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Unit History: Gordon Highlanders

Gordon Highlanders
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when two Scottish Regiments the 75th and 92nd were amalgamated during the Childers Reforms however; the Regiment can trace its history further back nearly 100 years prior to this.
 
The 75th was formed in 1787 for service in the Far East, by Robert Abecromby, and as was the tradition at the time, named after their Colonel as the Abercromby's Highlanders.  They first served in India, fighting for the East India Company at Seringapatam and Mysore against the Kingdom of Mysore during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1798–1799).  The Regiment was station in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars, served in South Africa during the Kaffir Wars, protecting Dutch and English settlers from the aggressive native tribes north of Cape Town, and during The Indian Rebellion of 1857.  In 1862 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles in order to aid recruitment therefore the 75th became The Regiment was renamed The 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment.
 
The 92nd Regiment of Foot was first raised by Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon in 1794 as the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment went on to serve during The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) fighting at The Battle of Alkmaar (1799) against the French and Batavian Republics, the Battle of Mandora and the Battle of Alexandria.  The Regiment fought at the Battle of Corunna before participating in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign, after which only 300 of the 1,000 men remained fit for service mainly due to Walcheren fever (thought to be a combination of malaria and typhus).  From 1810 the 92nd fought in the remainder of the Peninsular War as well as at the Battle of Waterloo (1815).  The Regiment was posted to Jamaica for 8 years from 1819 and then on garrison duties in various counties including Scotland, Ireland, Barbados, the Ionian Islands and Gibraltar.  It also served during the Crimean War but saw no major action and then during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 returning to England in 1863 for the first time in 17 years.
 
In 1881 these two Regiments were merged as part of the Childers Reforms and became the Gordon Highlanders.  The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments.  The reorganization created a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions except in Ireland were two regular and three militia battalions became the standard.  The newly formed Regiment went on to serve in various foreign campaigns including; The Relief of the Chitral Expedition 1895 while stationed in India and at The Battle of Elandslaagte during The Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) and two World Wars.
 
In 1994, the Regiment was merged with Queens Own Highlanders to become ‘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.

Gordon 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 21 battalions and was awarded 57 battle honours, 4 Victoria Crosses and lost 8,870 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Plymouth as part of the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division.
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat and The Battle of Le Cateau.
12.09.1914 Due to heavy losses after the Battle of Le Cateau the Battalion moved to Army Troops.
30.09.1914 Returned to the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division and was once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre.
19.10.1915 Transferred to the 76th Brigade of the 3rd Division and continued to be engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1917
The First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Cambrai.
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, La Longueville east of Bavai.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Station in Cairo, Egypt at the outbreak of war.
13.09.1914 Embarked for the U.K. from Alexandria arriving at Southampton and then moved to the New Forest to join the 20st Brigade of the 7th Division.
07.10.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Zeebrugge.
1914
The First Battle of Ypres
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The Battle of Festubert, The second action of Givenchy, The Battle of Loos.
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin and the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, Operations on the Ancre.
During 1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Nov 1917 Moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance.
04.11.1918 Ended the war in Italy, east of the River Tagiamento.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Aberdeen at the outbreak of war where it remained. Provided drafts of 800 Officers and 20,000 men during the course of the war.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Aberdeen as part of the Gordon Brigade of the Highland Division then moved to Bedford.
Feb 1915 Left the Highland Division and mobilised for war landing at Havre.
27.02.1915 Joined the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The First Attack on Bellewaarde, The Actions of Hooge, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
10.10.1915 Transferred to the 76th Brigade of the 3rd Division.
23.02.1916 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 Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The capture of Bourlon Wood, part of the Cambrai Operations.
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, Final Advance in Picardy.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Cambrai.

