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4th (City of Dundee) Battalion The Black Watch
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
  • Flag of Scotland.svg Scotland
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Service history
Active 1859—1921
Role Infantry
Size Battalion
Battles World War I
World War II
The 4th (City of Dundee) Battalion The Black Watch was a Territorial Force later Territorial Army infantry battalion of the British Army. The battalion, as the name suggests, was not only based but also recruited mostly from the City of Dundee. The battalion was later amalgamated, but reformed for service in World War II. After the end of the war, the battalion was again amalgamated.


Early HistoryEdit

The 4th battalion trace their history back to the 1st (City of Dundee) Forfarshire Rifle Volunteer Corps raised in 1859. By 1880, following the Cardwell Reforms, the corps were renamed as the 1st (Dundee) Forfarshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. By 1881, as a result of the Childers Reforms, the corps were attached to the Black Watch and retitled in 1887 as the 1st (Dundee) Volunteer Battalion The Black Watch and in 1889 the 1st (City of Dundee) Volunteer Battalion. In 1900, two new companies were formed with one being cyclists.

In 1908, the Territorial Force was formed brining the volunteers into order and the battalion was renamed as the 4th Battalion The Black Watch. By 1909, the battalion gained the (City of Dundee) title back. Just before mobilisation for World War I, the battalion was attached to The Black Watch Infantry Brigade and based at Dundee Drill Hall.[1] Upon mobilisation for World War I, the battalion was duplicated to form the 2/4th Battalion. Also, in 1915 the 4th (City of Dundee) Reserve Battalion was formed.[2]

Just before mobilisation, the battalion had the following structure;

  • Battalion Headquarters in Dundee
  • A—H Companies in Dundee

World War IEdit

1/4th BattalionEdit

During the war, the 1/4th Battalion saw only some service. First, upon mobilisation the battalion was still attached to The Black Watch Infantry Brigade and unallocated to a division. Under this formation, the battalion took part in many skirmishes including the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and the Battle of Festubert.[2][3][4]

By Late February 1915, the battalion joined the Bareilly Brigade part of the Meerut Division in Le Havre. By Later September is amalgamated with the 2nd battalion but was reformed just a week later.[2][3] The brigade then swapped between separate brigades;[2]

By the time of the end of the war, the battalion was based in Huissignies in south Belgium.[4]

2/4th BattalionEdit

Formed in Dundee in September 1914 as a second line battalion. Moved from Broughty Ferry on Tay Defences. In January 1915 moved to Hawick and attached to the 2nd Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders Brigade in the 2nd Highland Division. In mid-1915, the battalion moved to Bridge of Eam and in October moved to Auchterarder. In November absorbed the 2/5th Battalion and moved to Norwich in May 1916. Soon after moved to Kelling Heath and disbanded in December 1917.[2][3]

3/4th BattalionEdit

Formed in March 1915 at Dundee Drill Hall. Moved to Bridge of Earn and later 1915 in Ripon. By 1916 renamed to 4th Reserve Battalion and absorbed all other battalions in September 1916. Finally moved to Edinburgh in May 1918.[2][3]


Following the end of the war, the battalion was demobilised and reconstituted in the new Territorial Army in 1920 based in Dundee. The next year, due to cuts in the army the Geddes Axe reduced many units. The battalion as a result was amalgamated with the 5th (Angus and Dundee) Battalion to form the new 4th/5th (Dundee and Angus) Battalion The Black Watch.

World War IIEdit

Just before the start of World War II around the time of the Munich Crisis, the Territorial Army was expanded. As a result of this, the 4th/5th (Dundee and Angus) Battalion was separated to form independent 4th and 5th Battalions. Upon formation, the 4th battalion was based in Dundee. During the war the battalion saw limited service, but did serve.[4]

In January 1940 the battalion moved to France under the 51st (Highland) Division and by may was on the left flank of the 1st battalion when the Germans assaulted the Maginot Line. After this false attack, the battalion moved to the area around the mouth of the River Somme and Dieppe by the village of Valines. A few days later it was part of Ark Force. A few days later, the battalion was ordered the destroy their equipment and move as fast as they could for Cherbourg. By the time they had moved there, the Armistice was Signed and the battalion was evacuated to Southampton. By July, the battalion moved to Gibraltar where it remained until January 1943 when it moved back to the United Kingdom. After moved back, the battalion remained until the end of the war, seeing no more service.[4]

After demobilising, the battalion was disbanded and concurrently reformed in the Territorial Army where it was amalgamated the next year with the 5th battalion, thus forming the 4th/5th (Dundee and Angus) Battalion again. This battalion was later disbanded in 1967 with A and B Companies both being based in the old drill hall where the former battalion was stationed.


Honorary ColonelsEdit


  1. Westlake, Ray. The Territorials 1908-1914, A Guide for Military and Family Historians. Pen and Sword Military, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84884-360-8
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "The Long, Long Trail." The Long, Long Trail – Researching Soldiers of the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1919,
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) - Regiment History, War & Military Records & Archives." Discover The Military Ancestor In Your Family With Forces War Records,


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