Argyll & Sutherland

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Photographs and history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The double name given to this regiment indicates its origin.  The 1st battalion was the late 91st of the Line, or Argylshire, and its 2nd the 93rd, or Sutherland Highlanders.

The former was raised in 1794 as a kilted regiment, with the Campbell tartan; white epaulettes and yellow facings were worn; and it was first numbered the 98th, but in 1798 this was altered to its recent designation, the 91st.

Its first service was at the capture of Cape Town by Sir Alured Clarke, in 1795, when it does not appear to have worn either kilt or tartan, but the national costume was partly resumed on its return to England in 1803. 

It was during the voyage home that one of the regimental heirlooms was acquired.  For a narwhal having charged the transport, and left its bony snout in the ship’s side, this was eventually removed, and converted into the sergeant-major’s official walking stick, decorated with a series of gold plates, eight in number, bearing the names of the principal Peninsular battles in which the regiment served.  A second battalion, formed in 1804, served at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1813, but was shortly afterwards disbanded.

The other battalion shared in the Peninsula campaign from 1807 to 1809, being present at Obidos and Vimiera under Wellesley, and at Corunna under Moore, while detachments served at Oporto and Talavera.  The bulk of the regiment joined the Walcheren expedition, at which period the standard for recruits was first fixed at 5 feet 4 inches; and after losing many men by sickness it returned to England, to be transferred again to the Peninsula, where it remained  till 1814, taking part in the battles of Vittoria, Saurauren, Nivelles, Nive, Bayonne, Orthes, and Toulouse.  Though it landed in Belgium for the Waterloo campaign, it took no part in the great fight, as it was detailed to guard the lines of communication.  In 1822 the coatee took the place of the regimental jacket, and this lasted until the introduction of the tunic; but in 1864 its original Highland title was restored, and it became a trewed regiment, the costume being added to a little later by the blue patrol jacket for the officers, and a red serge frock of the Stewart pattern for the men.  Finally it was reconverted into a kilted regiment, and received its present title.

Meanwhile it had seen its most prolonged and arduous service at the Cape, where, with a “Reserve Battalion”, raised in 1842 and incorporated with the first in 1857, the regiment served for twenty years.

It was unfortunate in its sea voyages.  The “Reserve Battalion” went ashore in the Abercrombie Robinson, and a detachment of the 91st was wrecked on board the Birkenhead in 1852.  In both cases the superb discipline of the regiment was evidenced; and, in the latter case, the noble bravery of the men in preferring to go down with the ship rather than endanger the safety of the boats, already over laden with women and children, sheds a lustre not only the history of the regiment, but that of the whole army of the State.  Out of 631 souls only 193 were saved. 

Among the interesting if unwarlike duties it has had to undertake during this time may be mentioned that some of its companies were present at the exhumation of the remains of Napoleon I at St Helena in 1840.

It was mixed up in the disturbances between Boers and Griquas as far back as 1843, and then shared during the first Kaffir War in the dangerous operation in the Amatolas and the Waterkloof.  In one of these small campaigns alone it marched 1,200 miles.  For these services it bears the names of “South Africa, 1846-47”, as well as of “South Africa, 1851-52-53”, on its colours, to which it added later “South Africa, 1879”, for its work during the Zulu campaign, where it took part in the actions of Ghinghilovo and Ekowe.  Its only other foreign service before this last was in the operations against the Rohillas in 1859.

Before the 2nd battalion, formerly known as the 93rd or Sutherland Highlanders, was called into being, a regiment of “Sutherland Fencibles” had appeared, to be disbanded in 1798.  It was not until 1800 that “Major General Wemyss’ regiment of Infantry was formed”.

Neither battalion of the regiment seems to have been much favoured by the sea, for in the first expedition of the 93rd to the Cape, in 1805, it lost thirty five men by the upsetting of a boat in Lospard bay.  For the battle of Blauwe Mountains and the surrender of the colony it earned the first name for the regimental list of honours, viz., “Cape of Good Hope, 1806”.  Its career in South Africa was uneventful until 1814, when it returned to England, to proceed at once with the expedition to New Orleans, where, in the attempt to storm the works, it lost 584 men, and the attack failed.

