The Argyll and Sutherland
Edinburgh 1952 - 1953
All photographs are the property of RHQ Argylls and may not be reproduced or copied without permission from RHQ Argylls.
It was on 13th August 1952 that the Battalion left Queen's Hill Camp in the New Territories and marched to Fanling station on the first stage of its journey to Edinburgh, and, enroute, they marched past the Middlesex Regiment, who had lined both sides of the road to cheer them on their way—a fine gesture from old friends and one that was tremendously appreciated by all ranks. After a few days in Chatham Road Transit Camp in Kowloon, the Battalion marched to the docks on Sunday, 17th August, to embark in H.M.T. Empire Halladale. A host of friends and thousands of spectators had assembled to witness the departure, and at 3 p.m., as the ship cast off and steamed slowly away, it was given a great send off by the crowd and by the band of the Middlesex Regiment.
An uneventful voyage, with shore visits at Singapore, Colombo and Aden, brought the ship to Gibraltar, where it made an unscheduled stop on 18th September to allow His Excellency The Governor, Lt.-General Sir Gordon MacMillan, Colonel of the Regiment, to come on board and welcome the Battalion on its return from active service. After leaving Gibraltar, news of the progress of the ship was broadcast daily in the Scottish News, and it was soon clear that a great public welcome awaited the Battalion. H.M.T. Empire Halladale arrived off the Tail of the Bank on Monday night, 22nd September, too late to catch the evening tide, but it was here the first official welcoming party visited the ship, and this gave all ranks a taste of what was to follow. With it came Brigadier E. A. F. Macpherson, M.C., Deputy Colonel of the Regiment, who brought a message from Her Majesty The Queen, which was immediately read over the loudspeakers. It was:
'Please convey my heartfelt good wishes to all ranks of the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on their return from Hong Kong. They have been much in my thoughts while they have been away.'
During the night the ship steamed up the river, and by the early hours of the 23rd had tied up at King George V Dock. As soon as it was light, large crowds began to assemble, and at 8.30 a.m. Lord Provost T. Kerr and the Glasgow Magistrates went on board to give Glasgow's official welcome. Speaking from the Bridge, Lord Provost Kerr said: 'We are welcoming you with fervour and sincerity. We know the perils you have been through and we feel we can't do too much for you at a time like this. We are heartily pleased to have you here, and anything I can say will fall far short of what we are feeling in our hearts.' The Lord Provost then went round the ship, chatting to many officers and men. After the official reception, disembarkation started, and, while it proceeded, the band of the Cameronians and the pipes and drums of the Glasgow City Police played alternately on the dock. On landing, the Battalion received a wonderful welcome, described by a Glasgow docker with the words:
'I've seen many homecomings, but this is one I'll never forget for many years.'
After a short interval, to allow all ranks to greet their relatives and friends, the Battalion entrained for Edinburgh. On the platform at Princes Street Station was a large official party headed by Lt.-General Sir Colin Barber, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., the General Officer Commanding Scottish Command; Brigadier Sir Bruce Campbell, K.C.B., C.B.E., T.D., the Lord Lieutenant of Argyll; Colonel G. L. Neilson, D.S.O., who had commanded the Battalion in Korea; and Provost H. A. Watters of Stirling. Also there were the band of the Seaforth Highlanders and the pipes and drums of the Edinburgh City Police. Behind the barriers were hundreds of relatives and friends. As the train came into the platform, the City Police pipe band played 'The Campbells are Coming'.
Click on pictures to enlarge
After Lt.-Colonel Church had been officially welcomed by Lt.-General Sir Colin Barber, Mrs. R. G. Hyde, wife of Lt.-Colonel R. G. Hyde, presented to him a Shetland pony mascot, named Cruachan II, the successor to Cruachan I presented by H.R.H. The Princess Louise in 1928. Cruachan II was bred at the 'Braes of Greenock', Callander, the home of Lt.-Colonel and Mrs. Hyde.