1/5th (Buchan and Formartin) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Peterhead as part of the Gordon Brigade of the Highland Division then moved to Bedford.
April 1915 became the 2nd Highland Brigade
03.05.1915 Mobilised for and landed at Boulogne where 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 and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The capture of Bourlon Wood, part of the Cambrai Operations.
01.06.1918 Transferred to the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais, Final Advance in Artois.
08.06.1918 absorbed surplus personnel of the 8th and 10th Battalions.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Chievres south of Ath.

1/6th (Banff and Donside) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Keith, Scotland as part of the Gordon Brigade of the Highland Division then moved to Bedford.
Nov 1914 Left the Highland Division and mobilised for war landing at Havre.
05.12.1914 Transferred to the 20th Brigade of the 7th Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
Dec 1914 This Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.
During 1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The Battle of Festubert, The second action of Givenchy, The Battle of Loos.
05.01.1916 Moved to defend the lines of Communication.
01.06.1916 Transferred to the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division and engaged in further actions on the Western Front including;
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, The capture of Bourlon Wood, part of the Cambrai Operations.
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, a phase of the Second Battles of Arras 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, and the Final Advance in Picardy.
06.10.1918 Amalgamated with the 1/7th Battalion.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Thun l’Eveque north of Cambrai.

1/7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Banchory, Aberdeenshire as part of the Gordon Brigade of the Highland Division then moved to Bedford.
April 1915 became the 2nd Highland Brigade
03.05.1915 Mobilised for and landed at Boulogne where 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 and Second Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The capture of Bourlon Wood, part of the Cambrai Operations.
01.06.1918 Transferred to the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais, Final Advance in Artois.
05.10.1918 amalgamated with the 1/6th Battalion.

The Shetland Companies Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Lerwick as part of the Gordon Brigade of the Highland Division.
Due to limited information;
Initially guarding Wireless and Cable installations in Shetlands.
June 1915 mobilised for war and landed in France to join the 51st Division, probably attached to a Gordon Highlanders Battalion in the 153rd Brigade.
End of 1916 Absorbed into the 4th (?) Battalion, due to heavy losses at the battles of the Somme.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Aberdeen.
Jan 1915 Joined the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Perthshire.
Nov 1915 Absorbed into the 2/5th Battalion.

2/5th (Buchan and Formartin) Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Peterhead.
Jan 1915 Joined the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Perthshire.
Nov 1915 Absorbed the 2/4th Battalion and became No. 5 Battalion until Jan 1916.
Mar 1916 Moved to Norwich and then Witton Hall, Walsham.
Early 1918 Left the 64th Division and later disbanded.

2/6th (Banff and Donside) Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Keith and joined the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Perthshire.
Nov 1915 Absorbed by the 2/7th battalion.

2/7th (Deeside Highland) Battalion Territorial Force
Oct 1914 Formed at Banchory.
Jan 1915 Joined the 192nd Brigade of the 64th Division and moved to Perthshire.
Nov 1915 Absorbed the 2/6th Battalion and became the No. 6 Battalion until Jan 1916.
Mar 1916 Moved to Norwich and then Witton Hall, Walsham.
Early 1918 Left the 64th Division and later disbanded.

3/4th 3/5th 3/6th and 3/7th Battalion
Feb 1915 The 3/4th formed.
May 1915 The rest of the Battalions formed.
Nov 1915 Moved to Ripon.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th 5th 6th and 7th Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 The 4th absorbed the 5th 6th and 7th as part of the Highland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force.
Feb 1918 Moved to Edinburgh and then Kilmarnock where it remained.

8th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Aberdeen as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Bordon.
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.
07.05.1916 Transferred to the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division and amalgamated with the 10th Battalion to form the 8th / 10th Battalion and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 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.
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais.
06.06.1918 Reduced to training cadre and then the surplus personnel absorbed by the 1/5th battalion. The cadre transferred to the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division and later disbanded.

8th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)
Aug 1914 Formed at Aberdeen as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Halemere.
12.01.1915 Became Pioneer Battalion of the 15th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Perham Down and then to Andover.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 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.
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, south of Ath.

