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1st/5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Mobilisation (cont.)

New Deer

'Bills calling out the Territorials and Reservists are posted up on every prominent building in New Deer, and motor cars run day and night conveying the orders to outlying districts.  A feeling of enthusiastic patriotism prevails such as not been seen since the relief of Ladysmith.  On Wednesday night the New Deer brass band played loyal airs in Main Street, which were received with rousing cheers.  The Buchan Troop of Scottish Horse, F Squadron, passed through the village on Thursday at 1.45 p.m, picking up the New Deer contingent on the way, and they got a hearty reception from the cheering crowds.  At two o'clock the Territorials set off from the armoury, and proceeded by Pipers George Robertson and David Stewart, marched to the foot of Fordyce Terrace, where they took brakes for Maud.  They were under the command of Colour Sergeant Wm. Watt.  Enthusiasm was at a high pitch, but more than one face betokened the strain of the exciting moment, and the prayer of all was that the men would return to their dear ones.'


'The village of Longside presented an animated and military appearance on Wednesday with the mobilisation of the local section of B Coy (Peterhead), 5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders (T.F.). This section embraces men from Longside, Mintlaw, Old Deer, Stuartfield and other parts of the immediate district.  Under the command of of Captain Rennie and Lieut. R. Cowie, the men, numbering about 50 in all, paraded from 10 a.m. at the armoury, where during the day kilts and weapons were served out.'


'The notices calling out the Reservists and the Territorials were posted in the village of Strichen on Tuesday night, and steps were at once taken to convey the orders to the outlying districts.  Large numbers of Territorials were in the village expecting something of this kind, and preparations were made for leaving.'

Service in Parish Church
(Buchan Observer 11th August 1914)

A military service was arranged to take place in the parish church at 10 o’clock and some time before that time the various companies under their respective officers marched out and mustered near the Drill Hall, Kirk Street whence they marched to the Church. There were 1000 on parade and the impressive ceremony was witnessed by many hundreds of onlookers. 

The colours of the Battalion were enfolded on each side of the pulpit which was occupied by Chaplain Rev J. Halliday, who preached  from text Matt. v. 9  “Blessed are the peacemakers”, the lessons being read by Colonel Grant DSO of Monymusk, in command of the Battalion, and Rev. McWilliam.

Chaplain Halliday in the course of a very impressive sermon said : The peace of Europe had been broken and this country had answered the call of duty, as the supreme peacemaker.  The late King Edward was known as the peacemaker and the same tradition continued  under the present King’s reign.  But for this, the peace of Europe would have been broken years ago.  Britain entered this war with clean hands after having done everything in her power to prevent war., and only because national honour and self-preservation left no other alternatives.  It was not their love of war but their desire for peace that explained the enthusiasm of the nation.  Friend and foe alike had been impressed by their British solidarity, and the hour was now striking in which the British soldiers and sailors would show what they were made of.  The whole military force of the empire had responded nobly to the call, and no part of it more willingly than the Territorial Army.  The Town had  been greatly impressed by their appearance and conduct while garrisoned among them.  The people of Peterhead were full of their praises and would follow them with many prayers for their protection and their safe return.

Departure of the Buchan Gordons
(Buchan Observer 11th August 1914)

The first bugles were sounding and the pipes were playing " Hey Johnny Cope are you wauking yet" by four o'clock yesterday morning.  Within two hours the battalion was ready for their departure.  After breakfast the various companies assembled ready for the march to the headquarters in King Street under the command of their respective officers.

Soon the whole battalion had mustered in front of the Drill Hall and proceeded via Queen Street to the Railway Station led by Colonel Grant DSO who was accompanied by Major [name unclear] and Adjutant Cruden.  The battalion made a splendid appearance, and the officers and men looked smart and fit as they marched off to the sound of the band.  The entraining of the troops was accomplished with admirable discipline.

The troop special, conveying about one half of the men, steamed away about 6 o'clock, witnessed by great crowds, who followed the train for a long distance out from the station.

Half an hour later, these scenes were repeated when the second train removed the remainder of the force. 

Rev. J. Halliay, chaplain, wished the officers and men goodbye, wishing them a safe journey and safe return, and conveyed to the men and the staff a message from Provost Leask saying he regretted he was unable to be present and had asked the Chaplain to say that he had heard all the good accounts that that had been recounted of the excellent appearance and behaviour of the battalion during their sojourn in Peterhead. He wished them a good journey and a safe return and he was sure the Buchan battalion of the Gordon Highlanders would always give a good account of themselves and maintain the reputation of the noble regiment to which they belonged. 

Colonel Grant asked the chaplain in the name of the staff and men to thank Provost Leask for his kindly message and assured him that he appreciated the compliment which he had been pleased to pay them regarding the battalion's sojourn in Peterhead.  He added that he hoped the Provost's health would be soon restored to him.

An advance party of the Territorials departed on the 5.45 train on Saturday afternoon under the command of Major Law.

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Carolyn Morrisey