A second battalion was raised in the same year, but disappeared after less than two years’ life.   Little of military interest occurred until the outbreak of the Crimean War, when the 93rd formed part of Sir Colin Campbell’s Highland Brigade.  Sir Colin’s order to the brigade before going into action shows the discipline of the regiments at that time, and still more the value of localisation.  To none would the threat used by the General appeal more directly than to a Scotsman, when he was told that if any soldier attempted to carry off wounded men “his name shall be stuck up in the parish church”.  It was the fact that these men were localised to a great extent, that made such a threat serious.  They behaved with admirable gallantry everywhere.  When they met the charge of the Russian cavalry in line it was an act of desperate boldness, considering the slow loading arms of that time.  But to Sir Colin’s brief address, “There is no retreat from here, men! You must die where you stand”, came the ready, cheery answer, “Ay! Ay! Sir Colin, and needs be we will do that!”  The 93rd shared in the occupation of Kertch, and saw the fall of Sebastopol; and in 1857, when on its way to China, was diverted at the Cape to the more serious work of the Mutiny in India, where it again fell under its old general’s command, and saw practically continuous arduous and active service until 1859.  It was engaged at Kudjwa, where some of its wounded and some wounded sappers beat off a body of rebels; in the first advance on Lucknow (which name is borne on the colours); at Secundrabagh; at Cawnpore; at Kala Nuddee; the second and successful advance on Lucknow, when Lieutenant and Adjutant Macbean killed eleven men with his own hand, and where the regimental piper, among the first to crown the breach, remained there, cheering his comrades on with the pipes, at Fort Rayah, where Adrian Hope was slain; at Bareilly, Pusgaon, Russulpore, and Fort Mussowli.  During the campaign seven Victoria Crosses had been won, and three other officers were recommended, but though the cases were most meritous, the applications were not granted.  Crosses were bestowed upon Captain Stewart, who was elected to the honour by the officers of the regiment; Lieutenant Macbean (or McBen), for the exploit referred to above; Sergeant Paton, chosen by the non-commissioned officers of the regiment for reconnoitring for a breach under a heavy fire; Sergeant Munro, for saving Captain Walsh when wounded; and Privates Mackay and Grant, both selected by the privates of the regiment for their distinguished bravery.

This regiment’s last active service was in the Umbeyla campaign.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is the only infantry regiment of the Line that bears “Balaklava” on its colours.  Their gallantry in the battle when the “thin red line” received the charge of the Russian cavalry – a formation to meet the mounted arm unprecedented up to that time in the annals of war – has been already referred to, and the name of “the thin red line” is the only recorded nickname – save probably the “Rory’s” – the old 93rd have had.  It is also stated, that though the first “king’s colour” is retained, framed and glazed, the regimental colour carried with it has disappeared.  Tradition explains this by asserting that when Colonel Dale of the regiment was mortally wounded before Orleans in 1814 he made the request that he should be buried wrapped in one of the colours, and his wish was complied with.

Like other Scotch regiments, the scarlet uniform is faced with yellow, and the kilt is of Sutherland tartan.  The badges are quaint; a myrtle wreath interlaced with one of butcher’s broom, the former surrounding a boar’s head with “Ne Obliviscaris”, and  within the other a cat with the scroll “Sans peur”, the whole linked together with a label of three points, and crowned by the coronet of H. R. H. the Princess Louise, is worn on the button.  The tunic collar has the same without the crown.  The head dress plate bears a thistle wreath, within it is the regimental title on a small scroll within the double cipher crown of the Princess Louise; the boar’s head and cat are borne on either side.  The feather bonnet has a white feather and a scarlet and white diced border.  The 91st regiment, or the Princess Louise’s Argyllshire Highlanders, were shortly after the marriage of the Princess “commanded” by the Queen to “always march past (in quick time) to their pipers”,

