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The Royal Regiment of Scotland

The Royal Regiment of Scotland is the senior and only regiment of the British Army in which Highland traditions are maintained. It consists of several battalions of both regular and territorial infantry, each perpetuating former regiments such as The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) with whom The Calgary Highlanders formed a regimental alliance. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are currently perpetuated by Balaklava Company 5 SCOTS.

A Guard of Balaklava Company, 5 SCOTS on parade, 2014. (British Army photo)

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

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In 1925, the Calgary Highlanders became officially allied with The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of the British Army.  Dress regulations and traditions were drawn from the allied regiment, including the tartan, the various sporran patterns, and the red and white diced glengarry.

The British equivalent of the Canadian Reserve Army is the Territorial Army, and the 7th/8th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders served as part of this organization.  Like the Calgary Highlanders, they paraded one evening a week during the training year.  They also have an annual 15 day camp.  Recruiting is open to those between 17 and 32 years of age (or 35 to ex-service personnel).

At left, Private Celene Tate of the 7th/8th (Volunteer) Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, as she appeared on the cover of The Thin Red Line, the regimental newsletter, autumn 1998.   As in Canada, the employment opportunities for females in the British Army have increased dramatically since the 1980s.

At right, the Regimental Cap Badge - within a circle the Cypher and Coronet of Princess Louise. To the left a boar's head, the crest of the Argylls, and to the right a cat, the badge of the Sutherlands. All within a wreath of thistles.

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Physical contacts between the Calgary Highlanders and the Argylls since the end of the Second World War had been sporadic, but there were many opportunities over the years. Most notably, Warrant Officer Bruce Waterhouse of the Calgary Highlanders joined the Argylls in the 1970s and served a tour in Northern Ireland with the allied Regiment.   The Argylls had been known to train in Alberta at British Army Training Unit Suffield in the years since the Second World War.

In 1990, the Scottish Division held a Beating Retreat Ceremony on Horse Guards Parade in London for three nights running, with the Royal Family in attendance on the last night.   Pipers, Drummers, and Musicians from all the allied regiments throughout the Commonwealth were invited to send performers to participate.  The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders drew on The Calgary Highlanders, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, as well as their affiliate regiment in Australia to augment the Massed Pipes, Drums and Military Bands on parade.  The representatives of these regiments were treated to an afternoon as the guests of Regimental Headquarters at Stirling Castle, including a tour of the Regimental Museum as well as the nearby Wallace Monument.

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Stirling Castle, 1990.   Guests of the allied regiments hosted by Regimental Headquarters of the Argylls.   The Imperial Argylls are identified by their light grey shirts.  The olive green sweaters are worn by Australian soldiers.  The rifle green sweaters are worn by Canadians; from left to right - tenor drummer Private Bill Kelso, side drummer Corporal Lloyd Martens,  Drum Major Brian King (all from the Calgary Highlanders), three soldiers of the Canadian Argylls, piper Master Corporal Keith McFarquhar, piper Corporal Michael Dorosh and piper Master Corporal Doug Hamilton (all from the Calgary Highlanders).

Brief History of the Regiment


In 1808 during the Peninsular War, the 91st (later the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) had joined Sir John Moor's army which was returning into the heart of Spain in order to relieve Madrid. Madrid fell before Moore could reach it, and found the enemy were surrounding him. He had no choice but to retreat to the nearest sea port Corunna, leaving his lines of communication, and sending an order to the fleet to meet him.

The conditions under which the retreat was made were terrible, -- lack of clothing, shortage of food, Artic cold, and the superior French armies in pursuit. Most of the British Army became a rabble. Only the Brigade of Guards and the rear guard never lost their morale or discipline.

The 91st were in the rear guard. On arrival at Corunna the French attacked, but were beaten off, the 91st Fighting beside the Brigade of Guards –and the embarkation was effected.


During the Second Kaffir War in South Africa, 1846-47, a draft of the 91st was going out to join the regiment which, together with drafts from ten other regiments, all young soldiers, was performed that most gallant and self-sacrificing act during the wreck of the Birkenhead, which showed a disciplined

Heroism even greater than that which has won battle honours. The ship struck a submerged rock off Simon's Town. Most of the boats were broken by the masts and funnels falling overboard. The men were fallen in on the quarterdeck. There they remained on parade, while the women and children were got off in such boats that were left, till the ship broke in two, and those who could saved themselves by swimming. Of 631 souls on board, only 103 were saved. Not a woman or child was lost. The German Emperor at that time was making an army out of the Prussians, ordered an account of this act to be posted up in every Prussian barrack room as an example of what could be achieved by discipline. 