10th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Aberdeen as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Midhurst and then Chisledon and then Tidworth.
July 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
11.05.1916 Amalgamated with the 8th Battalion to form the 8th / 10th Battalion.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) at Aberdeen.
10.04.1915 Became a reserve battalion and moved to Dornoch.
Oct 1915 Moved to Catterick to join the 9th Reserve Brigade.
June 1916 Moved to the Bridge of Allan and then became the 42nd Training Reserve Battalion in the 9th Training Reserve Brigade.

1st Garrison Battalion
1916 Formed and known as the 12th Battalion.
Oct 1916 at Blairgowrie.
Jan 1917 Moved to India.

51st (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Cromer from the 202nd Graduated Battalion (previously the 38th Training Reserve Battalion from the 11th Black Watch). Then joined the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division.
April 1918 Moved to Thetford where it remained.

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Canterbury from the 286th Graduated Battalion (previously the 40th Training Reserve Battalion from the 8th Cameron Highlanders). Then joined the 202nd Brigade of the 67th Division.
April 1918 Moved to Colchester where it remained.

53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Tillicoultry from the 42nd Training Battalion (previously the 11th Gordon Highlanders). Then joined the Lowland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force.

Gordon Highlanders during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Gordon Highlanders

1st & 5th Battalions:
1940: The Battalion along with the 5thBn, were with the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division during the Battle for France when they were trapped and had to surrender at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux.
August 1940: Both 5th & 1st Battalions were quickly reformed along with the same division and fought with distinction in North Africa and Sicily.
06 June 1944: They returned to North West Europe on D-Day, and fought their way, along with the 2nd Battalion, from Normandy, through France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
April 1945: Victory in Germany.

2nd Battalion:
The Battalion was based in Malaya as part of the Singapore garrison
February 1942: It fought in the battle for Singapore.
15 February 1942: It surrendered along with 130,000 other British Commonwealth soldiers. The battalion suffered more casualties as Prisoners of War in Japanese captivity than they did during the fighting on Singapore Island and mainland Malaysia.
May 1942: It was reformed from personnel of the 11th Battalion and fought with the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division.
06 June 1944: Battalion fought its way, along with the 1st & 5th Battalions, from Normandy, through France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
April 1945: Victory in Germany.

4th (City of Aberdeen) Battalion:
1940: Having moved forward into Belgium, the 4th Battalion along with the 6th Bn were obliged to fall back on Dunkirk where they were finally evacuated to England.
01 November 1941: The Battalion was converted to an Artillery Regiment, becoming the 92nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, as part of the 9th Armoured Division. During the war the Battalion saw no active service.

The 6th (Banffshire) Battalion:
1939: The Battalion was part of 153rd Infantry Brigade, 51st Highland Division.
1940: It joined the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. Having moved forward into Belgium along with the 4th Bn were obliged to fall back on Dunkirk where they were finally evacuated to England.
The Battalion fought through the North African and Italian Campaigns
1945: It was in Palestine on garrison duty before the end of the war.

The 7th (Mar and Mearns) Battalion:
Throughout the war the Battalion served with the second formation of the 51st Highland Division.

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

The 9th (Donside) Battalion:
The Battalion (originally part of the 9th (Highland) Infantry Division along with the 11th Battalion) were initially posted to the Shetland Islands.
28 May 1942: On their arrival in India for training, the battalion was converted to an armoured regiment and designated 116th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.
Later was sent on to Burma.
February 1945: It was now part of 255th Indian Tank Brigade and was heavily involved in the battle of Meiktila, Burma.
April 1945: Battalion was involved in the dash for Rangoon.

