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Thread: Black Watch officer's uniform from my collection

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    Senior Member mike4279's Avatar
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    Black Watch officer's uniform from my collection

    Gentlemen,

    As I have recently discovered this forum, I thought I would introduce myself and post an initial contribution. My name is Mike D., and I live in Stratham, New Hampshire, USA. Dating back 20 years, my interest has been in the history of the Highland regiments 1881-1939 and collecting artifacts associated with that period. My particular concentration is on the Black Watch and the Cameron Highlanders.

    One of the centerpieces of my collection is the uniform of a Black Watch officer in Levee Dress circa 1910; a picture is attached. The uniform and kit is a composite from three officers. Most of the uniform (excepting feather bonnet and dirk) belonged to Lt. Colonel Arthur H.C. Sutherland DSO, MC, Chevalier Legion d’Honneur. The feather bonnet came from Major General Tom Gordon Rennie CBE, DSO, MBE. The dirk was passed down through three generations of Black Watch officers with the family name of Pitcairn.

    A brief biography on Arthur Sutherland: born Calcutta 3 April 1891; educated at Eton and Sandhurst; 2Lt 5 Oct 1910; posted to 2BW in India; appointed ADC to C-in-C South Africa 18 Apr 1914; Lt 27 Apr 1914; rejoined 2nd Bn in France October 1914; wounded by machine gun bullet to ankle at Aubers Ridge 9 May 1915 but wound was untreated for 3 days after which gangrene had set in necessitating amputation of leg; Capt 19 May 1915; after recuperation returned to France as Deputy Asst Military secretary GHQ Jan 1917 with temp rank of Major; Asst Military Secretary 1st Army June 1917 with temp rank of Lt Col; Deputy Asst Mil Sec War Office Jan 1919; Staff Officer for Musketry Eastern Command Jan 1920; retired as Lt Col on account of wounds 3 Dec 1921; joined father’s firm of Begg, Roberts & Co 1921; died at Cringlettie, Peebles-shire 19 Feb 1962. Much was written about Arthur Suthlerland by his son, David Sutherland who also was a BW officer, in his book "He Who Dares."

    Some biographical details on Maj Gen Rennie are: 2Lt 16 July 1919; Lt 16 July 1921; Adjt 11 April 1926 [2nd Battalion, UK]; Capt 22 September 1933; Bde Major, Shanghai 30 May 1936; GSO3 14 April 1938; Bt Major 1 July 1938; Major 1 August 1938; GSO2 51st (Highland) Division; 23 April 1940; escaped from Germans after fall of St Valery riding through French and German lines on a bicycle [along with Ronnie McIntosh-Walker, Seaforths], see Red Hackle 1946); GSO2 Western Command 19 August 1940; T/Lt Col commanding 5th Battalion, 20 January 1942; T/Brig commanding 154th Infantry Brigade8 December 1942; wounded in North Africa; Major-General commanding 3rd Division10 December 1943; wounded in Normandy 14 June 1944; Commander 51st (Highland) Division25 July 1944; killed in action in command of 51st (Highland) Division at the Crossing of the Rhine 24 March 1945. The foregoing is courtesy of Tommy Smyth of the BW Museum.

    The provenance of the dirk: Originally made for Andrew Pitcairn commissioned Ensign 15 May 1840, retired 21 Aug 1871, and died 10 Feb 1892; dirk inherited by Robert Henry Pitcairn, 2 Lt 9 Jan 1889, Lt 27 Aug 1890, rejoined for 1914-18 War serving as RTO; died 1934; dirk then inherited by Andrew Alexander Pitcairn, 2 Lt 16 July 1920, Lt 16 July 1922, Capt 14 March 1936, Major 1 Aug 1938, T/Lt Col commanding 2nd Bn in Crete May 1941, and killed in action during breakout from Tobruk 21 Nov 1941 whilst 2IC of 2nd Bn.

    Interestingly, the shoulder belt plate and the waist belt plate both contain QVCs. I suspect that these were inherited by Sutherland from his uncle who also served in the BW. The SBP, WBP, and sporran cantle contain the maker’s mark “R & HB Kirkwood, 66-68 Thistle St, Edinburgh.” R & HB Kirkwood appears to have ceased doing business as a firm by the 1920s; a daughter may have continued doing contract work for other firms beyond that date. The bonnet, as expected, holds a die-cast gilted Sphinx badge mounted on a rosette.

    Would anyone have a more definitive date on when Kirkwood went out-of-business and the reason they folded?

    I hope this posting may prove to be of of interest to some of you.

    Regards,
    Mike

    BW Officer Levee Dress c1910.jpg

  2. #2
    Senior Member ronmarsden's Avatar
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    Great collection Mike, if you have any badges would post photos?
    Here is a little more info about the Pitcairn family some of which you may know.
    Andrew Pitcairn, Sardinian Order, Adj Reserve Bn. Aug 1846; Adj 42nd April 1850.