The 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions are the Highland Borderers Militia, formed in 1803, and the Royal Renfrew in 1798.  The latter was embodied until 1816 and again in 1855, having “invariably been kept to its establishment, and given a great many officers and men to the regular army, notably during the Peninsular and Crimean Wars”.  There are seven Volunteer Battalions attached : the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Renfrew, 1859-60; the 1st Stirling, the 1st Argyll, the 1st Dumbarton, and the 1st Clackmannan, 1859, and Kinross.  All these wear a scarlet uniform with the national facings, except the second, which has blue facings.  The regimental depot is at Stirling.

Extract from "The British Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel C. Cooper King, R.M.A. , 1894

JAMES MUNRO  (Colour-Sergeant)  93rd Regiment (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)            Decorated for his devoted gallantry on November 16th 1857, at the attack on the Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, during Sir Colin Campbell’s advance to the relief of the Residency.  Captain Walsh had fallen severely wounded and was in imminent danger of being killed by the Sepoys, when Munro rushed to his assistance, carried him to a place of safety, and saved his life.  He himself was shortly afterwards brought in dangerously wounded.  His Victoria Cross is in the United Services Institute, in London.

JOHN PATON  (Sergeant)  93rd Regiment (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)             At the Shah Nujjiff, Novemebr 16th 1857, Peel’s naval guns had been firing point blank at the walls, endeavouring to force a breach for the eager Highlanders to rush in, but the strength of the masonry was such that it seemed a hopeless task.  An attempt was about to be made to carry the place by assault, when Sergeant Paton hurried up with the report that he had an opening.  On his own initiative, and quite alone, he had crept around the stronghold to, if possible, discover a means of entry, and found that the shot’s from our heavy guns had at the commencement gone over the front and made a beach in the rear defences, through which he guided his regiment.  The enemy were taken in rear, and a general stampede took place leaving the Shah Nujjiff in our hands.  Born on December 23rd 1883, at Stirling, Paton enlisted in the 42nd Highlanders on March 20th 1848, but volunteered into the 93rd at the outbreak of the Crimean War.  After the Mutiny, he left the Army in 1861, went to Sydney, joined the Prison Service, and eventually became Governor of Goulburn Gaol, retiring in 1896.

WILLIAM McBEAN  (Lieutenant and Adjutant, afterwards Major General)  93rd (Argyll and Sutherland) Highlanders  Forbes-Mitchell, in his Reminiscences of the Great Mutiyn, relates how Lieutenant McBean, with Sergeant Hutchinson and Drummer Ross, a boy of about twelve years of age, climbed to the top of the dome of the Shah Nujjiff by means of a rude rope ladder, which was fixed, on it.  This was during the relief of Lucknow by Sir Colin Campbell’s force, and the reason for this daring adventure (for the enemy on the Badshahibagh saw them and turned their guns on them) was in order to signal to the garrison of the Residency to let them know the position of the relieving force.  Describing the assault on the Begum’s Kothee, the same author relates the act for which William McBean was awarded the Victoria Cross.  After the assault the men were broken up into small parties in a series of separate fights all over the different detached buildings of the palace.  “Willie” McBean, as the officers, but “Paddy” McBean to the men knew him, encountered a havildar, a naik, and nine Sepoys at one gate, and killed the whole eleven one after the other.  The havildar was the last; and, by the time he got out through the narrow gate, several men came to the assistance of McBean, but he called to them not to interfere, and the havildar and he went at it with their swords.  At length McBean made a feint cut, but instead gave the point, and put his sword through the chest of his opponent.  McBean was an Inverness-shire ploughman before he enlisted, and rose from the ranks to command the regiment and died a Major General.  It is said of him that when he first joined the regiment he walked with a rolling gait and the drill corporal was rather abusive with him when learning his drill.  At last he became so offensive that another recruit proposed to McBean, who was a very powerful man, that they should call the corporal behind the canteen in the barrack yard and give him a good thrashing, to which proposal McBean replied: “Toots, toots, man, that would never do.  I am going to command this regiment before I leave it and it would be an ill beginning to be brought before the colonel for thrashing the drill-corporal.”  McBean kept to his purpose and did live to command the regiment through every rank from private to Major General.

