Absorbed by the 2/4th Battalion.

2/6th (Perthshire) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Perth, Scotland.
Jan 1915 Moved to Roxburgh and joined the 2/1st Black Watch Brigade then moved to Queensferry and then to Bridge of Earn.
Nov 1915 Transferred to the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Blargowrie.
Mar 1916 Moved to Norwich and Taverham then back to Norwich.
1917 Moved to North Walsham and then disbanded in Sept.

2/7th (Fife) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at St. Andrews.
Jan 1915 Moved to Roxburgh and joined the 2/1st Black Watch Brigade then moved to Kinghorn and then to Bridge of Earn.
Oct 1915 Transferred to the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Grangemouth.
Jan 1916 Moved to Milnathort and then Norwich and Taverham then back to Norwich.
1917 Moved to North Walsham and then disbanded April 1918.

3/4th 3/5th 3/6th and 3/7th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 The 3/4th and 3/5th formed at Dundee and Forfar.
April 1915 The 3/6th and 3/7th formed at Perth and St. Andrews.
Summer 1915 All moved to Bridge of Earn and then to Ripon.
08.04.1916 All became Reserve Battalions and were amalgamated into the 4th (Reserve) Battalion in the Highland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force and then moved to Edinburgh.

8th (Service) Battalion
21.08.1914 Formed at Perth, Scotland as part of the First New Army (K1) and moved to Aldershot to join the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division.
Sept 1914 Moved to Maida and then to Alton and in Bordon by Mar 1915.
10.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and 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 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 Advance in Flanders and The Battle of Courtrai.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Harlebeke north of Courtrai.

9th (Service) Battalion
13.09.1914 Formed at Perth, Scotland as part of the Second New Army (K2) and moved to Aldershot to join the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Chiseldon and then to Tidworth.
08.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The Actions of Spring 1916, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Le Transloy.
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilckem, The Battle of Langemark.
07.02.1918 Transferred to the 46th Brigade of the 15th Division and continued to engaged in actions including; The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras.
19.05.1918 Reduced to training cadre and surplus personnel transferred to the 4/5th Battalion.
21.05.1918 Transferred to the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division.
17.06.1918 Transferred to the 16th Division and embarked for England from Boulogne.
19.06.1918 Absorbed the 15th Battalion and reconstituted at Deal, Kent.
02.07.1918 Moved to Aldershot and transferred to the 47th Brigade of the 16th Division.
28.07.1918 returned to france and landed at Boulogne and the Division was once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, near Rumes S.W. of Tournai.

10th (Service) Battalion
13.09.1914 Formed at Perth, Scotland as part of the Third New Army (K3) and moved to Codford St. Mary to join the 77th Brigade of the 26th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Bristol and then to Sutton Veny.
20.09.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western front.
Nov 1915 Embarked for Salonika arriving 24.11.1915 to aid Serbia against the Bulgarian forces and were involved in various actions including;
During 1916
The Battle of Horseshoe Hill.
During 1917
The Battles of Doiran.
July 1918 Returned to France leaving the 26th Division and landing at Taranto by 07.07.1918.
21.07.1918 Joined the 197th Brigade of the 66th Division to defend the Lines of Communication.
15.10.1918 Disbanded at Haudricourt and the remaining personnel transferred to the 1st 6th and 14th Battalions.

11th (Service) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Nigg, Ross-shire as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 101st Brigade in the original 43th Division.
10.04.1915 Became a second Reserve Battalion and then moved to Tain to join the 9th Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1915 Moved to Catterick and then Dunfermline.
01.09.1916 Became the 38th Training Reserve Battalion in the 9th Reserve Brigade.

12th (Labour) Battalion
May 1916 Formed at Blairgowrie.
End June Mobilised for war and landed in France.
May 1917 Became the 5th and 6th Labour Company of the Labour Corps.

13th (Scottish Horse Yeomanry) Battalion
01.10.1916 Formed from the 1st 2nd and 3rd Scottish Horse (all dismounted) at Abbassia, Egypt.
21.10.1916 Moved to Salonika and transferred to the 81st Brigade of the 27th Division to aid Serbia against the Bulgarian forces and were involved in various actions including;
During 1916
The battle of Tumbitza Farm
During 1917
The capture of Homondos
June 1918 Moved to France arriving at Forges les Eaux on 24.06.1918
15.07.1918 Transferred to the 149th Brigade of the 50th Division at Martin Eglise and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Semousies north of Avesnes.

