Regiment's "Diversity"

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by South Staffs, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. South Staffs

    South Staffs Junior Member

    I realise that after WW1, it was standard practice for the British to mix up the composition of its regiments so as to lessen the impact on a perticular area if a unit were particularly badly hit, but how common would it have been for an Englishman to be posted to a Scottish regiment?

    A great-uncle served during WW2 in the Black Watch, and he was from Wolverhampton. After the war he came home with a broad Scottish accent, which he kept until his death in the eighties.
  2. Rich

    Rich Member

    My Grandad (on my mothers side) Joe Brookfield was from Sheffield, and he also served in the Black Watch in WW2.
    Unfortunately he died in 1980 when I was 8 y.o. and I know nothing about when and where he served.

    I would assume it would be quite common to take English ranks, as casualties mounted they would take whoever was available to keep regiments up to strength? (Only my assumption - can anyone clarify?).

  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    In talks with 51HD veterans they are of the opinion that the actual fighting men ("The duty boys") were about 85% other nationalities. I have no figures to back this up, but, Given that the origianl 51st HD Div was captured almost in its entirety at St Valery 1940, it is not an unreasonable assumption, especially by the time they landed in mainland Europe 1944. From June 1944 to the end of the war other English battalions were disbanded and spread around. I know of ex Beds&Herts, Sth Staffs etc who were transferred to Scottish battalions.
    That said, my Father, a Yorkshireman, volunteered at the outbreak of war for the RAF and ended up in the Cameron Highlanders in January 1940.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Gen Wimberley tried to keep the 51st HD as ethnically pure Scottish as possible.
    That was one of the reasons for the "Mutiny" at Salerno.
    He beat himslf up afterwards as he realised that in telling his men to do their utmost to return to the Div that he was partly responsible for it.
  5. canadiancitizen

    canadiancitizen Junior Member

    In the WW2 Canadian Army, there were certainly lots of units that were from a certain locality, such as the Regina Rifles, the Fusilers Mount Royal, or the Toronto Scottish, but the men were not from any one ethinic group, due to our multicultural mix.

    My own old regiment, the 48th Highlanders of Canada, was NOT all scots, far from it. One of the best known WW2 sgts in the 48th was a black man, from Nigeria, originally. There were plenty of " bergs " and "skis ' in the unit .

    I will also point out that Canada provided about 650 Officers to the British Army, ubnder the CanLoan Plan, to replace casualties in North Africa, so some of them would have been leading British soldiers in action.

    Even today, the 48th has a lot of guys who were born in Russia or China, or Jamaica in it. But on parade they are still " all Highlanders ".

    Jim Bunting. Toronto.
  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Very common indeed. many of the regiments were Scottish in name only. I served in a Welsh prewar company. But it had men from one end of the Country to the other!
  7. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    Agreed...there were many men from Essex and the Home Counties in the 7th KOSB at Arnhem.....
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Owen - don't know why Gen. Wimberley should beat himself up over the Salerno Mutiny - they were not all HD returnees - the MAIN reason was that any 8th Army were not about to be forced into joining the incompetent US Mark Clark's debacle at Salerno especially when it was obvous that the reinforcments from Tripoli were designated for 8th Army and that personnel from both Tunis and Bone were for 10th Corps at Salerno.

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