Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bridge of Allan Roll of Honour

As we approach the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, attention turns to commemorating the servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. New publications appear regularly, containing research into those who fought and died in the service of their country.
While this is highly commendable, several members of the Scottish Military Research Group (SMRG) feel this does a disservice to the countless Scots who served just as gallantly and after demobilisation returned home to a thankful family.  
We believe that those who returned from the war deserve to be remembered just as much as those who died on a foreign field. Many who survived came home with physical and psychological scars and for some their war did not end with the cessation of hostilities; they carried their wounds with them until the day they died, perhaps decades later.
As part of our commitment to remembering all those who served in the First World War we are transcribing and digitally republishing rolls of honour from ninety years ago which list the fallen and the survivors. While the current focus is on First World War rolls the SMRG also intends to republish rolls of honour from other historic conflicts.
The Bridge of Allan Roll of Honour 1914-1919 was published shortly after the end of the First World War and is a fascinating record of the service given by the men of one town in Scotland .
The roll includes soldiers, sailors and airmen. It mentions those decorated for acts of gallantry and those who died on land, at sea and in the air. There is no rank or class divisions in the list; all men are listed equally from the highly-decorated colonel serving as an Aide-de-Camp to the King, to the humble private who did his own bit in achieving the final victory.
This rare out-of-print roll of honour is now available to download from the Scottish Military Research Group by following this link: 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Lloyds Bank Memorial Album

For a while now we've offered for sale a CD of the Lloyds Bank Memorial Album. This had been scanned and newly indexed, and enabled you to locate a specific portrait on a page.

We've now decided to cease publication of the CD and offer it as a digital download. This actually means the cost of the publication is lower, as you no longer have to pay for postage and packaging.

The album can be downloaded from Print on Demand service Lulu, by following this link:

Lloyds Bank Memorial Album 1914-1918

We hope to offer further downloads of other items in the near future - watch this space!

Registering for the forums

One of the most common emails we receive is from people who have newly registered for either the War Graves Project or the Memorials Project and haven't received their confirmation of account activation.

The way the forums are set up, we have to manually activate every new member. By doing this we avoid having any malicious members posting spam or offensive links. We usually get a large number of new members who are nothing more than spam, and while their links appear in the user profiles, by manually activating every member it means that their rubbish is not allowed to infect the main part of the forum.#

However, what this means is that the automated process does not complete, and so the email confirming that a new members profile has been activated is not sent out.

We usually check the list of members every couple of days, and activate any genuine new members and delete spammers at that time.

So...if you're a new member, and you're still waiting for your email confirming your account is active, we would suggest trying the following:

1. visit the forum and try to log in. You may find your account is already active.

2. If it isn't wait another day or so. We try to check every day or so, but occasionally we aren't able to.

3. If you're still waiting after a week or more, then please email us at scottishwarmemorials@hotmail.co.uk - let us know when you joined, and what your username is. We'll look into it and get back to you ASAP.

What we find is that sometimes people reply to the initial welcome email they get. We'd suggest you DON'T do that - that has your account details INCLUDING YOUR PASSWORD. While we have no intention of giving out your password for any reason, we usually have no access to these and have no need to know it. If you MUST reply using the initial email, please check the text and REMOVE your password.

One other thing - registering to use the forum is not the same as joining the Research Group. If you want to join the Research Group (and have access to any research material, and to find out first about any new projects we might have) then you can join us by visiting this page and clicking the email link and filling in your details. We'd love to have you on board!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Carbisdale. Scotland's forgotten battlefield.

Culrain in the Highlands is a quiet place. There is a small train station which serves a magnificent castle-turned-youth-hostel and not much else. You probably won't find yourself driving through it, you have to drive to Culrain for a reason. 

It is along a single track road about three miles from Ardgay. Ardgay (pronounced Ardguy) isn't even on the main road north now that the Dornoch Firth Bridge takes the A9 traffic away from the Kyle of Sutherland.

As you come out of Culrain station or drive past it, you wouldn't realise that the trees in the small field right beside you are on top of what may or may not be an arrow-headed ravelin; if it is then it makes it one of the few battlefields in Britain with earthwork defences still visible.

If you looked along the small road heading towards the hills and woods in the distance you wouldn't realise that it bisects the battlefield which saw the final defeat of one of Scotland's most famous warriors.

There is nothing there to tell you this is the battlefield of Carbisdale; no plaque, no information board, no monument. Now I know we don't like defeats in Scotland (especially ones where it was Scot versus Scot) but surely we could do better than this. The Great Montrose saw his end at Carbisdale on 27th April 1650 and there is nothing there to let us know it.

Luckily for me I had a look at the detailed Inventory of Scottish Battlefields entry for Carbisdale before I went so I knew exactly where to go and what to look for. Anyone turning up without a copy of that would be left scratching their heads. 

I'll not go into detail of Montrose's 1650 campaign through the Far North and the battle itself because it is all in the Historic Scotland pdf above. Instead I'll give you some photographs of the battlefield. Surprisingly few are out there already.

Being the middle of summer it was absolutely chucking it down with rain when I visited so I pretty much stuck to the roads when taking them. 

I'll start with a panoramic view of the battlefield taken from outside the community hall. On the left side of the road are the fields where Montrose formed up his troops. The hills behind them would have been where the Ross and Munro contingents waited to see which way the battle turned. On the right of the road is where the Royalist troops ran towards the woods and where they were cut down by Strachan's mounted troops. 

Facing south from the road looking across the battlefield. It is a field and there's not much more to be said about it.

The woods north-west of Culrain. On the right are the slopes of Lamentation Hill. The Danish contingent of Montrose's army supposedly made a stand in front of this wood.

The ravelin? It is hard to make out in these photographs but the ridges in the ground in this field form a 'V' shape with the point under the trees. This small field is beside the road running alongside the railway station. This photograph is taken opposite the community hall facing south.

Another shot of the ravelin field. This is taken from beside the bridge which crosses the railway line facing west. This hopefully shows the 'V' more clearly on either side of the trees.