During the Crimea War the 93rd (now 2nd Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), with a few Marines and Turks, were the only troops left to cover the Base at Balaclava, which the Russians attempted to capture on October 25th, 1854. As the Russian Cavalry advanced the Turks fled. The 93rd formed in line and, unsupported, this single battalion broke the Russian cavalry charge by steady musket fire alone---a feat never before attempted by British infantry, square being the invariable formation. This action gained for them the name of " The Thin Red Line" and the singular distinction of being the only Infantry Regiment to carry the battle honour of "Balaclava."

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are also the only Scottish regiment to wear red and white dicing on their glengarries and feather bonnets.  This is also a reference to the famous "Thin Red Line."   The Calgary Highlanders are proud to have adopted this tradition from the Argylls.

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In the Great War, of the 15 battalions which eventually composed the regiment, one or more were present at nearly all the famous battles in France, Flanders, Salonica, Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine, including Mons and that retreat, the Marne, the Aisne, the battles around Ypres, the heavy fighting at Loos, the great offensives on the Somme and at Arras, and at all the subsequent actions, culminating in the defeat of the Germans and final victory.  By comparison, many of the older battle honours proudly commemorated by the Argylls were but skirmishes.  To enumerate the gallant deeds of individual Battalions in these actions is not possible here. Captain Liddell, Lieutenants MacIntyre, Bisset, Buchan, Graham, and Henderson gained the V.C. while the entire 12th Battalion was one of only a few British battalions in the entire war to be awarded the French Croix De Guerre as a unit, a high honour. Not only was the tradition of the regiment maintained by both old and new Battalions, but fresh honour was been added in a magnitude of which the regiments' ancestors never dreamed.

 The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - Lineage

The 91st Regiment of Foot

  • 1794 - Duncan Campbell of Lochnell raises the 98th (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.
  • 1798 - Renumbered the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.
  • 1804 - A second Battalion raised.
  • 1809 - Renamed the 91st Regiment of Foot. Loss of Highland status.
  • 1815 - 2nd Battalion disbanded.
  • 1820 - Renamed the 91st (Argyllshire) Regiment of Foot.
  • 1842 - Reserve Battalion raised.
  • 1857 - Reserve Battalion disbanded.
  • 1864 - Renamed the 91st (Argyllshire) Highlanders.
  • 1872 - Renamed the 91st (Princess Louise's) Argyllshire Highlanders.
  • 1881 - 1st Battalion The Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll) Highlanders, on amalgamation with the 93rd Regiment.
  • 1882 - 1st Battalion The Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland) Highlanders.

The 93rd Regiment of Foot

  • 1799 - Major General William Wemyss raises the 93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot.
  • 1813 - A second Battalion raised.
  • 1815 - 2nd Battalion disbanded.
  • 1861 - Renamed the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders.
  • 1881 - 2nd Battalion The Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll) Highlanders, on amalgamation with the 91st Regiment.
  • 1882 - 2nd Battalion The Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland) Highlanders.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

  • 1920 - The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's).
  • 1947 - 2nd Battalion amalgamated with the 1st Battalion.
  • 1970 - Reduced to 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Balaklava Company (Princess Louise's).
  • 1972 - 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) reformed.

The regiment as it was known before amalgamation into The Royal Regiment of Scotland was formed by the union in 1881 of the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) and the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders). The 91st became the 1st Battalion and the 93rd the 2nd Battalion.

The 91st was raised in 1794 by the Duke of Argyll in response to an appeal from the King when Britain was threatened by the French Republicans. They were a kilted regiment and wore the Government or Black Watch tartan.

The 93rd was raised under the patronage of the Sutherland family in 1799 also at a request from the Throne. A proportion of the able-bodied sons of tenants on the Sutherland estates were required to join the ranks of the Sutherland regiment as a test of feudal duty, and this form of conscription is believed to have been the last instance of the exercise of feudal influence on a large scale in the Highlands. The 93rd also wore kilts of the same tartan, which in official records is also sometimes referred to as the Sutherland tartan.

Both regiments went into action for the first time at the Cape of Good Hope, the 91st in 1795 and the 93rd in 1806. The 91st was present at the victories of Roleia and Vimiera in the Peninsular War and gained much credit in the memorable retreat of Sir John Moore on Corunna during which it formed part of the rearguard and was seven times engaged with the enemy. It rejoined Wellington in time to take part in the desperate struggles in the Pyrenees, and fully maintained the best traditions of Scottish valour on the Nivelle and at Nive, Orthes and Toulouse.

Between 1809 and 1864, the 91st lost Highland status. Ceasing to wear the kilt, or indeed any tartan at all for the regiment, they wore the ordinary uniform of regiments of the Line.

In 1814, the 91st was fighting at Bergen-op-Zoom in Holland while the 93rd was engaged at New Orleans. The 93rd lost 520 officers and men in the fruitless attack on the formidable entrenchments at New Orleans. The 91st were present during the Waterloo campaign of 1815.

