MAJOR GORDON IN THE 9TH ROYAL SCOTS (THE DANDY NINTH)
EDINBURGH'S KILTED BATTALION.
Grand Quartier-Général de l'Armie Belge
March 27, 1915
Sir, - In connection with my duties here I had to go a considerable distance south by a car yesterday and decided to try and find my old battalion, the 9th (Highlanders) Royal Scots. At 3.30 P.M. I reached the old Flemish town of (censored), where I had often been during the past five months, and almost the first thing to greet my eye was the Hunting Stewart tartan. On inquiry, I learnt that the above battalion and the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had just moved in. After a considerable search, I found the headquarters, where I received a warm welcome. The many relatives and friends of Edinburgh's kilted battalion may be glad to learn that both officers and men were all well, although as worn out, to all appearance, as any battalion that had been abroad from earlier times. It was quite evident that the Ninth will give a good account of itself when the occasion demands -
I am, &c., A. A. Gordon, Major.
Courier du Roi des Belges.
THE BATTALION'S ORIGIN
The 9th Volunteer Battalion Highlanders Royal Scots was formed in the shadow of the Second Boer war. Colonel William Gordon, then commanding the first Regimental District and Major Ferguson, an officer connected to the north of Scotland and serving for over 20 years in a volunteer battalion, held a heated debate in Edinburgh early in 1900. The initiative to form a new Scottish volunteer battalion had previously been discussed between Ferguson, Andrew Gordon and Major Gordon. They had previously seen the 4th and 5th Volunteer Battalions commanding officers where they welcomed the initiative. During Ferguson's encounter with Colonel William Gordon he insited on the following three essential points:
brigade commander, the company's commanding officerand a Battalion Finance Committee.
After agreeing, a letter submitting the proposal to raise the battalion was drafted by Major Ferguson and signed and forwarded by Colonel H.R. Macrae, Commanding officer of the Queen’s Brigade. The establishment was sanctioned on the 15th of July and Major Ferguson was gazetted as Lieutenant-Colonel on the 24th of July 1900. The first task of the battalion was to gain strength, but because of the late sanction, many previous volunteers had become encouraged or volunteered in another unit. The first course of squad drill could only be performed on the 13th of August 1900, after which the company had only three months left of the Volunteer year. Colonel Gordon inspected the battalion on the 31st of October. By the 27th, the Battalion counted 399 men, sufficient because the first order of uniforms contained only 400 pieces. The sanction of the battalion reads that a strength of 800 men was needed, so there was still a lot of recruiting. The first officers were gazetted on the 6th of August 1900, Captain A. A. Gordon (Later Major Gordon), Lieutenant Mitchell-Innes and Quartermaster Andrew Gordon. By the end of September, an additional 12 officers were gazetted, among which A. A. Gordon’s good friend, Captain (later Lt. Colonel) James Clark.
The first Battalion Drill was held in Queen’s Park on 22 September; the second was made the following month. On the 20th of October, a parade was held in the Corn Exchange. Seven days later, Colonel Gordon inspected the Battalion in the Q.R.V.B. Drill hall and later expressed his inspection as “Very pleased with the turnout.” and was happy to see the Battalion wearing the Hunting Stewart tartan.
After its sanction, the battalion was divided into the following six companies:
Soon after, several challenge cups and other regimental and company prices were founded. Among them was the Captain A. A. Gordon's Cup.
In January 1901, the battalion assisted in lining the streets on the occasion of the Proclamation of His Majesty King Edward VII. It had been represented in London by Captain Campbell, Lieutenant Gregorson and Lieutenant Huie at the funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria.
In July 1901, the battalion separated from the Queen’s Rifle Volunteer Brigade when the War Office wrote the following letter:
Sir-With reference to War Office Letter No. V/I/I/330, dated 28th June last, the Commander-in-Chief directs me to inform you that His Majesty has now been graciously pleased to approve of the Highland Battalion, now forming part of the Queen’s Rifle Volunteer Brigade, The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), being separated from that Crops and being developed into a separate unit, to be designated the 9th Volunteer Battalion (Highlanders) The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). A nominal list of the officers proposed to be transferred to the new Battalion should be forwarded as soon as possible.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant
(Sgd.) J. Laye, D.A.G.
One year later, the battalion attended Tyndrum camp for the first time as part of the 1st Lothian Brigade. By The end of the week, Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Hunter inspected each company, and the battalion returned to Edinburgh the following day.
On 9 August 1902, Captain A. A. Gordon stood at the head of a detachment of the battalion in the procession of the Coronation of King Edward VII in London. Three months later, Honorary Colonel Sir Ian Hamilton presented the prizes for the past year. Captain A. A. Gordon received his first and only trophy, the Clan Fergusson Society Challenge Cup for Collective Firing.
