Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
|Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders|
Cap Badge of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
|Country||Kingdom of Great Britain (1793–1800)
United Kingdom (1801–1961)
|Part of||Highland Brigade|
|Garrison/HQ||Cameron Barracks, Inverness|
|Motto(s)||Pro rege et patria (For King and country)|
|March||Quick: The Cameron Highlanders|
|Colonel-in-Chief||HRH The Duke of Edinburgh|
|Tartan||Cameron of Erracht|
The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders was a line infantry regiment of the British Army formed in 1793. In 1961 the regiment was amalgamated with the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) to form the Queen's Own Highlanders.
The regiment was raised as the 79th Regiment of Foot (Cameronian Volunteers) on 17 August 1793 at Fort William from among the members of the Clan Cameron by Sir Alan Cameron of Erracht. Due to a War Department clerical error, the regiment had been designated "Cameronian Volunteers" instead of "Cameron Volunteers." However, "Cameronian" was a name associated with Presbyterian dissenters and therefore the designation was subsequently changed to "Cameron Volunteers".
The regiment was deployed to Flanders in 1794 where it took part in an unsuccessful campaign under the command of the Duke of York during the French Revolutionary Wars. On its return to England the 79th Foot was listed for disbandment, with the men being drafted into other units. In the end the regiment was reprieved, being instead posted to the West Indies in 1795; after a two-year tour the 79th returned to England again. The regiment was again in action against the French at the Battle of Alkmaar in October 1799 during the Helder Campaign. In 1800 the 79th was part of a force that took part in a failed assault on the Spanish coast at Ferrol.
The 79th Foot landed in Egypt as part of an expeditionary force to prevent French control of the land route to India and saw action at the Battle of Abukir in March 1801. After victories at Battle of Mandora and Battle of Alexandria later that month, the British forces forced the surrender of the French forces at Cairo. Along with other regiments that took part in the Egyptian campaign the 79th Foot were henceforth permitted to bear a sphinx superscribed EGYPT on its colours and badges. The 79th spent the next two years in Minorca and a second battalion was formed in 1804.
Originally on the Irish establishment, the regiment became part of the British Army in 1804 and was renamed the 79th Regiment of Foot (Cameron Highlanders). The 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of Copenhagen in August 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars.
In July 1808 the 79th Foot was deployed to Portugal for service in the Peninsular War. The regiment took part in the Battle of Corunna in January 1809 and were evacuated by to England. The regiment returned to Portugal in January 1810 and saw action at the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810, the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811 and the Siege of Badajoz in March 1812. It went to take part in the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, the occupation of Madrid in August 1812 and the Siege of Burgos in September 1812. It also saw combat at the Battle of the Pyrenees in July 1813, the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813 and the Battle of the Nive in December 1813 before taking part in the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814.
Following the abdication of Napoleon in April 1814, the regiment moved to Cork, Ireland. However, with the return of Napoleon from exile, the 79th Foot travelled to Belgium in May 1815. The regiment took part in the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars at Quatre Bras and Waterloo in June 1815.
The regiment sailed from Portsmouth to Scutari as part of the Highland Brigade for service in the Crimean War in June 1854. It fought at the Battle of Alma in September 1854, the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 and the Battle of Sevastopol in Winter 1854. After briefly returning to the UK, the regiment sailed to India to take part in the suppression of the Indian Rebellion. The regiment took part in the Capture of Lucknow in March 1858 and the Battle of Bareilly in May 1858.
Queen Victoria presented the regiment with new colours at Parkhurst, Isle of Wight on 17 April 1873 and directed they should be known as the "Queen's Own" in August 1873. Consequently, they became the 79th Regiment, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.
1881 – 1914
On 1 July 1881 the 79th Foot was redesignated as 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the county regiment of Inverness-shire. The Camerons were the only infantry regiment to have a single regular battalion. The 1881 reforms also combined the militia and rifle volunteers of the county with the 79th Foot, becoming the 2nd (Militia) Battalion and the 1st (1st Inverness-shire Highland) Volunteer Battalion. In 1897 a 2nd regular battalion was raised, and the Militia battalion was renumbered to 3rd. In 1886, the new depot for the regiment, Cameron Barracks, was completed in Inverness by the Royal Engineers.
In 1882 the 1st Battalion moved from Gibraltar to Egypt, where they took part in the invasion and occupation of the country and the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in September 1882 during the Anglo-Egyptian War. They remained in Egypt until 1884, when it took part in an expedition to the Sudan: the Battalion took part in the defence of Kosheh and the Battle of Ginnis in December 1885 during the Mahdist War.
In 1897 a 2nd Battalion was formed. The 1st Battalion arrived in South Africa in March 1900 and fought in the Second Boer War. On 27 February 1902, the noted Australian soldier Harry "Breaker" Morant was executed for murder by a firing squad of Cameron Highlanders in Pretoria jail.
In 1908 the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 reorganised the reserve battalions of the regiment. The Militia Battalion was transferred to the Special Reserve while the Volunteer Battalion became the 4th Battalion in the new Territorial Force.
First World War
The 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre as Army Troops for the 1st Division in August 1914 for service on the Western Front. The 2nd Battalion, which had been in India, landed at Le Havre as part of the 81st Brigade in the 27th Division in December 1914 for service on the Western Front and then moved to Salonika in December 1915. The 3rd Battalion was posted to Birr in Ireland in November 1917 as part of a move to replace Irish Reserve Battalions with British troops at a time when there were concerns about the reliability of troops of both 'Republican' and 'Loyalist' communities.