Behind the community hall. There is a ditch here seemingly. It was too overgrown and certainly too wet for the light shoes I was wearing for further investigation on the day I was there.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Forgotten Faces of the First World War

We've been very quiet on the blog front recently. We've really got no excuse other than we've been working on various projects which will hopefully be of interest. We can't ay much more than that, but in the future we'll hopefully have lots of news for you.

In the meantime, we thought we'd show this short video. We've already mentioned this on our Faxcebook and Twitter feeds, but here it is on the blog for those of you who don't subscribe to either.

You may recognise some of the photos in the slideshow from our "Image of the Day" posts on the blog, but there are a number of images you won't have seen before. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Steel and Tartan - The 4th Cameron Highlanders in the Great War: A Review

There have been many histories written about Scottish battalions in the First World War. Many of these were published in the 1920s and 30s, and remain fascinating time capsules, written by men who had served in the trenches themselves.

Lately there have been newer additions to the list of battalion histories, most notably Jack Alexander’s McCrae’s Battalion about the 16th Battalion Royal Scots and Come On Highlanders!, Alec Weir’s history of the Glasgow Highlanders.

Steel and Tartan, Patrick Watt’s history of the 4th Bn Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in the Great War, is a worthy addition to the list of titles covering Scottish units.

The 4th Camerons time on the Western Front was brief; spanning just over a year from February 1915 until they were disbanded in March 1916 but their time was not uneventful. They fought hard and suffered heavy casualties at the battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert, Givenchy, and of course the Battle of Loos in September 1915. Watt covers all these engagements in remarkable detail.

This is an extremely well-researched book and while it may appear to be slimmer than some battalion histories, it packs in an enormous amount of detail. Each battle is covered well and because the Camerons place in the order of battle is well explained you can understand the context of the actions they fought in.

The book does not restrict itself to the 4th Camerons time on the Western Front; the period leading up to their deployment, as well as a resume of their time after disbandment rounds off a detailed and extensive history. Regular readers of this Blog may remember that we covered the disbandment of the 4th Cameron Highlanders in 1916 in one of our ‘On this day…’ articles.

A large number of appendices are the icing on the cake – they make up a complete list of the officers and men who served, and there are also detailed Rolls of Honour for all the men who gave their lives while serving with the battalion. Another appendix gives detailed biographies of each officer, detailing their time with the battalion and subsequent history, in many cases completing the picture of their lives until their deaths.

This book deserves to sit on bookshelves alongside the best of the regimental histories of the First World War. It paints a complete picture of the life of a fighting unit in the trenches and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Steel and Tartan is published by The History Press, and can be purchased from their website.

You can also purchase it together with Scotland on the Frontline: A Photographic History of Scottish Forces 1939-45 for the price of £25 and free postage simply by using the code HPScot12 at the History Press website. But hurry, as this code is only valid until the 1st of July.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

It's all about the badges…er, no

Cap Badge of the Royal Regiment of Scotland

There have been lots of articles in the newspapers (particularly broadsheets) on the rumours of the latest round of army reorganisations as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The fate of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is of particular interest to the Scottish media and daily articles focus on the response of politicians of all hues to what Philip Hammond at the MoD is planning.

Most politicians and journalists have little grasp of the subject and are making mistakes. The most common one is that the seven battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are still all wearing their own cap badges. That is not correct. All battalions wear the same badge and dress uniform. The badge and uniform were designed by committee to try and retain individual features from the six regular battalions in existence in 2006 when the regiment was formed (two regiments amalgamated into one after the RRS was formed).

We used to use terms like precedence, antecedents, perpetuating and lineage but now this has all been replaced by a snappy little piece of spin called "The Golden Thread". Seemingly this was the promise made in 2005 when the plans were being made for merging the Scottish regiments that individual pieces of the regiments' history would be retained by the new large regiment. It would allow the battalions to rebrand themselves as the Royal Regiment but retain supplementary titles to identify their old regiment e.g. The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS).  In practice this meant people use 1 SCOTS instead of the unfamiliar name of the Royal Scots Borderers. Even the old regiments such as the Black Watch and Argylls, who had never merged since 1881, are now commonly called by the MoD’s preferential titles of 3 SCOTS and 5 SCOTS. Another piece of the Golden Thread was that each battalion would distinguish itself from another by the use of a coloured hackle. In some case the hackle was not new. The Royal Highland Fusiliers and Black Watch have used white and red hackles in their Tam o' Shanters for many years. For some battalions though the coloured hackle was a new addition to their bonnets.

What should not have been a surprise to anyone is that at some point in the future after 2006 the MoD would drop the supplementary titles and then reduce the number of battalions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Army has been doing that since the 1960's which we covered in a recent blog post so I won't go into detail of that here.

Instead I'll produce a handy guide to the battalions which make up the Royal Regiment of Scotland. It lists their current name and their lineage, sorry, their Golden Thread. Some regiments like the Royal Scots retained their separate identity, from raising in 1633 to amalgamation in 2006 as part of the Delivering Security in a Changing World review. Others like the Highlanders had been through mergers in 1994 as part of Options for Change; 1961 as part of the 1957 Defence White Paper Review and in 1881 in the Childers Reforms (which we covered here)

Not covered here are the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who chose disbandment over amalgamation at a Conventicle in Douglas in 1968 as part of the 1966 Defence White Paper Review (however a piece of their history is still retained by the Royal Scots Borderers); The Scots Guards who have never been "Scottish Infantry"; the Scottish Yeomanry regiments and the Highland and Lowland Gunners.

