SEAFORTH AND CAMERON HIGHLANDERS

DURING WWI

By the 4th August 1914, Britain and much of Europe had become involved in what was to be one of the most brutal and bloody wars ever recorded. Lasting over four years, WWI would cost almost nine million lives and almost thirty million casualties.

Today, on Remembrance Sunday, we remember all the British and Commonwealth soldiers and civilians who gave their lives during the World Wars and later conflicts. To commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Seaforth and Cameron Regiments, this blog post provides an overview of their WWI experience, including the battalions, locations, battles, and awards won by both regiments.

SEAFORTH HIGHLANDERS – BATTALIONS & BATTLES

1ST BATTALION

Before the outbreak of WWI, the 1st Battalion was stationed at Agra, India. In September, the battalion left for France and was renamed the 19th Indian Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division. The Division was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; the Battles of La Bassee, the First Battle of Messines, Armentieres and the Battle of Loos.

In December 1915, the 1st Battalion left for Mesopotamia and took part in battles at the Sheikh Sa’ad, Wadi, Hanna, Dujailia, and Sannaiyat. They also fought at the Fall of Kut and the Capture of Baghdad.

Due to heavy casualties, the Battalion was amalgamated with the Black Watch in February 1916, a partnership which lasted for July of the same year. By the end of 1917, the Battalion had moved to North Africa and the Middle East, fighting at the ‘North and South Sister’ Hills, the Raid of ‘Piffer Ridge’ and the Battle of Megiddo. The 1st Battalion were in Palestine and Libya at the end of the War.

2ND BATTALION

The 2nd Battalion were noted as forming part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) throughout WWI. At the outbreak of War, the Battalion was stationed in Shorncliffe, Kent. They were mobilised on 22nd August 1914 with the BEF and saw the majority of action on the Western Front. Battles included: during the first year of conflict, the 2nd Battalion’s engagements included the Battle of Le Cateau, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, the Battle of Messines 1914. The 2nd was involved in the Christmas Truce of 1914, an unofficial ceasefire in the trenches of the front line where British and German soldiers exchanged gifts and played football matches in no man’s land.

The Battalion went on to fight in the following engagements throughout WWI: the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde, the Battle of Poelcapelle, the First Battle of Passchendaele, the First Battle of Arras 1918, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune, the Advance in Flanders, the Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Drocourt-Queant, the Battle of the Canal du Nord, the Battle of the Selle, and the Battle of Valenciennes.

3RD (RESERVE) BATTALION

This Reserve Battalion was stationed in Fort George in Inverness, and was never called up to action in Europe. Nevertheless, reserve Battalions held a great responsibility – they were responsible for training recruits and men returning to duty after injury. The 3rd Reserve were later stationed in Cromarty.  

1/4TH (ROSS HIGHLAND) BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

Stationed in Dingwall at the outbreak of War as part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade, the Battalion was then moved to Bedford. Mobilised on 7th November 1914, the 1/4th Battalion joined the Dehra Dun Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division. The Battalion was moved around and amalgamated with several other divisions, ending up with the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division at the start of 1916.

The 1/4th Battalion was involved in the attacks on High Wood and the Battle of the Ancre and then the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the Capture and Defence of Roeux, the Battle of Pilkem Ridge, and the Battle of Menin Road Ridge throughout 1917. In 1918, they fought in the Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battles of the Marne, the Battle of the Scarpe, the Pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle, and the Final Advance in Picardy.

“conspicuous gallantry displayed by him at the assault on the Asmai Heights, round Kabul, on the 14th December, 1879, in having in a marked manner led the attack, under a heavy fire, and, dashing on in front of the party up the slope, engaged in a desperate conflict with an Afghan who sprang out to meet him. In this encounter Lance-Corporal Sellar was severely wounded”.

1/5TH BATTALION & 1/6TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

The 1/5th was stationed at Golspie and the 1/6th was stationed at Elgin at the start of the War. Like the 1/4th Battalion, they both became part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade and moved to Bedford.

The Battalions arrived in France on 2nd May 1915 as part of the 152nd Brigade of the 51st Division, seeing action at the Battle of Festubert, the Second Action of Givenchy, the attacks on High Wood, the Battle of the Ancre, the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the Capture and Defence of Roeux, the Battle of Pilkem Ridge, the Battle of Menin Road Ridge, the Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battles of the Marne, the Second Battles of Arras, the Pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle, and a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.

