The Furies 'first to come and last to go'

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The Independent Online

The Black Watch was first raised as a militia unit in 1725 and became a regiment of the regular army in 1739. Initially, they policed the wild Highland clansmen after the first Jacobite rebellion, the authorities deciding it would take a thief to catch a thief. Its Gaelic motto translates as "The Black Watch of Battles, First to Come and Last to Go."

The Black Watch was first raised as a militia unit in 1725 and became a regiment of the regular army in 1739. Initially, they policed the wild Highland clansmen after the first Jacobite rebellion, the authorities deciding it would take a thief to catch a thief. Its Gaelic motto translates as "The Black Watch of Battles, First to Come and Last to Go."

The name comes from their task to "watch" the Highlands and the dark tartan they wore. They were the first kilted regiment in the British Army and the first to introduce the bagpipes. The distinctive red hackle has been worn since the 1770s.

The regiment first saw action at Fontenoy in 1745. Although a British defeat, the Black Watch was described by a French officer as "Highland Furies who rushed in on us with more violence than ever did the sea driven by tempest".

In 1801 it fought at the Battle of Alexandria, capturing the colour of Napoleon's "Invincible" legion. The regiment won the honour of bearing the Sphinx on its colours and badge.

From the regiment's first action it has served in almost every foreign campaign. In the 20th century it saw action in both world wars, Korea and Northern Ireland. It captured Baghdad from the Turks in 1917.

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