Queen’s Own Highlanders History
1st Queen’s Own Highlanders formed in Edinburgh – 1961
The Amalgamation of the Seaforth Highlanders and The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders took place on the 7th February 1961, in a simple ceremony at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh when the two regular battalions were formed into a single battalion. The officers and sergeants of the 1st Seaforth and 1st Cameron’s assembled in the officers mess, where the two stands of Colours were combined to symbolise the union, and a toast was drunk to the new regiment. That morning, at Edinburgh Castle, the last guard mounted by the 1st Cameron’s was relieved by the first guard mounted by the 1st Bn Queen’s Own Highlanders.
1st Queen’s Own Highlanders in the Far East – 1961-1964
On 9th April 1961 the Queen’s Own Highlanders sailed for the Far East. On arrival in Singapore the battalion was stationed in Selarang Barracks, and was the British Battalion of 99 Gurkha Infantry Brigade, in the 17th Gurkha Division.
On 6th February 1962 the battalion trooped the Regimental Colours of the 1st Seaforth and 1st Cameron’s in Singapore
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in the Brunei rebellion - 1962-1963
The operational role of the Queen’s Own Highlanders was to maintain the internal security of Singapore, but the battalion also carried out training in the British dependencies in North Borneo, supporting the civil authorities in preventing piracy, and acting as a deterrent to Indonesian interference with the North Borneo Territories. On 8th December 1962 an armed rebellion broke out in the Sultanate of Brunei where rebel forces led by Azahari attacked the Sultan’s palace, police stations and installations throughout Brunei. The rebels took hostages and seized the Shell oilfield at Seria.
Battalion Headquarters and A Company of the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved at very short notice from Singapore to Brunei by air, while the destroyer HMS Cavalier sailed at full speed carrying B Company. 60 men of A Company landed by five Twin Pioneer aircraft at Seria and seized Panaga Police Station. Simultaneously the remainder of A Company landed by Beverley aircraft at Anduki Airfield, captured the control tower, and seized the Bailey bridge over the Sungei Bera. Next morning the battalion advanced through Seria, A Company clearing a strong rebel force from the Sultan’s summer palace, and B Company releasing 46 European hostages from the rebel held Police Station. Finally B Company 1st/2nd Gurkhas cleared Kuala Belait. The battalion returned to Singapore in February 1963 on the Commando ship HMS Albion, after its first active service since the amalgamation of the regiment.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Brunei and North Borneo - 1963
The 1st Battalion returned to Borneo in May 1963, when its duties included long range patrolling of the Indonesian border, and the training of local tribesmen as Border Scouts.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1964
In March 1964 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to Edinburgh and was billeted at Milton Bridge camp. On 21st May 1964 the battalion received its first Stand of Colours from HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel in Chief of the Regiment, at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Germany - 1964-1966
In June 1964 the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved to Mercer Barracks in Osnabruck in West Germany. The battalion formed part of 12 Infantry Brigade, in the 2nd Division, in the British Army of the Rhine.
In 1965 and 1966 the 1st Battalion won the Army Championship at the Regular Army Skills-at-Arms meeting at Bisley.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Berlin - 1966-1968
The Queen’s Own Highlanders moved from Osnabruck to Berlin in August 1966, where the battalion formed part of the Berlin Infantry Brigade in the four power occupation force comprising British, US, Russian and French troops.
In 1967 the battalion again won the Army Championship at the Regular Army Skills-at-Arms meeting at Bisley.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1968-1971
In September 1968 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to Redford Barracks, Edinburgh. Its three year tour in Britain included a period of nine months in the Gulf, where the battalion served in the Trucial States.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Sharjah - 1969-1970
From May 1969 to February 1970, under Great Britain’s treaty obligations to protect the Trucial States and maintain stability in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East, the Queen’s Own Highlanders spent a nine month tour at Sharjah in the Trucial States. The battalion was based at the RAF airfield in Sharjah, and trained in desert and mountain operations throughout the Trucial States and Oman.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1970-1971
On its return to Edinburgh in 1970, the Queen’s Own Highlanders provided the ceremonial and administrative duties for the Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh, including Royal Guards of Honour for HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1971-1974
In November 1971 the Queen’s Own Highlanders began its first tour of duty in Ulster since the troubles in Northern Ireland started in 1969. The battalion was deployed in East Belfast, with Battalion Tactical Headquarters, B Company and D Company in Ballymacarret, and A, Support, and Headquarters Companies as the brigade and battalion reserve at Sydenham Royal Naval Aircraft Yard. The battalion returned to Osnabrück in March 1972.
