Skip to comments.Black Watch to spearhead assault
Posted on 03/19/2003 5:54:16 PM PST by MadIvan
THEIR battle honours read like a history of Britains glorious military past; Waterloo, Balaclava, Sebastopol, the Somme, Arras, Ypres, Crete, El Alamein.
Wherever Scotlands Black Watch have been called to serve, they have distinguished themselves with a bravery that has inspired fear in enemies and respect among all those who have served alongside them.
Now the Black Watch is preparing to take its place at the forefront of another great military campaign.
As part of the legendary 7th Armoured Brigade - the Desert Rats - and under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mike Riddell-Webster, they will play a key role in the events which will unfold over the coming days.
For weeks, they have been preparing for this moment at their temporary home in northern Kuwait, a mere 25 kilometres from the Iraqi border.
Camped out in a vast area of desert, they have grown used to the suffocating heat, the dust storms and the privations of life far away from the comforts of home.
Above their heads has been the constant sound of whirring helicopters and jets tearing across the sky. The desert has been alive with the noise of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and all the other vehicles that make up the formidable battle group stretched out facing the Iraqi border.
As the 1,100 troops and 50 Warrior armoured vehicles prepare to engage, they know they could have done no more to get ready.
In front of them is an Iraqi army dug in to defensive positions which they must overrun quickly if they are to achieve their objectives. Those inside the armoured vehicles are under no illusions about what they are taking on. The Iraqi army may not be as well-equipped and trained to such a peak of readiness as the British and US forces, their morale might not be as high, but they have the advantage of numbers and few among the Black Watch believe all their number will return home alive.
Not everyone who will go into battle wearing the red hackle of the Black Watch believes theirs is a just cause. The debate among the troops has been earnest and impassioned: some have railed against the politicians who have sent them to a foreign country to fight against people with whom they have no quarrel. Some, making the last call home to loved ones, fear for the Iraqi children as they would for their own.
Others have looked forward with enthusiasm to the moment the bombs begin to fall, standing outside their tents over the last few evenings in the hope of seeing the first flashes of explosions out in the darkness beyond the lights of the oilfields of Kuwait.
They display mixed emotions, from nervousness to bluff confidence. Others have no words at all.
Yet whatever their emotions, all understand they are professional soldiers who have chosen this path. When they joined the Black Watch, they knew at times they could be asked to do things they might find disturbing, even distressing, in the regiments name.
Formed in 1725 when six companies of Highlanders were raised to keep watch on the Highlands, they took their name An Freiceadan Dubh - the Black Watch - from the dark tartan they wore. When they fought for the first time in battle in 1743 at Fontenoy in Flanders, the enemy reported that "the Highland furies ... rushed in more violently than sea in a storm".
Renamed in 1749 as the 42nd Regiment, at Waterloo they were singled out by the Duke of Wellington for their bravery at Quatre Bras. In the Crimea, they fought at Alma, Balaclava and Sebastopol.
In India, members of the regiment won eight Victoria Crosses in just 15 months.
In 1861 the name The Black Watch was formally approved by Queen Victoria and the regiment went on to serve around the empire.
During the First World War, they fought at Marne, Aisne and Ypres, Givenchy, Neuve Chappell and Festubert. At Loos, one general who saw their dead lying so thick that it was difficult to place a foot between them confessed his amazement "when I thought of the unconquerable, irresistible spirit which the men must possess to have enabled them to continue their advance after such losses".
Now, more than 80 years later, they will be called upon to display that same rare bravery again.
Surely the Black Watch is an 'irresistable force'.
Saddamned is no 'immovable object'.
Sorry to say...I filched it off a "Wee" site of Scottish Humor...*grin*
I'm a Kraut-head by blood. I wasn't born in texas, but I got here as soon as I could...so I could hang out with a them thar' lean, mean, eyegougers. Good Folks.
God Bless all our boys. Hell, may He even bless all the Non-Republican Guard/Non-Mukhabarat/young draftee Iraqiis who don't know any better, or have a choice, and the civvies.
That leaves the @$$holes. I hesitate to say it...but I suspect even God's blessing will not suffice to protect them.
The Black Watch (Am Freiceadan Dubh) so named to distinguish it from regular troops who wore red uniforms (Saoghdearan Dearg - red soldiers). Six independant companies were raised in 1725. The Black Watch became the 43rd Regiment in May 1740 and mustered in a field (now marked by this memorial) between the Tay Bridge and Aberfeldy. Originally only enlisting Highlanders, both officers and privates who favoured the Hanoverian cause. Memorial beside the bridge north of Aberfeldy.
Godspeed to these brave troops!
But since WHEN, 4deuce, are there a buncha Keelies inna Black Watch?
(Yeah, I know, since my teuchter ancestors were all cleared for sheep.) :-D
My dad served with the 79th Camerons, and he knows a lot of jokes that begin, "See you, there was this captain inna Black Watch . . . "
My husband and I (two American tourists) were standing there admiring the monument and General Wade's bridge, when two vans came screeching up and stopped at the curb. About two dozen teenagers came piling out of the vans and started running around the monument. After a moment there were screeches of dismay.
We asked what was the matter. It was a Scavenger Hunt for some local youth club, and they were supposed to bring back the inscription on the north side of the monument. The shrieks of dismay were because the monument is all done in Gaelic.
"Well, you're in luck," said I. And an American tourist proceeded to translate the monument for all these Scottish kids. (Who says studying Scottish Gaelic for 3 years in college is no earthly use? You may meet a bunch of Scottish teenagers on a scavenger hunt.)
George MacDonald Fraser (of "Flashman" and "Private MacAuslan" fame) has written a book about the Border families and the heritage they brought to America. It's called The Steel Bonnets and it's well worth a read.
My knowledge of Glasgow dialect is gleaned from Fraser's Macauslan books and two ladies in our Scottish Country Dancing Society. I never spent any time there other than going through the airport.
Flashman, at your service!
I'm not a big Tom Brown fan either, more of a Stalky-M'Turk-Beetle type person.
Like the battalion from the Black Watch, the 7th Brigade's Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have been doing this sort of thing for some 300 years now, and have it pretty well down to a science.
As is mine.
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