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1st/5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Battalion War Diary November 1918

  Place  Date        Diary
DÉRODERIE  1st Nov - 8th Nov  During this period the usual parades were carried out and the football competition continued. On the first of the month, orders in the event of further withdrawal of the enemy were issued. About 0950 hours on the 8th the code word "suspected" was received from Brigade and all preparations were made for a move at very short notice. "B" Company immediately moved forward to take over the outpost line held by the 8th Seaforth Highlanders. Later in the day the code word “gone” came through. The Battalion was now ready to go forward and orders were issued accordingly. 
DÉRODERIE  9th Nov  The order to move was issued on the early morning of the 9th, the destination being HOLLAIN about eight kilometres east of DÉRODERIE.  
HOLLAIN  9th Nov  The Battalion arrived at HOLLAIN about 1230 hours and remained there till 1000 hours the following morning. Disposition in the event of further move were issued. 
HOLLAIN  10th Nov  It was known that the Battalion had to move forward from HOLLAIN on the night of the 9th, but as no orders were received to this effect, no move was made till the morning of the 10th, and then without any written orders. During the night the other units of the Brigade had moved far forward and it was therefore necessary for the Battalion to make what was really a two days’ march in order to get again in touch. Consequently the Battalion left HOLLAIN and set out for TOURPES, north east of HOLLAIN and about 25 kilometres distant.  This march was completed by 1830 hours that night and not a single man had fallen out. 
TOURPES  11th Nov 

Operation Orders to the effect that the Battalion would pass through the 8th Seaforth Highlanders were issued.  The first company left TOURPES at 0630 hours on the morning of the 11th and thereafter we became front line Battalion.  About 11.20 am we were moving over open country first west of and then in sight of CHIEVRES when news of the Armistice was brought.  Rumours had been circulating during the morning and the news wasn’t altogether unexpected but when it was given out officially the men cheered and sang.  It was altogether a strange picture.  The companies were moving forward with outposts well ahead and on receipt of the news, the Battalion seemed to assemble at lightening speed and continued to march in column of fours, whistling and singing.  Not a shot had been heard and no Bosche had been encountered. We were now close to CHIEVRES and instructions were issued for the Battalion to billet there. A billeting party went on ahead.  The reception at DÉRODERIE has already been written about but it was as nothing compared to the reception [continues from this point in different handwriting] given to the Battalion at CHIEVRES. The streets were lined by civilians who cheered us as we passed and handed us all sorts of gifts.  In the afternoon a guard of honour headed by the town band waited on Major Wood, who was then in command and he along with other officers from Headquarters was marched to the Town Hall where he was officially received by the Mayor M. Emille Dooms, and acclaimed hero of the town.  After the ceremony a minute was entered in the town records and signed by each of the officers present.  It was altogether a remarkable day and the wildest scenes of enthusiasm on the part of both civilians and soldiers were witnessed. 

CHIEVRES  12th Nov  The day was given over to cleaning up. B Company remained in outpost line at HOVES which had been taken up on the afternoon of the 11th.
CHIEVRES    13th Nov  A message of congratulation was received from the Chairman of the Aberdeenshire Territorial Force Association to which Major Wood replied. 
CHIEVRES    14th Nov  Parades as usual were carried out.  
CHIEVRES    15th Nov  B Company were relieved in the outpost line by D company 10th Scottish Rifles and withdrawn to billets in Chievres. The move detailed in Appendix 9 was cancelled and the Battalion remained in Chievres.
CHIEVRES  16th Nov  Parades as usual were carried out. 
CHIEVRES  17th Nov  A detachment attended thanksgiving service in Church.  The Commanding Officer and officers present marched to the Town Hall and were received by the Mayor. To commemorate the entry of the Battalion into Chievres it was decided to present to the town the Battalion Flag.  The Battalion formed up in the Grand Place and after the flag had been blessed by the Padre (Capt The Rev. B.J. Whiteside), the Commanding Officer in a fitting speech handed it to the Mayor who received it on behalf of the townspeople.  After the ceremony the Commanding Officer was received by the Mayor. A pamphlet on the presentation of the colours will be forwarded with the Diary of December.
CHIEVRES  18th Nov  The Battalion was inspected by the Divisional Commander Major General H.L. Reid VC CB CMG.
CHIEVRES  19th Nov - 26th Nov  Usual parades continued and the football competition decided 15 Platoon D Company winning. Batt. Parade was held on 15th. 26/11/1918 The Battalion was inspected by G.O.C Brigade.
CHIEVRES  27th Nov-30th Nov  Usual parades were held. 