By 3 p.m. Princes Street had been closed to traffic, and a huge concourse of people lined the street from end to end. Shop windows, balconies and roof-tops all had their spectators. A special enclosure was reserved for past members of the Regiment, who had come from far and wide to participate in the welcome, and for the veterans from Whitefoord House. Waiting on the steps of the Royal Scottish Academy to take the salute was Lt.-General Sir Colin Barber, accompanied by Lord Provost James Miller. As the Battalion marched out of the station on to Princes Street headed by its new mascot, Cruachan II, Edinburgh shed its traditional reserve, for the huge crowd lining the route cheered wholeheartedly throughout the march. It was a fitting climax to what had already been a wonderful day. By special permission the Battalion was accorded the privilege of marching through the city with bayonets fixed. From the east end of Princes Street the Battalion was taken by bus to Redford Barracks, where, flying from the flag staff with its own regimental flag, was the replica of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade flag, presented by Brigadier Burke. After settling in, all ranks were granted leave.
On 19th November, at the invitation of the Provost and Magistrates, the Battalion went to Stirling to receive a civic reception and to exercise the privilege granted in 1947 of marching through the Royal Burgh 'with bayonets fixed, drums beating, and Colours flying'. Provost H. A. Walters took the salute, and throughout the whole length of the route large crowds enthusiastically acclaimed the marching troops. At the tea which followed the march, the Provost welcomed the Battalion to Stirling by saying: 'You are here claiming your rights as Freemen representing your Regiment in the Royal Burgh of Stirling.' For the rest of the day all ranks were lavishly entertained both publicly and privately, for this was one of the rare occasions when the people of Stirling had had the opportunity of entertaining its own Regiment, and of showing its ancient and deep-seated affection for it.
In March 1953 a large contingent from the Battalion assisted in the making of the film 'Rob Roy' by Mr. Walt Disney's company in the hills overlooking Loch Ard. Later the film had the honour of being chosen for a Royal Command Performance.
The big event of April was the visit to Dunoon, at the invitation of the Provost and his Council, to receive the Freedom of the Burgh. This ceremony took place on 8th April at the Argyll Gardens adjoining the main promenade. The Regiment was represented by a strong contingent from the 1st Battalion with the Colours and both bands, under command of Lt.-Colonel J. C. Church, M.C. The 7th and 8th Battalions, 402 Light Regiment R.A. (A. & S.H.) and 554 L.A.A. Regiment R.A. (A. & S.H.) all sent detachments to Dunoon for the parade. In brilliant sunshine and before a large crowd, Provost E. F. Wyatt welcomed the Regiment to Dunoon and said he was proud to present it with the highest honour Dunoon could bestow, the Freedom of the Burgh, as a token of its regard, appreciation and affection. The Town Clerk then read the citation, which was addressed to the Colonel of the Regiment, Lt.-General Sir Gordon MacMillan, the officers and men. This stated:
'We Edward Francis Wyatt, Provost, Charles Macdonald Black and Alfred Campbell Morrison, bailies and Councillors of the Burgh of Dunoon, in recognition of the outstanding services rendered by the Regiment to this Country and Empire in many arduous campaigns, and in particular recognition at this time of the brilliant Military achievements and resolute gallantry of the First Battalion in Korea, and also in proud acknowledgment of the Historical association existing between the County Battalion and this Burgh, do hereby confer upon you the freedom of entry into the Burgh of Dunoon on ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, drums beating, and colours flying.' The Provost then presented the casket and scroll to Major-General J. Scott-Elliott, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., Deputy Colonel of the Regiment, who thanked the Provost and citizens for the honour conferred upon it. The Regiment thereupon exercised its newly acquired privilege in a march through the Burgh, the whole parade being under the command of Lt.-Colonel J. C. Church, M.C. In the evening the Provost entertained the officers to dinner, after which he gave the toast of 'The Regiment', to which Major-General Scott-Elliott replied. The other ranks were entertained to tea in the Drill Hall and later to a dance in the Castle Gardens Pavilion.
After returning from Dunoon, there was no let up in the round of ceremonial occasions that had occupied the time of the Battalion since its return from Hong Kong. On 15th April the pipes and drums represented the Battalion on the occasion of Her Majesty's visit to Dumbarton Castle, while in May preparations and rehearsals for the three main events of the year were speeded up—the Coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, Her Majesty's State Visit to Edinburgh, and the Presentation by Her Majesty of New Colours to the 1st Battalion. The Coronation Parade was very similar to that of the Coronation of H.M. King George VI. The Battalion again sent a marching party and a street-lining party, the former composed of 3 officers, the R.S.M. and 6 other ranks and commanded by Major J. V. Parnell, and the latter of 1 officer and 11 other ranks commanded by Major G. E. C. Ash. The street-lining party occupied more or less the same positions as their predecessors of 1937, in east carriage drive in Hyde Park. The Queen's Colour was carried by Lt. P. W. Cumming.