Royal Scots Borderers aka 1 SCOTS

Black hackle used by RSB since 2006. Based on Blackcock feathers used by Royal Scots and KOSB in dress uniform. Also used by Cameronians prior to disbandment and the Cameronians’ Lanarkshire recruitment area passed to the KOSB in 1968.
Based at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh.
Primarily recruits from Lothians, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders

Formed in 2006 after amalgamation of Royal Scots, RRS and King's Own Scottish Borderers, RRS

Royal Scots (aka 1 RS pre-2006) had been known as 1st Royal Scots, Royal Regiment before 1881. Had been raised as mercenaries for French service in 1633

King's Own Scottish Borderers (aka 1 KOSB pre-2006) had been known as 25th King's Own Borderers before 1881. Had been raised in Edinburgh in 1689

Royal Highland Fusiliers aka 2 SCOTS (aka 1 RHF pre-2006)

White hackle. Used by Royal Scots Fusiliers in Tam o'shanter since at least the Second World War. Used by 21st Foot in fusilier cap since 19th Century.
Based at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik
Primarily recruits from Glasgow, and South West Scotland

Formed 1957 after amalgamation of Royal Scots Fusiliers and Highland Light Infantry

Royal Scots Fusiliers had been known as 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers before 1881. Had been raised in 1678

Highland Light Infantry had been formed in 1881 after amalgamation of 71st Highland Light Infantry and 74th Highlanders
                        71st Highland Light Infantry had been raised in 1777 (as 73rd Highlanders)
                        74th Highlanders had been raised in 1787

Black Watch aka 3 SCOTS (aka 1 BW pre-2006)

Red hackle. Used by Black Watch for many years; origins debatable, possibly dates back to American war of Independence. Used in Tam o'shanter since First World War
Based at Fort George near Inverness
Primarily recruits from Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus

Formed 1881 after amalgamation of 42nd Royal Highlanders, Black Watch and 73rd Highlanders
            42nd Royal Highlanders, Black Watch had been raised in 1739
            73rd Highlanders had been raised in 1779 (as 2nd Bn 42nd Highlanders)

The Highlanders aka 4 SCOTS (aka 1 HLDRS pre-2006)

Blue hackle. First used by Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1940. Perpetuated by Queen's Own Highlanders and Highlanders
Based at Fallingbostel, Germany
Primarily recruits from Highlands, Islands, Moray and Aberdeenshire

Formed in 1994 after amalgamation of Queen's Own Highlanders (aka 1 QOHldrs pre-1994) and The Gordon Highlanders (aka 1 GH pre-1994)

Queens Own Highlanders had been formed in 1961 after amalgamation of Seaforth Highlanders and Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Seaforth Highlanders had been formed in 1881 from amalgamation of 72nd Duke of Albany's Highlanders and 78th Highlanders, Ross-shire Buffs
                         72nd Duke of Albany's Highlanders had been raised in 1778 (as 78th Highlanders)
                         78th Highlanders, Ross-shire Buffs had been raised in 1793

Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders had been renamed in 1881 from the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
                         79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders had been raised in 1794

The Gordon Highlanders had been formed in 1881 from amalgamation of 75th Stirlingshire Regiment and 92nd Gordon Highlanders
                        75th Stirlingshire Regiment had been raised in 1787
                        92nd Gordon Highlanders had been raised in 1794 (as 100th Highlanders)

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders aka 5 SCOTS (aka 1 A and SH pre-2006)

Green hackle. Used by Argylls since 2006. Based at Canterbury, England
Primarily recruits from Argyll & Bute, Dunbartonshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Kinross, Clackmannan, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Formed 1881 after amalgamation of 91st Argyllshire Highlanders and 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders
                        91st Argyllshire Highlanders had been raised in 1794 (as 98th Highlanders)
                        93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders had been raised in 1799

The following two battalions are the Territorial Army battalions of the regiment. Up until 2005 the battalions were made up of individual companies uniformed as their parent regiments, so you would have Black Watch T.A. and Highlanders T.A. serving in the 51st Volunteers. Their battalion hackle colours, which were only introduced in August 2010, were deliberately chosen to not be representative of any former regiment. Purple and green were colours associated with the Highland Division; with green being used by the 5 SCOTS it was an obvious choice of purple for 7 SCOTS.

The history of the Territorial units are too complicated to go into here so a brief explanation of their names is given instead.

52nd Volunteers aka 6 SCOTS

Grey hackle. Used by 52nd Volunteers since 2010

The 52nd Volunteers is the Territorial Army infantry battalion for most of the Lowlands of Scotland. It recruits in the same area as the Royal Scots Borderers and Royal Highland Fusiliers. It was originally formed in 1967 as the 52nd Lowland Volunteers after all the Territorial battalions of the Lowland Regiments were amalgamated into one regiment.

The name is taken from the 52nd (Lowland) Division. This division was numbered in 1915 when the then Territorial Force Lowland Division was sent overseas to Gallipoli. The 52nd (Lowland) Division served with distinction in both World Wars.

51st Volunteers aka 7 SCOTS

Purple hackle. Used by 51st Volunteers since 2010

The 51st Volunteers is the Territorial Army infantry battalion for the Highlands of Scotland. It recruits in the same area as the Black Watch, Highlanders and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It was originally formed in 1967 as the 51st Highland Volunteers after all the Territorial battalions of the Highland Regiments were amalgamated into one regiment.

The name is taken from the 51st (Highland) Division. This division was numbered in 1915 when the then Territorial Force Highland Division was sent overseas to France. The 51st (Highland) Division served with distinction in both World Wars.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Deal to save Dunkirk vessel is sunk

Back in February we reported on the hopes of getting a Dunkirk "Little Ship" re-floated. The Skylark IX had sunk at Balloch and was on sale for £1 on e-bay. Today the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter has the sad news that this has fallen through.

Deal to save Dunkirk vessel is sunk

HOPES of saving Scotland's last surviving Dunkirk rescue ship have been sunk after an 11th-hour deal fell through.
Campaigners wanted to raise the Skylark IX, rotting at the bottom of the River Leven at Balloch, in time to coincide with the 72nd anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation.
Interest in salvaging the vessel, which played a vital part in the mission, peaked when owners Leven Cruising Club put the ship on eBay for just £1.
But costs involved in recovering the vessel added to the restoration estimates, have put off interested parties.
Last Thursday commodore of the club, Stewart Davidson, told the Reporter time is running out.
He said: "One day it was happening and then the next day it's all up in the air. It was all looking very positive within the last week but those interested have pulled out.
"We are still hoping it can be saved but it looks like the last chance saloon when it was all looking very positive which is a shame.
"That's why we took it over as we wanted to see the boat restored to its former glory. To get her back to that stage would be special.
"The plan is now to get her out of the water which is the difficult bit. We would need a crane large enough to lift it from the water as it is a few metres out from the shore.
"If anybody was to come forward with funding or a plan then by all means let us know and we'll see if we can work with them and get it sorted.
"The longer it goes on the less likely it is to come up in a reasonable condition."
The Skylark XI sank on June 6, 2010.
It was among more than 770 private boats which took part in Operation Dynamo in June 1940 to evacuate Dunkirk beaches of around 340,000 British troops from the clutches of the advancing German army.
It rescued some 600 British and French troops, ferrying them 150 at a time to waiting destroyers and battleships further out in the English Channel.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

What's in a name?

