Unit History: Tyneside Scottish
The Tyneside Scottish Brigade was a British First World War infantry brigade of Kitchener’s Army, raised in 1914. Officially numbered the 102nd (Tyneside Scottish) Brigade, it contained four Pals battalions from Newcastle-on-Tyne. Another Newcastle brigade — the 103rd (Tyneside Irish) — contained Tynesiders with Irish connections.
While the Tyneside Irish battalions were indeed largely made up of men of Irish extraction, the Tyneside Scottish battalions contained as little as 25% Scots; the remainder were Geordies attracted to the glamour of a "Scottish" regiment. An application for a full kilted uniform was rejected however the Tyneside Scottish wore a Glengarry hat and each battalion was allowed to maintain a pipes and drums band. The brigade’s four battalions were known as the 1st to 4th Tyneside Scottish. When taken over by the British Army, these became battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
1st Tyneside Scottish (20th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers)
2nd Tyneside Scottish (21st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers)
3rd Tyneside Scottish (22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers)
4th Tyneside Scottish (23rd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers)
Along with the 101st and 103rd (Tyneside Irish) Brigades, the Tyneside Scottish Brigade made up the 34th Division which arrived in France in January 1916. Prior to departure the battalions were granted home leave, two battalions at a time. The first pair of battalions were granted six days, the second pair only four days. By mutual agreement the men of the second pair of battalions agreed to take the six days of leave they felt was their due and all failed to return at the appointed time. This massed mutiny went largely unpunished.
The Tyneside Scottish first saw action in the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme, the brigade attacked astride the Albert-Bapaume road, roughly in the centre of the British line opposite the fortified village of La Boisselle. It was up this road that the anticipated cavalry exploitation would be made. The importance of this sector meant that it was particularly well defended so to support the attack two large mines were detonated on either side of La Boisselle, the Y Sap mine to the north and the Lochnagar mine to the south.
When the attack commenced at 7.30am, the Tyneside Scottish battalions were played into battle by their pipers. South of the road, in front of La Boisselle on a sector known as "The Glory Hole", no man’s land was extremely narrow. Here the Tyneside Scottish managed to cross the first German trench line but were halted with heavy casualties short of the village.
North of the road, the Tyneside Scottish had to advance up the wide killing ground of Mash Valley where no man’s land was up to 750 yards wide and the advancing infantry were enfiladed from Ovillers to the north and La Boisselle to the south. Some men managed to cross the valley to the rear of La Boisselle but they were soon driven out and the survivors were forced to retreat.
By the end of the day, the Tyneside Scottish were back where they started. The brigade suffered the worst losses of any brigade on 1 July (the Tyneside Irish Brigade had the next worst tally of casualties). The 4th Tyneside Scottish battalion lost 629 men (19 officers and 610 other ranks), the third worst battalion loss of the day. The 1st Tyneside Scottish lost 584 men and the 3rd Tyneside Scottish lost 537 men. All four battalion commanders were killed (the 2nd Tyneside Scottish’s commander had been killed shortly before the battle).
The brigade’s losses on 1 July were so severe that on 6 July it, along with the Tyneside Irish Brigade, was transferred to the 37th Division, swapping with the 111th Brigade. The two brigades returned to the 34th Division on 22 August.
In February 1918 the 1st and 2nd Tyneside Scottish battalions were disbanded. The 3rd Tyneside Scottish transferred to the 48th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division (United Kingdom), while the 4th Tyneside Scottish transferred to the 116th Brigade, 39th Division, where it was joined by the 2nd Tyneside Irish, the sole surviving Tyneside Irish battalion. From then on the Tyneside Scottish Brigade ceased to exist and the brigade was simply the 102nd Brigade.
As of 2004, the Tyneside Scottish title is maintained by the 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery, 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment, Royal Artillery (Volunteers)