The London Scottish Regiment

The following bit of trivia concerns military and cinematic history, though the events described were certainly not trivial to the individuals involved.

The London Scottish Regiment was formed in 1859 and was sponsored by  the Highland Society of London and the Caledonian Society of London, Scots living in the British capital.  The regiment became part of the Territorial Reserves.  It was mobilized in August 1914 and sent to  France on September 15.  It had its first encounter with the Germans on October 31 during the fighting around the Belgian town of Messines.

World War I London Scottish

Two things are notable about the regiment.  First, it was the first territorial (reserve) unit to be engaged in combat.  Second, it contained a number of men who became well-known to American movie-goers in later years.  These include Ronald Colman, Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall, Cedrick Hardwicke, and Basil Rathbone.

Ronald Colman, later a distinguished actor and star of many Hollywood feature films, is perhaps the best known.  He was seriously wounded in the battle at Messines on October 31, 1914, and was invalided out of service the following month.

Many Scottish regiments, including the London Scottish, went into the Great War wearing kilts, but the advent of mustard gas in 1917 brought that practice mostly to an end. The Germans referred to kilt wearing Scots as “The Ladies from Hell.”

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