1st Battalion

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

 Balaklava Company


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Formation of an Argyll Company

Selection of the Company was done by a board consisting of the Commanding Officer, the Company Second in Command and Second Captain, the RSM,

and the CSM. Some of the factors that were taken into account were:—


(a) As the role of the Company may vary individuals had to possess the widest possible range of skills in each rank.

(b) Selection had to be made from all members of the Regiment and not just the 1st Battalion.

(c) Persons already nominated for ERE posts were not considered unless there were career advantages to their remaining in the Company.

(d) No-one likely to obtain promotion elsewhere in the immediate future was selected and a cross section of age groups and seniority had to be achieved.

(e) Gaps had to be left for recruits joining.

(f) The Battalion still had to send drafts of specified numbers to each of the other Scottish Regiments.


It can be seen, that the Company couldn’t claim to be the 120 best men in the 1st Battalion: they were simply a selection of those who were available and were considered most suitable, at that particular time, for the Company. A number of those chosen gained selection purely because they were the only people who possessed a particular skill that the Company required: this ranged from MT, Mess Staff, Snipers, canoeists to footballers and GPMG instructors. Seldom, if ever can as much varied professional military talent have been gathered together by one sub unit.


No-one will be retained in the Company once his promotion is due and there is no vacancy for him. He will be promoted and posted to whichever regiment has a vacancy. Promotion for all Argylls (in the Company and elsewhere) would be handled as follows:—

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(a) Promotion to Sgt and above. No change from the present system. Selection is done by Records based on Confidential Reports, marks and recommendation.

(b) Promotion to L/Cpl and Cpl. Scottish Division vacancies will continue to be split equally between the 7 regiments (i.e. including the Argylls) COs of other Battalions will therefore be free to nominate Argylls serving with them without interfering with their own promotion structure.


A Regimental spokesman, will continue to co-ordinate all Argyll reports and recommendations. It should be obvious to all, therefore, that their future, including both postings and promotion, will get just as much attention than they did in the past.



The Company retains all Regimental ties and affiliations. We keep our colours and HM The Queen remains as our Colonel-in-Chief.



1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) Balaclava Company.



OC                                          Major I. C. Purves Hume.

2 i/c                                          Capt D. P. Thomson, MC.

2nd Capt/Admin Offr                Capt W. S. Lloyd.

Pl Comds                                 Lt M. R. McVittie, Lt A. W. Blackett and 2/Lt C. Barclay.

CSM                                        WOII McGurk.

CQMS                                     C/Sgt Higgins.

Pl Sgts                                      Sgts Carroll, McLaren, Spence, Campbell and Struthers.

Orderly Room Sergeant            Sgt Speck

Pipe Major                               Sgt Grieve.


Officers                                    6

WOs                                        1

C/Sgts                                      1

Sgts                                          5

Cpls                                         14

L/Cpls                                      19

Ptes                                          74

Pipers (including a pipe major)  6



For the details of what happened to most of the rest of the battalion during 1971 - Click below



On 20th January, at Stirling Castle, in the presence of our Colonel-in-Chief, the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Balaklava Company

(Princess Louise's) was formed. The parade was a simple affair. The Company marched out of the Castle and after greeting the Colonel-in-Chief with a Royal Salute, was inspected by Her Majesty. The Company then marched past in slow and quick time. The Colonel-in-Chief gave a short address which was followed by three cheers for Her Majesty. Her Majesty left the parade to a Royal Salute and the Company then marched back into the Castle.

At the end of January 1971 the company moved into Streatlam Camp, Barnard Castle, the camp was wartime hutted, but it was warm and comfortable. The natives of Barnard Castle were extremely friendly and the Company settled down very well indeed. As might be expected with a new organisation, there were a number of hiccups with shortages of transport, clothing and training stores. The company was an airportable Coy and under command of 24th Infantry Brigade.

            Training at Barnard Castle was limited to simple basic training, including fitness training. The local folk gazed in wonder and awe at the sight of parties of sweating Jocks dashing madly over hill and dale. The Company spent a week in Wales at the Parachute Regiment Battle School, its role was as a hunter force in an exercises against the NCOs Tactics Division of the School of Infantry and the Parachute Regiment Junior Leaders. The aim was to catch as many of the enemy as we could while they tried to escape across the Brecon Beacons. Out of eighty or more runners only four escaped us and some escapers were captured three times!



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Between 7th and 11th May Balaklava Coy moved by air to Gibraltar for a 6 month tour. The company did not sit on top of the Rock of Gibraltar but on the flat expanse of airfield that covers the only really open area in the Colony. It co-habitats with the RAF and despite all the talks of past troubles our relationship has remained amicable in the extreme. Thanks to 1 BW they were resigned to the fact that our pipers play non-stop and we in turn are slowly coming to appreciate that aeroplanes can be equally noisy.

