The 7th Fife Territorial Battalions Royal Highlanders in WW1

Bombing Party of the 7th
Bombing party of the 7th, Hyderabad Redoubt. Close up from "The 51st Highland Division War Sketches"

The sheer scale and complexities of the First World War are too vast to be covered here but I intend to add additional details to try and put some of the names and places into their historical context. To begin with here is a short history and list of Actions and Operations that the 7th Battallions were involved in during the war

As War looked more and more likely in the summer of 1914 the Government put its "General Mobilisation Scheme" into effect and on the 31st July (the day before the European Armies declared war and 5 days before war was officially declared by Britain) the Battalion recieved orders by Telegram for "Preparatory movement". As the Fife Battalion's role in the scheme was local coast defence at Kinghorn & Burntisland, this order meant sending a detachment of 3 officers and 117 other ranks to occupy Kinghorn Fort. They dutifully marched from Kirkcaldy and Lochgelly and arrived at the Fort on August 2nd.

When war was declared recruits poured in, the pre-war strength had been 570 all ranks but by August 8th the number was 902. Recruiting contined steadily through August while the Battalion dug new defences to protect from the threat of a German landing in the East of Fife sweeping down to knock out the Forth defenses and the Naval Base at Rosyth. In the middle of September orders were received to recruit for foreign service and this produced such a rush that in a week no more could be accepted. The Strength of the Battalion being 1582, this quick increase in numbers caused logistical problems as there was not enough uniforms, blankets or billets for all the men. These problems would continue for some time and it wasn't until Spring 1915 that the whole Battalion could parade in the correct uniform.

Orders were also received in September 1914 to form a second line Battalion (the 2/7th) and transfer to the new unit all officers and men who had not volunteered for foreign service or did not meet the standards required (being too old or not fit enough). The 2/7th was billeted in Hawick for three months before taking over the coast defences from the 1/7th in Kinghorn. In its time at various stations around Britain during the war the 2/7th trained and sent approx 2500 men overseas in drafts.

Later a 3rd line Battalion was also raised in the spring of 1915(the 3/7th), the records of which are sadly missing but like the 2/7th it trained drafts to be sent overseas. It also provided a unit for wounded soldiers to join once leaving hospital where they could recover before being sent back to the front. In the summer of 1916 the 3/7th was amalgamated with the other third line battalions of the Black Watch to form the 4th Reserve Battalion Black Watch at Ripon

Back to the 1/7th, the Battalion was now trained and outfitted ready to head to France

1914

Mobilisation, training and Coastal Defence at Kinghorn and Burntisland.

1915

The Battalion continued training around Kinghorn until relieved by the 2/7th and in mid April departed to Bedford on route to France. The Battalion landed in France on the 2nd May 1915 and remained on the Western Front for the next 4 years.

Trench warfare. Festubert, Indian Village, Laventie, Bécourt, Albert, Authuile and Aveluy. May-September.

1916

Trench warfare. Maricourt, Neuville-St.Vasst, The Labyrinth and Maroeuil. January-July.

BATTLE OF BAZENTIN RIDGE. (High Wood) 22nd July (In Reserve)

BATTLE OF POZIÈRS RIDGE. (Bazetin le Petit) 30th-31st July

Trench Warfare. Armantieres Sector, Hebuterne, Anchonvillers and Beaumont Hamel. August-November.

BATTLE OF THE ANCRE (1916). (Beaumont Hamel) 13th-14th November

Trench warfare. Courcelette Sector. November-December

1917

Trench Warfare. Pys, Ecurie and Roclincourt. January-April.

FIRST BATTLE OF THE SCARPE. (Capture of Gavrelle.) 9th April

SECOND BATTLE OF THE SCARPE (Roeux.) 23rd-24th April

Trench warfare. Oppy Sector, Chemical Works, Ypres and Lancashire Farm. April-July

BATTLE OF PILCKEM RIDGE. (Hindenburg Farm.) 31st July-1st August.

Trench warfare. Fontaine and Boursies. November-December

1918

Trench warfare. Boursies Area. January-March.

FIRST BATTLE OF BAPAUME. ( Beaumetz, Morchies, Loupart Wood.) 21st-25th March.

BATTLE OF THE LYS. (Lestrem.) 9th April.

Trench Warfare. Lystrem, Robecq, Arleux, Bailleul and Gavrelle. April-July.

BATTLE OF TARDENOIS. (Bois de Courton.) 26th-31st July.

Trench Warfare. Fampoux Sector. August.

SECOND BATTLE OF ARRAS (1918). (Hyderbad Redoubt.) 24th-26th August

Trench warfare. Greenland Hill and Plouvain. September-October.

Battle OF THE SELLE. (Crossing of the Escaillon River.) 24th-25th October.

ADVANCE TO VICTORY. October-11th November.

more info soon

External Links

There are plenty of websites with more info on the Western Front, for a detailed look at some of the places mentioned here see http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk

For help understanding the vast complexities of the British Army during WW1, The Long Long Trail is a great place for Genealogists, their Black Watch page is here

The best book for the full details of the Fife Battalion (and all the other battalions of the regiment) is

A HISTORY OF THE BLACK WATCH IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918 edited by Maj-Gen A.G.Wauchope available from The Naval & Military Press

For more on the famous 51st Highland Division, which the 1/7th were part of during the war, the Divisonal history is available online here, and Fred A Farrell's "The 51st Highland Division War Sketches" here