Chapter 3 The Royal Highland Fusiliers The Regiment takes its present form and name from 20th January 1959 when the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry were amalgamated. The Royal Scots Fusiliers was raised in 1678 as the Earl of Mar’s Regiment of Foot and became a Fusiliers Regiment in about 1690 (the exact date is unknown but was certainly before July 1691): the royal title was granted in 1712 to commemorate the regiment’s service in the field throughout the entire war of the Spanish Succession, taking part in all the major actions and most of the minor ones in France, Flanders and Germany. The Regiment’s subsequent career included service in Asia, America and Australia: particular incidents include the utter defeat of the Gens d’Armes of the French Household Cavalry at Dettingen (theoretically) a nigh impossible feat) the capture and burning of Washington in 1814, the defence of the Barrier at Inkerman (Crimea 1854) the carrying of the Colours in action for the last time at Ulundi (Zulu War) and the gaining of the regiment’s first VC in the Boer War (Pte G Ravenhill, Colenso, 1899). Service in the Great War included France and Flanders, Macedonia, Gallipoli and Palestine, and in the Second War, NW Europe 1940, 44 – 45, Sicily, Italy and Burma. Post war active service included Malaya (1954 – 57) and Cyprus (1958).
The defence of the Barrier at Crimea in 1854. The story of the Highland Light Infantry begins in 1777, with the raising of MacLeod’s Highlanders, the first clan based Highland regiment to be retained on the permanent establishment. Fraser’s, later 71st Highlanders became Light Infantry in 1809, when the designation Highland Light Infantry came into use. After early campaigns in India the 71st fought in Spain and Portugal (1809, 1810 – 14) and was part of Adams’ Brigade at Waterloo, taking part in the defeat of the last attack of the Imperial Guard. Subsequent campaigns included the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny and the Boer War. The Great War saw battalions of the regiment in France and Flanders, Gallipoli, Palestine and Mesopotamia: in the Second World War, NW Europe 1940, 44 – 45 Abyssinia, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Greece. Post-war active service included Palestine 1945 – 48 and Cyprus (1956).
71st at Waterloo in 1815 The 74th Highlanders raised in 1787, became 2nd Battalion HLI in 1881 and took part in most of the campaigns involving the 71st. Their most distinguished action was at Assaye (India 1803), the regiment being presented with a third Colour by East India Company. The Assaye Colour, renewed periodically, is still carried, making the RHF the only regiment of infantry to carry three Colours on parade; the sixth Assaye Colour was given to the regiment by Glasgow and was presented in Hemer, Germany in 1981.
The 74th Highlanders at the Battle of Assaye 1803 Since 1959 the regiment has served from Belize in the west to Singapore in the east, including a tour with the United Nations force in Cyprus, Gulf and Bosnia and many tours in Northern Ireland. On 23rd September 1978 the regiment, then stationed at Edinburgh, celebrated its 300th anniversary on which occasion Princess Margaret – The Colonel in chief – presented new Queen’s and Regimental Colours to replace the first RHF stand which she has presented at Glasgow on 12th May 1959. After her death HRH the Prince Andrew, Duke of York took over as Royal Colonel.
At present the Royal Highland Fusiliers the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland are based in their new home at the refurbished Glencorse Barracks, Penicuik after a successful tour in Cyprus and Iraq. Victoria Cross Winners Lt W L Brodie, 2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry For conspicuous gallantry near Beccelaere on the 11th Nov 1914, in clearing the enemy out of a portion of our trenches which they had succeeded in occupying. Heading the charge, he bayoneted several of the enemy, and thereby relieved a dangerous situation. As a result Lt Brodie’s promptitude 80 of the enemy were killed and 51 taken prisoner. LCpl W Angus, 8th Bn Highland Light Infantry For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Givenchy, 12th Jun 1915 in voluntarily leaving the trench under very heavy fire and rescuing an officer who was lying within a few yards of the enemy position. LCpl Angus had no chance in escaping the enemy’s fire when undertaking this very gallant action, and in effecting the rescue he sustained about forty wounds from bombs, some of them being very serious. Pte D Donnini, 4th/5th Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers During the assault of a village in NW Europe in January 1945 Fusilier Donnini’s platoon came under concentrated fire and he was hit in the head. After recovering consciousness he charged down 30 yards of open road and threw a grenade into the nearest window. With the survivors of his platoon he closely pursued the fleeing enemy. Within close range of enemy trenches and under intense fire Fusilier Donnini rescued a wounded comrade then returned to the open firing a Bren gun. He was wounded a second time but recovered and went on firing until a grenade he was carrying was hit and exploded killing him. During this action, fought at point blank range, the determination and magnificent courage of Fusilier Donnini enabled his platoon to capture the position accounting for 30 Germans and 2 machine guns. He was the youngest winner of the VC during World War II.