Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
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Cameronians Scottish Rifles
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Cap Badge of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Active1 July 1881 - 14 May 1968
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Size2 Regular battalions
2 Militia battalions
2 - 4 Territorial and Volunteer battalions
Up to 12 hostilities-only battalions
Part ofLowland Brigade
Garrison/HQHamilton Barracks, Hamilton (1881-1947)
Winston Barracks, Lanark (1947-1968)
Nickname(s)(from the 1960s) The Poison Dwarfs. Not a popular nickname as it was derogatory.
MarchQuick - Within a mile of Edinburgh Toon
Slow - The Garb of Old Gaul
Colonel in ChiefHM King Gustaf VI Adolf
Colonel of
the Regiment
Major General Henry Templar Alexander, CB CBE DSO
TartanThe Douglas tartan

The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was a rifle regiment of the British Army, the only regiment of rifles amongst the Scottish regiments of infantry. It was formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 26th Cameronian Regiment and the 90th Perthshire Light Infantry. In 1968, when reductions were required, the regiment chose to be disbanded rather than amalgamated with another regiment, one of only two infantry regiments in the British Army to do so, with the other being the York and Lancaster Regiment. It can trace its roots to that of the Cameronians, later the 26th of Foot, who were raised in 1689. The 1881 amalgamation coincided with the Cameronian's selection to become the new Scottish Rifles.

Memorial on Spion Kop
1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) on the Western Front, 1914 - 1915
Cameronians Memorial at Douglas, South Lanarkshire



The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 26th Cameronian Regiment and the 90th Perthshire Light Infantry.[1] After the amalgamation, the 1st Battalion preferred to be known as "The Cameronians" while the 2nd preferred to be known as "The Scottish Rifles". The 2nd Battalion saw action at the Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900 during the Second Boer War.[2]

Two Militia battalions were formed from the former 2nd Royal Lanark Militia. The 3rd battalion was embodied in May 1900 for service during the Second Boer War. More than 600 men embarked for South Africa in April 1901, and returned in June 1902, following the end of hostilities.[3] The 4th battalion had been embodied already in December 1899, also for service in the same war, and 600 officers and men embarked for South Africa in late February 1900.[4]

In 1908, the Volunteers and Militia were reorganised nationally, with the former becoming the Territorial Force and the latter the Special Reserve;[5] the regiment now had two Reserve and four Territorial battalions.[6][1]

First World War

Regular Army

The 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 19th Brigade, which was an independent command at that time, in August 1914 for service on the Western Front.[7] The battalion famously refused to play football or otherwise fraternise with the enemy on Christmas Day 1914.[8] The 2nd Battalion landed in France as part of the 23rd Brigade in the 8th Division in November 1914 for service on the Western Front.[7]

Territorial Force

The 1/5th Battalion was one of the first Territorial Force units selected to reinforce the Regulars of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. It landed at Le Havre on 5 November 1914, joining 19th Brigade on 19 November. At this time 19th Bde also included 1st Bn Cameronians[a] 19th Brigade was attached to the 6th Division; later it moved to 33rd Division, a 'Kitchener's Army' formation.[7] The 1/6th Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the 23rd Brigade in the 8th Division in March 1915 for service on the Western Front. It later joined 33rd Division and in 1916 it merged with the 1/5th to form 5th/6th Bn.[7] The 1/7th Battalion and the 1/8th Battalion landed in Gallipoli as part of the 156th Brigade in the 52nd (Lowland) Division in June 1915; after evacuation from Gallipoli in January 1916 the battalions moved to Egypt and served in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. They sailed to Marseille in April 1918 and served on the Western Front until the end of the war.[10][11][12][7][13][9][14]

New Armies

The 9th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 27th Brigade in the 9th (Scottish) Division in May 1915 for service on the Western Front.[7] The 10th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 46th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division in July 1915 for service on the Western Front.[7] The 11th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 77th Brigade in the 26th Division in September 1915 for service on the Western Front but sailed for Salonika in November 1915.[7]


The 1st Battalion was deployed to Ireland in 1919 during the Irish War of Independence and then went to India in 1931 while the 2nd Battalion was deployed to Mesopotamia in 1919 and then went to India in 1922.[15]

Second World War

The 1st Battalion, which had been in India at the start of the war and was initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Galloway, was deployed to Burma as part of the 1st Burma Brigade in the 39th Indian Division in 1942 and saw action in the Burma Campaign.[16]

A Bren gun team from the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 5th Division, take up a position high up in the mountains, Italy, 21 November 1943.