There have been rumours in the newspapers over the past few weeks that one of the battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is to be disbanded. It may be 5 SCOTS or it may be 4 SCOTS. That is it might be the 4th (Highlanders) Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, or 5th (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland. It is only to be expected.

Never mind excuses about austerity measures or the number of Fijians that fill the ranks; since the RRS was formed in 2006 it was only a matter of time until it would follow the practice of every large regiment formed since the 1960s and merge or disband one or more of its battalions just a few years after formation. To expedite this the MoD are probably going to remove the titles in brackets from the five battalions. This also follows the practice adopted in large regiments in England over the last forty-or-so years.

They have already removed uniform distinctions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland apart from the different coloured hackles; there are no Lowland regiments in the British Army only one Highland regiment. Apart from the historic names there is not much to distinguish the battalions. By removing even that distinction it will make it easier to remove one or more of the battalions. 

Scotland is relatively new to the large regiment. The Scottish Division was probably lucky there wasn't a Royal Regiment of Scotland in the late 1960s or at the very least a Lowland Regiment and Highland Regiment. Rumours say the Queen Mother had a hand in saving them to preserve the Black Watch but it was probably the operational needs in Northern Ireland in the 1970s which saved them. In England they were not so lucky and have been used to the large regiments for nearly fifty years.

The Queen's Regiment was formed in 1966 from four regiments from the South-East of England into a four battalion regiment. Two of those regiments had been only just been merged from four regiments in the preceding seven years so it was the inheritor of six famous regiments which had fought through the two World Wars. In 1968 the historic titles were dropped completely and in 1973 the 4th battalion was disbanded with every other 'junior' battalion of the large regiments.

Options for Change in the early 1990's under the last Conservative Government (which saw the merging of the Queen's Own Highlanders and Gordon Highlanders and nearly the end of the KOSB's) also saw the merging of the three battalion Queen's Regiment with the one battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment into the smaller two battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires). It has inherited the battle honours of twelve pre-1881 regiments and a staggering 57 VC's.

1968 saw the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, Royal Fusiliers and Lancashire Fusiliers merge into the four battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It is now down to two battalions, neither retaining any titles reflecting their predecessors.

Another regiment formed four battalions from four regiments in 1964 and is now down to two battalions. It has retained its local affiliations though and each of the eight companies across the two current battalions of the Royal Anglian Regiment reflects an old regimental title.

I think it is unlikely that the Royal Regiment of Scotland will ever merge with an English regiment but how long will it be before the Royal Regiment of Scotland is reduced in size again? How long before it is reduced down to a two battalion regiment like other large regiments; one recruiting in the old highland regiment recruiting areas perhaps and another in the Lowlands.

Would they follow the Royal Anglians and name companies after old regiments to retain and encourage local affiliations? Would that see a return to old names like the Seaforth Highlanders, Royal Scots Fusiliers or even the disbanded Cameronians? Probably not but without the old names and affiliations removed who would really care if 3 SCOTS or 4 SCOTS follow 5 SCOTS into history?

Monday, 9 April 2012

The First Battle of the Scarpe - On this day in Scottish Military History - 1917

The attack and capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps ninety-five years ago will be in the news today. Five thousand Canadian students and the Governor-General will be among the many paying their respects at the magnificent memorial which stands on the ridge and commemorates the eleven thousand men of the C.E.F. who died on the Western Front and have no known grave.

Vimy Ridge was just one part of a larger offensive which started on 9th April 1917 and would last until 16th May. It would also involve thousands of soldiers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland (this island colony was not actually part of Canada until 1949).

On the same day the four Canadian divisions attacked Vimy Ridge the three Scottish Divisions on the Western Front were also in action around Arras as part of Third Army, in what is officially known as The First Battle of the Scarpe (after the River Scarpe which runs through the centre of the battlefield). 

15th (Scottish) Division was in VI Corps, while 9th (Scottish) Division and 51st (Highland) Division were in XVII Corps. In total fifty-two Scottish infantry battalions across several divisions, including the three Scottish divisions and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 30th, 33rd and 34th Divisions, fought at Arras during the offensive* 

In fact since thousands of Scotsmen enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force there were probably more Scots in action around Arras on this day ninety-five years ago than Canadians. 

One particular Scottish regiment paid a heavy price in the Arras Offensive. All the battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders on the Western Front were in the front-line on the first day. The three Territorial Force battalions - 1/4th (Ross-shire); 1/5th (Sutherland and Caithness) and 1/6th (Morayshire) all served in the 51st (Highland) Division. The 1/4th suffered two hundred casualties, the 1/5th three hundred. 

The 7th (Service) and 9th (Pioneers) Battalions served in the 9th (Scottish) Division and the 8th (Service) Battalion was in the reserve in 15th (Scottish) Division.

The regular 2nd Battalion was in the 4th Division and on 9th April it advanced four and a half miles inside German lines. It was too good to last and two days later at Fampoux the German counter-attack cost the 2nd Seaforths five hundred and twenty six casualties or ninety-three percent of their strength. One of the casualties was Lieutenant Donald Mackintosh whose bravery on that day would earn him a posthumous Victoria Cross. 