J. DUNLEY  (Lance Corporal)  93rd Sutherland Highlanders (now part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)             At the attack on the Secundra Bagh at Lucknow, November 16th 1857, Dunley was the first surviving man of his regiment who entered the trench.  He was particularly noticeable in his conduct, gallantly supporting Captain Burroughs against heavy odds.  Elected by the private soldiers of the 93rd Regiment under Rule 13 of the Warrant.

P. GRANT  (Private)  93rd Sutherland Highlanders (now part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)            Elected under Rule 13 of the Victoria Cross Warrant, for his bravery at the storming of the Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, November 16th 1857.  Lieut. –Colonel Ewart had most gallantly captured a colour from the mutineers, and, while striving to get it away through the masses of Sepoys, was furiously attacked by them.  Grant kept close to his colonel, and defended him, and having seized one of the enemy’s swords, killed five of them himself.  The colour was eventually safely carried out.

D. MACKAY  (Private) 93rd The Sutherland Highlanders (now part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)           At the capture of the secundra Bagh at Lucknow, November 16th 1857, MacKay displayed the greatest gallantry in capturing one of the standards of the enemy, after a most obstinate resistance on their part.  Afterwards, at the capture of the strong defence, the Shah Nujjiff, he was severely wounded.  His comrades elected him to receive the decoration of the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Warrant.

WILLIAM GEORGE DRUMMOND STEWART  (Captain, afterwards Major Sir W. G. D. Stewart, Bart  93rd The Sutherland Highlanders (now part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)              On November 16th 1857, this officer led a brilliant charge upon two of the enemy’s guns, which were brought to bear upon our troops, and inflicting severe damage.  By the capture of these cannon the position of the mess-house was secured.  Under Rule 13 of the Warrant this officer was decorated with the Victoria Cross.

ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS

The regiment was formed in 1794, as the 98th Argyllshire Highlanders, changing in 1809 to the 91st of foot,  the 93rd Highlanders were formed in 1799, and in 1881 both of these Regiments became the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Battle Honours

1806, at the Cape of good hope against the Dutch.

1808 - 1814, Rolica, Vimiera, Corunna, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse during the Peninsula War

1846 - 1847 Seventh Kaffir war, south Africa

1851 - 1853, Eigth Kaffie War, South Africa

1854 - 1856, Alam, Balaclava, Sebastopol during the Crimean War

1857 - 1858 at Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny

1877 - 1979  Zulu war, South Africa

1899 - 1902 Modder River, Paardeburg, during the Boer War, South Africa

1914 - 1918 Mons, Le Cateaux, Marne 1914, 1918, Ypres 1915, 1917, 1918, Loos, Somme 1916, 1918, Arras 1917, 1918, Cambrai 1917, 1918, Doiran 1917, 1918, Gaza. during the First World war

1939 - 1945  Odon River, Sidi Barrani, El Alamein, Akarit, Longstop Hill 1943, Crete, Grik Road, Malaya 1941- 1942

1950 - 1953  Pakchon during the Korean War.

Victoria Cross Awards

16 Victoria Crosse's were awarded to members of the regiment.   7 during the Indian Mutiny,  6 during World war One, 2 during World war two, and 1 during the Korean War.

