Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

caption=Cap Badge of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
dates=1793 - 1961
country=United Kingdom
type=Line Infantry
command_structure= Highland Brigade
garrison=Cameron Barracks, Inverness
ceremonial_chief= HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
motto="Pro rege et patria" (For King and country)
march=Quick: "The Cameron Highlanders"
identification_symbol_2= [http://www.regiments.org/tradition/tartans/camerone.htm Cameron of Erracht]
The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed in 1793. In 1961 it was merged with the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) to form the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons). The regiment's lineage is now continued by The Highlanders, 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.


The regiment was raised as the 79th Regiment of Foot (Cameronian Volunteers) on August 17, 1793 at Fort William from among the members of the Clan Cameron by Sir Allan Cameron of Erracht. Originally on the Irish establishment, it became part of the British Army in 1804, and in 1806 it was renamed as the 79th Regiment of Foot (Cameronian Highlanders).

On raising, it was decided that the red-based Cameron tartan would not be used, and instead a new design was devised. The "Cameron of Erracht" tartan was based on the Macdonald sett with the addition of a yellow line from the Cameron tartan, and the omission of three red lines found in that of Macdonald.

French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

The regiment was formed at the height of the French Revolutionary Wars, and moved to the Netherlands in 1794 where it took part in an unsuccessful campaign, before being evacuated back to Great Britain. On its return the 79th Foot was listed for disbandment, with the men being drafted into other units. In the event the regiment was reprieved, being instead posted to the West Indies in 1795. After a two-year tour the 79th were on garrison duties in England and Guernsey until 1799.

In 1799 the regiment was again in action against the French in Holland, as part of the Helder Campaign. On October 2 1799 it took part in its first major battle at Egmont-op-Zee. At the end of the campaign the 79th returned to England. In 1800 the 79th was part of a force that took part in a failed assault on the Spanish coast at Ferrol.

In March 1801 the 79th Foot landed at Aboukir Bay, Egypt as part of an expeditionary force to prevent French control of the land route to India. After victories at Mandora and Alexandria, the British forces forced the surrender of the french forces at Cairo. Along with other regiments that took part in the Egyptian campaign the 79th Foot were henceforth permitted to bear a sphinx superscribed "EGYPT" on its colours and badges.

The 79th spent the next few years in Minorca and the United Kingdom without coming under fire. A second battalion was formed in 1804, as a draft-finding unit. The 1st Battalion took part in an engagement at Copenhagen, Denmark in 1807, before returning to England.

In 1808 the 79th Foot moved to Portugal, moving to Spain in the following year and participating in several major battles of the Peninsular War:
*Corunna in 1809,
*Busaco and the defence of Cadiz in 1810,
*Fuentes d'Onor in 1811,
*The Battle of Salamanca, the occupation of Madrid and the siege of Burgos in 1812,
*the Battles of the Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive in 1813
*The Battle of Toulouse in 1814

Following the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, the regiment moved to Cork, Ireland. However, with the return of Napoleon from exile, the 79th Foot travelled to Belgium in May, 1815. The regiment took part in the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars at Quatre Bras and Waterloo in June.

1815 - 1854

The next forty years were quiet for the regiment. The 79th Foot remained in France as part of the army of occupation until 1818. The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1815. Over the next few decades the 79th provided garrisons in the UK, Canada and Gibraltar.

Crimean War

War with Russia broke out in 1854, and the 79th sailed from Portsmouth to Scutari where they became part of the Highland Brigade. The regiment fought at the Battles of Alma, Balaclava and Sevastopol.

Indian Mutiny

After briefly returning to the UK, the 79th sailed to India to take part in the suppression of the Sepoy Rebellion. The regiment took part in the Capture of Lucknow in 1858. In the following year, as part of the Rohilkand Field Force, the 79th fought at the Battle of Bareilly. The regiment stayed in India until 1871.

Queen's Own

The regiment returned to England in 1871. On April 17, 1873 Queen Victoria presented the regiment with new colours at Parkhurst, Isle of Wight, and directed they should in future be known as the "Queen's Own". Consequently they became the 79th Regiment, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. The regiment's dark green facings, worn since 1793, were replaced with royal blue. The regiment moved to Gibraltar in 1879.