When it came to picking a spot on the Western Front after the war to erect the Celtic Cross war memorial to the eight thousand four hundred and thirty two Seaforth Highlanders who died in the First World War it was the site of the 2nd Battalion's heavy casualties at Fampoux which was chosen  - at the heart of the Battle of The Scarpe where seven of the eight front-line battalions of the regiment were in action on the same day**. 
Seaforth Highlanders
War Memorial, Fampoux

Not far away from the Seaforth's Celtic Cross at Fampoux is a massive and very Scottish Cairn***. It is the First World War memorial to the 9th (Scottish) Division. Like the Seaforths the sacrifices of the Division at places like the Roeux Chemical Works made Arras the choice of location out of all the battles the Division had been in; from Loos in 1915 to the final offensives of 1918. Its inscription commemorates one Scottish division but its sentiment could be applied to the tens of thousands of Scots who served near Arras on 9th April 1917 and the bloody days which followed. 

When you hear about the Canadians on Vimy Ridge today then also...

Remember with honour
The 9th
Scottish Division
Who on the fields
Of France
And Flanders
Served well

Unveiling of the 9th (Scottish)
Division War Memorial

* Not included are 2nd Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys in 2nd Cavalry Division; 4th Regt South African Scottish in 9th Division; the four Tyneside Scottish battalions in 34th Division; London Scottish in 56th Division and the men serving in the artillery, engineers and other corps recruited in Scotland and attached to the Scottish divisions.
**The other battalion - 1st Bn Seaforth Highlanders was on the front-line in Mespotamia on 9th April 1917
*** In 2006 the 9th (Scottish) Division memorial was moved a short distance from its battlefield location at Athies to a location next to Point du Jour British Military Cemetery to accommodate road improvements.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Who was Captain Morley, late of the Light Brigade, U.S. Army and Ayrshire Yeomanry?

A poster found in the archives of the Ayrshire Yeomanry was printed as an appendix in their 1964 history "Proud Trooper". Can anyone shed any light on it nearly fifty years after being printed in the book? I wonder if the original poster is still in existence?


One of the strangest relics in possession of the Regiment is a large print poster which research has failed to explain. It reads as follows: 

in the 

Capt. Morley, late U.S. Army, and late Regimental Sergeant Major, Ayrshire Yeomanry Cavalry, will explain to the members of the Corps and the public of Ayr why he has been compelled to leave the British service, and the gross injustice he has suffered, in the Corn Exchange Hall on Monday evening, 18th June, at half-past seven o’clock.

N.B. Mr Morley was one of the ‘Noble Six Hundred’, and brought the last remnants of the Light Brigade out of that terrible charge, forming the few survivors, and charging with them through the Polish Lancers, while the Earl of Cardigan, who had command of the Brigade only succeeded in bringing out himself and his horse.
Adnussion by Ticket

It is calculated that 18th June fell on a Monday in 1860, 1866, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1894, 1900 and 1906. The poster itself is stuck in the scrap-book opposite printed orders dated 1908, 1909 and thereabouts, but it may of course have been old by then. The Charge of the Light Brigade was in 1854.

If Mr Morley was a Light Brigade veteran then he was also late of one of the following regiments -  4th or 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, or the 8th or 11th Hussars

Friday, 6 April 2012

2nd RM Commando unit based in Scotland. 43 Commando

HM Government website reports the formation of a new Royal Marine Commando which will be based at Faslane. It mentions Royal Marines Corporal Thomas Hunter V.C. from Edinburgh. Hunter V.C. is commemorated outside Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.

300 Clyde-based Royal Marines were joined by family members and friends yesterday, 3 April, to mark the official formation of 43 Commando.
Royal Marines on parade
Royal Marines mark the official formation of 43 Commando at HM Naval Base Clyde [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Paul Halliwell, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The second Royal Marines unit to be based in Scotland, 43 Commando is the largest in the UK, with 790 men.

The last unit to hold the name was disbanded in the aftermath of the Second World War after fighting with distinction in the Mediterranean, Italy and the Adriatic.
During a parade at the unit’s home base of HM Naval Base Clyde, medals were also presented to 15 commandos and sailors, some of whom had taken part in counter-piracy operations.

Among the decorations awarded were the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, awarded to members of the Armed Forces with 15 years of reckonable service; the Iraq medal; and the NATO African medal.
The day was made all the more poignant for the Marines as it also commemorated the 67th anniversary of the battle of Lake Comacchio, one the Second World War’s fiercest fought battles, and an encounter which saw Thomas Hunter - a Royal Marine from Edinburgh - awarded a Victoria Cross.
Royal Marines Corporal Thomas Hunter (library image)
Royal Marines Corporal Thomas Hunter, from Edinburgh, who was awarded a Victoria Cross following his heroic actions during the battle of Lake Comacchio in 1945 (library image) [Picture: via MOD]
Travelling from Edinburgh to witness the parade and the resurrection of her brother’s old unit, was Agnes Swinney, the sister of Corporal Thomas Hunter.

During the parade there was a short religious service followed by an address by the Royal Navy’s Commander Operations, Rear Admiral Ian Corder.

The Rear Admiral praised the valuable contribution of the Royal Marines in support of operations at home and worldwide.

Afterwards, the Royal Marines held a families’ day at HM Naval Base Clyde, where visitors were given a chance to see some of the equipment which the commandos have used in operations around the globe.

Operation Joint Warrior in Scotland

Large numbers of UK and allied armed forces will be training on land, at sea and in the air in and around Scotland later this month. It has been mentioned in a couple of newspapers...

From Glasgow's Evening Times

Faslane Naval base will be at the centre of one of the largest training exercises in Europe later this month.
HM Naval Base Clyde will play host to Exercise Joint Warrior – a tri-service, multinational exercise designed to train troops for anti- terror, anti-drug and anti-piracy operations.

Conducted in the spring and autumn every year, the exercise provides high quality training for all three armed services and visiting forces from allied nations, including the USA, Germany, Holland and France.

A variety of UK and Allied land forces will also be involved, conducting basic and mission specific training on training ranges across Scotland.

Some of the exercise areas overlap with environmentally sensitive conservation zones, but the MoD has said environmental considerations will be taken into account when planning exercises.

During the planning, close relationships have been fostered with land owners, as well as local communities, to minimise any impact on the natural environment.

