Lord Lovat was allowed to raise two companies of scouts in 1899 for service in South Africa. His main recruits were stalkers, ghillies and shepherds from the northern Highlands of Scotland.
They were intended, as the name suggests, to scout out and supply vital intelligence information about the Boers, whose tactics made them an often unseen and deadly foe.
The first company was mounted on Highland ponies while the second was a foot contingent with both being assembled and trained in the early part of 1900.
On seeing service in South Africa as part of the Highland Division, they soon put their
stalking skills to great use. With the use of spyglasses, Heliograph and Semaphore they soon greatly improved the intelligence capability of the Division so much that Lord Lovat on his return to Inverness was allowed to raise a second contingent of Scouts.
Initially known as the 99th & 100th Companies Imperial Yeomanry they also served in South Africa and after suffering a high number of casualties, a third contingent was raised in October 1901 as
After the South African War Lord Lovat was again allowed to raise the Lovat Scouts as Yeomanry. Two regiments were raised each of 500 men who were trained in the role of mounted infantry. In 1908 lord Lovat went on to command the Highland Mounted Brigade until 1915 when the First World War took him on to other things.
At the outbreak of the WW1 both regiments were still part of the Highland
Mounted Brigade and moved to Grimsby to take over the defense of the coastline from Sutton-on-sea to Skegness. The Regiments became cyclist for some time forming part of 1st Cycle Brigade in Norfolk until they merged in 1916. From there they saw service in Gallipoli and Egypt. In 1916 such was their reduced strength that the two regiments were amalgamated to form the 10th (Lovat Scouts) Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
- 1918 they served very successfully in Macedonia proving again their skill in observation, fieldcraft and sniping. Also in 1916 Lord Lovat formed the Lovat Scouts (Sharpshooters) who were so successful that there were plans to provide Lovat Scout Observer Units to every Division in the British Army. This unit had no equal in the world in providing intelligence gathering in close observation of the enemy.
In 1939 the Lovat Scouts were again
mobilized to provide “Mounted Scouts” for reconnaissance and close protection. The Regiment formed part of the 9th (Highland) Division until 1940 when they joined the Mounted Cavalry Division in Nottinghamshire. They then sailed to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic to protect that island from an expected German invasion. They returned to Scotland in 1942 and shortly thereafter began training as a Mountain Reconnaissance Regiment.
It is at this point my uncle “Frank Hill” joined “B” Company of the Battalion and after ski training in the Cairngorms moved to Wales and continued his training in Snowdonia. His initial infantry induction took place in Fort George, and was carried out by the training staff of the Cameron Highlanders. In December 1944 skiing was moved to Alberta, Canada, for a further five months, before the Regiment returned to Aberdeen for a well earned four
In 1943 they landed in Naples and carried out many successful behind the lines patrols and continued in this campaign until the cease fire was announced in 1945. The role of the Lovat Scouts in this theatre of war cannot be fully calculated, but their value to the 8th Army was immense.
In 1945 they moved to Greece where they carried out a peace keeping role in allowing free elections to take place and
the handover of weapons from the resistance movements. The Regiment was disbanded in 1946 and my uncle was demobbed to civi street in 1947. He does state that after all that ski training, he hardly ever got a chance to get his skis on! He would also love to hear from anyone who served with the Regiment, as the annual meetings stopped in the mid 50s and he has lost touch with his old comrades, most of whom came from the Western Isles.
As I have stated earlier on this web site, it is impossible to give little more than a brief snapshot of each regiment’s history. Should you wish to know more, then buy the books or videos that are available from the sales page.
“Je Suis Prest” (I am ready)
*Yeomanry meaning Volunteer Cavalry force