14th (Fife and Forfar Yeomanry) Battalion
21.12.1916 Formed from the dismounted yeomanry Regiment at Moascar, Egypt and joined the 229th brigade of the 74th Division and were engaged in various actions against the Ottoman Empire including;
During 1917
The Second and Third Battles of Gaza, The Capture of Beersheba and Sheria, The capture of Jerusalem, The Defence of Jerusalem.
During 1918
The Battle of Tell'Asur.
May 1918 Moved to France landing at Marseilles in 07.05.1918 after training engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Second Battles of the Somme, The Battles of the Hindenburg Line and The Final Advance in Artois and Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, east of Tournai.

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Black Watch (Highlanders)

1st Battalion:
September 1939 - June 1940: France
June 1942 - December 1942: North Africa
15 Jan 1943 - April 1943: North Africa
May 1943 - October 1943: Sicily
06 Jun 1944 - May 1945: D-Day

September 1939: The 1st battalion was stationed in Dover. They became attached to 51st Highland Division
January 1940: It arrived in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and under command of Gen. Victor Fortune. They took up positions on the Maginot Line.
13 May 1940: Heavy action began on the Maginot Line. They managed to hold the position and also took German prisoners.
28th May 1940: They were involved in action alongside the French Armoured Division to attempt to break down the arranged. The fog that night closed in making it impossible for the navy to take off the troops.
12 June 1940: 1st Battalion went into captivity. Gen. Fortune, realised that further fighting would be useless and surrendered his division to Gen. Rommel. No more than thirty members of the old 1st Battalion were available so they
were reformed in the UK around a nucleus provided by the 9th Scottish Division., it was joined by the 5th and 7th Battalions which had not yet gone overseas.

June 1942: Sailed to Egypt
August 1942: It arrived via the Cape of Good Hope, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
23 October1942: The Battle of Alamein at 09:40hrs opened with a huge artillery barrage. All three Battalions advanced close behind through minefields, riffle and machine gun fire and barbed wire.
24 October 1942: By day break their first objectives had been reached but not without heavy casualties.
3 November 1942: The 1st Battalion attached to 154 Brigade with the 7th Battalion was withdrawn from the front. They became part of the force following the retreating Germans beyond Benghazi and Tobruk.
8 December 1942: The 1st Battalion along with the 7th Battalion were at the village of Mersa Brega. Objective was to circle around the village and cut the road off the other side. There were many casualties from the mines laid down by the Germans to cover their retreat but the operation was completed.
15 January 1943: Its next close contact with the enemy was at Buerat.
17 January 1943: They made a quick advance to Tripoli in order to secure another port to receive supplies, as supply line at Benghazi became under threat due to severe weather conditions.
February 1943: They had contact with the Germans near Medenine.
6 March 1943: The 1st Battalion came under attack and was very close to being overrun but the Germans decided to withdraw that night.
23 March 1943: The 1st Battalion was amongst units which took over from 50th Division on the south side of the Wadi, ready to attack.
26 March 1943: The Germans had withdrawn and the following day the Battalion along with other troops marched into the town, Gabes.

May 1943: The battalion was moved to Djidjelli in Algeria to be trained in amphibious landings.
10 July 1943: They landed just west of Pachino Point on the coast of Sicily.
8 September 1943: The Battalion crossed to the Italian mainland.
October 1943: They were shipped back to the UK.

After its return to the UK the battalion remained there in training for the invasion of France.
9 June 1944: The 1st Battalion sailed from Tilbury to Normandy.
19 June 1944: They came under heavy enemy shell and mortar fire in the (Wood) Bois de Bavent and suffered many casualties.
July 1944: The battalion was engaged at different times and ways in the great push north to help the Americans close the Falaise Gap.
2 Sept 1944: They were back in St Valéry.
8 February 1945: It was one of the battalions leading the attack into Germany through the Reichswald. It was almost in continuous action over the next few weeks.
March (early) 1945: It was pulled out of the line to train for the crossing of the Rhine.
22 March 1945: The crossing of the Rhine was the last major engagement for the Battalion before VE-day.

