Over One Hundred Years of Regimental History
Brief History of the Liverpool Scottish
A Brief History of the Liverpool Scottish 1859 - 2006 , and Special Service of a Hazardous Nature, both by Dennis Reeves.
The Liverpool Scottish 1900-1919 by Colonel A .M. McGilchrist, the detailed WW1 history of the unit in softback
Chavasse: Double VC by Ann Clayton an account of the life and service of Noel Chavasse VC and Bar.
In 1859 the United Kingdom was threatened with invasion by Napoleon III of France. This led to the raising of Rifle and Artillery Volunteer Corps for the purposes of meeting such an invasion. Queen Victoria signified her acceptance of a Corps of Volunteers under the title of 'The Liverpool Scottish Rifle Volunteers (XIXth Lancashire)'. There were two companies, a Lowland company and a Highland company, which wore the MacKenzie tartan. These units were, in general, equipped and maintained at their own expense; members paid a subscription and bought their own uniforms and, in many cases, their commanders maintained them at their own expense. William Brown, a great commercial power in Liverpool, raised and commanded the 1st. Liverpool Artillery Volunteers at the age of 75 and is reputed to have contributed £3000 per annum to their expenses (a figure that is equivalent to over £300,000 today). The Rifle Volunteer movement placed great emphasis on shooting and drill (and, apparently, conviviality) as three Victorian sketches with their cut-out caricature heads might suggest. They are 'The Butts', the immaculate drill of 'The March Past Before the Review' (sadly with some headless warriors) and the rather less orderly 'March Past After the Review'. The faces are respectable, well-fed and professional, perhaps reflecting the Volunteer movement of the time.
The Liverpool Scottish was formed as an infantry battalion in 1900 in response to the crisis of the Boer War. A battalion then had an establishment of 1000 men. It was raised from amongst the body of highly educated and professional young Scotsmen in the city as the 8th (Scottish) Volunteer Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment). There was an annual subscription of 10 shillings (50p) and an entrance fee of £2. The founding Commanding Officer was Colonel C. Forbes Bell V.D.Colonel. The Forbes tartan kilt was adopted by the regiment and the Highland full dress uniform featured a khaki tunic with scarlet collar and facings together with a feather bonnet or glengarry and tartan plaid. feather Bonnets were introduced for officers in 1908. A party of 22 men went to South Africa with the 4th Service Company of the Gordon Highlanders and were attached to the 1st. Battalion of that regiment. An account of volunteer service in South Africa with the 1st Service Company of the Gordon Highlanders can be found here. With HQ established in Fraser Street in the Liverpool city centre, the home of the Scottish until 1967, the Battalion was re-designated in 1908 on the establishment of the Territorial Force as the 10th (Scottish) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) with new bonnet and sporran badges.
Arthur Hopley, Maidaner, photographed in May 1914 the Liverpool Scottish was mobilised at the outset of war and moved to France on 1st/2nd November 1914, one of the first Territorial battalions to do so. They sailed to France aboard the S.S. Maidan and an account of the time-consuming crossing by a Senior NCO of the Queen's Westminsters (who shared the ship with the Liverpool Scottish) can be found here. At this stage of the war, officers still carried swords on active service.... but not for long! The Battalion was made up from the outset of the war by men of high calibre, educated professionals and businessmen such as Arthur Hopley. During the course of the War, over 600 of its soldiers were to be commissioned and the Museum has carefully researched over 7000 names to yield a fascinating picture of the social composition of The Liverpool Scottish. WDetails of many of these men can be found in the WW1 history of the Liverpool Scottish, 'Bravest of Hearts', by Hal Giblin with David Evans and Dennis Reeves can be found here. (Now out of print)
Soon after they arrived in France and Flanders the Battalion reorganised from the 'eight company' system to the Regular Army's 'double company' organisation, numbering its companies from No. 1 to No. 4 and subsequently renaming them (previously A to G) as V, X, Y and Z, possibly a unique lettering system in that it survived until 1999. It entered the front line at the end of November 1914, 26 officers and 829 other ranks strong. By the end of January 1915 following terrible winter weather, the total strength had fallen to 370. The photo shows the Liverpool Scottish in a frontline trench in early 1915 - A rifle grenade's being fired and a trench periscope's in use. The Museum holds an excellent series of photographs of the early days at the front. The Regimental Historian records that actual battle losses accounted for 32, the remainder were mostly victims of trench-foot. Much of this early period was spent near Ieper (Ypres) and a lithograph by Sir Muirhead Bone of the area between Kemmel and Ieper is shown here. It was published in 1916 but gives a good idea of the open nature of the country.