In July 1972, as part of Operation ‘Motorman’, the Queen’s Own Highlanders was flown to Northern Ireland at less than a week’s notice, and remained there until November 1972. The battalion was deployed with Tactical Headquarters and A Company at Dungannon, B Company with the Life Guards in Belfast, D Company with the 1st Gordon’s in Armagh and Lurgan, and Support Company with the 1st Welsh guards in Belfast.
In December 1973 the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved to Belfast for the battalion’s third tour of duty in Northern Ireland. The battalion’s area of responsibility was the Lower Falls, with battalion Tactical Headquarters in the Hastings Street Mill, A Company in the Reservation, B and D Companies in the Albert Street Mill, and Support Company at Broadway. The battalion returned to Osnabruck in April 1974.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Germany - 1971-1976
In April 1971 the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved to Belfast Barracks, Osnabrück, in West Germany. The battalion formed part of 12 Mechanised Brigade, in the 2nd Division, in the British Army of the Rhine.
In 1971 the Queen’s Own Highlanders represented Great Britain in the CENTO Small Arms Competition and won first place, the only British battalion ever to win this competition.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Germany - 1974-1976
Having returned from Northern Ireland, The Queen’s Own Highlanders trooped the Regimental Colour, in Osnabruck on 21st July 1974 before the Colonel of the Regiment, General Sir Peter Hunt.
In November 1974 the Queen’s Own Highlanders battle group carried out mechanised training and field firing at Suffield in Canada, with two armoured squadrons and a battery of field artillery under command.
In 1975 the battalion won the Army Championship at the Regular Army Skills-at-Arms meeting at Bisley.
On 26th April 1976 detachments of the 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Highlanders and the 2nd Battalion 51st Highland Volunteers TAVR represented the regiment when it was granted the Freedom of Tain.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Belize - 1976-1977
In August 1976 the Queen’s Own Highlanders flew to the colony of Belize (formerly British Honduras) in Central America. The battalion formed part of the British force based in Belize, to defend the colony against invasion from Guatemala. The battalion was deployed throughout the country, with Battalion Headquarters and one company at Belize Airport, and with company groups in Cayo and Toledo Districts. The battalion was supported by an armoured recce squadron of the Life Guards, a light battery of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, and by RAF Puma helicopters and Harriers.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1976-1980
In June 1976 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to Britain, and the battalion was stationed at Ritchie Camp, Kirknewton, near Edinburgh. The 1st Battalion celebrated its return to Scotland by trooping the Regimental Colour in the Northern Meeting Park at Inverness on 21st July 1976, before Lieutenant General Sir Chandos Blair, Colonel of the Regiment.
During nearly four years based at Kirknewton, the battalion spent six months in Belize, and carried out two tours, each of four months, in Northern Ireland.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1977-1978
In February 1977 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to Edinburgh. The battalion provided the Royal Guard at Ballater during the summer of 1977. On 15th October 1977 the Regiment received the Freedom of the District of Sutherland at Golspie, with a detachment of the 1st Queen’s Own Highlanders on parade. During the firemen’s strike in November-December 1977, the battalion undertook fire-fighting duties in Edinburgh, and tackled 257 fires.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1978
From April to August 1978 the Queen’s Own Highlanders carried out a tour of duty in North Armagh. Battalion HQ, Support and HQ Companies were based at Armagh, A Company at Cookstown, B Company at Dungannon, and D Company at Middletown.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1978-1979
The Earl of Seaforths Highland Regiment was originally passed as fit for service at Elgin on 15th May 1778. On the bicentenary of this date the Queen’s Own Highlanders was on operational duty in Northern Ireland. The Bicentenary celebrations were therefore delayed until after the battalion had returned to Edinburgh. The Bicentenary was celebrated at Elgin where, on 14th October 1978, the Regiment was granted the Freedom of the District of Moray. On parade at Elgin with the 1st Battalion were detachments of the 51st Highland Volunteers, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, the Cameron Highlanders of Canada, and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.
