Excerpts from: The Black Watch and the King's Enemies
Home ] Up ] Photo Galleries ] Town Guides ] Notables ] Community ] News ] Places ] History ] Search ] Contact Us ]

Below are short excerpts from The Black Watch .... A Short History  by Bernard Fergusson from the Black Watch Highland Society . Click on the images to the right to view them full size.

Book Cover

Inside Flap

Herald Review

Service In World War II - Korea

When the Second World War broke out on 3rd September 1939, the 1st Battalion was at Dover and the 2nd at Jerusalem. The 1st Battalion formed part of the 4th Division, which concentrated at Aldershot and landed in France in October. For the next seven months there were practically no hostilities, since the German Army made no move and the British and French lay on the defensive; only the French were in contact with the Germans, as the British Expeditionary Force was lying at Lille, behind the Belgian frontier. In December the 1st Battalion was sent down for three weeks to the Saar, to gain patrol experience in the French Sector in front of the Maginot Line.

The 51st Highland Division, which included the 4th and 6th Battalions, arrived in France in January 1940. When the Germans suddenly attacked all along the front on the 11th May, and invaded Belgium, the 6th Battalion became heavily involved, and fought a number of fierce actions with credit from near Brussels all the way back to the coast, being finally evacuated from Dunkirk on the 1st June.

Meanwhile the Highland Division had been sent complete to the Saar to be blooded, and was there when the German offensive began. It was brought round south of Paris in a long sweeping journey, but, arriving too late to join the main body of the British Army, from which it was already cut off, it was put into the field just south of the River Somme, near Abbeville. Hopelessly outnumbered, with its flanks continually crumbling, it fought a retreat of sixty miles in six days from the Somme to the little fishing port of St. Valery. Here, on 12th June, having run out of food, ammunition and all other supplies with two of its brigades, including the 1st Battalion, of which only one officer and 18th other ranks managed to escape. The 4th Battalion, which had been sent on ahead to hold Le Havre as a port of embarkation, was safely evacuated, and send a month later to form part of the garrison of Gibraltar, where it remained until 1943.

The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

The Black Watch of Canada is the oldest Highland regiment in any Dominion; they were founded in 1862, and have been allied to the parent Regiment since 1905, when they set up their own Armoury in Montreal. They owe their origin to a period of tension between Britain and the United States, during the course of the American Civil War between North and South; an American warship of the North had stopped a British mail boat on the high seas. The sympathies of both Britain and Canada were largely with the South; and if war were to break out between Britain and the northern States it was bound to spread to Canada; Volunteer units were raised all over Canada; and from one these, then known as the 5th Battalion Royal Light Infantry, is descended the present Regiment.

The New South Wales Scottish

The New South Wales Scottish Regiment had existed from 1886 before being swallowed up in the course of some re-organization of the Australian forces in 1914. But between the two World Wars it was resurrected as the New South Wales Scottish (30th Battalion), and on the outbreak of war, when volunteers were called for to go overseas, every man volunteered. It was not, however, allowed to go as a complete unit; yet it so happened that the first Australian officer to be killed, and five out of the first six to be decorated, came from the Battalion.

The Transvaal Scottish

This Regiment was closely associated with The Black Watch in the Second World War; but its greatest feats were performed in East Africa and Abyssinia. The 1st Battalion took part in the classic advance under General Cunningham, which began in the north of Kenya, almost on the Equator, under a temperature of 106 degrees and ended in the bitterly cold Highlands of Abyssinia at over 13,000 feet

The New Zealand Scottish

This unit started the war as a draft-finding unit, but was eventually allowed overseas in its own identity. Unfortunately for its history, it was sent to defend Noumea in New Caledonia, one of the Loyalty Islands in the S.W. Pacific; and Noumea was never attacked. In June 1943 the Battalion was broken up to find reinforcements for elsewhere; but today it exists again.

The Tyneside Scottish

Two battalions of this Regiment fought in the First World War as part of the Northumberland Fusiliers, but disappeared thereafter until raised again as one battalion in 1939, affiliated to The Black Watch. It went to France lightly equipped in the spring of 1940, and found itself in action during the retreat to Dunkirk with only eleven Bren guns. It made its first and last stand at a cross-roads in the village of Ficheux, which it was vital should be held as long as possible to prevent the enemy cutting off part of the B.E.F. The Battalion consisted of a mixture of some very old soldiers and some very young ones with less than eight weeks' service. Two elderly C.S.M.s were killed behind anti-tank rifles; the provost-serjeant was killed as he clambered on to an enemy tank to try and knock it out; some young soldiers charged tanks with fixed bayonets. This forlorn hope actually succeeded in holding up the enemy for some hours.

Southern Rhodesia

Southern Rhodesia has no unit affiliated to the Regiment, but during the Second World War this small Dominion sent two officers and 42 other ranks to the 2nd Battalion in the Middle East. They played a fine part in Somaliland, Crete, Tobruk, and afterwards. It was the survivors of these men who presented the Southern Rhodesian Drill Trophy to the Regiment