The first major battalion action of the Liverpool Scottish was on 16th. June 1915 in what is officially known as 'The First Action at Bellewaarde' which was designed to pin down German reserves whilst there were British and French attacks elsewhere.This action is known in The Liverpool Scottish as 'The Battle of Hooge'. Hooge is a village is a few miles East of Ieper (Ypres), straddling the Menin Road (click here for a more detailed map). The Liverpool Scottish, as part of 9th Brigade ( in turn part of the 3rd Division of the Regular Army) , were to take part in the second phase of the attack on ground just north of the Menin Road between (and including) Railway Wood (still to be seen) in the north and a hedge row seen on the map to the south. Further to the south was a feature known as Y-Wood which no longer exists. An account of the action of the 4th Bn Gordon Highlanders in Y Wood is on Robert Patrick Gordon's memorial page. They were to be the left hand battalion and to their right was to be a battalion of the Lincolns. (contrary to the map in the war diary of the 3rd Division that shows the Liverpool Scottish on the right) The battalion's frontage appears to have been about 400 yards. The assembly position was on the line of 'Cambridge Road', a feature which exists today as a metalled road running north from the Menin Road. This is indicated today by the signs off the Menin Road: a CWGC sign for "Re Grave" and a brown Ieper city sign for "Liverpool Scottish Stone". On Saturday 29th July 2000 during the Regiments centenary year the Museum was actively involved in the unveiling and dedication of a memorial to the Liverpool Scottish. Further details of the dedication may be found with photographs may be found here on both the unveiling and the Menin Gate ceremony there is also a Memorial history and background page.
The Battalion moved off into the attack uphill towards Bellewaarde Farm (the crest line is today occupied by the CWGC Cross of Sacrifice of the RE Grave) at a strength of 23 Officers and 519 Other Ranks. At the end of the day, there were 2 Officers and 140 ORs unscathed. There were 4 Officers and 75 ORs killed, 6 Officers and 108 ORs missing (of whom almost all were later reported killed) and 11 Officers and 201 ORs wounded. An indication of the scale of the casualties is that the account of the action in the war diary is signed by Lieutenant, L.G. Wall, as Commanding Officer of The Liverpool Scottish. Amongst the dead were Lt. Kenneth Alexander Gemmell, 2/Lt John Christian Barber and Capt. Bryden McKinnell M.C. whose fine portraits hung until recently in the Liverpool Scottish Officers' Mess. Gemmell's portrait is to the left and the Barber's to the right. They are presently displayed at the HQ of the Reserve Force and Cadets Assciation in Liverpool. Captain McKinnell wrote a fine diary which has been used as a source in major works on the Great War. Additionally, there exist amazing photographs of the attack, taken by Private F.A. Fyfe of Z Company as he lay wounded by the German front line, showing soldiers of The Scottish advancing under fire and an artillery officer and his signaller crossing the German parapet with wounded soldiers in the foreground. Fyfe was a press photographer by profession and his (illegal) photographs made the front pages of the national press a short while later.
It was for his efforts in this action that the Battalion's medical officer, Lt. Noel Chavasse, (later Captain) received the Military Cross. He was later to receive the Victoria Cross in 1916 and, posthumously, a Bar to his VC in 1917. Few other awards were made for the action at Hooge; it is said that the list of recommendations was lost in a fire at Brigade HQ. Three men (Cpl. S. Smith, Private W. Short and Pte. F.F. Bell) received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) on the recommendation of other battalions. Belatedly, ten men were awarded the Military Medal on its inception in 1916 for their work at Hooge in the previous year. Altogether the Regimental Historian lists 293 names in the list of honours and awards for service during the Great War. One recipient of the Military Medal was the highly articulate and well-educated Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant, R.A. Scott Macfie, who later became a world expert on Gypsies and some of whose meticulously written field notebooks form part of the Museum collection. The Imperial War Museum also holds some Scott McFie material and has made use of it in IWM publications. The University of of Liverpool holds the extensive Scott Meifie Gypsy Lore Collection
During the course of the Great War, The Liverpool Scottish continued to see front line action in France and Belgium, joining the 55th (West Lancashire) Division when it was reconstituted in France in January 1916. Its motto was to be 'They win or die who wear the rose of Lancaster'.
