The 60th Lanarkshire
Rifle Volunteer Corps
The need to supplement Britain’s regular standing army with some sort of reserve had been brought up many times since the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Wellington himself had raised concerns in the late 1840s about the lack of a force to defend Britain with most of her troops overseas. Despite being a recent ally of France in the Crimean War of 1854-5, it was fear of invasion by that nation which encouraged the establishment of a volunteer force. The French victory over Austria in 1859 caused further alarm and even though the raising of Volunteer units had been under way for a couple of years, its pace was accelerated and thousands of Rifle Corps were raised all over England, Scotland and Wales. Organizing these enthusiastic but amateur soldiers presented a headache for the War Office but a system using the Lord Lieutenancies of the various counties under an old act of 1804 finally brought some order. Through various reforms during the next twenty years these Volunteer Rifle Corps were combined into companies, battalions and auxiliary units attached to the regular army. At the end of the century, many of these corps served in the South African War (Boer War) and, after an effective reorganization in 1908 they were well prepared for the coming world war. The Territorial Force, as it was by now known, served its country with valor and sacrifice during the four years of the Great War and although reorganized in the twenties and thirties, it would do so again in the Second World War. Since that conflict the Territorial Army has undergone more amalgamations, cuts and organizational changes than most formations should ever have to but the descendants of the old Rifle Volunteers continue to serve their country to this day in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Our illustration shows a Captain of the 60th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in the year 1860. This unit, along with the 61st and 93rd Corps, was formed from highlanders living in Glasgow and central Lanarkshire. They became “G”, “H” and “I” companies of the 4th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. In 1867 they were combined into the Highland company of the corps and by the Childers reforms of 1881 they were attached to the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) of the regular army, becoming the 4th Volunteer Battalion in 1887. Some members of the unit served in the Boer War of 1899-1902. Our illustration shows a Captain of the 60th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in the year 1860. This unit, along with the 61st and 93rd Corps, was formed from highlanders living in Glasgow and central Lanarkshire. They became “G”, “H” and “I” companies of the 4th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. In 1867 they were combined into the Highland company of the corps and by the Childers reforms of 1881 they were attached to the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) of the regular army, becoming the 4th Volunteer Battalion in 1887. Some members of the unit served in the Boer War of 1899-1902.
In 1908 under the Haldane reforms the Battalion became the 8th Battalion of the regiment, losing its highland company at the same time. During the Great War, the battalion, as part of the 52nd Lowland Division, served at Gallipoli until January 1916 when it went to Egypt as part of the Suez Canal Defenses. It took part in the invasion of Palestine in 1917 and moved to the Western Front in France in April 1918. After refitting in Abbeville it was involved in actions on the Franco/ Belgian border until the end of the war. The 5th and 8th Battalions were amalgamated in 1921 to form the 5th/8th Bn of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). In 1938 they were reformed as the 56th Searchlight Regiment (Cameronians) and in 1940 were transferred to the Royal Artillery (RA). They were then converted again in 1943 and designated 125 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment serving in Italy in an airfield defense role. After the war they went through various manifestations of the light and heavy air defense roles bearing the subtitle “Cameronians” until 1967 when that regiment was disbanded. They then bore the subtitle “Lowland” until their final designation in the Territorial and Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) as the 102nd (Ulster and Scottish) Light Air Defense Regiment (RA). Today the entire Territorial Army has been re-roled into active support units for the regular army (much as it was in 1881) and the successor unit to the old 60th corps is the 6th (Lowland Volunteers) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The captain in the illustration is wearing the highland dress of Rifle Volunteers in 1860. The dark green doublet with black braid and red piping is unique to the 60th Corps. The kilt and plaid are of the MacConnell (Military) tartan belonging to the first commanding officer. The Glengarry cap bears the badge of the corps which is a bugle horn with the number “60” within, surmounted by a Victorian Crown. His shoulder belt plate was a silver St. Andrew with Saltire within a wreath of thistles, all surmounted by a crown. His plaid brooch was probably a personal item. His broadsword is typical of those favored by Scottish officers. When all the highland corps were combined, they wore a more conventional uniform of scarlet doublet with dark green facings (although with slash cuffs instead of gauntlet) and a kilt of government tartan (Black Watch). The Glengarry was blue. Following the Boer War they wore a khaki uniform with a bush hat turned up on the left with a black tuft. After the reforms of 1908, the uniform was that of the parent regiment.
The background shows the South Dalziel Church in Motherwell where the 5th Battalion of the regiment had its headquarters in the late 1890s. The church was built in 1789 and is now listed as a historic Scottish building.