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The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders):

Great War - Inter-war - Second World War - Post-war


The Great War

The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the dispositions of Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 1st Brigade, attached to the 1st Division.

As a unit of the 1st Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
On the outbreak of War the 1st Division was quartered at Aldershot, and it mobilized there. The division crossed to France between the 11th and 15th August, concentrated around le Nouvion, and began to move forward on the 21st August.
1914
23 and 24 AugustBattle of Mons [I Corps]
24 August to 5 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [I Corps]
27 AugustEtreux (1st Guards Bde)
6 to 9 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [I Corps]
13 to 26 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [I Corps]
13 SeptemberPassage of the Aisne
20 SeptemberActions on the Aisne Heights
26 SeptemberAction of Chivy
19 October to 15 NovemberBATTLE OF YPRES [I Corps]
21 to 24 OctoberBattle of Langemark [I Corps]
29 to 31 OctoberBattle of Gheluvelt [I Corps]
11 NovemberBattle of Nonne Bosschen [I Corps]
20 to 21 DecemberDefence of Givenchy
1915
25 JanuaryGivenchy
29 JanuaryCuinchy
9 MayBATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE [I Corps, First Army]
Attack at Rue du Bois
25 September to 1 OctoberBattle of Loos [IV Corps, First Army]
5 to 8 October
13 OctoberHohenzollern Redoubt [IV Corps, First Army]

It's MG Section was transferred on 26 January 1916 to form the 1st Bde. MG Coy..

8th

The 8th Battalion was part of the 26th Brigade, attached to the 9th Division.

As a unit of the 9th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Great Britain declared war on Germany at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, the 4th August 1914, and on the 5th Agusut Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener of Khartoum was appointed Secretary of Strate for War. On the 6th August Parliament sanctioned an increase of 500,000 men for the Regular Army, and a proclamation headed: "Your King and Country need you. A Call to Arms," was published on the 11th August. This proclamation asked for an immediate addition of a hundred thousand men to the Regular Army, and issued on the 21st August 1914, and amended by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September authorised the addition of six dibisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation became the First New Army, and the 9th (Scottish) Division was formed towards the end of August, 1914.

After enlistment the men went to their depots; they were then sent on to training camps in the Salisbury Training Centre, and in September the 9th Division assembled around Bordon. At first the scarcity of arms, munitions, and equipment added to the difficulties of training; but as the deficiencies were overcome intensive training for war began and in due course unit training was followed by divisional field manoeuvres. On the 5th May 1915, Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener inspected the 9th Division on Ludshott Common, and on the 7th May embarkation orders were received. The Division crossed to France between Sunday the 9th and Wednesday the 12th May, and by noon on Saturday the 15th May the Division was concentrated in billets to the south-west of St. Omer.

Throughout the remainder of the Great War the 9th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 to 29 SeptemberBattle of Loos

It's MG Section was transferred on 29 January 1916 to form the 26th Bde. MG Coy..

9th

The 9th Battalion was part of the 44th Brigade, attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division.

As a unit of the 15th (Scottish) Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

On the 6th August 1914 Parliament sanctioned an increased of 500,000 all ranks to the Regular Army. The first hundred thousand men for this purpose were used to form the First New Army. The formation of the divisions of the Second New Army from the section augmentation of a hundred thousand men was authorized by Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 (see Appendix I). Six more divisions (15th - 20th) and Army Troops were now added to the Regular Army, and during September 1914 the 15th (Scottish) Division, the senior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble at Aldershot.

Whilst it was at Aldershot H.M. the King inspected the Division on the 26th September. This was the first time the Division paraded as a formed unit and, with the exception of the staff, the Division paraded in plain clothes. The Division remained at Aldershot until the 18th-22nd November when it moved to Salisbury Plain.

On the 22nd January 1915 the Division paraded in the most inclement weather for another inspection, this time by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener and M. Millerand (French Minister of War). On this occasion all ranks paraded in uniform, and sufficient obsolete drill rifles were available to arm the front ranks of battalions; but many essentials were still lacking.

Horses arrived soon after the assembly of the Division. At first, however, not much use could be made of them as only a headstall was available for each animal; some time elapsed before harness and saddlery reached the Division. In the artillery in the early days the only equipment was an improvised gun made from a log of wood mounted on the Bordon funeral gun-carriage; somewhat later the artillery armament was doubled bu annexing a 9-pdr. brass muzzle-loading gun from the Ordnance Officers' Mess. Later on the divisional artillery received some early 15-pdr. B.L. equipments and some French 90 mm. B.L.s; neither equipment was more than 20 years out of date. Modern Q.F. field guns and 4.5" howitzers only arrived much later, and it was nearing mid-June, 1915 before gun-sights were received. Nevertheless on the 21st June it was a division ready to take the field which paraded for the second time before H.M. the King on Sidbury Hill.

On the 3rd July the Division received the warning that it was to move to France; entrainment began on the 7th, and by the 13th July the Division completed its concentration around Tilques (near St. Omer). On the 15th July the Division began moving south towards Bethune, and on the 17th July the Division joined IV Corps, First Army. For the remainder of the Great War the 15th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 and 26 SeptemberBattle of Loos [IV Corps, First Army].

It's Vickers machine gunners of the MG Section will have transferred on 12 February 1916 to the 44th MG Coy when this took over the Vickers MG role in the Division.


Inter-war Period

In 1922, the Machine Gun Corps and Guards MG Regiment were disbanded and the guns returned to the Infantry Battalion as a Machine Gun Platoon and then formed as a Machine Gun Company in the early 1930s.


Second World War

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again when the majority of Battalions had their Machine Gun assets centralised into those Battalions.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was a 'Chindits' Battalion, where it was formed into Columns each having an MG Section of two guns, the Battalion's MG Platoon being spread across the Columns and supplemented with additional guns and machine gunners where required.


Post-Second World War

After the Second World War, the MG assets reverted to MG Platoons within support companies of Infantry Battalions.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
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