From the Stornoway Gazette

Largest military exercise in Europe heads to Hebrides

The largest tactically focused military exercise in Europe will be heading to the Hebrides from April 16-26 when Exercise Joint Warrior begins.

The tri-service and multinational exercise is conducted in the spring and autumn of each year with HM Naval Base Clyde on the west coast of Scotland hosting the Royal Navy and RAF personnel from the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) who manage and coordinate events.

The upcoming Joint Warrior is set to be bigger than ever with 32 separate naval units from eight different countries taking part, as well as a considerable military air presence and multiple land forces.

Many of the naval and air units will be operating in the seas and skies around the Hebrides with the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, France, Norway, Denmark and Canada all contributing.

Royal Navy Flagship, HMS Bulwark, is hosting The Commander United Kingdom Task Group and Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.

Meanwhile the UK’s Joint Force HQ will deploy to practice its command function afloat on the High Readiness Helicopter and Commando Carrier, HMS Illustrious.

The aim of the exercise is to provide the highest quality training for all three Armed Services and the numerous visiting forces from allied nations.

Some of the exercise areas overlap with environmentally sensitive conservation zones and the MOD has said that environmental considerations will always be taken into account as a primary consideration when planning exercises.

During the planning of Joint Warrior environmental impact assessments have been produced where required, such as for the use of Active Sonar and live weapons.

Exercise planners have also forged a close working relationship with landowners and key national stakeholders, as well as engaging with local communities to ensure that environmental mitigation procedures are put in place and adhered to. 

From RAF Lossiemouth's webpage

16th – 26th April - Exercise Joint Warrior
‘Joint Warrior’ is the largest international defence exercise held in the UK. The exercise – which takes place in locations ranging from Faslane to the north west tip of Scotland at Cape Wrath - is intended to test NATO forces across the full spectrum of 21st century conflict, from fending off air attacks and hunting mines and submarines to putting - and, crucially, supporting - troops ashore
The following aircraft are expected to operate from RAF Lossiemouth for the duration of the exercise:
6 x P3
1 x P8
2 x Atlantique
4 x Hawk
3 x Sea Hawk 60
7 x DA200

During the exercise flying will take place throughout the day and night.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Re-opening of Cameronians display at Low Parks

From Visit Lanarkshire's website. Exciting news about the re-opening of a revamped Scottish regimental museum:

Exciting new exhibition at Low Parks Museum

Over the past eighteen months South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture’s Museums staff, Museums Galleries Scotland and representatives of The Cameronians have worked together to gain funding of £50,000 from The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Regimental Trustees and £30,000 from Museums Galleries Scotland and this has resulted in a state of the art new £80,000 multi media gallery. 

The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) fought many famous battles but the personal stories of individual soldiers and accounts of life off the battlefield are all set to feature in the newly refurbished Exhibition opening to the public on Thursday 5th April at Low Parks Museum.

In addition to increasing the number of outstanding objects on display at Low Parks Museum, hundreds of photographs and video footage will help to tell the Cameronians story and researchers can now have free unlimited access to collections and previously unseen archive material from a new digital research station. The new exhibition has something of interest for all including interactive displays and replica uniforms for both young and old alike to have fun trying on.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The History Press - Exclusive Discount Offer

We've received notice of several books from The History Press in the past, and two in particular we've mentioned on this blog before.

The first is Scotland on the Frontline: A Photographic History of Scottish Forces 1939-45

Traditionally Scotland has made a contribution to Britain’s wars well out of proportion to her population and her military achievements are recognised throughout the world. During the Second World War 40,000 Scottish men and women lost their lives and many more were wounded, both physically and emotionally. They served in every Corps and Department in the British Army, and with the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force.

Scotland on the Frontline provides an outline of Scotland’s war effort drawing on extensive photographic evidence from commercial, state and personal collections, looking beyond the experience of individual regiments to provide a wider picture of the experience of the Scottish soldier, sailor and airman in the struggles against Germany, Japan and Italy. 

This book will provide any teacher or student of military history an insight into what it was really like at the Front.

We'll shortly be publishing a review of this book, but on first impressions it looks very interesting.

The second book is Steel and Tartan: The 4th Cameron Highlanders in the Great War

During the First World War, The Cameron Highlanders was expanded to thirteen battalions, of which nine were in battle. The 1st, 2nd, 4th (TF), 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 11th Battalions all fought on the Western Front. Ten representative  battle honours were chosen to be displayed on the King's colour, amongst them Neuve Chapelle and Loos, where the 4th Battalion suffered terrible losses. Note the (TF) after their designation – these were territorials, not professional soldiers, yet they did nothing to undermine the honour and the fearsome reputation of the Highland divisions.

Using unpublished diaries, letters and memoirs together with original photographs and newspaper accounts, this book focuses on the stories of the men of the 4th Camerons who went so eagerly to war in August 1914. It charts the progress of these ‘Saturday night soldiers’ through their training in Bedford with the Highland Division to their participation through all the major battles of 1915 and their disbandment in February 1916. What makes this book unique is the close focus on a single battalion, something that makes the narrative so much more immediate than sweeping strategic descriptions at army or even divisional level.

We hope to feature a review of this book soon.

In the meantime, we've arranged with The History Press that readers of this blog can order both these books for a combined price of £25 delivered (free postage and packing).

Simply visit the History Press website and use the discount code HPScot12  

But hurry, this code is only valid until 1st July. Please also note that this offer applies to UK orders only.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Image of the Day - 31st March

We've not featured an "Image of the Day" for a while, so here's one for you all to get your teeth stuck into.

This photo is one I recently acquired through a well-known online auction site. The seller had very little information and there is nothing written on the back.

The most obvious piece of information is that the men are all in the Seaforth Highlanders - for once the cap badges can be seen!

The presence of several medal ribbons leads me to think that this might date post-First World War. The man seated in the centre clearly has more than the usual three WW1 medals - is there perhaps a couple of gallantry awards in those ribbons? Perhaps that will help us to identify him.