The 2nd Battalion, initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Graham, was deployed to France as part of the 13th Infantry Brigade in the 5th Division within the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in September 1939 and, after taking part in the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, saw action in the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943 and, after fighting in the Italian Campaign, serving in both the Moro River and Anzio campaigns until July 1944, took part in the North West Europe Campaign in early 1945, ending in May.[17]

Infantrymen of the 6th Battalion, Cameronians passing Sherman tanks near Havert in Germany, 18 January 1945.

The 6th and 7th Battalions, both Territorial Army battalions, were deployed to France as part of the 156th Infantry Brigade in the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division to provide cover for the withdrawal of troops of the British Expeditionary Force; after the Normandy landings in June 1944, the battalion took part in the North West Europe Campaign in late 1944 and in 1945.[18][19]

The 9th Battalion took part in the Normandy landings as part of the 46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division in June 1944 and saw action in the North West Europe Campaign in late 1944 and in 1945.[20]


In 1948, along with every other infantry regiment of the British Army, the Cameronians regiment was reduced to a single regular battalion. The 1st Battalion which had been repeatedly decimated in the Burma campaign was placed in suspended animation and the 2nd Battalion was renamed the 1st Battalion while at Gibraltar. It was deployed to Malaya in 1950 during the Malayan Emergency.[21] Under the reforms of the army in the 1967 Defence White Paper, which saw several regiments amalgamated, the Cameronians chose to disband rather than amalgamate with another in the Lowland Brigade.[1]

The 1st Battalion, The Cameronians was disbanded on 14 May 1968 at Douglas Castle, near Douglas, South Lanarkshire in the presence of the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Angus. Its recruiting area in Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway was taken over by the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Regimental Headquarters finally closed down in 1987.[1]

Regimental museum

The Cameronians Museum is located within the Low Parks Museum, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.[22]


Every new member of the regiment was issued a Bible, as a nod to Richard Cameron, after whom the original 26th Foot was named and the regiment mounted an armed guard at the doors of the Kirk during religious services.[23] Soldiers wore a rifle green doublet with Douglas tartan trews as part of their full dress and No.1 dress uniforms.[24] The regiment was one of only two in Britain to retain the shako as its full-dress headwear after 1878.[25]

Battle honours

The regiment's battle honours included:[1]

  • Early wars: Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet, South Africa 1846-72, South Africa 1877-8-92, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902
  • The Great War: Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914 '18, Aisne 1914, La Bassée 1914, Messines 1914, Armentières 1914, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Loos, Somme 1916 '18, Albert 1916, Bazentin, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Arras 1917 '18, Scarpe 1917 '18, Arleux, Ypres 1917 '18, Pilckem, Langemarck 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, St Quentin, Rosières, Avre, Lys, Hazebrouck, Bailleul, Kemmel, Scherpenberg, Soissonnais-Ourcq, Drocourt-Quéant, Hindenberg Line, Épéhy, Canal du Nord, St Quentin Canal, Cambrai 1918, Courtrai, Selle, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18, Doiran 1917 '18, Macedonia 1915-18, Gallipoli 1915-16, Rumani, Egypt 1916-17, Gaza, El Mughar, Nebi Samwil, Jaffa, Palestine 1917-18
  • Second World War: Ypres-Comines Canal, Odon, Cheux, Caen, Mont Pincon, Estry, Nederrijn, Best, Scheldt, South Beveland, Walcheren Causeway, Asten, Roer, Rhineland, Reichswald, Moyland, Rhine, Dreierwalde, Bremen, Artlenberg, North-West Europe 1940, '44-45, Landing in Sicily, Simeto Bridgehead, Sicily 1943, Garigliano Crossing, Anzio, Advance to Tiber, Italy 1943-44, Pegu 1942, Paungde, Yenagyaung 1942, Chindits 1944, Burma 1942 '44

Regimental Colonels

Regimental colonels were:[1]


Affiliations included:

Notable former members of the regiment

Also His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the former ruler of the Sultantate of Oman, served with the Cameronians as a junior officer.[30][31]


