The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise’s) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed from 1881 until amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Scotland on 28 March 2006, from when it became a single battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The regiment was created under the Childers Reforms in 1881, as the Princess Louise’s (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders), by the amalgamation of the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot and 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, amended the following year to reverse the order of the “Argyll” and “Sutherland” sub-titles.[1] The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was expanded to fifteen battalions during the First World War (1914–1918) and nine during the Second World War (1939–1945). The 1st Battalion served in the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War and gained a high public profile for its role in Aden during 1967.

As part of the restructuring of the British Army’s infantry in 2006, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were amalgamated with the Royal Scots, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment), the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) into the seven battalion strong Royal Regiment of Scotland. Following a further round of defence cuts announced in July 2012 the 5th Battalion was reduced to a single public duties company called Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

History

It was formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 91st (Princess Louise’s Argyllshire) Regiment and the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment as outlined in the Childers Reforms. The regiment was one of the six Scottish line infantry regiments, and wears a version of the Government Sett (Government No.2A) as its regimental tartan. It also had the largest cap badge in the British Army. The uniform included the Glengarry as its ceremonial headress.

At the Childers reform amalgamation the Argyll and Sutherland Highlander’ already had a well-earned reputation for valour in the face of the enemy, most notably the 93rd (later 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) during the Crimean War. Here, the 93rd earned the sobriquet of “The Fighting Highlanders” and carried with it the status of having been the original “Thin Red Line”. This title was bestowed following the action of the 93rd at Balaklava on 25 October 1854 in which this single battalion alone stood between the undefended British Army base at Balaklava and four squadrons of charging Russian cavalry.[3] The 93rd, under the command of Sir Colin Campbell, not only held steady, but for the first time in the history of the British Army, broke a large cavalry charge using musket fire alone, without having been formed into a square.

This action was witnessed by The Times correspondent, William Howard Russell, who reported that nothing stood between the Russian cavalry and the defenceless British base but the “thin red streak tipped with a line of steel of the 93rd” a description immediately paraphrased and passed into folklore as “The Thin Red Line”.[5] Later referred to by Kipling in his evocative poem “Tommy”, the saying came to epitomise everything the British Army stood for. This feat of arms is still recognised by the plain red and white dicing worn on the cap band of the A and SH Glengarry bonnets.

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