Memories of Gordon Highlanders

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Gordon Highlanders, in 1964

Written by peter elliott

Borneo Story. In november 1964 we were posted to 30 Signal Regt in Blandford and 536 signal Troop was born. After a period of familiarisation, training and Equiping we were on the move. In December 1965 we arrived at Redford Cavalry Barracks in Edinburgh , where we Joined the 1st Bn, The Gordon Highlanders. Our first thoughts were that the jocks of the regiment were very unfriendly and didn't appreciate us being there but this was a big mistake on our part. During the next couple of weeks of training, bonding and sampling the Haggis and chips , and the pints of heavy we began to realise that what we had mistaken for unfriendliness was infact pride of their Regimental family. One thing that played a big part in our lives was the sound of the bagpipes . they were played [at what seemed to be] every opportunity . from the moment we opened our eyes. After a few weeks they became part of our everyday lives and it was a bit compariable to learning Morse code . It had to drive you a bit crazy before you began to like it . We don't think we are alone in saying that even to this day when the pipes or pipes and drums are heard , a lump comes to our throat and a distinct swagger in our step takes place. On a cold january morning we bussed to Turnhouse Airport and flew by Caledonian Airways to jesselton [ Kota Kinabalu ] in Sabah or what was called North Borneo. Following a long truck journey over bumpy dirt tracks We arrived at Paradise Camp which was to be our home and training camp for two monthsThere was a few first's experienced by the Gordon Highlanders . They were the first Battalion to do a complete years tour in Borneo whereas other unit's did a three or six month rotation. they were the first Infantry Regiment [ non Royal Marine Commando ] unit to deploy by helicopter from HMS Albion, a Commando Carrier , direct to their actve field positions, transferring with the Commando's,in our case being at Tawau in North Borneo. 536 Signal Troop consisted of Fred McMillan [ troop sgt ] , Pete Lavelle [ op ] ,Pete Elliott [ op ] ,Jim Cook [ R tech ] , Jim Hardwick [ R tech ] , Paddy Mooney [op ] , Jock Urquart [ op ] , Bill Morse [ op ] and Brian Green [ ED ].The Troop Provided HF Rear Link communications to JCU Labuan using Larkspur C11 transceivers and forward communications to the Battalion by Larspur C42 and C45 VHF transceivers . Operational and Technical support was provided at platoon level, who used A40 and A41 VHF transceivers . It is of note that some of these transceivers were initially supplied incomplete and the VHF Transmitters not suitable for dense jungle Comms. Thus a stock of 62 Sets and A510 HF Tx's were supplied from WW2 and Malaysian Emergency pools. Our time in Borneo was not all Doom and Gloom. We had time to create quite a few lasting memories.For a time we had a pet spider in the control room [ believed to be a Bird eating spider ] but unfortunately someone threw a book at it and scored a direct hit. Another occasion happened when i [ Pete ] got into bed and felt a lump under my pillow . it turned out to be a coiled up snake . I was out of that bed so fast even Linford would have been proud of me .we were all very aware of unpopular insect's and other creepy crawlies. hence the mosquito nets and boot's turned upside down on sticks. etc. Our fears obviously lead to a few pranks played by one and all . Occasionally a few of us would buy a case of Tiger beer and take it too the local Kampong . To get there involved walking around and between the Rice Fields that were situated on the outskirts of the jungle [ ulu ]. The narrow banked up earth between the fields were used as footpaths and while walking along there was the occasional black Bootlace snake crossing from one field to another. Once past the fields we entered the ulu and a short distance in, there was a clearing with an Eban village consisting of three or four quite long houses on stilt's. the head-man would greet us and invite us into his house. We would exchange the tiger beer for their infamous local brew which was Rice Wine. The wine is fermented in Bamboo sections and hung up in the tree's. Before drinking the wine a substantial amount of large ant's had to be scooped out. How we ever drunk the wine is beyond belief. A few of us have to admit to not remembering the return journey. Taking part in border patrol's were few and far between for our signal troop but even they had their memorable event's. One such time was that we were on the outward patrol when a noise was heard up front so we took evasive action [ dived into the bushes ] only to find a wild pig come sauntering past. when we reached the sandbagged dugout on the border, complete with it's residential snake [ they kept the rats down ] the required action took place. This consisted of firing a few mortar shell's over the border [ normally night and morning ] just to make our presence known . They retaliated during the night and we got quite adept at rolling off the bed and straight underneath it . We did play an active part in other way's, for instance we designed a control box for the claymore mines that were placed around the perimeter fences. It was a simple control made from ammunition boxes using a series of switches wired together with a master switch so that anyone of the mines could be detonated at any given time .[simple but it worked ]. various aerials were designed and tested in and out of the ulu. After six months we had well earned our R and R break . some of us going to Singapore and others to Jessleton. We then transferred to Brunei where we took Twin Pioneer Aircraft to our new home in the Central Highlands called Bario.At Bario we supported the RAF Radar Station and did a bit of guarding the poor RAF guy's . Some of our air supplies were dropped in the marshes at the end of the runway. we hope you enjoyed our brief but true story. Pete Elliott and Jim Cook...