2nd Battalion:
September 1939 - October 1941: Palestine, East Africa, Crete and Syria
19 Oct 1941 - 02 Jan 1942: Tobruk
February 1942 - 19 Aug 1944: India and Burma

September 1939: The 2nd Battalion was in Palestine on anti-terrorist duties.
3 May 1940: It was moved to positions along the Suez Canal.
July 1940: The battalion moved to Aden.
6 August 1940: Then on to Berbera in British Somaliland.
By the 10 August 1940: A few miles south of Berbera the Battalion had taken up positions at Laferug.
12 August 1940: It took up position at a pass in the Barkasan Hills.
17 August 1940: Battalion’s first sight of the Italians. The enemy failed to dislodge the Battalion’s position and withdrew to Laferug. That evening Battalion was ordered return to Berbera where it was shipped to Egypt.
19 November 1940: Up until now Battalion had been in Cairo for approximantly two months. The Battalion landed at Suda Bay at the extreme western end of Crete.
March 1941: It moved to Heraklion.
20 May 1941: The Battalion was defending the small airfield just to the east of Heraklion and first came under severe airbourne attack launched by the Germans.
28 May 1941: Finally resistance to airbourne attacks became impossible for the Battalion. During the night evacuation had been organised by the Royal Navy and to carry them to the safety of Alexandria. He following day they came under air attack and both ships that had and were carrying men from the Battalion had direct hits.
12 August 1941: Battalion arrived at Damascus expected to be sent into action against the Vichy French position high up on the Jebel Mazar.
14 August 1941: An armistice was agreed between the British and Vichy French commanders and the battalion spent the next two months training and enjoying relaxation near the small town of Zahle in the Bekaa.

22 October 1941: Battalion sailed to Toburk
29 October 1941: It relieved the 2nd/4th Australian Battalions.
7 October 1941: Battalion was withdrawn to reserve and shortly told that it was to play a leading part in the sortie planned to coincide with the 8th Army’s great offensive from Egypt

21 October 1941: The objective was captured but not without great loss of the Battalion who had set off that morning, out of 32 Officers only 8 survived and from 600 men only 60 survived.

18 November 1941: Operation Crusader On 18 November 1941, the British launched Operation Crusader against the Axis positions in Africa. The plan was to bring the armour of the German Afrika Korps to battle and to beat it in open warfare with the now superior strength of Eighth Army, and to relieve the isolated British garrison at Tobruk. Initially meeting with disaster, the British redoubled their efforts, fought through to Tobruk, and pushed back Rommel’s Afrika Korps

2 January 1942: Remainder of the Battalion sailed back to Egypt.

February 1942: Battalion went to Bombay as part of 70th Division. There over the next 19 months were on security duties.
September 1943: Battalion in the same Division converted into the ‘Chindits’ under the command of Gen. Wingate. It involved splitting up the normal formation of the Battalion into two raiding columns so as to penetrate behind Japanese lines in Burma. They were numbered 73 and 42.
October 1943: Training in this new role started in the Central Provinces of India.
21 March 1944: From then and over the following four days they were both flown in from Lalaghat to Meza Valley (landing strip called Aberdeen)
6 April 1944: Its first serious action involved an ambush of three trucks carrying Japanese. This proved successful.
10 April 1944: Its next engagement was a successful raid carried out on a Japanese dump. It was supported by air attacks made by the Americans.
6 May 1944: It carried out a further successful ambush and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese.
8 May 1944: An even larger ambush was set up when it was discovered that the enemy hugely outnumbered the Battalion. This was a long battle which great numbers of Japanese were killed and wounded.
26 May 1945: Battalion on foot and in the most horrendous monsoon conditions reached the top of Kyusunlai Pass. The Japanese frequently set up raids, some would last for days
22 June 1945: They moved further north up the Pass in appalling conditions. Casualties were caused by short engagements with Japanese. Then over the next few weeks many more casualties were from sickness and fatigue.
6 August 1945: A full scale attack to drive out the Japanese from a strongly held village. Although under strength the Battalions attack was successful.
19 August 1945: The remainder of the Battalion was flown back to Assam.

4th Battalion
January 1940 - January 1942: France and Gibraltar.