A Captain and Subaltern of the 93rd (1896)

Of the tow officers of the 93rd Highlanders, the one with his feather bonnet on and wearing a full dress badger skin sporran, holds the rank of Captain, as the line of gold braid within the lace on his cuff shows.  The officer by the Captain's side, bare-headed, is a Lieutenant in "review order" tenue.  The badge of their famous regiment is shown on the collar of the doublet - a silver wreath of myrtle interlaced with a wreath of butcher's broom.  Within the myrtle wreath is a boar's head of gilt metal inscribed Ne oblivis caris, and within the wreath of the butcher's broom a cat on a scroll, inscribed Sans Peur.  Both emblems bear above them, in silver, a label of three points.  The 93rd are also known as the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland) Highlanders.

Original magazine photo page published 1895 - 1902.  Price £25.   Or reproduction of photograph ready mounted. Price £25. Click here to order.  ORDER CODE 1V60

The late Sergeant-Major J. McKae, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. (1895)

Opposite is the portrait of the late Sergeant-Major J. McKae, of the 2nd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who died in India on 14th August, 1895, deeply regretted by all ranks with whom he was, deservedly, most popular.  The 1st battalion of the famous regiment is the old 91st of Corunna and Peninsula War fame, since widely known for their services at the Cape, in the Kaffir Wars and the Zulu War.  As having been first raised in 1796 by the then Duke of Argyll, the Battalion, on the marriage of Princess Louise to the Marquis of Lorne, was specially given its present title.  Equally renowned is the 2nd Battalion of the regiment, the old 93rd, those splendid highlanders, who at Balaclava formed Sir Colin Campbell's "Thin Red Line" of immortal memory.

The Colonel of the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. (1896)

The officer in trews is Lieut.-Colonel O.C. Hannay, who command the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders now stationed at Aldershot Camp.  The warrant officer to whom he is giving an interview is the Sergeant-Major of the battalion, Sergeant-Major R. C. Williamson.  The two officers here shown are the heads of the executive in a battalion.  The Lieut.-Colonel is the commandant in supreme charge of the corps as a military unit, and also the senior and head of the commissioned officers of the battalion.  The Sergeant-Major is peculiarly responsible for the discipline and efficiency in drill of non-commissioned officers and men of the rank and file at whose immediate head he is, as the senior warrant officer of the battalion.

The Officers of the 1st Battalion Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland) Highlanders. (1896)

These are the officers of the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (the old 91st), waiting to fall in on parade at Aldershot.  Most of them are seen in full Highland uniform, as worn by officers of Scots regiments on foot.  The three officers, of those wearing the feather bonnet who are shown in trews, are Colonel Hannay, the commander of the battalion, one of the majors, and the adjutant.  Colonel Hannay is seen with a paper in his hand, speaking with the major, while the adjutant stands to the left (as the reader looks at the group) conferring with another officer.  The badges borne on the uniform of this regiment are specially distinctive: the Boar's Head, the crest of the Argyll family, and wreath of Myrtle, the badge of the Campbell clan; the Mountain Cat, the family cognizance of the Sutherlands, and wreath of Butcher's Broom, the badge of the Sutherland clan; the silver label of three points, the heraldic "mark of cadency" of the arms of the Princess Louise.  These badges are borne on the buttons, feather bonnet, glengarry cap, doublet collar, and waist plate.  The regimental Tartan is the Sutherland Tartan; the regimental facings are yellow; and the hackle is white.

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Original Antique Plate

A Company of the 9th Argylls Advancing Under Heavy Fire to Reinforce the 2nd Camerons During the Second Battle of Ypres.

Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on May 10th 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, the regiment of the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Territorial Force) was ordered to reinforce the 2nd Camerons with two companies.  Major George James Christie thereupon led A and D Companies through a terrific shellfire to a position two hundred yards west of Hooge.  But at 9.30 he was ordered to reinforce the trench south of the Menin Road, which was reported to be breaking.  A Company was chosen, and led with dauntless courage by Major Christie; they went forward in short rushes with shouts of Good old 9thArgylls.  The advance lay over a bare slope without any cover from the terrible fire, but though men fell fast these brave Scotsmen never wavered.

First World War antique black and white book plate published c.1916-18 of glorious acts of heroism during the Great War. This plate may also have text on the reverse side which does not affect the framed side.