The 5th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 26th Brigade in the 9th (Scottish) Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front. The 6th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 45th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division in July 1915 also for service on the Western Front. The 7th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 44th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division in July 1915 also for service on the Western Front. The Scottish Gaelic poet Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna served with the 7th (Service) Battalion at this time.
The 1st Battalion was posted to India 1919 and then to Sudan in 1934. Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion was sent to Queenstown in Ireland where it saw action during the Irish War of Independence: the Battalion was engaged in several fire-fights with the Irish Republican Army. The 2nd Battalion then moved to Germany.
Second World War
The 1st battalion landed in France as part of the 5th Brigade in the 2nd Division with the British Expeditionary Force in September 1939 and then took part in the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940. The 1st Battalion was then deployed to Burma in 1942 and saw action at the Battle of Kohima in April 1944, the Battle of Mandalay in February 1945 and the Irrawaddy River operations in March 1945.
The 2nd Battalion, which was still in Sudan at the start of the war, moved to Egypt and then Libya as part of the 11th Indian Infantry Brigade in the 2nd South African Infantry Division and following the Battle of Gazala was captured when Tobruk fell on June 1942. It was reformed in the UK in December 1942 and sent to Italy as part of the reformed 11th Indian Infantry Brigade in the 4th Indian Division in January 1944 and served in Tunisia, Italy and, at the end of the war, in Greece.
The 4th Battalion went to France as part of the 152nd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division with the British Expeditionary Force in October 1939 but was captured at Saint-Valery-en-Caux in June 1940. The 4th Battalion was reformed in the UK in July 1940 but was disbanded in December 1942 to form troops to reconstitute the 2nd Battalion.
The 5th Battalion formed part of the reconstituted 152nd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division and saw action at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 and the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943. The battalion took part in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and then fought at the Battle for Caen in July 1944, the Battle of the Falaise Gap in August 1944 and the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
The 7th Battalion was part of the 46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade, in the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division. On 24 March 1942 they were redesignated as the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion. Those men that were deemed unsuitable for parachute duties were transferred to other units and were replaced by volunteers from other Scottish regiments.
The Australian 61st Battalion, which was raised as a Militia unit in Queensland in 1938, adopted the designation of the "Queensland Cameron Highlanders" after receiving official approval for an association with the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders in 1939. This battalion subsequently took part in the Battle of Milne Bay in August 1942 and the Bougainville Campaign in 1944 and 1945.
Following the independence of India, all infantry regiments were reduced to a single regular battalion: accordingly, the 2nd Battalion was placed in "suspended animation" in 1948. The regiment saw action during the Korean War in 1955 and was deployed to Aden in 1956. Under the Defence Review announced in 1957 the number of infantry battalions was to be reduced, with regiments being amalgamated in pairs. Accordingly, the Camerons were amalgamated with the Seaforth Highlanders on 7 February 1961 to form the Queen's Own Highlanders.
The regiment's battle honours were as follows:
- Early Wars: Egmont-Op-Zee, Egypt, Corunna, Busaco, Fuentes D'Onor, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Toulouse, Peninsula, Waterloo, Alma, Sevastopol, Lucknow, Egypt 1882, Tel-El-Kebir, Nile 1884-5, Khartoum, Atbara, South Africa, 1900-02
- The Great War: Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 '18, Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17 '18, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Givenchy 1914, Neuve Chapelle, Hill 60, Gravenstafel, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewaarde, Aubers, Festubert 1915, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916, Bazentin, Delville Wood, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917, Arleux, Pilckem, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Lys, Estaires, Messines 1918, Kemmel, Béthune, Soissonnais-Ourcq, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenburg Line, Épéhy, St. Quentin Canal, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Struma, Macedonia 1915-18
- The Second World War: Defence of Escaut, St. Omer-La Bassée, Somme 1940, St. Valery-en-Caux, Falaise, Falaise Road, La Vie Crossing, Le Havre, Lower Maas, Venlo Pocket, Rhineland, Reichswald, Goch, Rhine, North-West Europe 1940 '44-45, Agordat, Keren, Abyssinia 1941, Sidi Barrani, Tobruk 1941 '42, Gubi II, Carmusa, Gazala, El Alamein, Mareth, Wadi Zigzaou, Akarit, Djebel Roumana, North Africa 1940-43, Francofonte, Adrano, Sferro Hills, Sicily 1943, Cassino, Poggio del Grillo, Gothic Line, Tavoleto, Coriano, Pian di Castello, Monte Reggiano, Rimini Line, San Marino, Italy 1944, Kohima, Relief of Kohima, Naga Village, Aradura, Shwebo, Mandalay, Ava, Irrawaddy, Mt. Popa, Burma 1944-45
Victoria Cross recipients
The following servicemen from the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were awarded the Victoria Cross:
- Donald Farmer (Second Boer War)
- Angus Douglas-Hamilton (First World War)
- James Dalgleish Pollock (First World War)
- Ross Tollerton (First World War)
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- Jameson, p. 41
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.|
- National Library of Scotland: Scottish Screen Archive (1915 archive film of the 4th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders at Bedford)