In 1903 the battalion was chosen to form along with the 1st Battalion Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch), the 3rd Battalion The Royal Scots and the 3rd Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers (The Lothian and Dumfriesshire Militia regiments) to form the 31st Brigade to undergo training at Stobs's new military training group. The battalion arrived at Stobs on 19 July 1903 and was encamped beside the Black Watch. On the final day of the camp, the 31st Brigade had to take a stronghold held by the 33rd Brigade under Colonel Forbes-Macbean. The 31st Brigade was victorious, and everyone was pleased with the results. Later on, a Machine Gun Section was formed within the battalion.
The year 1904 was challenging because they had failed to obtain the higher allowances at Stobs as the company did not have
enough men to participate in the training. Another fact was that many original members had completed four years of Volunteer Service and now were resigning to fulfil job obligations. By the end of the year, Colonel Ferguson reluctantly found himself obliged for reasons of a private and personal character to give up the command of the regiment. Captain A. A. Gordon wrote the following letter of Gratitude to Colonel Ferguson on 5th December 1904.
CAPTAIN A. A. GORDON'S LETTER OF GRATITUDE TO COLONEL FERGUSON'S RESIGNMENT
“Colonel James Ferguson, in intimating his relinquishment of the command of the Battalion, desires all ranks to know that he parts from them with great regret, and owing to private reasons in no way connected with any Volunteer considerations, which have made it his clear duty most reluctantly to tender his resignation. He thanks all ranks for their co-operation and support in the formation of the Regiment, and has greatly appreciated the spirit and energy which enabled it in so short a time to take a high place among the Volunteer corps of Scotland. He congratulates the Battalion on its success and the satisfactory and solid position attained in four years and four months. The regiment has been raised, organised, clothed in full Highland uniform, equipped, and provided with the necessary service dress. Over 1000 men have been enrolled, and in spite of unavoidable losses caused by changes of civil employment, and by the uncertainty for the last three years as to the conditions of Volunteer service, the strength at 31st October was over 600. The regiment has been provided with a Range of its own, and with Headquarters in buildings which are now the property of the Corps, and in the future will be fully available for increased accommodation. Colonel Ferguson has the satisfaction of handing over to his successor in the knowledge that the regimental resources are equal to the obligations, and that the Corps stands in a sound financial position. While he regrets that unforeseen circumstances have prevented him working out the second four years of command recently granted, he will always look back with pride and pleasure on the four years during which he had the honour to command the Highlanders, which have left him many pleasant memories and no recollection of any unpleasantness within the Battalion. No Volunteer Commanding Officer could have received more hearty and loyal support from his officers and felt more reason for confidence in his comrades of all ranks. Colonel Ferguson feels sure that the same support will not be wanting to his successor, and that the Royal Scots Highlanders will always maintain the traditions and character for discipline, steady work, and the best form of esprit de corps associated with the Highlanders of all branches of the King’s service."
A. A. GORDON
Captain and Acting Adjutant,
9th V. B. (Highlanders) R.S.
Lt. Colonel James Clark succeeded Commander Ferguson on 17 December 1904. On 7 January 1905, Captain A. A. Gordon was promoted to the rank of Major and attended a supply class in February and later on a course of military equitation at Aldershot. In May 1905, Major A. A. Gordon was appointed Brigade-Major, 1st Lothian Volunteer Infantry Brigade. The same year Major Gordon obtained a Certificate of Proficiency in Transport at Aldershot. Major Gordon would participate at Stobs training camp for the last time from the 23rd to the 30th of July. In September, the battalion participated in the Royal Review of the Scottish Volunteers in Hollyrood Park. The company made an excellent impression.
In May 1906, Major Gordon resigned his commission in the battalion and left Edinburgh for good to take up an appointment for the 4th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. Captain Brown succeeded him as commanding officer of A Company.
DESCRIPTION OF MAJOR A. A. GORDON IN J. FERGUSON'S BOOK:
Captain ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER GORDON. Captain 6th August 1900. Major 7th January 1905 Major, Brigade Major, 1st Lothian Volunteer Infantry Brigade, 1905. Resigned his commission 26th May 1906. Attached to 1st Battalion Black Watch May 1904. Attended Course of Military Equitation at Aldershot, February 1905. Attended Transport Course at Aldershot, June 1905. Born 3rd September 1867. Home hill bridge of Allan.
In May 1905, Major Gordon was appointed Brigade-Major, 1st Lothian Volunteer Infantry Brigade.