Childers reforms

On July 1, 1881 the 79th foot was redesignated as 1st Battalion The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the county regiment of Inverness-shire. The Camerons were the only infantry regiment to have a single regular battalion. The 1881 reforms also combined the militia and rifle volunteers of the county with the 79th Foot, becoming the 2nd (Militia) Battalion and the 1st (1st Inverness-shire Highland) Volunteer Battalion. In 1897 a 2nd regular battalion was raised, and the Militia battalion was renumbered to 3rd. In 1886, the new depot for the regiment, Cameron Barracks, was completed in Inverness.

1881 - 1914

In 1882 the 1st Battalion moved from Gibraltar to Egypt, where they took part in the invasion and occupation of the country and the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. They remained in Egypt until 1884, when it took part in an expedition to Sudan. The Battalion returned to the UK in 1887.

In 1897 a 2nd Battalion was formed, remaining at home stations while the 1st Battalion returned to Egypt and the Sudan. In From 1900 - 1902 the 1st Battalion fought in the Second Boer War before returning to the UK. The 2nd Battalion then served overseas garrisons in Malta, Crete, China and India.

In 1908 the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 reorganised the reserve battalions of the regiment. The Militia Battalion was transferred to the Special Reserve while the Volunteer Battalion became the 4th Battalion in the new Territorial Force.

First World War

During the First World War, The Cameron Highlanders was expanded to thirteen battalions, of which nine were in battle. The 1st, 2nd, 4th (TF), 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 11th Battalions all fought on the Western Front. Ten representative battle honours were chosen to be displayed on the king's colour:
*Marne 1914, '18
*Aisne, 1914
*Ypres 1914, '15, '17, '18
*Neuve Chapelle
*Somme, 1916, '18
*Delville Wood
*Arras, 1917, '18
*Macedonia, 1915, '18


2nd Lieutenant Donald Callander prior to joining the British Expeditionary Force in France in May 1940. The Battle of Dunkirk was the last time any Highland Battalion fought in the kilt] The 1st Battalion was posted to India in 1919, remaining there until 1936. The 2nd Battalion was posted at various garrisons in the UK. In 1935 the 2nd Battalion moved to Palestine then Egypt. The 1st Battalion returned to England in 1936.

In 1920 the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army, and the 4th Battalion was reformed. In 1937 the Liverpool Scottish, previously a TA battalion of the King's Regiment (Liverpool) was affiliated to the Camerons. In 1939 the TA was doubled in size with a duplicate 5th units being formed as the 5th Battalion (TA) and 2nd Battalion, Liverpool Scottish.

On September 1, 1921 the regiment was granted an additional badge: the cypher of Queen Victoria within The Garter to be borne on the four coners of the regimental colour.

econd World War

Four battalions of the Cameron Highlanders served in World War Two, and ten representative battle honours were chosen to be borne on the king's colour:
*St. Omer-la-Basse near Caen in Normandy
*Sidi Barrani
*El Alamein
*Akarit a Wadi in Tunisia
*Gothic Line


Following the independence of India, all infantry regiments were reduced to a single regular battalion. Accordingly, the 2nd Battalion was placed in "suspended animation" in 1948. The Territorial battalions were reformed in 1947 as the 4th/5th battalion (TA) and the Liverpool Scottish.

The remaining regular battalion was at various stations over the next twelve years: Libya, Egypt, Austria, West Germany, Korea and Aden.


Under the Defence Review announced in 1957 the number of infantry battalions was to be reduced, with regiments being amalgamated in pairs. Accordingly the Camerons were amalgamated with the Seaforth Highlanders on February 7, 1961 to form the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons).


Major-General Douglas Wimberley, a successful divisional general in World War II joined the 1st Battalion in 1915, served with the 2nd Battalion in Ireland and in 1938 took command of the 1st Battalion. He served as the last honorary Colonel of the regiment before the 1961 amalgamation

During the American Civil War, the 79th New York Cameron Highlanders were named in honour of the British military unit.


*"Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) - A Short History", published by the regiment c. 1974
*Arthur Swinson, "A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army", London, 1972

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