The Black Watch was derived from the dark colour of the tartan and the original role of the Regiment to “Watch the Highlands”. General George Wade was authorised by George I to form six “Watch” companies to patrol the Highlands of Scotland, including Clan Campbell, Clan Fraser of Lovat, Clan Munro, and Clan Grant. The name referred to the “black heart” of pro-government militia sided with enemies of true Highland spirit. The Black Watch was an infantry unit born in the aftermath of the First Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Independent companies of militia were raised with loyalist Highland clans for policies and peacekeeping duties. They lucidly illustrate that the Black Watch boasts a history of honour, gallantry and devoted services to the King, Queen and the country.
Duke of Cumberland was impressed with Scotland Highlands’ styles of fighting at Fontenoy in 1745 and was sent back to guard southern England against invasion. The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment fought in the French and Indian Wars in North America before defeating George Washington at the Battle of Long Island in 1776. It served in both Egypt and Spain during the Napoleonic wars.
The 19th Century saw the fighting in Crimea (1854-1856) and the Indian Mutiny (1857-59), while in 1881, the 73rd Regiment was merged into it and fought in Egypt in 1882 and the Beer War (1899-1902). During the First World War (1914-18) the regiment raised 25 battalions for services in France and Flanders, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. Battalions of the Regiment served in major theatres of the 1939-45 war including North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe and Burma.
The Black Watch and The Royal Family
The position of the Colonel-in-Chief is distinct from that of the Colonel of the Regiment as not performing any operational role. The Black Watch has only three Colonels-in-Chiefs in its history: Majesty King George V (1912-1936), Majesty Queen Elizabeth (1937-2002), and Royal Highness The Prince Charles Duke of Rothesay (2003-2006) as the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
In the 2003 Iraq War, the Black Watch fought during Operation telic in the initial attack on Basra and suffered a single fatality. After one year, the Black Watch was again dispatched to Iraq as a 4 Brigade. One of the Regiment soldiers died because of an improvised explosive device. On 16th December 2004, General Sir Mike Jackson announced that Black Watch was to join other five Scottish regiments- the Royal Scots, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Then the Black Watch were retained following intervention from Queen Elizabeth II and Battalions moved from Palace Barracks in Belfast to Fort George in 2007. After a number of combat engagements with the insurgents, the soldiers of battalions secured three main points: the Lui Mandey Wadi crossing, the Nahr-e-Burgha canal and the Shamalan canal. In 2020, the Army was refined, and battalions will remain at Fort George until 2023 when it will move to another barracks in Scotland. The battalion was equipped with the Foxhound light mechanised vehicle. The battalion was moved under the command of the 51st Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Scotland.