Gordon Highlanders, Borneo. in 1965

Written by Peter Elliott

Borneo Story. In november 1964 we were posted to 30 Signal Regt in Blandford and 536 signal Troop was born. After a period of familiarisation, training and Equiping we were on the move. In December 1965 we arrived at Redford Cavalry Barracks in Edinburgh , where we Joined the 1st Bn, The Gordon Highlanders. Our first thoughts were that the jocks of the regiment were very unfriendly and didn’t appreciate us being there but this was a big mistake on our part. During the next couple of weeks of training, bonding and sampling the Haggis and chips , and the pints of heavy we began to realise that what we had mistaken for unfriendliness was infact pride of their Regimental family. One thing that played a big part in our lives was the sound of the bagpipes . they were played [at what seemed to be] every opportunity . from the moment we opened our eyes. After a few weeks they became part of our everyday lives and it was a bit compariable to learning Morse code . It had to drive you a bit crazy before you began to like it . We don’t think we are alone in saying that even to this day when the pipes or pipes and drums are heard , a lump comes to our throat and a distinct swagger in our step takes place. On a cold january morning we bussed to Turnhouse Airport and flew by Caledonian Airways to jesselton [ Kota Kinabalu ] in Sabah or what was called North Borneo. Following a long truck journey over bumpy dirt tracks We arrived at Paradise Camp which was to be our home and training camp for two monthsThere was a few first’s experienced by the Gordon Highlanders . They were the first Battalion to do a complete years tour in Borneo whereas other unit’s did a three or six month rotation. they were the first Infantry Regiment [ non Royal Marine Commando ] unit to deploy by helicopter from HMS Albion, a Commando Carrier , direct to their actve field positions, transferring with the Commando’s,in our case being at Tawau in North Borneo. 536 Signal Troop consisted of Fred McMillan [ troop sgt ] , Pete Lavelle [ op ] ,Pete Elliott [ op ] ,Jim Cook [ R tech ] , Jim Hardwick [ R tech ] , Paddy Mooney [op ] , Jock Urquart [ op ] , Bill Morse [ op ] and Brian Green [ ED ].The Troop Provided HF Rear Link communications to JCU Labuan using Larkspur C11 transceivers and forward communications to the Battalion by Larspur C42 and C45 VHF transceivers . Operational and Technical support was provided at platoon level, who used A40 and A41 VHF transceivers . It is of note that some of these transceivers were initially supplied incomplete and the VHF Transmitters not suitable for dense jungle Comms. Thus a stock of 62 Sets and A510 HF Tx’s were supplied from WW2 and Malaysian Emergency pools. Our time in Borneo was not all Doom and Gloom. We had time to create quite a few lasting memories.For a time we had a pet spider in the control room [ believed to be a Bird eating spider ] but unfortunately someone threw a book at it and scored a direct hit. Another occasion happened when i [ Pete ] got into bed and felt a lump under my pillow . it turned out to be a coiled up snake . I was out of that bed so fast even Linford would have been proud of me .we were all very aware of unpopular insect’s and other creepy crawlies. hence the mosquito nets and boot’s turned upside down on sticks. etc. Our fears obviously lead to a few pranks played by one and all . Occasionally a few of us would buy a case of Tiger beer and take it too the local Kampong . To get there involved walking around and between the Rice Fields that were situated on the outskirts of the jungle [ ulu ]. The narrow banked up earth between the fields were used as footpaths and while walking along there was the occasional black Bootlace snake crossing from one field to another. Once past the fields we entered the ulu and a short distance in, there was a clearing with an Eban village consisting of three or four quite long houses on stilt’s. the head-man would greet us and invite us into his house. We would exchange the tiger beer for their infamous local brew which was Rice Wine. The wine is fermented in Bamboo sections and hung up in the tree’s. Before drinking the wine a substantial amount of large ant’s had to be scooped out. How we ever drunk the wine is beyond belief. A few of us have to admit to not remembering the return journey. Taking part in border patrol’s were few and far between for our signal troop but even they had their memorable event’s. One such time was that we were on the outward patrol when a noise was heard up front so we took evasive action [ dived into the bushes ] only to find a wild pig come sauntering past. when we reached the sandbagged dugout on the border, complete with it’s residential snake [ they kept the rats down ] the required action took place. This consisted of firing a few mortar shell’s over the border [ normally night and morning ] just to make our presence known . They retaliated during the night and we got quite adept at rolling off the bed and straight underneath it . We did play an active part in other way’s, for instance we designed a control box for the claymore mines that were placed around the perimeter fences. It was a simple control made from ammunition boxes using a series of switches wired together with a master switch so that anyone of the mines could be detonated at any given time .[simple but it worked ]. various aerials were designed and tested in and out of the ulu. After six months we had well earned our R and R break . some of us going to Singapore and others to Jessleton. We then transferred to Brunei where we took Twin Pioneer Aircraft to our new home in the Central Highlands called Bario.At Bario we supported the RAF Radar Station and did a bit of guarding the poor RAF guy’s . Some of our air supplies were dropped in the marshes at the end of the runway. we hope you enjoyed our brief but true story. Pete Elliott and Jim Cook...
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Battles / Campaigns