    Andrew Alexander Pitcairn (grandson) served with 2BW in Palestine 1937-39.
    Have some pictures of 2BW in Palestine in my picture thread at the moment.
    regards Ron.

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    Senior Member mike4279's Avatar
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    Ron,

    Thank you for the supplemental information about the Pitcairns and for the pointer to the interesting 2BW photos in Palestine 1937-39.

    I was fascinated by the one of the man carrying a dirk. A piper, perhaps? But not in the kilt since that likely would have attracted the attention of the Arabs and probably a few stones as well. I notice that he is not wearing any web equipment; so, maybe he is just safeguarding someone's rifle while that man "fell out" temporarily for some reason. What do you think?

    I will post some badge photos in your badge thread over the weekend.

    Mike

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    Senior Member ronmarsden's Avatar
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    Mike, Pitcains sword on Ebay. com #320893773038.
    Ron.

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    Mike & Ron: There is a headstone in Edinburgh's Dean Cemetery to : Lt Col Andrew Pitcairn late The Royal Highlanders Black Watch and KOSB etc and on the lower section of the headstone that has the Regimental Badges on is the entry of : also Major Andrew Alexander Pitcairn , 2nd Bn BW kia Tobruk 21 Nov 1941 etc

    Re Major General T Rennie and his entry . My godfather Brigadier James A Oliver (BW) from Arbroath in Angus took command after Major General Rennie was killed whilst crossing the Rhine . Montgomery asked Brigadier Oliver to stay on after the end of the WW2 in the army as he was a TA officer in 1939 but the Brigadier wanted to return to being a lawyer in Arbroath !


    pat

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    Senior Member mike4279's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmarsden View Post
    Mike, Pitcains sword on Ebay. com #320893773038.
    Ron.
    Ron,

    Thank you for bringing the sword offering to my attention. I had seen it and am thinking about bidding on it if it does not go too high.

    Mike

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    Senior Member mike4279's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick anderson View Post
    Mike & Ron: There is a headstone in Edinburgh's Dean Cemetery to : Lt Col Andrew Pitcairn late The Royal Highlanders Black Watch and KOSB etc and on the lower section of the headstone that has the Regimental Badges on is the entry of : also Major Andrew Alexander Pitcairn , 2nd Bn BW kia Tobruk 21 Nov 1941 etc

    Re Major General T Rennie and his entry . My godfather Brigadier James A Oliver (BW) from Arbroath in Angus took command after Major General Rennie was killed whilst crossing the Rhine . Montgomery asked Brigadier Oliver to stay on after the end of the WW2 in the army as he was a TA officer in 1939 but the Brigadier wanted to return to being a lawyer in Arbroath !


    pat
    Pat,

    Thank you for the info and email on Lt Col Andrew Pitcairn's grave. I have sent you a reply directly to your email address.

    I enjoyed hearing about your godfather, Brigadier James Oliver, and his connection to Tom Rennie. Did you know the Brigadier well?

    Regards,
    Mike

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    Senior Member mike4279's Avatar
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    Sergeant Late 1930s

    Another uniform from my collection: BW Sergeant in tropical dress from the late-1930s as would have been worn by the 2nd Bn in Egypt or Palestine.

    The buttons no longer have "The Royal Highlanders" inscription thus dating this outfit to post-1936 but before 1940 when the khaki drill frock would have been replaced by the open-collar "bush jacket." The frock probably is older and is a private purchase item having the stand-up collar rather than the stand-and-fall collar that would have typified an issued frock. The shoulder titles are "BW" which were worn from 1927 onward. He wears a Wolseley pattern foreign service helmet and red hackle equipped with a chinstrap that contains a 1917 date stamp. The sergeant's sporran with brass cantle is also likely a private purchase item from about 1910 based on the workmanship. The curved bottom edge of the white horsehair was seldom seen on sergeant sporrans crafted after 1914.

    BW Sgt 1930s.jpg

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    Mike , Ive just read your reply of 29th April and yes I knew Brig James A Oliver BW well as he was my Dad's partner in their legal firm in Arbroath with Col George W Dunn , BW and Camerons then back to BW as next partner . Brig Oliver sent me a postcard from North Africa as he was invited by Montomery to attend the unveiling of the El Alamein Memorial in the 1950s when I was a wee boy . During 1963 I went to work in the legal firm and Brig Oliver and Col Dunn were in the firm daily before I went off to my career in the Police . Brig Oliver over the years from the 1980s until his death in 1990 was updated regularly on my researches into the famous Lieut P W Anderson , BW RFC & RAF.

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    Hi folks, I'm just jumping on this post as it's uniform related. This is my first post and feel I have to share a picture of my 42nd pouch with belt, I don't know much about it other than it would appear to be victorian. Hope you enjoy the picture
    Oh, my name is James and i'm from Dunfermline Fife42nd.jpg

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