2/4TH 2/5TH 2/6TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCES

The 2/4th Battalion (Ross Highland) was formed at Dingwall, Scotland in 1914, and then joined the 191st Brigade of the 64th Division. Stationed in the UK throughout the War, they moved to Fort George in April 1915 and then to Blair Athol, then Pitlochry. In 1916, the 2/4th moved o Norwich then Blickling Park, then Holt and then Cromer. The 2/4th was disbanded from Cromer in May 1917. Following the 2/4th Battalion to Fort George, Blair Athol and Pitlochry, the 2/5th Battalion (The Sutherland & Caithness Highland) was absorbed by the 2/6th in April 1916. Again, the 2/6th (Morayshire) followed the 2/4th to Fort George, Blair Athol and Pitlochry, then around Norfolk until being disbanded in May 1917.  

3/4TH 3/5TH 3/6TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

Formed in 1915, the Battalions moved to Ardersier, Scotland and then to Ripon, Yorkshire. On 18th April 1916, they became the 4th, 5th. and 6th Reserve Battalions, and were eventually absorbed into the 5th and 6th as part of the Highland Reserve Brigade Territorial Force. The new Battalion moved to Glencorse in May 1918 where it remained. 

7TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

Formed at Fort George in August 1914 as part of the First New Army, the Battalion then moved to Aldershot to join the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division and later moved to Bordon.  

Mobilised for war in May 1915, the Battalion landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including: the Battle of Loos, the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, the Battle of Delville Wood, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the First Battle of Passchendaele, the Action of Welsh Ridge, the Battle of St Quentin, the First Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Bailleul, the First and Second Battles of Kemmel, and the Final Advance in Flanders. 

8TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

Formed at Fort George in August 1914 as part of the Second New Army (K2), the Batalion then moved to Aldershot to join the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division and later moved to Petersfield and then Chisledon and Tidworth.

In July 1915, the Battalion landed at Boulogne and spent the duration of the War on the Western Front, engaged in the following Battles: The Battle of Loos, Defence during The Actions of Spring, the Battle of Pozieres, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First and Second Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Pilckem, The Battle of Langemark, the First Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of the Soissonnais, the Battles of the Marne 1918 and the Final Advance in Artois.

9TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

Again, the 9th Battalion was formed in Fort George in October 1914, later moving to Aldershot to the 9th Division. As a Pioneer Battalion of the 9th Division, they moved to Farnham in Surrey. On 10th May 1915, the Battalion left for France and were involved in: the Battle of Loos, the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, the Battle of Delville Wood, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the First Battle of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres, the Cambrai operations, the Battle of St Quentin, the First Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Bailleul, the First and Second Battles of Kemmel, and the Final Advance in Flanders.

10TH (RESERVE) BATTALION

Formed in Cromarty as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4), they later became a 2nd Reserve Battalion in the 9th Reserve Brigade. In May 1915, the Battalion moved to Tain and then Catterick, finally becoming the 39th Training Reserve in April 1916, based in Dunfermline.

1ST GARRISON BATTALION

Formed in July 1916 in Tillicoultry, Scotland, the 1st Garrison moved out almost immediately to Salonika, Greece, where they were absorbed into the 228th Brigade of the 28th Division. 

AWARDS & BATTLE HONOURS

Throughout WWI, the Regiment was awarded 60 Battle Honours. There were also seven recipients of the Victoria Cross: 

Sidney Ware, 1st Battalion, 1916 

Walter Ritchie, 2nd Battalion, 1916 

Thomas Steele, 1st Battalion, 1917 

Donald MacKintosh, 2nd Battalion, 1917 

Alexander Edwards, 6th Battalion, 1917 

Robert McBeath, 5th Battalion, 1917 

John Meikle, MM, 4th Battalion, 1918 

QUEEN’S OWN CAMERON HIGHLANDERS – BATTALIONS & BATTLES

1ST BATTALION

Initially stationed at Edinburgh, the 1st Battalion arrived at Le Harvre on 6th September 1914. The 1st spent the duration of WWI on the Western Front and fought at numerous battles indlucing: the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Aubers, and the Battle of Loos.

In March 1916, the Battalion absorbed the 1/4th Battalion and fought at Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, the Battle of Pozieres, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Second Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune, the Battle of Drocourt-Queant, the Battle of Epehy, the Battle of the St Quentin Canal, the Battle of Beaurevoir, the Battle of the Selle, and finally, the Battle of the Sambre. They were stationed in Fresnoy-le-Grand when the War came to an end.

2ND BATTALION

Like the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, the 2nd Camerons were stationed in India when WWI began. They departed for England in October 1914, and by December, had commenced fighting on the Western Front.

The Battalion saw action at St Eloi, and the Second Battle of Ypres before embarking for Salonika to fight the Bulgarian Army. Engagements included: The Capture of Karajakois, the Capture of Yenikoi, the Battle of Tumbitza Farm, the Capture of Homondos, the Capture of the Roche Noir Salient, the Passage of the Vardar River and the Pursuit to the Strumica Valley. The Battalion were in Macedonia at the end of the War.