January 1940: The Battalion arrived in France with the 51st Highland Division.
13 May 1940: The 4th Battalion was on the left flank of the 1st Battalion when the Germans opened their full scale attack on the Maginot Line. After this it then went to the area between the mouth of the River Somme and Dieppe, where it held the village of Valines against the enemy. It was ordered back across the river Bresle. It managed to hold a position for a day and a half then ordered to withdraw to form part of Ark Force they were to prepare to defend Le Havre, as from here it was hoped to evacuate the division. Unfortunately it was soon realised that Battalion and Division was unable to reach Le Havre. They were ordered to destroy its equipment as much as possible.
13 June 1940: Ark Force set sail to Cherbourg to prepare another defensive position. Shortly after then, the French had decided to ask the Germans for an armistice and it was evacuated to Southampton. July 1940: The battalion was on the way to Gibraltar. It stayed there for two and a half years
January 1943: It returned to the UK for the rest of the war.

5th Battalion:
June 1942 - 09 Apr 1943: North Africa
May 1943 - October 1943: Sicily
06 Jun 1944 - May 1945: D-Day etc’

After the capture of the 51st Highland Division at St Valéry in June 1940, it was decided to reconstitute it in the UK around a nucleus provided by the 9th Scottish Division. Less than thirty members of the old 1st Battalion were available, but it was rebuilt and joined by the 5th and 7th Battalions which had not yet gone overseas.

June 1942 - 23 October 1942: Record same as 1st and 7th Battalion.
3 November 1942: The 5th Battalion in 153 Brigade was withdrawn from the front. They became part of the force following the retreating Germans beyond Benghazi and Tobruk.
15 January 1943: It was involved in an attack on Buerat.
Mid February 1943: The next close contact came near Medenine when the battalion was again in exchange of information with the 51st Division.
6 March 1943: The Germans attacked. (1st & 7th had caught up by now.) The 1st Battalion was nearly overrun but despite this the enemy decided to withdraw. The 5th Battalion then captured some high ground overlooking the next hurdle on the road to Mareth, Wadi Zigzaou which 50th Division were to attack. This attack failed, but later once again the Germans withdrew. The next, on the route to Tunis, ahead approximately 15 miles or so, between the coast and Roumana Ridge was Wadi Akarit.
6 April 1943: The battalion helped 152 Brigade to take the southern end of the ridge which proved to be successful. Although the attack by 154 Brigade failed to take the northern end, the Germans again decided to withdraw.
9 April: It entered the town of Sfax. This was the battalion’s last action in North Africa.

May 1943: The battalion was moved to Djidjelli in Algeria to be trained in amphibious landings.
10 July 1943: They landed just west of Pachino Point on the coast of Sicily.
14 July 1943: It found Germans in possession of Francafonte and Vizzini. Vizzini is perched on top of a hill and there was no way to get round it. The Battalion was successful in driving the enemy out of the town by night fall. Next the Battalion advanced across the Catanian Plain towards Paterna.
18 July 1943: The battalion crossed the river Dittaino during the night to attack the village of Sferro near Paterna. Unable to take the village, they had to lie up between it and the river throughout the next day. This was constantly under shell-fire. The next night The Gordon Highlanders managed to take the village but the front then became static.
22 July 1943: The 5th Battalion along with the Gordon Highlanders were relieved by 1st and 7th BlackWatch.
August 1943: The battalion was involved in some minor conflicts during the subsequent push to Messina.
8 September 1943: The battalion with the 51st Division, crossed to the mainland of Italy.
Late October 1943: It was on its way back to the UK.

