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War Diary of the Fifth Seaforth Highlanders 51st (Highland) Division


The 5th Seaforth Highlanders, whose war record is given in this book, is the territorial Battalion of Caithness and Sutherland, the two most northerly counties in Scotland.

The battalion was first formed in 1859, early in the Volunteer movement, by the Duke of Sutherland and took as its badge, the Sutherland Crest (the Wild Cat), with the proud motto "Sans Peur," while its tartan was also the Sutherland, of black, navy blue, and green, similar to that worn by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

At first confined to Sutherlandshire, it later amalgamated with the Caithness Volunteers and was known as the 1st Sutherland Highland Rifle Volunteers. It had a double justification for its badge and tartan, for the 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders were recruited in 1801, during the Napoleonic Wars, in the same area, and had the same badge and tartan, hence the battalion regards itself as the lineal descendant of that famous unit.

When the Territorial Force was formed, the battalion had to change its name to the 5th (Sutherland and Caithness) Seaforth Highlanders, but as a concession to volunteer and county traditions, it was still allowed to wear the Sutherland Badge and Tartan, and is thus unique in being differently dressed from all other Seaforth Battalions.

On 5th August 1914 its mobilization, under Col. E. G. Buik, V.D., took place, the various companies concentrating at Nigg on the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth, whence, after a week spent in digging trenches for the defence of the Admiralty Forts on the North Sutor, it proceeded to Inverness. Thence, in a few days, it entrained for Bedford, which became the training centre for the Highland Territorial Division, afterwards so well known as the 51st.

For eight months the Division was billeted in this town, and was treated with the utmost cordiality and kindness by the townspeople, who did all they could to make their kilted invaders comfortable and happy.

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