In the Crimean War the 93rd formed part of the Highland Brigade, which distinguished itself at Alma, Balaclava and Sevastopol. At Balaclava the regiment won immortal fame when, under Sir Colin Campbell, it formed line in two ranks and repelled a charge of Russian cavalry, gaining the title of "The Thin Red Line". The Argylls have the distinction of being the only infantry regiment to bear the honour , "Balaclava."

The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 took the 93rd to India where it participated in the storming of the Secundrabagh and the capture of the Shah Nujjif to bring succour to the garrison of Lucknow. Seven officers and men of the 93rd received the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the Mutiny.

In 1864 requests to restore the tartan were accepted, the 91st adopted and were permitted to wear Campbell of Cawdor tartan trews, being the Government tartan with a red and light blue stripe, which they wore until 1881.

The 91st was engaged in the Zululand campaign of 1879, this being the last occasion on which they carried their colours in action.

Upon amalgamation in 1881 the new regiment took the title of Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders). This was later changed to Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) and subsequently again altered to its present title.

The 1st Battalion embarked for the South Africa war of 1899-1902 in October 1899, and joined the forces under Lord Methuen in time to take a prominent share in the battle of Modder River. It later formed part for some time of the famous Highland Brigade, and while with it took part in the memorable night attack on the Boer position at Magersfontein. The 3rd and 4th Battalions (Militia) also served in South Africa.

In the war of 1914-1918 the regiment expanded to over two dozen battalions (including Regular, Special Reserve, Territorial and War Service Battalions) and served on the Western Front and in Macedonia and Palestine. 

Regular Battalions

1st Battalion India, France and Flanders
2nd Battalion France
3rd (Reserve) Battalion UK, Ireland
4th (Reserve) Battalion UK

Territorial Battalions

1/5th (Renfrewshire) Battalion  
1/6th (Renfrewshire)  Battalion  
1/7th Battalion  
1/8th (The Argyllshire) Battalion  
1/9th (The Dumbartonshire) Battalion  
2/5th (Renfrewshire) Battalion  
2/6th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Home Service
2/7th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Home Service
2/8th (The Argyllshire) Battalion Home Service
2/9th (The Dumbartonshire) Battalion Home Service
3/5th Battalion  
4/5th Battalion  
5/5th Battalion  
6/5th Battalion  
7/5th Battalion  
8/5th Battalion  
9/5th Battalion  
16th Battalion Home service

New Army Battalions

10th (Service) Battalion  
11th (Service) Battalion  
12th (Service) Battalion  
13th (Reserve) Battalion  
14th (Service) Battalion  
15th (Reserve) Battalion  
17 Battalion  

In the 1939-1945 war battalions of the Regiment saw much action in France (1940), Malaya, Abyssinia, Crete, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and North-West Europe.


Regular Battalions

1st Battalion Palestine, North Africa, Crete, Ethiopia, Sicily, Italy
2nd Battalion Malaya
2nd Battalion Reconstituted, this battalion served in Northwest Europe

Territorial Battalions

3rd Battalion Home service
4th Battalion Home service
5th Battalion Home service
6th Battalion BEF 1940, remustered as 91st Anti-Tank Regiment and served as such in Northwest Europe
7th Battalion BEF 1940, reformed from 10th & 11th Battalions, North Africa, Sicily, Northwest Europe
8th Battalion BEF 1940, reformed from 10th & 11th Battalions, North Africa, Sicily, Italy
9th Battalion Converted to Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, BEF 1940, Home Defence, Northwest Europe

The Argylls were granted the right to march through the Royal Burgh of Stirling with bayonets fixed, flags flying and drums beating.

Regimental Tartan

  • Kilt of the 42nd (Government) tartan. Worn by all ranks and by the band and pipers.
  • The version of the Government tartan worn by the Argylls was a slightly lighter shade than worn by other regiments. It was clearly distinguishable, as is the elaborate silk ribboned panel on the front flap of the kilt worn by officers and senior non-commissioned officers.
  • The Argylls were the only regiment to wear a plain red and white dicing on the glengarry and feather bonnet.

In 2003, the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were the West coast of Scotlands' Infantry Regiment of some 530 regular soldiers, recruiting from area that stretched from Stirling, the regimental home and RHQ, in the east, north to Glencoe, westwards to Isles of Tiree, Mull and Islay, south throughout Argyll and Dunbartonshire and across the Clyde taking in Greenock and Paisley.

The Regiment re-roled into the British Army's 16 Air Assault Brigade as an Air Assault Infantry battalion in 2003, and trained to deploy anywhere in the world when required to at short notice.  The 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, deployed to Iraq for a six month tour of duty beginning in January 2004, and were withdrawn in July 2004.

