Today’s SOFREP Pic of the Day features a member of the Gordon Highlanders, rockin’ a tam o’shanter, sitting on a child’s bike in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1977.

Upon careful examination of the photograph, it appears that the soldier is carrying what appears to be an L1A1 rifle.  I’m not 100% sure; I wasn’t there, and I was only a little older than the kid in the red shirt when the photo was taken.

A Brief History of the Gordon Highlanders

The Gordon Highlanders, a noted regiment of the British Army, boasts a rich and storied history extending over two centuries. Established in 1794 by the 4th Duke of Gordon, Alexander Gordon, this regiment was initially named the “100th Regiment of Foot” but was later renumbered as the 92nd Regiment of Foot in 1798. The distinctive heritage and valor of the Gordon Highlanders are intricately woven into the military and cultural tapestry of Scotland and the United Kingdom.

In the early days, the Gordon Highlanders, like other Scottish regiments, were identified by their unique tartan, the Gordon tartan, featuring a dark blue, green, and yellow pattern. This tartan, along with their feather bonnet and the regimental badge featuring the stag’s head and the motto “Bydand,” meaning “steadfast” or “stand and fight,” became symbols of their identity and bravery. The regiment’s origins in the northeast of Scotland, particularly in Aberdeenshire and the Highlands, contributed to the robust and hardy nature of its soldiers, making them formidable in battle.

Throughout the 19th century, the Gordon Highlanders served with distinction in numerous conflicts. They fought bravely in the Napoleonic Wars, particularly in the Peninsular War against France, where their courage and fighting spirit were evident. The regiment also played significant roles in the Crimean War, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and various colonial conflicts throughout the British Empire. Their service in the Battle of Waterloo and the relief of Lucknow are among the many instances where the Gordon Highlanders demonstrated extraordinary courage and tenacity.

The World Wars and Beyond

The two World Wars further cemented the regiment’s reputation. In World War I, the Gordon Highlanders raised 21 battalions, serving on the Western Front, in Italy, and in the Middle East. They suffered heavy casualties, but their bravery, including winning numerous Victoria Crosses, added to their legendary status. World War II saw the regiment fighting in France, North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe. The Battle of El Alamein and the liberation of the Netherlands were among the notable campaigns where the Gordons distinguished themselves.

The post-war period brought various changes as the British Army restructured and reduced its size. The Gordon Highlanders continued to serve in multiple conflicts, including in Malaya, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland, adapting to the changing nature of modern warfare. However, in 1994, as part of the British Army’s restructuring, the Gordon Highlanders were amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons, and Camerons).