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1st/5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

A Brief Summary of the Battalion's History 1914 - 1918

The 5th Battalion the Gordon Highlanders was embodied on 4th August 1914 and moved to its war station at Bedford shortly afterwards.  It trained in conjunction with other Battalions of the Highland  Division until going to France in the first week of May 1915. For more details on embodiement, training and life at Bedford, click here.

Commanding Officers:

Its first wartime commander was Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Grant.  Grant was wounded in the arm during a tour of the trenches in (June/July) 1915 and was replaced by Lieut. Col McTaggart who served as CO until March 1918 when he was taken prisoner during the German Spring Offensive. 

McTaggart was subsequently replaced (5th April 1918) by Lt Col G.R Smith. Smith was killed in action on 28th July 1918 and command then passed to Lord Dudley Gordon, former Commanding Officer of the 8th/10th Battalion that had been absorbed into the 5th Battalion on 1st July 1918. (Smith had become CO as the 5th Battalion took seniority over the 8th/10th.)

At war’s end the War Diaries state that the  Battalion was temporarily under the command of Major Wood.
On February 6th 1919 Lieut.-Col Lord Dudley Gordon relinquished command and was succeeded by L.C Alan. Greenhill-Gardyne. For further information on these officers, click here.


The Battalion was known at various times as 5th Battalion  and 1st/5th Battalion.

For most of the war (12th May1915 to 1st Feb 1918) it formed part of the 153rd Brigade in the famous 51st Highland Division.

During the reorganizations of early 1918 it was transferred to 183rd Brigade 61st (Midlands) Division.
 From 1st June 1918 it was again transferred, this time back to a Scottish Division forming part of the 44th Brigade, 15th Division. At this time it  absorbed the 8/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders.

For more information about the organisation of the Battalion in the early stages of the War, click here.

Major Actions:

Battle of Festubert. 1915
Givenchy. 1915    

The Labyrinth March 1916
High Wood.  30th -31st June 1916.
Beaumont Hamel 13-18 Nov 1916

Arras - First Battle of the Scarpe. 9-14 Apr 1917
Arras - Second Battle of the Scarpe. 23-24 Apr 1917
Arras - Capture of Roeux. 13-14 May 1917.
Passchendaele - Battle of Pilkem Ridge. 31 Jul-2 Aug 1917.
Battle of the Menin Road. 20-25 Sep 1917.
Cambrai  20-21 Nov 1917.

St Quentin (German Spring offensive) 21st March – 4th April 1918
Buzancy 28th July 1918

Click here for casualty lists for most of these battles.

Until the end of 1916, the majority of the men serving in the Battalion were men from the original recruiting area of Aberdeenshire.  Gradually the casualty figures show fewer and fewer of these men and more coming from elsewhere in Scotland and even England.  (see here for more details)

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Carolyn Morrisey