The 2/10th (Scottish) Bn The King's (Liverpool Regiment) served in France and Flanders from February 1917 until its amalgamation with the 1st Battalion in Spring 1918 during the "Manpower Crisis". A cigarette case inscribed with the insignia of the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division with which the 2nd Battalion served is shown here.
For much of 1917 they served in the Bois Grenier Section near Armentières with their operating base in the small town of Erquinghem some few kilometers to the west. Although a relatively quiet sector of the front, there are 45 Liverpool Scottish graves in Erquinghem Churchyard Extension Cemetery, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In all there are 680 graves in this churchyard.
Many of those graves result from the company-sized daylight trench raid known as 'Dicky's Dash', named after Captain Alan Dickinson MC, one of three brothers who served with the Liverpool Scottish. The Dicky's Dash raid took place just south of Bois Grenier on the afternoon of 29th June 1917 along the line of the 'Old Bridoux Road' from a point in the British front line known as the Bridoux Salient. It met with determined resistance from the enemy and although successful in gaining a foothold in the German line, met with heavy casualties in the enemy trenches and on the return to the British frontline. The memorial cairn to the men of the 2nd battalion is placed in a landscaped area about 1km south of Bois Grenier
Frank Macdonald, serving in this area with the 2nd Battalion and standing on top of the battalion Headquarters, witnessed the detonation of the mines under Messines Ridge on June 6th 1917, an explosion reputedly heard in London, and heard the gas bombardment of Armentières, both recorded in his diary. The diary describes how the trenches were built up as breastworks rather than dug down into the earth as a result of the wetness of the land, a feature of the area today. Excepts of his diary may be found here.
Basil Rathbone, (picture left Copyright 20th Century Fox) the actor later famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, served with the Liverpool Scottish in this area, and is recorded as being billeted at La Rolanderie Farm near to Erquinghem. He later gained an MC as the Patrols Officer when later serving with the 1st Battalion after the amalgamation in early 1918.
A third battalion (3rd/10th) formed in 1915, based for most of the war at Oswestry, acted as a draft finding and training battalion.
In 1920, The Liverpool Scottish reformed as the 10th (Liverpool Scottish) Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool) TA but in 1937 was officially re-designated as The Liverpool Scottish, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders to become an integral Territorial battalion of the Cameron Highlanders. The bonnet badge changed to a Liverpool Scottish version of the Cameron badge. A caricature sketch of the Officers' Mess in 1937 can be seen here. Colours were presented to the battalion by H.M. King George VI at Goodison Park football ground in 1938. Film of this ceremony, independent of the pathe newreel, was made by the battalion and was digitised by the museum trust in 2012. A second battalion was formed immediately before the outbreak of war in 1939.
During the 1939-45 war, the 1st Battalion of The Liverpool Scottish remained in Great Britain but found many reinforcements for the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders battalions (and other Highland regiments) on active service overseas. Details of typical Liverpool Scottish service in WW2 can be found on the site of George Sands MM who joined the Camerons in 1939, served with both battalions of the Liverpool Scottish and then with both the 4th and the 5th Battalions of the Camerons, winning the MM with the 5th Camerons in 1944 in Normandy.
Additionally the 1st and 2nd. Battalions of the Liverpool Scottish provided a contingent for No. 4 Independent Company which went to Norway in 1940 to face the German invasion. Subsequently, many members served with the Army Commandos including Captain Donald Roy DSO, decorated for his courage and skill in the raid on St. Nazaire in 1942 in which many other Liverpool Scots took part. Donald Roy, known as 'The Laird', insisted that his men wore kilts both in training and in action. Details of the book, 'Storming St. Nazaire' can be found here.
The long-awaited book Special Service of a Hazardous Nature: The Story of the Liverpool Scottish Involvement in Special Operations during WW2 was published in October 2007 (compiled by Dennis Reeves) and is exclusively available through the Museum shop.
The 2nd. Battalion, The Liverpool Scottish, also supplied reinforcements for Highland regiments and, after serving in a home defence role, converted to the 89th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, disbanding in 1946. The 1st. Battalion served in Gibraltar from 1945 to 1947. Another major Museum project has been to identify the names and details of men of The Liverpool Scottish who died serving with other units such as 56th Recce Regt . This research continues and any additional information would be welcomed. This work is now published as the organised WW2 Roll of Honour on this website (see the "In Memoriam" section).