As with all our "image" posts, you can click the image for a closeup, and you can either post your thoughts in the comments here on the blog, on our Twitter feed or  Facebook page, or by emailing scottishmilitaryresearch@live.co.uk

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Help needed to locate a relative

We were recently contacted by William Nicol, who advised us he had come into possession of a First World War "death plaque" named to Alexander Niddrie Waugh.

The Memorial Plaques were presented to the next of kin of all those who had died in the First World War. Many are still prized possessions of the family, but many more can be found for sale, particularly on Ebay where they can vary in price dramatically, depending on the circumstances.

William would be keen for this particular plaque to be returned to the family, and so we're hoping that someone out there might have some information that could help us to locate a living relative of Alexander Waugh.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records some information about Alexander which might be useful:


Rank:   Private
Service No:31332
Date of Death:24/04/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Scots, "B" Coy. 2nd Bn.
Grave Reference: IV. C. 26.

Additional Information: Son of John D. Waugh, of 11, Harley St., Ibrox, Glasgow.

Alexander is also listed on the City of Glasgow Roll of Honour, under the address given for his father above.

Can you add some detail to help us find any living relatives? Did Alexander have any brothers or sisters? And if so, are there any of the family still around today?

You can contact us at the usual email address and we will pass any information received on to William.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Nairn's wartime links to D-Day revealed

Today's BBC Scotland News reports on some seventy years old ordnance being found on a Scottish beach:

War-time explosives at Nairn's East Beach made safe

Two mortar bombs found on a Highland beach used to train troops for the D-Day landings in World War II have been safely disposed of.

Explosives found at Nairn's East Beach. Pic: Northern ConstabularyThe devices found by a member of the public at about 09:45 were thought to have been exposed by shifting sand at Nairn's East Beach. Edinburgh-based bomb disposal experts made the weapons safe, police said.

Nairn's beaches were used to prepare soldiers and sailors for the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944. Military personnel were based at nearby Fort George at the time.

The remains of tanks used in the rehearsals have previously been found further east along the coast from Nairn. A Valentine tank was lost by the Royal Hussars at Culbin Forest and two others in Burghead Bay.
Northern Constabulary had put in place a 100m (328ft) cordon at East Beach.

It's worth adding that the 13/18th Royal Hussars put their training to good use when they landed on Sword Beach on D-Day along with the rest of 3rd Division. If you are wondering how they could lose a Valentine tank in a forest as reported by the BBC, it is in fact under the sea off Culbin Sands

Culbin Sands offered what seemed like a perfect place to practice amphibious landings but the treacherous tides ensured that 3rd Division suffered several casualties in training over the winter of 1943-44. A small memorial commemorates the time before D-Day spent on the beaches of Nairn and Moray by the Division. You can see a photograph of it on the Scottish War Memorials Project.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Advance notice of the annual Royal Scots Gretna Rail Disaster Service

From the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership's website. Advance notice of an annual remembrance service:

Royal Scots Service

Gretna Rail Disaster

Saturday 19th May

Rosebank Cemetery


(Assemble 10am. Pilrig St. Entrance)

Annual Service of Remembrance at the Royal Scots Memorial in Rosebank Cemetery, where 214 men of the 1/7th Leith Royal Scots are interred as a  result of the horrific Gretna Rail Disaster on the 22nd May 1915.

We use the nearest Saturday to the Disaster date which will be the 19th May 2012 meeting at 10am. at the Pilrig entrance to Rosebank Cemetery, we shall then proceed to the Memorial for a 10.30am Service.  With so many groups and associations committed throughout the City on Armistice Day (11th November) we wish to hold a "Remembrance Service" when people are more readily available.

This service will allow... "Leithers".... ex Royal Scots'...ex Service men and others an opportunity to show their respects. Prayers will also be said for our forces serving in Afghanistan and their families, and the children who also died at Quintinshill.

Please come and show your respects.

Further information:  Revd. Ray Williamson  Tel: 07548740250

Help with an unknown memorial location

David Hutchison has sent us this family snap with what looks like a war memorial in the background. Can anyone help us identify it. Perhaps the buildings in the back may help? 

It looks like the bronze plaque behind the family is a relief of a war scene rather than a list of names. Perhaps warships on the high sea or biplanes in the sky? 

The Caithness sand that helped the war effort

Today's BBC Scotland News website reports on a Sutherland artist's plans to record in stone the lost beaches around John O'Groats.

John O'Groats beaches lost to war effort to be recalled

Artist Gavin Lockhart will carve Caithness flagstones with images of how the beaches once looked 

A new arts project will celebrate John O'Groats beaches that lost their white sands to the Dig for Victory campaign during World War II. The sand was prized as a soil improver due to the large volume of empty and broken shells it contained.

With food rationed, Dig for Victory encouraged people to grow vegetables in their gardens and allotments to help feed themselves and others.

Stones carved with images of how the beaches had looked are to be created.

Sutherland-based artist Gavin Lockhart has been commissioned to undertake the £15,000 public arts project. It is part of wider efforts led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to revamp John O'Groats.

Mr Lockhart plans to develop a trail marked by six Caithness flagstones leading people to views across the Pentland Firth to Orkney. Each stone will be carved with images taken from photographs of similar beaches to those found at John O'Groats before World War II.

Mr Lockhart said: "It's a shock to realise that this rugged, rocky shore was in living memory a beautiful white sandy beach and deserves us to look upon this landscape with a little more consideration of its historical sacrifice."

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Free buns and coffee!

Sandy Leishman has posted on Facebook that a small group called "Unsung Heroes of the British Armed Forces" will be giving out free buns and coffee to all visitors at the Museum of the Royal Highland Fusiliers this Friday (16th March) between 1pm and 3pm.

All are welcome.

We've already posted abut the museum, and if you didn't have a reason to go before (and you should, it;s a great museum) then perhaps the idea of a free coffee and a bun will persuade you!

(thanks to Sandy for the tip-off!)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Australian sources for research

We were recently contact by Sandra Young, a researcher based in Australia, who suggested some sources of information which we thought may be of interest.

Our thanks to Sandra for these suggestions. If you have any question on Australian research, you contact Sandra via our website.