After its return to the UK the battalion remained there in training for the invasion of France.
6 June 1944, D-Day: The 5th Battalion was the first of the Black Watch units to land in Normandy. It landed on Juno Beach just after 20:00hrs.
8 June 1944: The 5th Battalion was engaged in a short but intense battle at the Château de Bréville. Some men were captured and shot in cold blood by the Germans.
Early July: It attempted unsuccessfully to take Colombelles a village on the outskirts of Caen. Casualties were high. (Caen finally fell on 11 July.)
31 August 1944: Expected to be part of the battle of Le Havre, the battalion crossed the Seine. However, Le Harve fell after very little resistance.
8-21 February 1945: The battalion was involved in some fighting to force crossings of the River Maas in Holland. The Germans opened the sluice gates higher up eventually forcing them to withdraw to higher land. It followed the 1st and 7th battalions shortly after they had led the attack into Germany itself through the Reichswald.
For the next few weeks it was in almost continuous action, steadily gaining ground against Germans who inflicted many casualties with their artillery.
22 March 1945: At 21:00hrs the Battalion crossed the Rhine. This took place a few miles downstream from Rees. It came under severe shellingand there were some fierce battles to follow in taking the small towns, Rees in particular where the battalion was involved in house to house fighting.
30 March 1945: The battalion had some rest after the Guards’ Armoured Division passed through the bridgeheads and had made secure. There were further fights to come, in particular 20 miles or so from of Bremen, before VE-day.

6th Battalion
January 1940 - 01 Jun 1940: France
15 Mar 1943 - 28 Apr 1943: Tunisia
May 1943 - December 1943: Tunisia
06 Mar 1944 - May 1944: Italy
04 May 1944 - 31 May 1944: Cassino
05 Jun 1944 - 31 Jun 1944: Cassino to Florence
O5 September 1944 - November 1944: Last battles in Italy
December 1944 - 18 Jun 1946: Greece

January 1940: The 6th Battalion went to France as part of the 51st Highland Division. Not long after this, was transferred to 12 Brigade of the 4th Division.
13 May 1940: It moved forward into Belgium on.
15 May 1940: It dug in on the Seine canal six miles north of Brussels to hold a bridgehead for the withdrawal of the 3rd Division from Louvain.
17 May 1940: Battalion endured heavy shelling.
27 May 1940: Had orders to hold the line of the canal between Bousbecque and Warneton to the south west of Menin. At this point the Germans were outflanking their opponents on every front and the Battalion became part of the retreat to Dunkirk. Survivors of the Battalion were successfully evacuated to England. The Battalion then reformed in the Isle of Wight as front line defence against opposing German invasion.
December 1940: The battalion apart of the 12 Brigade of the 4th Division moved from the Isle of Wight to the mainland and after was moved to areas of Newbury, Stockbridge and Camberley in England, and of Hawick and Selkirk in Scotland.

15 March 1943: The Battalion sailed from Liverpool.
23 March 1943: It disembarked at Algiers and moved up to near the front at Beja.
10 April 1943: The 6th battalion took over a position from the Royal Irish Fusiliers in the 78 Division and moved that night further forward to occupy a line of hills called Djebel Rme.
12 April1943: During the day rearrangement of the company positions was attempted and heavy casualties were suffered from shelling throughout the day.
19 April 1943: Battalion relieved by American troops.
20 April 1943: The battalion moved to the area of Medjez-el-Bab ready to follow through a brigade attack on an important road junction on the road from there to Tunis called ‘Peter’s Corner’.
23 April 1943: This attack failed to budge the Germans and the battalion as a result was held up on ‘Banana Ridge’.
25 April 1943: The Battalion renewed the attack on Sidi Mediene with bayonet and after three hours successfully gained possession.
28 April 1943: The Battalion successfully with bayonet charges to beat off a counter attack on Sidi Abdullah. The position was then bombed from the air and attacked with infantry and tanks by the enemy, forcing the Battalion to withdraw.
30 April/1 May 1943: During the night The Battalion was withdrawn from Sidi Mediene.
5 May 1943: Before taking part in the final phase of the war in Tunisia the Battalion were in great need of reinforcements from the Royal Berkshire regiment. Suffering only light casualties during action at north of ‘Peter’s Corner’.

