Friday, 6 May 2011

The 1/6th Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers get a new Commanding Officer - On this day in Scottish Military History - 1916

It's not the man who took over the 1/6th Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers ninety five years ago today which this post is about. It's the man who handed over command on this day we are interested in.

6th May 1916 saw Lieutenant Colonel Winston Spencer Churchill being recalled to London and bidding farewell to his territorial battalion.

When the battalion had been told that the architect of the Dardanelles debacle was to be their commanding officer in January 1916 they were not overjoyed. Churchill was a bit deflated too. He had hoped for a battlion of a Guards regiment, not a Scottish Territorial unit.

Churchill wasn't going to let it bother him for long and he threw himself into his new appointment with all the energy and enthusiasm he could muster. The Scots soon found that their new C.O. was not the lame-duck politician they expected but a serious and experienced soldier who knew exactly how he wanted his new battalion to perform.

Churchill had seen action in several Victorian wars and had been a war correspondent in the Boer War. In an army of civilians in uniform he was a man with experience of war. This was unlike anything he had seen before and he spent some unpleasant and uncomfortable weeks in trenches at 'Plugstreet' but he turned the battlion round into an efficient front line unit. He also got the chance to lead his men into battle; something he had always dreamed of.

By all accounts the five and a half months Churchill spent as the commanding officer of the 1/6th RSF T.F. were good for both Churchill and the battalion, and it was with genuine sadness that they parted company, on this day in 1916.

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