The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
Red Hackle Day (5 January)
Quick: All the Blue Bonnets are o'er the Border
Slow: The Garb of Old Gaul
Pipes & Drums Quick: Hielan' Laddie
Pipes & Drums Slow: My Home
Pipes & Drums Slow: High Cradle Song
Reason for creation
Formed by the amalgamation of 42rd and 73rd Regiments of Foot due to the Childers Reforms , a continuation of the Cardwell Reforms .
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) is an infantry regiment of the British Army. The regiment's name comes from the extremely dark tartan that they wear; 'Black Watch' was originally just a nickname for the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot, but was used more and more so that, in 1881, when the 42nd amalgamated with the 73rd Foot, the new regiment was named 'The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)'. The uniform has changed but the nickname has been more enduring. The regimental motto is Nemo me impune lacessit (no one attacks me with impunity). The Royal Stewart tartan is worn by the regimental pipers due the royal designation.
The first independent companies of the Black Watch were raised as a militia in 1725 by George Wade to occupy and keep peace in the Scottish Highlands after the 1715 Jacobite Rising. In these early days, members were recruited from local clans, the first six companies were three of Campbells and one each of Frasers, Grant s and Munros.
The Regiment of the Line was formed officially in 1739 as the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot under John, the Earl of Crawford, and first mustered in 1740, at Aberfeldy. The regiment's earliest days were inauspicious; ordered to London in 1743 for an inspection by King George II, rumors flew that they were to be shipped to the West Indies to fight in the War of Austrian Succession, and many left for Scotland. They were recaptured, three of the leaders shot in the Tower of London, and the remainder of the regiment shipped to Flanders. The regiment's first full combat was the Battle of Fontenoy in Flanders in 1745, where they surprised the French with their ferocity, and greatly impressed their commander, the Duke of Cumberland.
When the 1745 Jacobite Rising broke out, the regiment returned to the south of Britain in anticipation of a possible French invasion. From 1747 to 1756 they were stationed in Ireland and then were sent to New York.
During the French and Indian War, at the first battle of Fort Ticonderoga (1758) the regiment lost over half of its men in assault. At that time they were already officially recognized as a Royal regiment. The second battalion of the Black Watch was sent to the Caribbean where they saw action at Havana, Martinique and Guadeloupe. After the losses of Ticonderoga, the two battalions were consolidated in New York.
The Black Watch fought in a dozen battles of the Napoleonic Wars. During the battle of Alexandria in 1801 a regiment major captured the standard of Napoleon's Imperial Guard. It also served in the Battle of Waterloo where its 73rd Battalion was in the most intense fighting and lost 289 men. It was one of the component parts of the Highland Brigade in the Crimean War, at Cawnpore and Lucknow in 1858, and the Anglo-Boer War.
The regiment captured its regimental gong during the Indian Mutiny. After that the gong has tolled hours in Black Watch quarters. The regiment received its current name from Queen Victoria in 1861 when it became The Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch).
During World War I the 25 battalions of Black Watch fought mainly in France and Flanders, except for 2nd Battalion which fought in Mesopotamia and Palestine, and the 10th Battalion which was in the Balkans. Only the 1st and 2nd battalions were regulars. The fearsome reputation of these kilted soldiers led to their acquiring the nickname "Ladies from Hell" from the German troops that faced them in the trenches.
Battalions of the Watch fought in almost every major action of the British in World War II, from Palestine to Dunkirk to Normandy. After the war, in 1948, the two regular battalions were merged into one.
The regiment won honours after the Battle of the Hook during the Korean War in November 1952, and were subsequently involving in peacekeeping in various parts of the world, ironically the same activity for which the regiment was raised 250 years earlier. It was the last British military unit to leave Hong Kong in 1997.
During the 2003 Iraq War the Black Watch fought in the attack on Basra and during their deployment they suffered a single fatality. The following year the Black Watch were dispatched to Iraq again, as part of 4 (Armoured) Brigade . On 12 August a soldier from the regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). In October, the Black Watch were at the centre of political controversy after the Americans requested British forces to be moved further north outside of the British-controlled Multi-National Division (South East) area. Despite objections in Parliament, the deployment went ahead. Based at Camp Dogwood, South of Baghdad, they came under regular attack from rockets. On the 29 October, during the journey to their new base, a Black Watch soldier was killed in a road accident. On 4 November 3 soldiers and an interpreter were killed and on 8 November another soldier was killed. This high profile deployment caused a magnification of these events back home in Britain.
Under a plan supervised by General Sir Mike Jackson, on December 16 2004 it was announced that the Black Watch was to join with five other Scottish regiments - the Royal Scots, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the Highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland, a single five-battalion regiment. The Black Watch is to retain its hackle and will be known as The Black Watch (3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland).
- The Black Watch regiment homepage