Cape Town Highlanders Regiment

Cape Town Highlanders Regiment

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Cape Town Highlanders

dates=24 April 1885 -
country=South Africa
allegiance=South Africa
role=Mechanised infantry
size=One battalion
command_structure=Army Conventional Reserve
garrison=Cape Town
colonel_of_the_regiment=Colonel P. McLoughlin PVD, SM, MMM
colonel_of_the_regiment_label=Colonel of the Regiment
motto="Nemo Me Impune Lacessit" (No One Assails Me with Impunity) (Latin)
"Bydand" (Stand and Fight abbr. "or" Steadfast) (Scots "or" Gaelic)
identification_symbol_2= []
march=Quick: "Cock o' the North"
The Cape Town Highlanders Regiment is a mechanised infantry regiment of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Territorial Army or United States Army National Guard unit.


Descendants of Scottish immigrants to South Africa raised the Cape Town Highlanders in 1885. On 24 April of the same year, their services were accepted - since then, this date has always been celebrated as the regiment's official birthday.

The regiment's first saw active duty during the Bechuanaland Campaign that was fought in the Northern Cape in 1896. At the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War the regiment was again mobilized for active duty. During the war the regiment or elements thereof took part in several actions, including the relief of Kimberley.

The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn became colonel-in-chief of the regiment in 1906, and the regiment's name was thus changed to the "Duke of Connaught and Strathearn's Own Cape Town Highlanders". When the regiment was embodied in the Citizen Force in 1913, the title was changed to "6th Infantry (Duke of Connaught and Strathearn's Own Cape Town Highlanders)".

During World War I the Cape Town Highlanders first fought against Germany in German South West Africa, but was subsequently combined with the Transvaal Scottish Regiment to form the 4th South African Infantry (South African Scottish) Battalion, part of the 1st South African Brigade. (The South African Scottish, like various similar units, was formed by the South African government since a clause in the Defence Act of that time prohibited existing units from serving so far outside the country's borders.) After fighting in the Senussi Campaign in North Africa the brigade was shipped to France, where it took part in many battles between 1916 and 1918, including the famous Battle of Delville Wood.

The title was changed again, in 1932, to "Cape Town Highlanders (Duke of Connaught and Strathearn's Own)".

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the regiment was again mobilized. However, it did not fight in the first campaign of the South African Army in the war, the Abyssinian Campaign of 1940 to 1941. However, in mid-1941, the regiment was briefly sent to Egypt to escort thousands of Italian prisoners of war to internment camps in South Africa; it returned to Egypt in late June of the same year to join the newly arrived South African 1st Infantry Division in the Western Desert.

The Cape Town Highlanders fought in all of the major battles of the Western Desert Campaign, including the Battle of El Alamein. Indeed, the regiment is one of only three in the world (all of them South African) to have not only the usual two Alamein battle honours - "Alamein Defence" and "El Alamein" - but a third, "Alamein Box", which resulted from a separate action during the initial defence. This action played a significant role in halting Rommel’s advance on the tired and depleted British Eighth Army.

During the regiment's subsequent deployment to Italy, the regiment was temporarily combined with South Africa’s senior Scottish unit, the First City Regiment, to form the First City/Cape Town Highlanders. This combined unit fought from Battle of Monte Cassino to the Alps, culminating in the heroic capture at bayonet-point of the strategic peak of Monte Sole, which broke the back of German resistance in Italy.

In 1947, Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) was appointed colonel-in-chief, and from 1948 until South Africa became a republic in 1961, the regiment was the "Queen's Own Cape Town Highlanders".

The first significant post-war action of the Cape Town Highlanders took place in January 1976, during Operation Savannah. This was the first large-scale incursion by the South African forces into Angola during the 23-year-long "Border War" in South West Africa (now Namibia). During the following years the regiment was mobilized several times, the last mobilization occurring in October 1988.

The regiment was also mobilized in April 1994 as part of the efforts by the South African military to ensure a peaceful first fully democratic election.

As a result of the subsequent abolition of conscription and the transformation of the South African Army, the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment returned to its original form of a volunteer regiment.

In 2000 a contingent of the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment attended the Queen Mother's 100th birthday and paraded the regiment's Colour on Horse Guards Parade. The Drums and Pipes participated in a special parade centenary for the Queen Mother in Edinburgh, and carried on to participate in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. With the death of the Queen Mother in 2002, the regiment sent a contingent to participate in her funeral procession. The Drums and Pipes have since performed at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo a further three times (2002, 2004 and 2006). In 2006, they were invited, together with the Queensland Police Pipe Band and 4 bands from the new Royal Regiment of Scotland to perform at Balmoral Castle for the Royal Family.

The Regiment is currently a mechanised infantry regiment in the SANDF and has sent members as part of the Peace keeping contingent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi.

Regimental Symbols

*Regimental tartan: The Gordon regimental tartan from the clan Gordon; it is the only regiment in the world other than The Gordon Highlanders to wear this tartan.
*Regimental mottos: The regiment has two mottos. The first, "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit", is in Latin and means "No Man Challenges me with Impunity"; it is used by several Scottish regiments. The second, "Bydand", is in Doric and means "Steadfast". This motto was unique to The Gordon Highlanders and the Cape Town Highlanders. However, with the amalgamation of The Gordon Highlanders with other Scottish units, this motto has fallen into disuse by them; the Cape Town Highlanders still uses it on a shield that also bears a stag's head which is worn on the ceremonial sporran by those with the rank of corporal and below.
*Regimental quick march: The regimental quick march is "Cock o' The North"; it was also the march of The Gordon Highlanders and commemorates the Marquess of Huntly, son of the Duke of Gordon, whose nickname was the "Cock o' The North".


*GBR - The Highlanders

Battle honours

The Cape Town Highlanders Regiment has the following battle honours on its regimental colours:
*Bechuanaland 1896-97
*South Africa 1899-1902
*South West Africa 1915
*Alam Hamza
*Best Post
*Alamein Box
*Alamein Defence
*Alam el Halfa
*Battle of El Alamein
*Western Desert 1941-43
*Cassino II
*Gothic Line
*The Greve
*Monte Stanco
*Monte Pezza
*Po Valley
*Italy 1944-45

In addition, the regiments still claims fifteen "missing" battle honours awarded for service in France and Flanders to the 4th South African Infantry (South African Scottish) battalion; these include some of the most famous in South Africa’s military history:
*Egypt 1916
*Somme 1916
*Delville Wood
*Arras 19l7
*Ypres 1917
*Menin Road
*Messines 1918
*Hindenburg Line
*Cambrai 1918
*Pursuit to Mons
*France and Flanders 1918
*Le Transloy
*Scarpe 1917

External links

* [ Cape Town Highlanders Website]

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