Pictures of the Colours Parade and Royal visit
Following closely on the Coronation came Her Majesty's State Visit to Edinburgh, and, for the Battalion, it turned out to be an extremely busy but intensely interesting period. Practically every individual took part, at one time or another, in ceremonial occasions. On the arrival of Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh the Battalion provided the Guard of Honour at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Guard was commanded by Major I. H. Scheurmier and the Officers of the Guard were Captain G. A. J. Hadow and 2/Lt. K. J. F. Maclean (carrying the Queen's Colour). The pipes and drums and Cruachan II were also on parade. The drill and general appearance of this Guard was of an exceptionally high standard and many favourable comments were passed on it. The Queen's Guard, commanded by Captain R. B. Gardiner and composed of 2 N.C.Os. and 16 men, also received favourable comment, and Drummer Sinclair was commended for his very high standard of bugling. A Combined Services Guard of Honour was mounted for Her Majesty at St. Giles' on 24th June, the Battalion being represented by Major I. W. Stonor, M.B.E., Lt. A. J. Ward, 2/Lt. A. C. R. Howman (Queen's Colour), C.S.M. Masterton, Col/Sgt. Henderson and 24 men. On this occasion there was a large and critical audience, which was lavish with its praise. During all this week of intense ceremonial the Battalion was preparing for its own great day, 26th June, when Her Majesty was to present it with New Colours. The Battalion provided its last Guard of the State Visit at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on 29th June. It was commanded by Lt. J. D. Slim and was composed of 2 N.C.Os. and 16 men and received Her Majesty's personal commendation.
The Battalion was once again given the honour of supplying the Royal Guard at Ballater. The last occasion the 1st Battalion had this honour was in 1934, when it was commanded by the present Colonel of the Regiment, then Major G. H. A. MacMillan, M.C. On this occasion it was commanded by Major C. P. Anderson, the other Officers of the Guard being Captain G. A. J. Hadow, Lt. J. D. Slim, Lt. J. G. M. Somerville and 2/Lt. I. B. Robertson. The departure of the Royal Guard to Ballater was by no means the end of the ceremonial duties the Battalion was called on to perform in this amazing year. The White City, Edinburgh and Stirling Castle Tattoos all called for their quota of performers. First came the White City, which featured the bands and a small Guard of Honour; and then the Edinburgh Tattoo (now an integral part of the world-famous Edinburgh Festival) claimed the services of the bands, a team for the Highland Dancing act and two guards dressed in 19x4 and 1953 uniform to exchange duties with each other; last of all came Stirling, and here the pipes and drums and military band performed at the first tattoo ever held at the Castle.
During all these months in Edinburgh the Battalion had a certain number of other tasks to perform besides ceremonial duties. It was responsible for training territorial and cadet units, and in the middle of May it was warned to prepare to move at seven days' notice to the Middle East as part of 51st Independent Infantry Brigade. This was a serious interruption of the preparations for its ceremonial programme, as it involved bringing all ranks up to date with vaccinations and inoculations, issuing tropical clothing, packing, weighing and marking unit equipment and stores in readiness for a move by air. When the crisis was over, the Battalion 'stood down' and was able to continue the ceremonial preparations. Inconvenient though it was, the sudden emergency served a useful purpose in that it was a rehearsal for another energency which was to confront the Battalion six months later and to involve its move overseas at even shorter notice.