7th January 1919

Freed by the Buchan Gordons.
A Frenchman’s Tribute

A Strichen soldier serving with the 5th Gordons in France has sent to me an interesting booklet written by Mr Paul Durmaix, describing the deliverance, by the Gordon Highlanders of the town of Chievres from German oppressors. As a frontispiece the booklet has a photograph of the Gordon Highlanders regimental flag, which was presented to the town on November 17th.
The writer tells how Chievres , ever since August 21 1914, had groaned under “requisitions of every sort, exactions, vexations, levies of men, deportations, total expulsion from their homes of inhabitants and of French deportees and refugees who had been received in a brotherly spirit, the turning out into the streets of the patients in the hospitals, several who were seriously ill, dying as a result of this inhuman measure.
All in a Flutter
It is Sunday, November 10, and the population are all in a flutter. Aeroplanes fly over the town. Whose are they? The question is soon answered. One of them comes over the roofs and the French colours which decorated it can be seen. Instantly there is a frenzy of delight. The inhabitants, overflowing with joy crowd out of their houses waving Belgian and Allied flags, and raise loud cheers of greeting to the airmen who bring this view of near deliverance and seem to reply to this moving and spontaneous manifestation.
In a moment houses break out bunting, triumphal arches rise from the ground, and all the inhabitants make ready to give a warm greeting to their liberators so long and impatiently expected.
There was the wildest enthusiasm when, towards two o’clock in the afternoon, an advanced guard of five British soldiers made its appearance in the Place de St. Jean, and the crowd rushing together acclaimed the men and covered them with flowers.
The next day our popular Alderman, the acting Burgomaster, M Emile Dooms, who we can never sufficiently thank for devotedness to the townspeople during the trying days of enemy occupation, pronounced a charming address to the British Army and its leaders. M. Charles de Bruyeker followed with a welcome to the first Scottish soldiers to pass through our town as deliverers. The right man in the right place.
A Gordon Service.
On the 17th a religious service was held by the Gordon Highlanders at which the leading townsmen were present. At its close the company marched to the Church of St Martin where the British Officers had already gathered to be present at the Te Deum, in honour of King Albert. In rendering thanks for the lavish welcome, Lieut-Colonel the Lord Dudley Gordon announced to the communal administration that a present would be made to the town of the flag under which the 5th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders had fought since 1915.
The ceremony took place the same afternoon. In return the townspeople presented the battalion with the key of Chievres. Lord Dudley Gordon, who accepted the key on behalf of the 5th Gordons, in the course of his speech said “We shall accept with pride the key which you are going to present to me. This key will be kept carefully at our home and the people of the District of Buchan and Formartine in Scotland will learn with joy that their Battalion has had the honour of helping the Belgians who have been the foremost rampart of civilisation and the saviours of liberty."


The Battalion's Commanding Officer the Lord Dudley Gordon was on leave when the Armistice was declared.  He returned from leave a few days later.

The following is the text of a telegram from the O.C 5th Battalion, probably Major Wood, in response one from the Territorial Association, and published in
the Buchan Observer on 12th November.

"Allow me on behalf of this battalion to thank the County of Aberdeen Territorial Force Association
for the kind telegram of congratulations.  This has been communicated to all ranks and was
greatly appreciated.  We all rejoice with you in the termination of the world war and trust that the
day is not too far distant when we will be all back again pursuing our peaceful vocations, having
prevented, we hope, for all time the recurrence of such a tragedy."

The Battalion reamined at Chievres until 15th December when it moved to Nivelles near Brussles. It was given the key to the town upon depature.

The first men to be demobilised were a grup of miners who departed on 10th December.

On 30th February 1919 the Battalion left Nivelles and joined 62nd Division in Germany (Cologne) under command of JB Wood (Dudley Gordon having been demolbilised), then successively Colonels Grenhill Gardyne and Sir James Burnett.

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Carolyn Morrisey