Festubert (1915) WW1

The 2nd and 1/6th battalion Gordon Highlanders were involved in this battle (First British Army (Haig),7th (Meerut)Division)

Battle:
Forming part of French Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre's Artois Offensive in the spring of 1915 - his second large-scale infantry assault following the Champagne Offensive in December 1914 - the Battle of Festubert, in the Ypres Salient, was fought by the Allies (British, Canadian and Indian troops) against the Germans from 15-27 May 1915. The assault was planned along a three mile front, the attack would take the form of a pincer attack with two assault frontages: a northern one along the Rue du Bois near Port Arthur and Richebourg 'Avoue, and a southern one at Festubert and would initially be made mainly by Indian troops. This would be the first British army night attack of the war.

The Festubert attack was launched by the First British Army under Sir Douglas Haig in response to pressure applied to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) by Joffre, and was the BEF's second attack during the offensive, following an assault upon Neuve Chapelle four days earlier on 9 May.

Preceded by a four day artillery bombardment by over 400 guns firing 100,000 shells, the attack around the village of Festubert was launched at night on 15 May by two divisions of mostly Indian infantry, and made rapid initial progress, despite the failure of the preliminary bombardment to effectively destroy the German Sixth Army front line defences (under Crown Prince Rupprecht). Under attack, the Germans retreated to a line directly in front of the village.

A further assault upon these lines, by Canadian troops, was begun on 18 May, but was unsuccessful in the face of German artillery fire. In heavy rain some Allied troops began to prepare trenches to consolidate the small gains made thus far. During that same evening the German front line received a further injection of reserves.

Renewed attacks by the Allied forces between, 20-24 May resulted in the capture of Festubert village itself, a position held until the German advance of spring 1918. Despite having captured Festubert however, the Allied forces had advanced less than a kilometre; consequently the attack was ended on 27 May, with the British having suffered some 16,000 casualties during the action.
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Active From: 1881 - 1994

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