Australians who enlisted and fought in WW1 contained numerous Scottish linked veterans, so searching the Australian National Archives, which you can search freely as a guest, allows you to search Australian military records, including our comprehensive Australian WW1 record collection.

The Australian War Memorial website contains an arsenal of useful information and searchable data bases, such as listings of WW1 Australian embarkation lists, WW1 nominal rolls, Honour Roll listings, that give information about Australian veteran casualties.

The Department of Veteran Affairs also contains searcahble nominal rolls for Australian WW2 veterans, which you can search by enlistment towns, service number and a useful feature is if you know a surname and perhapsone or  two initials, a search using this information, also then using place of birth and place of enlistment can often find the WW2 veteran you may be searching for.

The Department of Veteran Affairs also has nominal rolls for Vietnam etc.

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has digitised many old Australian newspapers, up to about 1954, which are now freely available to search online at the NLA website.

The NLA has a "Trove" search function that allows people to search for perhaps WW1 veteran names in both old newspapers and some library resources etc.

(I think the "Trove" search is short for "Treasure Trove".)

Many Australian states would have their own memorial sites such as the register of war memorials in NSW, (New South Wales), which may be helpful to some Scottish people who had relatives who enlisted with Australian troops.

For example,  when you visit the New South Wales site, choose the town as Yass and then choose the bank of NSW officers listing, it should contain  links to some Scottish veterans in some Australian WW1 era banking Honour books.

These veterans happened to work in some Australian based banks that had overseas based staff, as well as Australian staff in the WW1 era.

Other sites include:
  •  an Australian Gallipoli dedicated website, Spirits of Gallipoli;
  • The AIF Project, which allows you to try to find out some aliases of some AIF veterans etc;
  • The ACT Heritage Library's ACT Memorial, with photos and stories about Canberra, or ACT based veterans;
  • The Monaro Pioneers, which has numerous originally Scottish descandant families, who settled in the Monaro area (this site explains where the Monaro NSW area is) and also an extensive listing of some Australian military resource web references in its link section.
  • "Mapping Our Anzacs", is a tool to browse 375,971 records of service in the Australian Army during World War I according to the person’s place of birth or enlistment. This tool gives you a new way of seeing Australia’s involvement in World War I. It shows 9694 men from Scotland having served in the Australian forces.

There are also electronic resources at the National Library of Australia, some of which are freely available, some you need to have a library card and some resources are limited by copyright restrictions, so you have to be physically present in the NLA to use them.

One useful and free resource is the Ryerson Index, run by volunteers, it allows you to search for contemporary, mainly NSW death and probate notices, but you then have to go to the indicated Australian paper where these death and probate notices were published.

The Ryerson Index mainly was useful for NSW death and probabte notices, but it now seems to be adding othe Australian state papers to its arsenal of resourced papers.

I also use some Australian Boer War sites,  one useful one is the Oz-Boer Database, which allows you to freely download a zip file.

Another Boer War site is the Australian Boer War memorial website, which displays numerous photos of Australian Boer War Memorials and other useful information.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Honouring a war hero

We came across this letter to the Edmonton Journal, and thought it worth featuring here.

Craig Anderson of Banffshire has for the last three years been researching and planning a memorial to Donald Banbury Douglas of Ontario, the pilot of a Second World War crash near Banff.

For further information, and to contact Craig if you have any information, please take a moment to read his letter to the Journal.

Royal Regiment of Scotland receives freedom of Stirling

From the BBC News website today:

The Royal Regiment of Scotland is to be given the freedom of the city of Stirling in a special ceremony.

The soldiers are being awarded the civic honour in recognition of their services and strong links to the area.

They will then be entitled to enter the city "with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed".
Provost Fergus Wood said: "It will be a great day for the people of Stirling to come out and cheer on the Royal Regiment of Scotland."

He said the city was "very proud" to be bestowing the honour on the regiment.

The event will begin at 11:00 with 51st Highland, 7th Battalion of the Royal Scottish Regiment marching from Stirling Castle, led by a combined military and pipe band. 

The parade will then march down Broad Street before heading along Corn Exchange Road to the Albert Halls.

A band will play at the Albert Halls giving people an opportunity to enjoy the music with the soldiers.

The parade will then march along Dumbarton Road to Port Street, finishing up at Old Viewforth.

Awarding the freedom of the city is an age-old tradition dating back to the laws of ancient Rome that made it a capital offence for Roman legions to enter the city in formation or with weapons without permission.

Will you be at today's ceremony? Are you planning to take pictures? If so, we'd love to feature them here. Please send any pictures to scottishmilitaryresearch@live.co.uk

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Image of the Day - 3rd March 2012

It's a return to our series of "mystery images" today, which today features a group of soldier. This was a recent acquisition to my collection, and the seller didn't have much information on it, apart from thinking it was possibly a group of Highland Light Infantry.

The cap badges seem to suggest that, although the officer in the centre seems to have a different cap badge - is it possibly Royal Scots?

Click on the image for a closer look, and tell us what information you can glean from this picture. As always, you can tell us in the comments below, or you can email your thoughts to scottishmilitaryresearch@live.co.uk

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Campaign to restore Victorian soldier's reputation

Another item from the BBC News today:

One of the most celebrated soldiers of the Victorian era is to be commemorated in his Highlands home town of Dingwall more than 100 years after he died.

Maj Gen Sir Hector MacDonald was a household name.

But campaigners say a scandal surrounding his death led to his true place in history being ignored.

Nicknamed Fighting Mac, he was the son of a Ross-shire crofter but rose from the ranks as a teenage soldier to become a senior officer.

He was regarded by his peers to be a brilliant military strategist.

Some of his techniques are still taught at the British Army's Sandhurst military academy today.

He led his men from the front and after conspicuous bravery in the Afghan wars and in north Africa he became an aide to Queen Victoria.

However, rumours about sexual activity with young boys led to threats of a court martial and he shot himself in a Paris hotel in 1903.

Now the Clan Donald Society wants to rehabilitate his reputation and will hold a ceremony this weekend to mark almost 150 years since his birth at a tower built in Dingwall in honour of Fighting Mac.