- 50th Anniversary
- A Brief History
- Battle Honours
- Historical Timeline
- Major Historical Events
- Victoria Cross
- Sir Winston Churchill
- 17th HLI
- Famous Fusiliers
- RHF 2Scots Website "White Hackle"
- Older News Reports
WORLD WAR 1
The British Army experienced a high degree of expansion during the First World War. In the infantry regiments not only did the regular battalions take part but also the Territorial battalions were mobilised. In addition, each regiment raised a number of ‘service’ battalions as part of this wider expansion.
1 RSF moved to France in August 1914 as part of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Serving in France and Flanders throughout the War its record included Mons, Ypres, The Somme, Arras and the Hindenburg Line.
2RSF was recalled from Gibraltar and joined the BEF in October 1914. Almost immediately it was involved in the First Battle of Ypres. In this struggle it made an heroic defence near the village of Gheluvelt : reduced to a mere handful commanded by a subaltern it held its place in the line at a time when men were desperately needed. Its further exploits include Neuve Chapelle, Loos, The Somme, Arras and Lys. After the Armistice on 11 November 1918 it was the first battalion to enter Cologne.
1 HLI arrived in France as part of the Indian Corp, serving in the 3rd Indian or Lahore Division. Landing in December 1914 it was in action within days at Festubert. During 1915 it was at Neuve Chapelle, St. Julien and Ypres. In November 1915 the bulk of the Indian Corps (including 1 HLI) was transferred to Mesopotamia in the Middle East, to fight the Turks, and remained there for the rest of the War. Actions included Tigris, Kut al Amara, Trabes and Sharquat.
2 HLI, in common with 1 RSF, was part of the original BEF. It was in action at the Aisne, Ypres, Loos, The Somme, Arras, Cambrai and the Hindenburg Line. On 9 December 1918 this battalion, the 74th Highland Light Infantry, marched into Germany with pipers playing and the Colours - including the Assaye Colour - uncased.
4 and 5 RSF and 5,6 and 7 HLI were all in the 52nd (Lowland ) Division. They disembarked at Gallipoli on June 1915 and fought there until the evacuation in January 1916. Moving to Egypt they took part in the defence of the Suez Canal against the Turks and then began to advance northwards into Palestine. Actions included Romani, Gaza, Jaffa and El Burj.
In April 1918 the 52nd Division was transferred to France and was involved in 2nd Battle of the Somme, 2nd Battle of Arras, the Hindenburg Line and the Canal du Nord.
The Glasgow Highlanders were originally brigaded with 5,6 and 7 HLI but became one of the first Territorial Battalions to go to war, moving to France and Flanders in November 1914 and remaining in that area until the end of the War. The actions in which it fought included Festubert, The Somme, (where the Battalion fought most gallantly at High Wood), Arras, Ypres and the Hindenburg Line.
The Service Battalions were 6,7,8 and 9 RSF and 10,11,12,14,15,16,17 and 18 HLI.
Of these the bulk were raised in 1914 and were in action by the end of 1915. All, with one exception, fought in France and Flanders.The exception was 8RSF which went to France in 1915 but was transferred later that year to the Salonika front. The battle honour Doiran 1917,18 was won by this battalion.
15,16 and 17 HLI were raised in Glasgow , the first two at the expense of the Corporation and the third by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce : their unofficial soubriqets, 15th (Tramways),16th (Boys Brigade) and 17th (Chamber of Commerce) show how their initial recruits were obtained. 6 and 7 RSF were amalgamated in 1916 to become 6/7 RSF, whilst 10 and 11 HLI became 10/11 HLI.
From December 1915 to May 1916 6 RSF was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Winston Churchill .
12 RSF: This Battalion has a special notation. In Palestine in 1917 the Ayrshire Yeomanry and the Lanarkshire Yeomanry were converted to Infantry and were linked to form 12 ( Ayr and Lanark Yeomanry) RSF. This Battalion fought in Palestine in 1917 and in France in 1918.
In addition to the Service Battalions each regiment also had a number of training battalions which remained at home ; these are not listed here.The old Militia battalions (3 RSF and 3&4 HLI ), now Special Reserve Battalions had a training role, with special regard to the regular battalions.
A Special Note
Many officers and soldiers of the RSF and the HLI became distinguished in one way or another during the Great War. But one deserves a special mention.When the war broke out Captain Hugh Trenchard RSF was a senior Captain on secondment to the Royal Flying Corps. Because of his ability to lead and to organise he was promoted rapidly and took over the command of the rapidly expanding RFC. When the war ended he was Air Chief Marshal of the new Royal Air Force and is known today as the Father of the Royal Air Force. He served as Colonel of the RSF from 1919 to 1945.
BETWEEN THE WARS
THE ROYAL SCOTS FUSILIERS - Regimental Events
In 1919 the Prince of Wales was appointed Colonel in Chief of the Royal Scots Fusiliers - the Regiment’s first. In 1923 the rank of Fusilier was authorised in Army Order 222 of that year : previously the official title had been Private.