Order Code DTE231.

Title and text describing the event beneath image as shown. Paper size 10.5" x 8.5" (27cm x 22cm)

Price £13

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Letters from Home by Robert Gibb

Sutherland Highlander Officers, are shown in camp, reading letters from home, during the Crimean war.

Print serial number DHM498  Image size 15" x 24"   Price £34 ($60)

Smaller image serial number VAR194  image size 12" x 8" Price £13 ($22)

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Open Edition Prints
Argyll and Sutherland Officer Review Order 1914 by Haswell Miller

Print published during 1970s now sold out (UN092)

New reprint now available.

Print serial number UN092. 

Image size 8" x 12". 

Print price £24 ($45).

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Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders by Harry Payne

Print serial number UN035.

Image size 7" x 12".

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Piper, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders by Harry Payne

Print serial number UN052. 

Image size 7" x 12". 

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The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb

One of the all time classic military painting's.  See text below.  This text is printed below the larger image.

Print serial number DHM065  image size 30" x 15" plus text.  price £42 ($75)

smaller image serial number VAR304  Image size 22" x 13" price £34 ($60)

 

The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb

"There is no retreat from here, men!" said General Sir Colin Campbell (who at that moment may have said to have commanded the regiment in person) as he cantered along the front of the 93rd "You must die where you stand" To which some of the Highlanders replied cheerily "Ay Ay, Sir Colin if needs be we'll do that".

Nearer and nearer the Russian Squadrons approached - the ground trembling beneath their horses feet; and gathering speed at every stride, they galloped on towards that thin red streak, topped with steel"   the Sutherland Highlanders awaited the onslaught of the enemy's horsemen in line, without a movement in their ranks. "I  would not even form four deep1" was the reply of Sir Colin, when remonstrated with for giving the Russians such a chance. Cool as if on "Birthday parade" The Sutherland s stood until their foes were within 600 yards; then down on their knees they dropped the front rank, and delivered a steady volley. But the distance was too great, and, though a few saddles were emptied, the Russians pressed forward unchecked. On they rode, till scarcely 200 yards separated them from the intrepid Highlanders; When the rear rank brought their "Minies" to the "present" and over their heads of their kneeling comrades pourd a withering fire into the enemy's masses.

Shaken to their very centre, the Russian Squadrons fell back, but, encouraged by their gallant leaders, they determined to make one last bid for victory, and wheeling around, endeavoured to turn the Highlanders right flank. here they were checkmated by the grenadier Company, which received the charge with such a volley, that the Russians went "Files about" and scampered off to seek the shelter of their guns.

  

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Fighting Spirit by Peter Archer

Shows the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders going over the top of the trenches during the First World War.

DHM064. Image size 21 x 16". Print price £34 ($60).

 

 

  

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Operation Bluecoat, Normandy 30th July 1944 by David Pentland

Churchill MkIV tank of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade (comprised of 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards, 4th Battalion Coldstream Guards and 3rd Battalion Scots Guards), pass infantry of the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Battle for Caumont.

Signed Limited Edition of 1,150 prints plus 50 artists proofs. From the limited edition 50 are available as Giclee canvas prints at a larger size of 20 at 36" x 24" price £550 and 30 at 30" x 20". Canvas print price £420. To know more about Giclee prints and our range click here

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Original Chromolithograph
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders by Richard Simkin

Print serial number UN248. Image size 9" x 12". Print price £13  ($22).

From the supplement of the Army and Navy Gazette, published 1887-89. Original chromolithograph image size 10" x 13". One copy available price £140 ($260).

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Original Colour Plate
The Advance of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of Alma 1854 by Richard Simkin.

Plate from the book our armies 1896. Image size 10" x 7"  paper size 11" x 8".  price £65 

Order code  RSIM1

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Original Colour Plate
The Princess Louises Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Forming on Parade by Richard Simkin.