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In May, soldiers of the Regiment mounted, in the words of news reports at the time, "what were described as "classic infantry assaults" on firing and mortar positions held by more than 100 fighters loyal to the outlawed cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

At least 20 men from al-Sadr’s army were believed killed in more than three hours of fighting - the highest toll reported in any single incident involving British forces in the past 12 months.  Nine fighters were captured and three British soldiers injured, none seriously.

"It was very bloody and it was difficult to count all their dead," one source was quoted as saying. "There were bodies floating in the river."

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were drawn into the fighting when soldiers in two Land-Rovers were ambushed about 15 miles east of the city of Amara. The soldiers escaped, only to be ambushed a second time by a larger group of militia, armed with machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Reinforcements were summoned from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment at a base nearby. "There was some pretty fierce hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets fixed," the source added. "There were some classic assaults on mortar positions held by the al-Sadr forces."

Official spokesman Major Ian Clooney confirmed the Mehdi army "took a pretty heavy knocking", but refused to specify tactics. "This was certainly an intense engagement," he added.

Lance Corporal Andrew Jason Craw (shown at right) died following a tragic incident on a training range near Basrah on 7 January 2004, at the age of 21.   He had joined the Army in 1999 and joined the Argylls following basic training in 2000. Following service in Northern Ireland, the Battalion moved to Canterbury in 2003, from where it deployed to Iraq for operations in January 2004. Lance Corporal Craw was part of the advance party of the Regiment, whose tour began in earnest in February.

"This is a tragic incident, in the first few days of the Battalion's six month operational tour in Iraq. Andy was a bright and promising soldier who will be sorely missed by all in the Regiment. At present, our thoughts are with his family."

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In early July 2004, the BBC reported that the Regiment had returned home from its mission in the Middle East.

More than 200 soldiers from a Scottish regiment have been given a hero's welcome as they arrived back in the UK from Iraq.   Families cheered as troops of the 1st Battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, were officially dismissed at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Kent.

The Battalion was sent out to Iraq in January to train about 5,000 Iraqis for the country's new security force. Many soldiers said the experience had been the toughest of their careers.

Bagpipers led the soldiers, who are mainly from central and western Scotland, on to the parade square at the barracks where they were dismissed by commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon West.  He told the soldiers that they had made a "real difference" to the lives of people in Iraq by training a security force which was "incapable" six months earlier.  He said: r "You can all feel justifiably proud of what you have achieved. It is a real result and a real success story, well done."

After raising cheers for family, friends and the regiment, the soldiers were greeted by their wives and children, who had been waving flags and watching from the sidelines.

Lieut Col West, 38, told reporters: "For an awful lot of people they probably experienced the hardest operational tour that there is in the army today.  The hardest moments are when you have people seriously injured.  We are part of a very close regimental team, it is very hard when that happens and hard for the people waiting for us at home.  Coming back now at the end of the tour is just marvellous. We are so glad just to see some rain today, because we have not had the fresh taste of rain for six months."

Victoria Cross Holders

93rd Regiment of Foot (Sutherland Highlanders)

Lance Corporal Dunlay, John Lucknow, India 1857
Private Grant, Peter Lucknow, India 1857
Private Mackay, David Lucknow, India 1857
Lieutenant McBean, William Lucknow, India 1857
Colour Sergeant Munro, James Lucknow, India 1857
Sergeant Paton, John Lucknow, India 1857
Captain Stewart, William George Drummond Lucknow, India 1857

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

Acting Major Anderson, John Thomspon McKellar Longstop Hill, Tunisia 1943
Lieutenant Bissett, William Davidson Maing, France 1918
Second Lieutenant Buchan, John Crawford Marteville, France 1918
Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, Lorne MacLaine Wadi Akarit, Tunisia 1943
Lieutenant Graham, John Reginald Noble Istabulat, Mesopotamia 1917
Acting Captain Henderson, Arthur Fontaine-les-Croiselles, France 1917
Captain Liddell, John Aiden Ostend, Belgium 1915
Lieutenant MacIntyre, David Lowe Henin, France 1918
Major Muir, Kenneth Songju, Korea 1950
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The Royal Regiment of Scotland

On 28 March 2006, the regiments of the Scottish Division were amalgamated into The Royal Regiment of Scotland as follows:

Regular battalions

  • The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

  • The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

  • The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

  • The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

  • The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Territorial battalions

  • 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

  • 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Further reorganizations and restructuring have resulted in The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders being perpetuated by a single company of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. From the British Army's web presence:

Balaklava Company will remain in the Air Assault Infantry role until the middle of 2014 when they will move to Redford Cavalry Barracks in Edinburgh and become part of 51 (Scottish) Brigade. They will retain their proven light infantry role but will also complete some public duties and state ceremonial tasks in Scotland. One of their first assignments after the move to Edinburgh will be to provide Her Majesty The Queen's Royal Guard at Ballater during the summer and autumn of 2014.

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