1RSF - Home Service 1919-32
The 1st Battalion, reduced to a cadre, left Germany in May 1919. After a brief stay in Ayr the cadre moved to Fort Matilda, Greenock and absorbed 3 RSF to form a full strength 1st Battalion. 1 RSF moved to Bordon later in the same year.
The Battalion was sent to Ireland in January 1921 for operations in aid of the Civil Power during the Troubles. Following the settlement with the Irish leaders 1 RSF left Ireland in 1922. Entraining at the Curragh to move to Dublin for embarkation, it was the last British unit to leave that once-famous camp.
In the UK
The Battalion served at Edinburgh, Portsmouth and Bordon.
1RSF - Overseas Service 1932-39
1 RSF’s overseas tour began in Palestine in 1932. Later that year it was transferred to Egypt where it served for 4 years. 1936 saw a sudden return to Palestine when trouble between Jews and Arabs escalated into the ‘Arab Revolt’. The Battalion was deployed in support of the Civil Power and fought several small actions until the Revolt ended in October 1936. At the end of that year the Battalion was moved to India. It was still there when the Second World War broke out in September 1939.
2RSF - Overseas Service 1919-32
2 RSF left Germany in April 1919 and was briefly at Aldershot before moving to Constantinople to join the British Army of the Black Sea.
In March 1920 it was sent to the port of Novorossiysk in South Russia. Its duties were to help keep peace in the town and to assist in the evacuation of White Russian soldiers and civilians. By the end of March it was back in Constantinople, its duty done.
At the end of 1920 the Battalion moved to India serving in Barrackpore, Sialkot, Landi Kotal and Ferozepore.
The beginning of 1931 saw 2 RSF move to Shanghai to join the International Force guarding the International Settlement in the city. At that time China and Japan were at war and the Force was intended to protect Shanghai from invasion. In addition troops provided anti-pirate guards on ships travelling up the River Yangtze.
2RSF - Home Service 1932-39
In the beginning of 1932 2 RSF returned home and was stationed at Catterick, Aldershot and Edinburgh. During part of its stay at Aldershot it was converted into a Machine Gun Battalion but was reconverted to normal duties in 1937. The Battalion was still in Edinburgh when war broke out.
THE HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY - Regimental Events
In March 1921 the Depot moved from Hamilton to Maryhill Barracks. In June 1923 the title of ‘City of Glasgow Regiment’ was authorised to be added to the name of the Regiment.
1 HLI - Home Service (with interruptions) 1919-39
1 HLI, reduced to a cadre, moved from Mesopotamia to India in 1919 and then went home to Scotland. In Cupar the cadre absorbed 3 HLI to reform the 1st Battalion. Following a brief period in Egypt in 1920 it returned to Scotland at the end of that year, moving to Edinburgh.
1 HLI spent two months on operations in Ireland before returning to Edinburgh.
Britain and Northern Ireland
After two more years in Edinburgh 1 HLI moved to Northern Ireland in December 1923, serving first in Ballykinlar and then Holywood, just outside Belfast. In 1926 it returned to Britain and was stationed in Aldershot.
Home Service in Malta
Although officially the ‘Home Service’ Battalion of the HLI the Battalion was sent to Malta in 1929. This break from home service was very welcome although described as being ‘just too social for words.’
1 HLI returned home in December 1931 and was stationed at Dover. 1934 saw a move to Fort George. 1936 saw another short break in home duty, the Battalion being sent to Egypt for 7 months during the trouble between Britain and Italy. Returning to Fort George at the end of that year the 1st Battalion was still there at the outbreak of war.
2 HLI - Overseas Service 1919-39
2 HLI returned to Aldershot from Germany in April 1919 and was almost immediately ordered to move to Archangel, North Russia, as part of the British force assisting the White Russians. This task involved active operations and several men were killed and wounded. The force was withdrawn late in 1919 but this brief post-war operation gained the HLI the Battle Honour, Archangel 1919.
After a brief period of leave 2 HLI was sent to Ireland at the end of 1919 in aid of the Civil Power in Co. Clare. This tour lasted until June 1920.
Egypt, Palestine and Turkey
Following a short stay in Edinburgh 2 HLI was sent to Egypt at the end of 1920. In the following year the Battalion was transferred to Palestine to help keep the peace during trouble between Jews and Arabs. Then, after a brief return to Egypt in 1922 trouble beckoned again, this time in Turkey. War between Turkey and Greece threatened a Turkish crossing of the Dardanelles into European Turkey, still occupied by Britain. A British force was sent to the Dardanelles and 2 HLI found itself based in Fort Nagara, just north of Chanak. Here the Battalion remained for nearly a year.
India and Palestine
2 HLI, having withdrawn from Chanak to Egypt in 1923, was then sent further east to India. Here the Battalion served for 13 years, at Bangalore, Cawnpore, Razmak and Peshawar. While at Peshawar it once again returned to the NW Frontier, taking part in the Mohmand Operations of August - October 1935 and gained the India General Service Medal.
In 1938 2 HLI was sent to Palestine and was still there when World War II broke out.
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