Memories of a Gordon Highlander
On my recent trip, back to my birthplace, Aberdeen Scotland. I had the great pleasure of visiting the Museum of the Gordon Highlanders. My grandfather George C Rae, having served in this finest of regiments during WW1.
I had contacted the museum web site prior to leaving Victoria. They advised me that the Museum was undergoing renovations work until re opening in May of 2013. They told me then that I would be welcome for a personal tour, simply to advise then of my days in Aberdeen. This done I was met by a former Gordon Highlander and retired Scots policeman Mr Bert Innes now a researcher and volunteer at the museum.
The pride of Bert, in his Regiment, shows loud and clear. He walked and talked me through the entire museum, never hesitating to add anecdotes of both military and personal histories.
I felt that he knew every man who has a medal or story within this fine Regiment. My Kudos to Bert Innes, and thank you, for such a wonderful tour of the Museum.
He brought to life the dioramas of this the Gordon’s in action everywhere from Fighting the French in the French Revolutionary war in 1798 to the modern day Highlanders who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 200 years later. Following their Motto “ By Dand “ which means “Stand Fast”
My Grandfather George C Rae was a soldier in the 4th Battalion of the Gordon’s Aberdeen’s finest.
He was awarded both the 1914-1920 War Medal and the WW1 Victory medal which I proudly display in my shadow board. His battalion lost 81 Officers and 1,065 other ranks during WW1.
Their are also 19 holders of the Victoria Cross 11 of which are on Proud display in the museum.
Mr Innes provided me with printouts of the battles and day to day movements of the 4th Bn.
I am so proud that my Grandfather fought and returned from battle in good health,
where he had lost so many friends.
I am also very happy that he returned and that my Mother was born resulting in myself.
I gave the museum a couple of Photographs from my Grandfather, for their museum.
Anyone visiting Aberdeen should take in this fine Museum. A living breathing history of some fine Scotsmen soldiers of our Queen.
I am now residing in yet another Gordon’s birthplace Victoria British Columbia:
The 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders of Canada) was a regiment based in Victoria. Soldiers from the regiment were drawn for the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion, C.E.F. in 1914. Cyrus Peck was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, awarded for his actions on 2 September 1918.
More information on the Canadian branch of the Gordon’s is available at:
While there have been many fine and inspiring individual POW accounts, Scattered Under the Rising Sun is unusual in that it describes the horrific ordeal at the hands of the Japanese of the officers and men of 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
The Battalion was posted to Singapore in 1937 with their families. When the Japanese invaded Malaya in December 1941, the Gordons fought bravely until the surrender of Singapore on 14 February 1942 and those who had not been killed became POWs. After initial incarceration in Singapore the Battalion was dispersed.
Many were sent to work on the infamous Thai-Burma
railway, others in the mines of Taiwan and Japan and the remainder to other slave labour projects. Many also had to endure long periods in ‘hell-ships’, only to be killed when torpedoed by allied submarines.
All suffered crippling hard labour, starvation, brutality and tropical diseases. Rank was no protection from death. Of the 1,000 men involved initially, only some 600 lived to be liberated in summer 1945.
The author of this moving and superbly researched book captures the strong collective regimental spirit and the humour
and cooperation without which so many more would have otherwise succumbed to the unimaginable conditions and brutality. By any yardstick, this is an inspiring tale of sacrifice, courage and survival against appalling odds.
In 1787 the 75th Regiment, the forerunner of the 1st battalion The Gordon Highlanders, was raised for service in the Far east, but it was not until 1793 when the French Revolutionary Government had declared war on Great Britain that the Government asked the Duke of Gordon to raise another regiment.
The Duke having agreed, he received the authority on the 10th February, 1794, and the command was given to his son, the Marquess of Huntly, at that time a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 3rd, now the Scots Guards. The Duke himself, and his son, took a personal interest in the recruiting and the celebrated Duchess Jean, still a beautiful woman, lent to it all the prestige of her high position and the grace and charm of manner for which she was famed. She rode to the country fairs in Highland bonnet and regimental jacket and it is told how she gave a kiss to the men she enlisted.
Sometimes she is said to have placed a guinea between her lips.
On the 24th June, 1794 the newly embodied regiment was paraded for the first time at Aberdeen when they wore the then almost new, and now famous, tartan which had been devised by Forsythe of Huntly. Forsythe had taken the standard plaid and woven in a yellow stripe, which, as he wrote to Lord Huntly, he trusted would appear “very lively.”
Recruited mainly in the large Gordon estates in Badenoch, Lochaber and Strathspey but also from the counties of Aberdeen, Banff and Elgin,the Regiment was, at first, numbered the 100th Regiment of Foot. But the title of the Gordon Highlanders was used along with the number. In 1798 they became the 92nd, under which number they won their first battle honours and by which they were known until their amalgamation in 1881 with the 75th Regiment.
Bless them all the Veterans both living and deceased, and the current brave soldiers of the Highlanders.
Comic relief at the Gordons Museum
A wonderful visit to learn more of the history of my family.