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Regiments of the Malta Garrison
The Gordon Highlanders (75th/92nd)

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The Gordon Highlanders (75th/92nd)

Introduction

The Gordon Highlanders was formed on 1 July 1881 through the amalgamation of the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment, with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment.

The 75th became the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders; the 92nd became the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders.

The 75th was raised in 1787 by Sir Robert Abercrombie at Stirling for service in India. It was originally known as Abercrombie's Highlanders.

In 1809 it was numbered the 75th Regiment of Foot. In 1863 it became the Stirlingshire Regiment.

The 92nd was raised in 1794 by the Marquess of Huntly, later the Duke of Gordon. In 1861 Gordon Highlanders was added to its title.

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders (75th)

1817 75th Foot

28 Sept 1817 A detachment of 45 men of the 75th Foot arrived at Malta, but left for Corfu in Nov 1817.

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders (75th)

1881 75th Foot

11 Mar 1881 The 75th Regiment embarked at Portsmouth from Chatham. It disembarked at Malta on 20 March.

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders had an average strength of 580 men. It had 875 admissions (1508.6/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 7 deaths (12.07/1000 mean strength). 14 invalids were returned to England. Its average daily sick was 44.21 (76.22/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 27.82 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 18.44 days.

The battalion gave the highest rate of admissions during the year (1508.6/1000 mean strength). The regiment arrived in the command on 20 March, and suffered very much from fever while stationed at Floriana Barracks, chiefly affecting the younger soldiers. The battalion had a large number of admissions for urinary problems, mainly due to the sequelae of gonorrhoea.
One soldier died from exposure to cold after falling over from a boat.

On the amalgamation of the 75th with the 92nd, the 75th raised an altar at Sa Maison Gardens Floriana on which was inscribed:

Epitaph on the 75th
30th June 1881
Here lie the poor old 75th 
But under God's protection 
They'll rise again in kilt and hose
A glorious resurrection
For by the transformation powers
Of Parliamentary Laws 
They go to bed the 75th
and rise the ninety twas...

In Malta the 75th was mocked as the Strada Reale Highlanders, Strada Reale being the main thoroughfare in Valletta, to distinguish it from the 92nd, the real Gordon Highlanders which was called the Reale Highlanders.

1882 1st/Gordon Highlanders

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders had an average strength of 484 men. It had 245 admissions (506.1/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 2 deaths (4.13 deaths/1000 mean strength). 26 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 18.16 (37.52/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 13.69 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 27.05 days.

2 Aug 1882 The 1st/Gordon Highlanders left for Egypt where it arrived on 7 August. The regiment fought in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

In 1884, the Gordon Highlanders took part in military operations in Suakin in the Sudan against rebels led by Osman Digna. It embarked at Alexandria for Malta on 9 Sep 1885.

1885 1st/Gordon Highlanders

12 Sep 1885 The 1st/Gordon Highlanders arrived from Egypt.

It had an average strength of 228 men. It had 306 admissions (1344.9/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 2 deaths (8.72 deaths/1000 mean strength). 4 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 16.75 (73.10/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 26.69 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 19.84 days.

1 Dec 1885 Strength: 727 rank and file (8 coys), 823 all ranks.

1886 1st/Gordon Highlanders

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders was stationed in Valletta for 12 months with detachments at Pembroke Camp.

It had an average strength of 762 men. It had 414 admissions (543.3/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 5 deaths (6.56/1000 mean strength) including 4 among the invalids. 10 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 26.51 (34.79/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 12.69 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 23.37 days.

1887 1st/Gordon Highlanders

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders had an average strength of 798 men. It had 450 admissions (563.9/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 5 deaths (6.29 deaths/1000 mean strength). 11 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 29.77 (37.30/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 13.61 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 24.14 days.

The following were buried in Pietà Cemetery in 1887:

  • 11 June Pte Peter Hobson drowned in Malta aged 24 years 10 months.
  • 23 July Pte James Craigall (?) aged 22 years.
  • 22 Aug Child Amie Soppitt aged 13 months, daughter of Drm Soppitt.
  • 6 Sep Mrs Jeanette Foot aged 26 years.
  • 6 Sep Infant child Thomas Whiteman aged 1 year 10 months, son of Sgt Whiteman.
  • 23 Sep Pte G Walding aged 25 years.
  • 26 Sep Infant child William Alexander aged 10 months, son of Cpl Alexander.

1888 1st/Gordon Highlanders

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders had an average strength of 727 men. It had 311 admissions (427.7/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 2 deaths (2.75 deaths/1000 mean strength). Seven invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 16.20 (22.28/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 8.15 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 19.06 days.

In 1888, the Malta Garrison had two Scottish Regiments, the Black Watch and the Gordon Highlanders, which was quartered at Pembroke Camp for 10 and a half months with detachments at Gozo.

14 Nov 1888 The 1st/Gordon Highlanders embarked for Ceylon where it arrived on 6 December.

The following were buried in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1888:

  • 3 Jan Pte John Hilton aged 20 years.
  • 4 Aug Infant child Andrew Griggleston aged 2 months, son of L/Cpl Griggleston.
  • 19 Aug Infant child Richard Henry Soppitt, son of Pte Soppitt.

The 1st/Gordon Highlanders (75th)

1921 1st/Gordon Highlanders

Nov 1921 The Gordon Highlanders arrived at Malta from Constantinople.
1 Dec 1921 Strength: 28 Officers, 607 rank and file.

1922 1st/Gordon Highlanders

1 Jan 1922 Strength: 29 Officers and 594 rank and file.
1922 Short service in Egypt.

1923 1st/Gordon Highlanders

1 Jan 1923 Strength: 2 Officers and 33 rank and file.
1 July Strength: 45 rank and file.
1 Oct Strength: 26 Officers and 710 rank and file.
1 Dec 1923 Strength: 27 officers and 774 rank and file.

1924 1st/Gordon Highlanders

1 Jan 1924 Strength: (HQ and 4 coys) 25 officers and 772 men.
1924 Embarked on the aircraft carrier Eagle for Egypt. Departed for India after a month in Cairo.

Bibliography

  • Farmer J. S., 1984. The regimental records of the British Army Reprint Edition, Trowbridge, Wiltshire: Crecy Books.
  • Edwards T. J., 1980. Regimental Badges First Edition, Tonbridge, Kent: Ernest Benn Ltd.
  • Famous Units. The National Army Museum. Available from http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units.
  • TNA:WO 379/11. Stations of Regiments 1859–1900.
  • TNA:WO 156/115. Register of burials in the military cemetery Rinella from January 1890 to January 1908.
  • Register of Burials No 13, September 1887 to 1908.