On 11th September the Battalion was nominated by the War Office as immediate reserve battalion in place of the 1 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who had already gone to Kenya, and this involved a further review of the unit's readiness to proceed overseas, although no immediate move appeared likely. The Battalion had now been home for a year, and, on account of its manifold duties, had been unable to carry out any field training of any kind, but the opportunity for this was now at hand, for on 14th September it moved by train to Bellerby Camp in Yorkshire for three weeks' platoon, company and battalion training. Even so, the Battalion was not at full strength, as the Royal Guard Company was at Ballater and both bands were at the Stirling Tattoo. Bellerby Camp was a well-found tented camp near Catterick, and in spite of bad weather conditions all the preliminary training as well as one battalion exercise had been completed by the end of September. The second, and what proved to be the last, battalion exercise started on 2nd October, set by the Brigade Commander, the Earl of Caithness. At 4 p.m. that day, when the Battalion was halted near Catterick and the Brigade Commander was giving out his exercise orders, a dispatch rider brought an urgent message which caused the immediate cancellation of the exercise. All troops were ordered back to camp and 1 A. & S.H. was warned to get ready to return to Edinburgh. Speculation was rife, for it seemed that only a move overseas could account for the abrupt ending of the training period. Kenya, Egypt and even back to Korea were among the guesses, but never a word of British Guiana, which had not yet been in the news. Working throughout the night, stores and equipment were packed, and the following morning the Battalion marched out of camp to entrain for Edinburgh, where it arrived the same night.
Back in Redford Barracks, it was soon learned that the move was indeed overseas, and once again without the families, but that the destination was British Guiana was not disclosed until a War Office conference on 5th October attended by the Commanding Officer and Adjutant. Embarkation was fixed for l0th October at Devonport in the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Implacable. At this stage all that was known of the crisis in the Colony was that the Constitution had been suspended, on account of Communist-inspired disturbances, and that a detachment of Royal Welch Fusiliers from Jamaica had landed to maintain law and order until the arrival of 1 A. & S.H. This sudden move presented many problems, as no troops had been stationed in British Guiana for nearly a century; consequently, everything required to maintain a military force had to go with the Battalion, and there were only five days to provide and ship all requirements. To assist in maintaining the garrison, detachments from the Royal Engineers, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and Royal Army Pay Corps accompanied the Battalion.
On 6th October the Royal Guard Company from Ballater rejoined the Battalion, and the following day an embarkation party under Captain Gardiner moved to Devonport to assist the Royal Navy with the loading of stores and vehicles. The last days in Edinburgh were very busy and there was no time to grant leave, except to the very few who lived in the neighbourhood, but on the 9th all was ready, and that afternoon the Battalion marched to Gorgie siding to entrain for Devonport. Except for the military band, which was not to accompany the Battalion, a small rear party and the Shetland Pony mascot, Cruachan II, the Battalion was at full strength. The married families stayed on in their married quarters at Redford. A large crowd of friends and relatives had gathered at the siding, and as the train pulled out, the military band played on the platform. Before leaving, the Provost of Stirling sent a farewell message, which read: 'Best wishes and the very best of good luck to Stirling's own Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders'.
Move to British Guiana.
On arrival at Devonport the following morning, l0th October, the Battalion, under command of Lt.-Colonel J. C. Church, M.C., and headed by the pipes and drums and Royal Marine band, marched through the dockyard to embark on the aircraft carrier. There was a happy link between the Regiment and H.M.S. Implacable through her Captain, Captain A. F. Campbell, R.N., who was a brother of Brigadier Lorne Campbell, V.C., D.S.O., who had commanded 7 A. & S.H. with great distinction during the 1939-45 War. At 5.30 p.m. H.M.S. Implacable cast off, with all ranks of the 1st Battalion and attached service units, together with the ship's complement, lining the flight deck, and as the carrier sailed slowly out of the harbour a piper from the Royal Marines, who had been taught at the Regimental Depot, was heard playing 'Scotland the Brave'. Once again the Battalion was on its way overseas after only one year at home, but in that year had occurred events that will make it one of the outstanding years in the Regiment's history. Rarely, if ever, can one battalion have been called upon to engage in so many varied activities in one year, most of which were of a ceremonial nature and carried out before large and often critical crowds, but from the day of their arrival, when they were enthusiastically acclaimed in Glasgow and Edinburgh, to the day of their sudden departure in H.M.S. Implacable, their performances reached such a high standard of excellence that even the most severe critic found it difficult to fault them.
History of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 1st Battalion 1939 -1954
Thin Red Line Magazines
British Guiana 1953 - 54
Return to Home Page
Updated: 11 October 2014