The Gordon Highlanders

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  • Exhbition at the Gordon Highlanders Museum
    Enjoy fascinating exhibitions at the Gordon Highlanders Museum
  • Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
    Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
  • Inscribed granite stone outside the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
    Inscribed granite stone outside the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
  • The Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
    The Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen
  • Medal collection at the Gordon Highlanders Museum
    Medal collection at the Gordon Highlanders Museum

After witnessing their courage and competency in the Second Boer War, The Gordon Highlanders were hailed by a young, roving reporter named Winston Churchill as ‘the finest regiment in the world’. Over a century later, this historic infantry regiment remains one of the most celebrated in the history of the British Army.

Active:

1 July 1881- 17 September 1994

7th Gordons leaving for war service, 1914. Courtesy of The Gordon Highlanders MuseumType:

Line Infantry

Regimental Depot:

Castlehill Barracks, Aberdeen

Nickname:

The regiment inherited its nickname ‘The Gay Gordons’ from its parent regiment the 92nd Foot.

Motto:

Bydand (Steadfast)

March:

The Cock o’ the North, St Andrew’s Cross and The Garb of Old Gaul

Tartan:

Gordon Tartan

Origins:

As with most of the Scottish regiments which served during the Great War, the Gordon Highlanders were formed following Childers Reforms in 1881 which amalgamated the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot and the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.

4th Gordons on a summer camp route march, July 1914. Courtesy of The Gordon Highlanders Museum.The 75th Foot was raised in 1787 by Colonel Robert Abercromby of Tullibody for service in India and would later see action in the Indian Mutiny, South Africa, Egypt and on the North West Frontier.

The 92nd Foot was raised as the 100th Highlanders by the Duke of Gordon in 1794 and served in the Low Countries, Egypt, Corunna, the Peninsular War at the Battle of Waterloo, the Second Afghan War, and the First Boer War. After its formation, the regiment distinguished itself in Egypt at the Battle of Tel-El-Kebir, during operations on the North West Frontier in India, and during the Second Boer War.

First World War:

The regiment raised 21 battalions during the First World War, serving on the Western Front and in Italy. An estimated 50,000 men served with the regiment over the course of the conflict with around 9,000  killed and 20,000 wounded or reported missing. It received 57 battle honours and four of its servicemen were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Unlike most other active service regiments, the Gordon Highlanders did not serve in any other combat zones with the exception of the 2nd Gordons, who were sent as part of the joint Anglo-French forces to aid the Italians following their defeat by Austro-German forces at the Battle of Caporetto in 1917.

2nd Gordons and Germans, The Christmas Truce, 1914. Image courtesy of The Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Did you know?

  • The picture above depicts the Christmas Truce, an unofficial ceasefire between German and British troops along the Western Front at Christmas in 1914. Two battalions of the Gordons took part in the truce and the 2nd Gordons are pictured here with the Germans.
  • Jimmy MacBeath, the legendary Scottish folk singer and traveller served with the regiment during the First World War.