9/10 May 1943: During the night, it eventually formed part of a motorised dash across the base of Cap Bon, reaching before dawn the small town of Korba on the east coast. They set up road block just south of the town behind a hill. The Germans and Italians on retreat from the 8th Army had no idea that the British were already at the Town and Battalion were able to capture mainly Italians.
11 May 1943: In the evening an Italian officer arrived from the north with a flag of truce. After a few days of relaxation by the sea
13 May 1943: In the morning all enemy resistance in Tunisia came to an end. The Battalion had a few days of relaxation by the sea before it was sent south between Sousse and Sfax for a couple of weeks to act as guards on temporary prisoner of war cages. Several months later Battalion sailed to Egypt.
December 1943: The Battalion engaged in two months’ training in amphibious landings
6 March 1944: The Battalion arrived at Naples by ship. The Italians had joined the Allies by now
10 March 1944: In snow it was holding part of the front line 3000 ft up on Monte Ornito, 15 miles south of Cassino. Supplies were difficult to get up the mountain. Mules were used for the first part then porters had to carry everything. The Germans positions were not far away on the other side of the crest but the strategic idea was to for the present keep that part of the front quiet. However, the battalion suffered a few casualties in patrols and from occasional enemy shelling.
18th December 1944: That night it was relieved.
30 March 1944: The Battalion was sent to relieve a French unit holding the line to the east of Cassino overlooking the Secco River. The battalion was overlooked by enemy positions and all movement had to be made after dark. The Germans indulged in only light and sporadic shelling.

1/2 April 1944: The battalion was relieved and was put to practicing river crossings with tanks. By now the town of Cassino and the monastery on top of its hill had been reduced to ruins by allied bombing. Attempts to breach the German defensive line, centred on Cassino, had failed and with heavy losses. The Germans on the monastery hill could at night observe all activity below, so movement in the town was possible.
22 April 1944: Relieving the Coldstream Guards, the battalion took on its place in the town. Battalion headquarters was installed in the crypt of the ruined cathedral, with a rear HQ being held about a mile back. There were occasional bouts of enemy shelling.

4/5 May 1944: The battalion was taken out of the Cassino area during the night.
13 May 1944: It was back in action the second wave of the final big offensive to break through the German defences. There was a thick mist that morning when the Battalion crossed the River Rapido south of Cassino and began an advance behind a ‘creeping’ barrage. By noon its first objectives had been secured (1500 yards or so ahead)
14 May 1944: At dawn it began the advance towards the next objective, a small hill 900 yards or so ahead. Unfortunately the advance became badly disorganised caused by another thick mist developing which was made worse by the smoke screen the supporting artillery put down. When the mist lifted it was discovered that the enemy forward positions had been penetrated, and the battalion came under strong counter attacks until darkness fell, suffering fairly heavy casualties.
15 & 16 May 1944: Under heavy shelling the position continued to be held.
17 May 1944: Early morning the Germans were pulling back and the advance was continued to cut Route 6, the main road out of Cassino towards Rome. The following day Cassino town fell to 10th Brigade. The Battalion continued westwards towards Aquino airport and often coming under fire from enemy held positions on higher ground to the north.
20 May 1944: Battalion was relieved by a unit of the 4th Indian Division and pulled back through Cassino town to billets in the villages of Faiccho and Goioa where it stayed for the last ten days of May.

05 June 1944: Made its way to Florence. Initially direct contact with the enemy was small as they chose to withdraw rather than fight. It was needless to say hard work on foot through very hilly, wooded country. The Battalion received help from an escaping South African PoW who knew the area well and stayed with the Battalion for two days as a guide.
29 June 1944: In the area west of Lake Trasimeno it met with strong German resistance.
July 1944: It had seven changes of CO as one after another was wounded. At the end of the month, before the advance north continued was a brief period of respite for the Battalion and provided a guard of honour for a visit by King George at Monte San Savino. The advance involved the battalion in a hard battle to drive the Germans from the 2000 feet high Monte Scalari ten miles or so south of Florence - code name ‘Corbett’.
28 July 1944: The attack began, that night a series of three strong counter attacks were endured.
31 July 1944: The Battalion was withdrawn as the enemy finally gave up. The whole brigade were sent back to Foligno, south east of Assisi and Perugia and once there it rested for four weeks, then reorganisation to absorb reinforcements

05 September 1944: The Battalion moved north during the night to join the attempt to break through the German ‘Gothic Line’ in the area between the mountains and Rimini on the east coast.
14 September 1944: The first objective was a ridge of hills west of the small town of Coriano and south west of Riccione, overlooking the River Marano. It began at 6.30am. Despite being up against a strong opposition, was successful.
17 September 1944: The battalion moved a couple of miles further on to take another position.
20 October 1944: On the road from Rimini to Bologna the battalion became involved in some house to house fighting on the outskirts of the town Cesena.
07 November 1944: Battalion moved forward along the main road to the outskirts of Forli to join those who were already arrived.
10 November 1944: It was met by on the far side Strong opposition was met on the far side and a full battalion attack was mounted involving fierce fighting. For the next three days it continued to advance its way forward, again with more house-to-house fighting, and then was allowed back into the town for a rest. This turned out to be the last battle fought in Italy.

