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Brigade history

1854 - 1907

51 Brigade has its origins in the old 51 Highland Brigade. The first reference to a Highland Brigade was in 1854 when the 42nd (Black Watch), 79th (Cameron Highlanders) and the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) set sail for Turkey.

In July 1855, with the arrival of additional troops in the theatre of war, a Highland Division was formed under the command of Sir Colin Campbell.

Between 1856 - 1898 a Highland Brigade or Division was reformed and disbanded on a number of occasions. Yet another Highland Brigade was formed for active service in South Africa (1899-1902).


1908 - 1937

The Haldane Reforms of 1908 established the Territorial Force with fully staffed Territorial Brigades and Divisions which included the 1st Highland Division which, in 1914 mobilised in six days.

They moved to France in April and May 1915 and were more than upset that their number was changed from 1st to 51st Division with three Brigades, 152, 153 and 154.

In a period of initial inactivity and consigned to the reserve, the Division was nicknamed "Harper's Duds" after the name of their Divisional Commander and the Divisional sign which appeared on their vehicles, "HD".

By the end of the war the 51st had gained such a reputation for themselves that they were considered the finest division in France, Regular or Territorial.

1938 - 1967

In 1938 the Division was instructed to form a duplicate division as a second-line. The duplicate division of the 51st (Highland) Division was entitled the 9th (Highland) Division. Both Divisions were mobilised on the outbreak of the Second World War.

Shortly after the outbreak of war the 51st (Highland) was sent to France and Belgium. It was made up of both Regular and Territorial Battalions. In 1940 under French command they fought a series of bold and stubborn rearguard actions against the German advance, but they were isolated and cut off at St Valery and were forced to surrender before they could be evacuated. After St Valery the duplicate Division, the 9th (Highland), was redesignated as the 51st (Highland) Division.

By June 1942 they were trained and ready and they embarked for Egypt and the North African campaign where they were great favourites with Montgomery. Their North African battles included El Alamein, Mareth, Medenine and Wadi Akarit. Following distinguished service in Sicily, the 51st returned to Scotland to train for the invasion of Europe where it upheld its unparalleled reputation.

In August 1945 the 51st Highland Division ceased to exist as a separate formation and became part of the 51st/52nd (Scottish) Division. The 51st was revived as a separate Territorial Division in 1948 and survived as such until 1967 when it was redesignated as a Brigade of the Scottish Division.

1968 - 2001

The 51st Highland Division was disbanded in 1968 and reformed as Headquarters Highland District, commanded by a Brigadier. Since then the name of the Headquarters has changed first to Headquarters Highland Area and then finally to Headquarters 51 Highland Brigade.

In 1975 the Brigade Headquarters moved from Highland House, St Catherine's Road, Perth to the old Officers' Mess building of Headquarters 51st Highland Division at St Leonard's Bank, Perth.


2002 Onwards

Following restructuring of the Army in Scotland, on 1 April 2002 the Brigade was redesignated 51 (Scottish) Brigade taking on the regional responsibility for the whole of Scotland with its Headquarters at Forthside, Stirling.