The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

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  • Courtesy of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
    Learn about the brave soldiers of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment
  • The memorial to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the castle esplanade at Stirling Castle
    The memorial to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the castle esplanade at Stirling Castle

Boasting a long and distinguished legacy which dates back to the late 18th century, this former regiment can also lay claim to having been the original ‘Thin Red Line’, the name it was dubbed after a decisive action taken by it during the Crimean War which saw it hailed as epitome of British heroism.

Active:

1 July 1881 - 28 March 2006

Type:

Line Infantry

Regimental Depot:

Stirling Castle

Nicknames:

During the Crimean War the 93rd Regiment of Foot (later the 2nd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) earned a reputation for extraordinary valour in battle and became known as ‘The Fighting Highlanders’ and ‘The Thin Red Line’.

Motto:

Ne Obliviscaris, Sans Peur (Do Not Forget, Without Fear)

Marches:

Heilan’ Laddie (quick), Monoymusk (charge) and Lochaber No More (funerals)

Tartan:

The Black Watch tartan, also known as the ‘Government sett’, or the Grant Hunting tartan

Origins:

One of six Scottish line infantry regiments, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was formed by the amalgamation of the 91st and 93rd regiments of foot. It would go on to serve overseas in South Africa, Ceylon and Hong Kong.

The 91st Regiment of Foot was raised in 1793 by John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll. It was later garrisoned in South Africa after capturing the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch and later served in the Zulu War. It also saw active service in the Peninsular War.

Courtesy of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum In 1871 it served as the Guard of Honour at the wedding of Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, to John Campbell, Marques of Lorne and the Duke of Argyll’s heir. In recognition of this, the regiment was retitled Princess Louise’s Argyllshire Highlanders.

The 93rd Regiment of Foot was raised in 1799 by Major-General William Wemyss for the Countess of Sutherland. The regiment would later serve in North America in a failed attempt to capture New Orleans.

In 1854 the regiment gained the nickname of the ‘The Thin Red Line’ at the Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War when the battalion single-handedly defended the British Army base and four squadrons from charging Russian cavalry. Miraculously, the battalion managed to hold steady and break the charge using only musket fire. A correspondent for The Times recounted the scene writing that nothing stood between the British forces and defeat but a ‘thin red streak tipped with a line of steel of the 93rd’.

First World War:

At the outbreak of the First World War, the regiment had two Regular Battalions (1st and 2nd), two Militia Battalions (3rd and 4th) and five Territorial Battalions (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th). Several more Service Battalions were raised for Kitchener’s Army. The regiment had 10 battalions which served in France and Flanders while four were dispatched to southern Europe. Over the course of the conflict the regiment garnered 13 Battle Honoursand lost 6,900 men. Six of its members were awarded the Victoria Cross.

         Courtesy of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

Did you know?

  • The sketch above is taken from the pages of a book carried through battle by Sergeant Sydney Oldham of the 14th Battalion.This sketch from 1916 depicts the 'long, long trail' back to the trenches at Maroc.
  • Rudyard Kipling mythologised the courageous actions of the 93rd Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Balaklava in his Poem Tommy, describing it as ‘The Thin Red Line’ and the embodiment of everything the British Army should aspire to.
  • Major-General Wemyss adopted a rather unusual strategy for recruiting the soldiers of the 93rd Regiment of Foot. The young and able-bodied men of each parish were lined up and asked to drink from a large silver horn. By doing so they had, according to Wemyss, agreed to join up.
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