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Monday, September 25, 2023

Bydand! The 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders

The Gordon Highlanders were formed on July 1st, 1881 as an amalgamation of the 75th Highland Regiment and the 92nd Highland Regiment, raised in 1787 and 1784 respectively.  The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments and the reorganization created a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions except in Ireland were two regular and three militia battalions became the standard. 

The 1st Battalion fought at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in September of 1882 during the Anglo-Egyptian War and was part of the ill fated expedition to save Major General Gordon during the Mahdist War.

The newly formed Regiment, while stationed in India went on to serve in various foreign campaigns including The Relief of the Chitral Expedition 1895 and the Tirah Campaign of 1897 - 1898.

It was during operations on the North West Frontier in October 1897, during the storming of the Dargai Heights, that one of the regiment's most famous Victoria Crosses was earned. Piper George Findlater, despite being wounded in both legs, continued to play "The Haughs O' Cromdale" on the bagpipes during the assault.

Piper George Findlater, VC

Another of the heroes involved the charge of the Gordon Highlanders at Dargai Heights was Piper John Kidd. Piper Kidd was with Piper Findlater when, half-way up the heights, both pipers were shot down. Unmindful of his injuries, Piper Kidd sat up and continued to play "The Cock o' the North" as the troops advanced up the heights.

Here is my interpretation of the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders for operations on the Northwest Frontier mounted for The Men Who Would Be Kings. All figures are from Perry Miniatures. First up is my battalion commander, Lt. Colonel H. H. Mathias:

"Highlanders! The General says the position is to be taken at all costs. The Gordons will take it!" Lt. Col Mathias before the heights of Dargai. Lt. Col. Mathais was recommended for the Victorian Cross but he was debarred by a War Office ruling that commanding officers were ineligible. Then as now, they see things differently then the men at the point of the spear.

"Dargai", by Robert Gibb (1909)

Colour-Sergeant Mackie, DCM

Lt. Col Mathies: "Stiff climb, eh, Mackie? Not quite . . . so young . . . as I was . . . you know."
Colour-Sergeant Mackie after giving his commanding officer a comradely slap on the back: "Never mind sir! Ye're gaun vara strong for an auld man!"

The Corporal.

Piper George Findlater, VC

The Drummer for passing commands and keeping the march.

The men.

Heroes of Dargai.



  1. Very nice painting. A small point, perhaps a typo: the 92nd were formed some time after the 75th, in _1794_, when they were initially numbered 100th, and became the 92nd (Highland) regiment in 1798 while stationed in Gibraltar.