Face 5 of the British memorial on Spion Kop lists the names of the soldiers from the Cameronians who died at the Battle of Spion Kop during the Second Boer War.[32] The Cameronians War Memorial in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow by Philip Lindsey Clark, unveiled on 9 August 1924, depicts men of the regiment manning a Lewis gun.[33] A monument commemorating both the founding of the regiment by the Earl of Angus in 1689 and its disbanding in 1968 can be found at Douglas, South Lanarkshire.[34] Also within the village is a statue of the Earl of Angus to commemorate the bicentenary of the raising of the regiment.[35]


  1. ^ The 33rd Division's historian[9] usually refers to 1st Bn as 'Cameronians' and 5th Bn as 'Scottish Rifles', which may reflect the battalions' preferences as to titles; the Official Histories use Scottish Rifles for both.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Archived from the original on December 30, 2005. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Anglo-Boer War. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "The Army in South Africa - The return of the Troops". The Times (36809). London. 2 July 1902. p. 11.
  4. ^ "The War - Embarcation of Troops". The Times (36071). London. 21 February 1900. p. 10.
  5. ^ "Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907". Hansard. 31 March 1908. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ These were the 3rd and 4th Battalions (Special Reserve), with the 5th Battalion at West Princes Street in Glasgow, the 6th Battalion at Muirhall in Hamilton (since demolished), the 7th Battalion at Victoria Road in Glasgow and the 8th Battalion at Cathedral Street in Glasgow (since demolished) (all Territorial Force)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Scottish Rifles - the soldiers who refused to play ball at Christmas during First World War". The Telegraph. 22 December 2013. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ a b Seton-Hutchinson.
  10. ^ 6th Division, Becke, Pt 1.
  11. ^ 33rd Division, Becke, Pt 3b.
  12. ^ 52nd (Lowland) Division, Becke, Pt 2a.
  13. ^ Edmonds, 1914, Vol II, pp. 227, 459; Appendices 1 & 5.
  14. ^ Thompson.
  15. ^ "Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". National Army Museum. Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ "1st Burma Division". Burma Star Association. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "2nd Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 2016.
  18. ^ "6th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 2016.
  19. ^ "7th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ "9th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)". Wartime Memories Project. Retrieved 2016.
  21. ^ "Malayan Emergency 1948-1960". Cameronians. Retrieved 2016.
  22. ^ "The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Collection - Low Parks Museum, Hamilton, Lanarkshire". Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ "Lanarkshire connections". Cameronians. Retrieved 2016.
  24. ^ "Doublet". Cameronians. Retrieved 2016.
  25. ^ Army Dress Regulations 2011 (glossary)
  26. ^ "Invitation to Major-General Haugh". South Lanarkshire Museum. Retrieved 2016.
  27. ^ "World War 1 Photographs". History Links Museum. Retrieved 2016.
  28. ^ "No. 37598". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1946. p. 2768.
  29. ^ "Brigadier-General James Graham Chaplin". Lafayette negative archive. Retrieved 2018.
  30. ^ Allen, p. 28-29, 34
  31. ^ Telegraph Obituaries (11 January 2020). "Sultan Qaboos bin Said, long-serving ruler of Oman and ally of the West - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  32. ^ "The British War Memorial and graveyard at the Battle of Spion Kop". Getty images. Retrieved 2016.
  33. ^ "Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) War Memorial". Scottish Sculpture. Retrieved 2016.
  34. ^ "Cameronians's Regimental Memorial". Visit Scotland. Retrieved 2016.
  35. ^ "Cameronian Scottish Rifles 1689 - 1968, Presentation to Douglas Heritage Museum, June 2006". Douglas Community Council. Archived from the original on September 12, 2006. Retrieved 2016.


  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 1: The Regular British Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1934/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-38-X.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2a: The Territorial Force Mounted Divisions and the 1st-Line Territorial Force Divisions (42-56), London: HM Stationery Office, 1935/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 3b: New Army Divisions (30-41) and 63rd (R.N.) Division, London: HM Stationery Office, 1939/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-41-X.
  • Brig-Gen Sir James E. Edmonds, History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1914, Vol II, London: Macmillan, 1925/Imperial War Museum & Battery Press, 1995, ISBN 1-870423-55-0.
  • Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (2000-01-01). Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780714650012.
  • Lt-Col Graham Seton-Hutchinson, The Thirty-Third Division in France and Flanders, 1915-1919, London: Waterlow & Sons 1921/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-84342-995-1.
  • Lt-Col R.R. Thompson, The Fifty-Second (Lowland) Division 1914-1918, Glasgow: Maclehose, Jackson 1923/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 978-1-84342993-7.

External links

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