Plate from the book our armies 1896. Image size 10" x 7"  paper size 11" x 8".  price £65 

Order code  RS18

How Major George James Christie, Of The 9th Argyll And Sutherland Highlanders (T.F.), Won The D.S.O. At The Second Battle Of Ypres.

          During the night of May 9th-10th 1915, a draft of thirty men belonging to the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (T.F.), all burning to take their share in the great battle which had been in progress for nearly three weeks, joined their battalion, which was occupying dugouts n the Zouave Wood near Hooge.  At dawn the new arrivals were allocated; before midday they were fighting for their lives; and when evening came only two of them were fit for service.  For that day was a terrible ordeal for those gallant Territorial.  Early in the morning the German artillery began a heavy bombardment of the British trenches on either side of the Ypres-Menin Road, which in places were soon almost demolished, and the bombardment was followed up by an attack under cover of gas.  Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. the 9th Argyll’s were ordered to reinforce the 2ns Cameron’s with two companies, and “A” Company and “D” Company were accordingly dispatched, under the command of Major Christie.  Through a terrific shellfire, Major Christie led his men to a position astride the Menin Road, two hundred yards west of Hooge, where the Cameron headquarters were.  Here they dug themselves in, while the major went forward for further orders.  At 9.30 he was ordered to lead one company forward to reinforce a trench south of the Menin Road, and between it and the Sanctuary Wood, which was reported to be breaking.  “A” Company, being stationed on the south side of the road, was chosen, and advanced in short rushes, with cries of “Good old 9th Argyll’s!”  The advance lay over a bare slope right to the ridge opposite Chateau Hooge, without a ditch, or hedge even, to afford cover from view, and was accomplished under a most murderous fire.  But though comrades were falling to right and left of him, not one of those brave Scotsmen wavered, but only became the keener to come to close grips with the Huns.  They were only just in time, for the gas, on top of the terrible shelling, had been more than flesh and blood could endure.  The trench, which they had come to save, had broken, and the men were falling back.  At sight of the Argyll’s, however, they raised a cheer, and passing through them, the Territorial dashed into the trench, bayoneted or chased out those Germans who had already gained a footing there, and, setting up their machine guns, began to mow down the advancing enemy with them and rifle fire.  The Huns, astonished at this unexpected resistance, fell back in confusion, and the Argyll’s and Cameron’s, having done what they could to repair the damage done to the trench by the enemy’s shellfire, awaited developments.  Presently they saw, to their astonishment, a strong force of men in Cameron kilts, advancing through the Bellewarde Wood, north of the Menin Road, toward the trenches occupied by the 91st.  Uncertain as to whether they were British or Germans, they refrained from firing, until volley upon volley from the trenches of the 91st told them they were the enemy in disguise.

             Meanwhile “B” and “C” Companies of the 9th Argyll’s had advanced from Zouave Wood to the trenches, which Major Christie’s men had dug near the Menin Road.  On the way, their gallant and much loved Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, and shells killed another officer.  Major Christie, who had hurried back to report the new attack, dispatched “D” Company to reinforce the 91st; but, notwithstanding the assistance of the Territorial, the latter were driven from their trenches by the determine attacks of the kilted Germans.  The 9th Argyll’s and 2nd Cameron’s, though now exposed to an enfilading fire from north of the Menin Road, gallantly held their trenches against every attack, until night fell, and piles of corpses beyond their entanglements bore eloquent testimony to the deadly work of their machine guns and rifles.  They had themselves lost heavily, however.  Among the slain was Colonel Campbell, commanding the Cameron’s, who was killed by a shell, which had landed right in the middle of a machine gun team, who work he was directing.  At 2 a.m. relief arrived, and Major Christie, whom the death of Colonel Clark had left in command of the 9th Argyll’s, led his sorely tried men back to their dugouts in Zouave Wood.  In that and the previous days fighting the battalion had had twelve and some three hundred men killed and wounded.  Thee losses were considerably increased during the next two days, May 11th and 12th, when, their position having been located by a captive kite balloon sent up by the enemy, the wood was raked by a terrific shelling, which seemed to search every yard of it.  Major Christie’s own dugout was twice blown in, but, happily, he escaped without injury.  When the shelling creased, hardly a tree of that wood remained standing; all was a jumble of broken timber and undergrowth, beneath which lay dead men, broken rifles and equipment, and torn sandbag.  On the 16th the 9th Argyll’s were sent to the rest camp at Poperinghe.  But they were not permitted to enjoy even so much as one whole day’s rest, as, scarcely had they arrived, when orders came to join the 10th Brigade at La Brique.  Just after dawn on May 24th, while they were occupying the support trenches northeast of Saint-Jean, the enemy started bombarding our front with asphyxiating shells and immediately afterwards gas was released from the cylinders against the whole three miles of front from Shelltrap Farm to the Bellewaarde Lake.  After the gas came a violent bombardment from north, northeast and east. 