The Queen’s Own Highlanders spent a short period training in Gibraltar in late 1978.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1979
From July to October 1979 the Queen’s Own Highlanders carried out its most testing tour of duty in Northern Ireland when it was responsible for the difficult border country of South Armagh. Battalion HQ and Support Company were based at the Bessbrook linen mill, A Company at Forkhill, B Company at Newton Hamilton, and D Company at Crossmaglen. The battalion had the great misfortune to lose its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel D N A Blair, and his signaller LCpl Victor MacLeod, killed in an IRA bomb attack at Warren Point, when 16 soldiers from B Company 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment also died. Three other soldiers from the 1st battalion, Cpl David Wares, Cpl David Lang, and Pte A McMillan also died on this tour of duty. But despite these losses the battalion achieved outstanding success in its anti-terrorist operations.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Hong Kong - 1980-1981
In March 1980 the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved to Hong Kong where the battalion was stationed at Stanley Fort. The main operational role was to prevent illegal immigration from China. During its tour in Hong Kong the battalion arrested over 9000 immigrants, by using foot patrols, ambushes, boats, helicopters and ponies. Companies also trained in Brunei and New Zealand.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders at Tidworth - 1981
In December 1981 the Queen’s Own Highlanders left Hong kong and returned to Great Britain. The battalion formed part of 1 Infantry Brigade in the United Kingdom Mobile Force(Land).
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in the Falklands - 1982
When Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, the 1st Bn Queen’s Own Highlanders was twice placed on stand-by to take part in the recapture of the Islands. The battalion flew to Ascension Island, and then embarked on the troopship MV Norland. In the event it reached the Falklands shortly after the end of hostilities. The battalion relieved two brigades, and deployed with Battalion Headquarters and HQ Company in Port Stanley, A Company at Goose Green, B Company (less a platoon in South Georgia) at North Arm and then Roy Cove, D Company at Fox Bay, Support Company at Port Stanley then North Arm.
The battalion had the role of clearing up Port Stanley and the settlements where fighting had taken place, and of restoring normal life to the civil community. It returned to Tidworth in December 1982. In recognition of the battalion’s outstanding service to the civil community in the Falklands, it was awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders at Tidworth - 1982-1983
On 23rd July 1983 the Queen’s Own Highlanders was presented with its second Stand of Colours at Tidworth by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment. The Wilkinson Sword of Peace was also presented at the start of the parade.
On 6th August 1983 a guard of the Queen’s Own Highlanders represented the regiment when it received the Freedom of Nairn.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1983-1985
In November 1983 the Queen’s Own Highlanders moved to Northern Ireland for a residential tour. The battalion was based at Alexander Barracks, Aldergrove, beside Belfast Airport. The battalion’s main operational task was to maintain one company detached as a reinforcement to 4th Battalion Ulster Defence Regiment in County Fermanagh, on a roulement system. During the battalion’s tour its companies also operated throughout the province.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders at Fort George - 1985-1988
In November 1985 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to the regimental area when it moved to Fort George. During 1983-1985 the Fort had been extensively modernised, and the Queen’s Own Highlanders was to be the first battalion to enjoy the new facilities. On 5th July 1986 a guard of the 1st battalion paraded at Wick when the regiment received the Freedom of the Caithness District. The battalion later carried out a month’s field training in Kenya.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Belize - 1987
In April 1987 the Queen’s Own Highlanders returned to Belize for a six month tour. The battalion was permanently deployed as two battle groups, each of two companies with armoured recce and artillery support. Battle Group North occupied Airport Camp and Holdfast Camp in Cayo District, while Battle Group South occupied Rideau and Salamanca Camps in Toledo District. The battalion moved back to Fort George in December 1987.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Germany - 1988-1993
During the five year period in Münster the 1st battalion completed two tours of duty in Northern Ireland in 1990 and 1992-1993, and took part in the Gulf War in 1991.
In August 1990, on return from the tour in Belfast, the Queen’s Own Highlanders provided the guard when the Regiment received the Freedom of the Orkney Islands, at Kirkwall on 22nd August, and the Freedom of Badenoch and Strathspey District at Grantown-on-Spey, on 24th August.
The 1st Battalion celebrated the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Regiment by trooping the Regimental Colour at Münster before the Colonel of the Regiment, Major General John Hopkinson. The battalion then received a visit from HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1990
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in the Gulf War - 1991
The ground campaign began on G Day, 24th February 1991, and lasted for 100 hours. The 1st Armoured Division entered Iraq through the breach in the frontier obstacles cleared by US engineers. When the cease fire was declared at 0800 hours on 28th February, the battalion regrouped about 20 miles north-west of Kuwait City. The battalion suffered the sad loss of three soldiers serving as reinforcements with 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who were killed when their Warrior APC was hit by a missile fired from a US aircraft. The battalion returned to Münster in late March 1991.
1st Queen's Own Highlanders Battle Honour
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Northern Ireland - 1992-1993
1st Queen's Own Highlanders in Edinburgh - 1993-1994
The final ceremonial event of the Queen’s Own Highlanders was the granting of the Freedom of the Western Isles of the Regiment on 2nd September 1994. The 1st Battalion provided a guard for the ceremony which took place at Stornoway.