The 1st Battalion The Liverpool Scottish reformed at the Fraser Street Drill Hall in Liverpool in 1947 and, until its disbandment in 1967 when the Territorial Army was reorganised, it was firstly a motor battalion and then an infantry battalion. The battalion won the Territorial Army Shield in the Duke of Edinburgh's Trophy Competition in 1957 and 1960. A winning team is shown here without names. (Photo courtesy of Major James Bruxner CBE). Members of the Liverpool Scottish may care to see who they can identify and a named copy of the photograph is added here. If any more soldiers can be identified please contact the Museum. After the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders with the Seaforth Highlanders in 1961, the battalion continued in Forbes tartan as The Liverpool Scottish, a part of the amalgamated regiment, The Queen's Own Highlanders (seaforth and Camerons), but continuing to wear the buttons of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
In April 1967, The Liverpool Scottish reformed as V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company, 51st. Highland Volunteers AVR II with battalion HQ in Perth. The company adopted the Highland Brigade bonnet badge (a stag's head upon a saltire) worn on a cloth Forbes tartan background and continued to wear the blue hackle of The Queen's Own Highlanders. The Forbes tartan kilt (as with all other forms of dress) was retained. On leaving Fraser Street, a new HQ for the Territorial company was established at the TA barracks in Score Lane in Childwall (a Liverpool suburb) which had previously been Signal House. It was renamed Forbes House. The Liverpool Scottish tradition was thus blended for the next twenty five years with that of the famous 51st Highland Division. An article 'Saturday Night Soldiers - The Territorials to 1973' was written by the second commanding officer of the Highland Volunteers, Lt. Col. the Hon. W.D. Arbuthnott, Black Watch. Some of the history of Forbes House previous to the arrival of the Liverpool Scottish can be found at the website of 42 Signal Squadron TA.
R (King's/Liverpool Scottish) Battery, West Lancashire Regiment RA AVR III was also raised at Forbes House. In 1969, R Battery was disbanded. An account of R Battery has been written by Lt Col Tony Moore (see bibliography). In 1967 V Company continued to serve with the newly formed 1st. Battalion, 51st. Highland Volunteers when the Highland Volunteers split unit to battalion.
In 1974, whilst V Company was attending its annual two weeks training in Cyprus, the government of Archbishop Makarios was overthrown by Greek nationalists. V Company was on exercise in the far west of the island at an isolated location in the Akamas Peninsula. This area was outside the Sovereign Base Areas (which are British Sovereign territory . After some days of considerable uncertainty, punctuated by forest fires and the arrival of British service families stranded in the area together with resupply by sea, the company was evacuated through the Greek areas around Paphos to the British Sovereign Base Area at Akrotiri. There they witnessed some of the civil strife which broke out between the two communities in Cyprus when the Turkish Army invaded the north of the island.
The pipe tune "The Evacuation of Cyprus 1974'" is believed to be composed composed by P/M RS Burns and is be found at page 39 of the Royal Scots Standard Settings (Paterson) - information courtesy of Major Richard Powell FSA Scot.
V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company at the Menin Gate: Colours were presented to the 1st. Battalion, 51st Highland Volunteers by H.M Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, on the North Inch at Perth in 1986. A guard was found by V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company. There colours were laid up in Perth in June 2012.
Apart from remaining a well-trained and well recruited infantry company, V Company remained conscious of its history and during the 1990s made made several visits to the battlefield of Hooge near Ypres (Ieper). On the occasion shown here the company had marched from Hooge down the Menin Road to enter Ieper by the Menin Gate for the Last Post Ceremony. The colours on parade are these of The Liverpool Scottish.
In September 1992, V Company marched off the square at Otterburn as the Champion Company and bade farewell to Lt. Colonel David Thorneycroft and the 51st Highland Volunteers. Subsequently in October 1992, the Company was transferred and re-designated as V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company, 5th/8th. (Volunteer) Battalion, The King's Regiment with battalion HQ at Warrington under the command of Lt. Colonel Martin Amlôt. The Company gave up the Highland Brigade badge and returned to the bonnet badge of the 10th (Scottish) Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment, first introduced in 1908 until replaced by the Liverpool Scottish version of the Cameron badge in 1937. The blue hackle continued to be worn.