            Seeing that the troops in the first line trenches were beginning to give way, Major Christie at once resolved to repeat that dash to the rescue, which had saved the Cameron’s trench at Hooge a fortnight before, and having adjusted their respirators, the territorial doubled across the shell swept ground which lay between them and the fire trenches.  The sight which met their eyes as they reached them was terrible, for maimed and gassed men were lying everywhere.  But they lost no time getting to work, and, lining the broken parapet, opened a withering fire on the advancing Germans.  The enemy fell back, but soon it became apparent that their artillery was concentrating on that particular trench, while, though the German infantry fell in heaps before our fire, they continued to advance in ever increasing numbers.  Major Christie saw that, if the trench was to be held, more men must be found to replace those whom we were losing every minute.  As all communication with the rear had been cut, he left one of his officers in charge, and ran back to the support trench, in search of stragglers.  He found a few odd lots of the Dublin Fusiliers and of his own battalion and rushed them forward.  But still there were not sufficient rifles to line the parapet, so out into the fire swept open went the major again, searching for men-men with rifles.  In a small isolated trench he found another odd lot, gassed and half dazed, but, though for the moment the poor fellows could be of little use, they had rifles, and, pouncing upon them, he was leading them forward, when he was hit in the leg by a piece of shell and fell to the ground.  But the odd lot he was leading went on and reached the trench, and it seems to have been largely through the assistance rendered by them that the German hordes were held off until relief arrived.

            Major Christie did what he could for himself with a tourniquet, until Drummer Bell, of the Argyll’s came out of the trench to his assistance and after rendering first aid, went away and returned with two men of their battalion carrying a stretcher.  Lifting the wounded officer on to this, they set out for the nearest dressing station; but so tremendous was the fire through which they had to pass, that they were obliged several times to stop and take refuge in a ditch or under a hedge.  Major Christie begged the men to leave him and look after themselves; but these brave fellows indignantly refused to do, and, though all three were wounded, they managed to stagger on with their load until they reached the dressing station.  Drummer Bell, who repeatedly interposed his own body between his wounded officer and the enemy’s fire, was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the French Croix de Guerre.  Major Christie, who received the Distinguished Service Order, is a native of the Vale of Leven, and the youngest son of Mr John Christie, of Levenfield, Alexandria, Dumbartonshire, chairman of the United Turkey Red Company, Limited, and its thirty-five years of age.  He served for a number of years with the Alexandria and Renton Company of Volunteers, retiring with the rank of honorary major.  He is a good shot and won several prizes at the Dumbartonshire Rifle Association meetings at Jamestown.  At the outbreak of war he volunteered for service, and went into training with his old regiment at Bedford, proceeding to the front in February 1915. He was immensely popular with the 9th Argyll’s, alike for his dauntless courage and his solicitude fro their comfort, and it is indeed regrettable that the injuries he received will prevent him from leading them again.  Extracted from 'Deeds That Thrill The Empire'             

Officers, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

 

 

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