            The entire military population of Gibraltar, from all three services, went out of its way to both entertain the company and make it feel at home. Both the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Royal Engineers have opened the doors of their various messes: a gesture which is much appreciated. It is perhaps invidious to mention individuals but one couple, the Lawrie's must be singled out. John Lawrie ran the St. Andrew's Church and was the officiating chaplain to the Scottish Forces. He served as a Jock in the KOSB in the First World War and as chaplain to the HLI in the Second World War. Since the War most of his life has been spent running a Church in Glasgow but he and his wife then settled in Gibraltar. If the Company supported the Church as faithfully as the Lawrie's support the Guard Mounting Ceremony each week, the Kirk would need to be extended.

            The reason for the company’s presence in Gibraltar was to Guard the Frontier and at least one week in three it was the monotony of peering across wire fences into an area where virtually nothing happens that dominated the rifle platoon soldiers life. Platoons spend a week at a time patrolling either on foot or in a vehicle or simply sitting in a small tower watching the Spanish sentries. The Frontier is only 1100 metres long and so however one rings the changes, life could be boring and tedious. The duty platoon lived and slept in a small guardroom dominated by double tier bunks and a TV set. The latter was permanently on full blast regardless of whether the programme is "Romper Time," "Spanish for Beginners" or "Dad's Army."

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In the sporting world the Company left its mark on the Rock. Athletics had never been an Argyll strongpoint but the company produced a team that overcame all

other minor units and the Company won a splendid silver cup. Its strength lay in the track events where it established such a superiority that even the RE’s strength in the throwing events could not overcome it. The Company then provided the major portion of a Combined Minor Units Team that successfully defeated the RN, 3 RRF, and the RAF. This gave the company a share in yet another cup. Four of our members, Cpl Allan. Lcpl McMullan, Pte Gardiner and Pte George were selected to represent the Combined Services against the Gibraltar Amateur Athletics Association.

            Swimming produced yet another triumph for the Company. Despite reservations about the strength of the team we successfully demolished the opposition in the minor units gala. We in fact came first and second in every event except one and the only aspect we did not shine in was the diving. Special mention should be made of Pte Gardiner, who followed his previous exploits on the running track by winning the Victor Ludorum for swimming. The Company Commander played his part in the swimming and despite a bad back proceeded to give a startling exhibition of physical prowess in the butterfly. All in all a very

successful afternoon for the Company which was capped by defeating the Royal Engineers 4-1 at water polo.



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Extra Mural Non Activities

For the Jock, life when off duty in Gibraltar held few attractions. The RAF camp had most of the normal activities available but the town had little to offer.

Drink was plentiful but not particularly cheap and women were not even plentiful. The Gibraltarians were not easy to get to know if you were a private soldier particularly at the present time when many of the local people were becoming frustrated by the closed frontier.

There was undoubtedly great opportunities for watersports in Gibraltar but the official organisation of most of these left much to be desired. Water skiing proved to be a pipe dream: initially due to the bad weather and later due to damage to the Army boats. Sailing and canoeing courses took place although one of the company found he was too "well built" to fit in the little hole in the top of the canoe. A small party did sub-aqua training—one member found that his nose did not like oxygen and another suffered agony when totally immersed too early on a Monday morning. A number of people took up fishing and one of the platoons spent its entire platoon-fund on a most impressive set of rods and tackle.

            Trips to Tangier ran into teething troubles. The RN had problems getting their tender to work, the Moroccans allowed cholera to break out.  The various naval ships visiting port have nearly always offered to have parties on board or for short trips in the Med. Foremost amongst them were "Phoebe," "London," "Leopard" and "Penelope."  We have learnt now to visit the ship first and then to destroy their football teams. Working the other way round is not good for inter-service relations.






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13th October 1971 news was received from the MOD that battalion was to be reformed.

            Before leaving Gibraltar the company had the pleasure of receiving a number of distinguished visitors. The Pipe Major composed and played a tune for Sir Alec Douglas-Home on the occasion of his visit to Gibraltar. Close on his heels came General Sir Michael Carver, Chief of the General Staff, and he was followed by The Lord Balniel, Minister of State for Defence. The Colonel of the Regiment spent two days with the company and earlier in the year Brigadier Lithgow and General Sir Henry Leask visited.

            The Company left Gibraltar for Barnard Castle on 9th November 1971 and flew direct to Middleton Teeside Airport. Between returning and going on leave on the 10th December the company carried out an intensive programme of range firing and classification.

            10th December Balaklava Company went on leave and returned from leave on 5th January 1972 to Ritchie Camp, Kirknewton, near Edinburgh where it took over the camp and prepared it for the rest of the Bn to arrive.


Source -  Thin Red Line Magazines




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Updated: 28 January 2015