V Company enjoyed a successful debut in the new battalion, winning the Champion Company banner in their first year. In 1998 the Ashton Trophy was first awarded. This was as a result of a bequest of Harley Watson in memory of his Great War friend, Charles Norman Ashton. In 1999; past and present members of The Liverpool Scottish said farewell to Forbes House, their HQ, as a result of the reorganisation of the Territorial Army and the disbandment of the Liverpool Scottish company.
In July 1999, fifty Liverpool Scottish soldiers, retaining their distinctive bonnet badge, their Highland dress and their regimental customs, were redeployed under Lt Col David Richardson MBE to form part of a new Territorial infantry battalion, The King's and Cheshire Regiment. Their new location was with A (King's) Company at TA Centre, Townsend Avenue, Liverpool L11 5AS with a Liverpool Scottish element to the Reconnaissance Platoon of KCR based in Manchester. The Museum was relocated in Liverpool and redeveloped its displays. The official opening of the Scottish Regemental Museum at Botonic Road took place in November 2002. Official opening was planed to take place in mid-November 2002, however contact would continue through the address given at the contact page.
The 100th anniversary in the year of 2000 was marked by a Centenary Ball at St. George's Hall in May. The Museum organised the sponsoring and planting of 'Scottish Wood' at Altcar Range north of Liverpool and the dedication of this was to have taken place in May 2001 but was postponed until 2002 as a result of Foot and Mouth disease (Donations towards the cost of trees were made in memory of family members who served in the Liverpool Scottish).
Additionally, the Museum was closely involved in the arrangements for the relocation of the stone Liverpool Scottish badge (10th King's) which was originally the keystone to the entrance at the Liverpool Scottish HQ at the Fraser Street Barracks in the centre of Liverpool. In the early 1970s this was mounted in a plinth at Forbes House, the HQ of V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company. When Forbes Home in Childwall was cleaned in 1999, the stone was given to the City of Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium to be placed, in their care, on the Hooge battlefield of June 1915
The memorial was unveiled at Hooge by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and the Burgemeester of Ieper. The memorial stone at Hooge is dedicated by the Rector of Liverpool and Fr. Boni Van Looveren. It was placed on the battlefield at Hooge near Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium on July 29th 2000 and was handed over to the town of Ieper by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool during a service conducted by the Rev. Canon Nicholas Frayling, Rector of Liverpool. It serves as a memorial to all Liverpool Scots who have died in the service of their country.
A further visit to Ieper was made during weekend of 15th/17th June 2002 to mark the Last Post Ceremony on Sunday 16th June 2002 commemorating Acting Sgt. Charles William Ormesher who was listed missing on 16th June 1915 at the Battle of Hooge but had never been listed as 'killed' by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Consequently, there was no memorial to Ormesher. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission accepted the Museum's case and his name has now been inscribed on the Menin Gate in 2002. (Addenda panel on the external SW corner of the Menin Gate)
In June 2005, following extensive research and in conjunction with the authorities of the communities of Erquinghem Lys and Bois Grenier in north eastern France (near Armentières), a party of serving soldiers accompanied by approximately 100 supporters led by the President of the Officers' Association (and Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside), Colonel Alan Waterworth, visited the area in which the 2nd Battalion of the Liverpool Scottish [2/10th (Scottish) Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) TF] served with the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division in 1917. Colonel Waterworth (now Sir Alan) unveiled a memorial cairn to the men of the 2nd Battalion one kilomentre south of Bois Grenier near to the start point of their 'Dicky's Dash' trench raid of 1917.
From 2006 (during a period from from July 1st), the King's and Cheshire Regiment of the Territorial Army was reorganized and the King's Regiment companies (A and C Company), including the Liverpool Scottish element joined the 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border). Private soldiers continue to be known as 'Kingsmen'. The 1908 pattern 10th King's Liverpool Regiment badge, readopted in 1993 on transfer from the 1st Battalion 51st Highland Volunteers to the 5th/8th Battalion, The King's Regiment and that continued to be worn by V (The Liverpool Scottish) Company in the King's and Cheshire Regiment, was replaced by the Duke of Lancaster's badge seen to the right, worn on the TOS. The Regiment is known in speech as "The Duke of Lancaster's" and the Territorial battalion has the designation 4 LANCS. The Liverpool Scottish rifle platoon is part of A (Ladysmith) Company of 4 LANCS, based at the TA Centre at Townsend Avenue in Liverpool. During this period members of the Liverpool Scottish have been on active service in the various phases of Operation Telic in Iraq as well as being deployed in Afghanistan. The blue hackle continues to be worn.