3RD (RESERVE) BATTALION

The 3rd Reserves were stationed at Inverness, and later moved to Cromarty and then Invergordon. From 1917  1918, the Battalion moved around Birr, Ballyvonare, and Limerick in Ireland.  

1/4TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

The 1/4th were stationed at Inverness as part of the Seaforth & Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division when they moved to Bedford in August 1914. They joined the 24th Brigade of the 8th Division at Le Harve, and saw action on the Western Front: The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of Aubers, the Battle of Festubert, the second action of Givenchy, and the Battle of Loos.

The Battalion was transferred numerous times from December 1915 to March 1916, eventually being absorbed into the 1st Battalion.

2/4TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

The movement of the 2/4th Battalion Camerons closely mimicked the 2/4th Seaforths. Formed in Fort George, Inverness, the Battalion moved around Blair Athol, Aberfeldy, Norwich, Blickling, Kelling and then Cromer. The 2/4th was disbanded in February 1918.

3/4TH BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

The Battalion with one of the shortest histories, the 3/4th spent time at Fort George and Ripon before being absorbed into the 4th Reserve Battalion. They were disbanded in July 1916. 

5TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

The 5th were formed in August 1914 at Inverness as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot as part of the 26th Brigade of the 9th Division. Mobilised on 10th May 1915, they landed at Boulogne and saw action on the Western Front at: the Battle of Loos, the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, the Battle of Delville Wood, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First Battle of the Scarpe, the Second Battle of the Scarpe, the First Battle of Passchendaele, the action of Welsh Ridge, the Battle of St Quentin, the First Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Bailleul, the First Battle of Kemmel, the Second Battle of Kemmel, the Advance in Flanders, the Final Advance in Flanders, the Battle of Courtrai, and finallt, the action of Ooteghem. 

6TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

Formed at Inverness as part of the Second New Army (K2) in September 1914, the 6th moved to Maida Barracks, Aldershot as part of the 45th Brigade of the 15th Division and then moved to Bramshott.

Mobilised for war in July 1916, the 6th landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including: the Battle of LoosGerman gas attacks near Hulluch, the defence of the Kink position, the Battle of Pozieres, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First Battle of the Scarpe, the Second Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Pilckem, the Battle of Langemark, the First Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of the Soissonnais, the attack on Buzancy, and the Final Advance in Artois. 

7TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

In January 1915, the 7th Joined the 44th Brigade of the 15th Division to replace the 9th Gordon Highlanders. They moved around the UK for seven months until they were mobilised to the Western Front in July, seeing action at: the Battle of Loos, German gas attacks near Hulluch, the defence of the Kink position, the Battle of Pozieres, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Le Transloy, the First Battle of the Scarpe, the Second Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Pilckem, the Battle of Langemark, the First Battle of Bapaume, and the First Battle of Arras.

In June 1918 the Battalion was reduced to a training cadre with 21 Officers and 383 men transferred to the 6th Battalion.

8TH (RESERVE) BATTALION

The 8th Reserves were formed at Invergordon and moved to Inverness, Tain, Catterick and Stirling.

9TH (LABOUR) BATTALION

The 9th was formed at Blairgowrie, and was mobilised in September 1916 landing at Havre. In April 1917, the 9th was transferred to the Labour Corps as the 7th & 8th Labour Companies.

10TH (LOVAT SCOUTS) BATTALION TERRITORIAL FORCE

The Lovat Scouts were assembled in Cairo in September 1916 from two dismounted Yeomanry of the 1/1st & 1/2nd Lovat Scouts. They arrived in Salonika in October of the same year, joining the 82nd Brigade of the 27th Division and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including: the Capture of Karajakois, the Capture of Yenikoi, the Battle of Tumbitza Farm, and the Capture of Homondos. They were deployed to France in June 1918.  

11TH (SERVICE) BATTALION

Formed in June 1918 as 6th Garrison Guard Battalion as part of the 120th Brigade of the 40th Division. In July, the title of ‘Garrison’ was dropped and the Battalion was engaged in the Final Advance in Flanders (including the Battle of Ypres).  

1ST (HOME SERVICE) GARRISON BATTALION

The 1st (Home Service) was formed in February 1917 at Invergordon and went on to become the 18th Battalion of the Royal Defence Corps. 

AWARDS & BATTLE HONOURS

Throughout WWI, the Regiment was awarded 57 Battle Honours. There were also three recipients of the Victoria Cross: 

Angus Douglas-Hamilton, 6th Battalion, 1915

James Dalgleish Pollock, 5th Battalion, 1915

Ross Tollerton, 1st Battalion, 1914

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