December 1944: From Forli the battalion was sent to Taranto in southern Italy.
15 December 1944: The battalion disembarked in Faliron Bay and moved inland to occupy positions amongst coastal villas. The battalion was part of the force advancing along the main road into Athens. The ELAS forces didn’t wear uniforms, and a lot of the civilians were either forced or voluntary supporters. It was a slow and dangerous task clearing the houses. Some ELAS snipers would infiltrate back during the night into houses cleared during the day, and became a serious problem.
By the end of December 1944: The Division had cleared a route into the centre of Athens. The battalion’s task was then to clear areas to the west and north and helping the civilians with relief supplies and ‘soup kitchens’.
11 January 1945: The battalion began moving north out of Athens.
14 January 1945: A political truce signed in Athens and was to come into force during this night. ELAS forces were to start withdrawing behind an agreed line to the north. For the remainder of that winter the battalion was engaged in providing armed escorts taking relief supplies of food and medicine to snow bound villages up in the mountains of central Greece. It later was posted as garrison troops.
After VJ-Day, 15 August 1945: Home leaves and releases from military service began
18 June 1946: eventually while in Athens, the Battalion became disbanded.
Only two officers and 15 other ranks of those who had sailed with the battalion in March 1943 were still on strength at disbandment.

7th Battalion:
June 1942 - December 1942: North Africa
January 1943 - April 1943: North Africa. Record the same as 1st Battalion.
May 1943 - October 1943: Sicily. Record the same as 1st Battalion.
June 1944 – D-Day - May 1945. Record the same as 1st Battalion.

After the capture of the 51st Highland Division at St Valéry in June 1940 no more than thirty members of the old 1st Battalion were available so they were reformed in the UK around a nucleus provided by the 9th Scottish Division., it was joined by the 5th and 7th Battalions which had not yet gone overseas.

June 1942: Sailed to Egypt
August 1942: Arrived via the Cape of Good Hope, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
23 October1942: The Battle of Alamein at 09:40hrs opened with a huge artillery barrage. All three Battalions advanced close behind through minefields, riffle and machine gun fire and barbed wire.
24 October 1942: By day break their first objectives had been reached but not without heavy casualties.
3 November 1942: The 1st Battalion attached to 154 Brigade with the 7th Battalion was withdrawn from the front. They became part of the force following the retreating Germans beyond Benghazi and Tobruk.
8 December 1942: The 7th Battalion along with the 1st Battalion were at the village of Mersa Brega. Objective was to circle around the village and cut the road off the other side. There were many casualties from the mines laid down by the Germans to cover their retreat but the operation was completed.

8th, 9th and 10th Battalions
All three territorial battalions didn’t serve overseas apart from 8th and 9th Battalion in 1941.

November 1939: The 9th Battalion was formed for Home Service only from volunteers who had previously served in the forces. The ages were between 45 and 55.
1940: It then included a Young Soldiers Company consisting of volunteers under call-up age. Its duties after Dunkirk were the protection of airfields etc’.
August 1941: The 9th was amalgamated with the 8th (Training) Battalion and those in the combined battalion were later sent as reinforcements to the 6th Battalion in North Africa and also other units.
1940: The 10th battalion was raised and was part of the Orkney and Shetland Defence Force before moving to the mainland (in northern England but mainly in Scotland) as a training battalion to prepare for overseas reinforcements if needed.


Memories of Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) in

Written by Marina Vivian Copeland

My Father Pte. William Benjamin Wiltshire Joined the Black Watch Highland Light Infantry i n the early 1930s - in 1930 he was stationed in Bombay, his reg. no 744911 - 2nd Highland Light Infantry. Special att. setion.

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), in 1987

Written by TERENCE MICHAEL DEAN

MEETING A GREAT LADY. THE QUEEN MUM.
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Active From: 1881 - 2006

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