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George & Alexander Glen - Help with Clues in Uniforms,


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Attached is a photo of my grandfather, George Glen (left) and his brother Alexander - I assume that this was taken for their parents in 1915 before they both went to France although not early enough for the 1915 Star - grandfather enlisted on 17th March 1915 aged 19.

Apart from some family papers and photos that I am working through, I have very little on their service careers and I hope that some of the learned folk out there can help me out with reading clues in their uniforms which I believe is something of a dark art!

What I know is as follows - Grandfather enlisted in the Highland Cyclist Battalion as a despatch rider and at some point was transferred to 6th Black Watch and ended the war attached to the Royal Engineers - again, I dont know the date of transfer if indeed there was one although he did have three separate service numbers, one for each regiment he served with. His cap badge appears to be that of the HCB which is very similar to that of the Black Watch. I am particularly curious about the badge above his right breast pocket - does anyone know what this might be? I cant make out the shoulder titles but he does appear to have a Lance Corporal's stripe which would tally from his records although his MIC has him down as a Private (admin. error perhaps).

I would be very grateful if anyone can expand on the above.

I have less information about Great Uncle Alexander (or Alan as he was known to the family for reasons now lost). He was university educated and his MIC shows he was a Royal Highlander. However, his uniform and cap badge on the photos looks more like Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders from what little I know about the subject. As an officer, I presume his records are at Kew so i need to chase them up but I did find him mentioned in the London Gazette for a notable action in 1918 which was very interesting. I know he was with the 8th Battallion Black Watch just prior to Arras 9/4/17 as I have a named group photo of the HQ staff which I will post if folks are interested.

Again, if anyone can give me some pointers from his uniform and insignia from the attached photo, I'd be really grateful - its like looking for tiny jigsaw pieces at the moment.......

Thanks in advance


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The right hand soldier is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. (Nice Sporran!)

The left hand chap is wearing a Territorial wearing a Black Watch style badge and could be a member of the Black Watch (Royal Highlander ) Territorial Battalions, Highland Cyclists Battalion or the Glasgow Highlanders (Highland Light Infantry). He is also wearing the Imperial Service Badge indicating that he had volunteered to serve overseas with the Territorial Force.

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This may be him being transferred to a Reserve battalion from a Service Battalion of the Argylls:

Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

The undermentioned temporary Second Lieutenants, from a Service Battalion, to be temporary Second Lieutenants: —

Second Reserve

Wilfrid G. R. Bailes. Dated 2nd November, 1915.

Dated 9th November, 1915.

Ian M. Thomson.

James Inglis.

Alexander Glen. Dated 16th November, 1915.

John Wilkinson. Dated 2nd December, 1915.



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There was an Alexander Glen awarded the Military Cross with the Royal Highlanders in 1918:

T./Lt. (A./Capt.) Alexander Glen, R. Highrs.

When the flank of the battalion attack was checked, and severe casualties among the officers occurred, Captain Glen, who was commanding a company in reserve, immediately reorganised the N.C.O.'s and men of the assaulting and supporting companies in spite of an intense fire of all descriptions. Owing to his coolness and judgment, the line was maintained throughout the day, and any reaction on the part of the enemy was prevented.



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The Index to the Officers Papers in series WO339 at the National Archives is called WO338

This lists:

Alexander Glen, 14th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and 8th Battalion Royal Highlanders. He is shown as a Lieutenant and Captain. His "Long number" was 106843.

The old War Office "Long numbers" were changed to National Archive references. Alexander Glen's file was renumbered to:

Captain Alexander GLEN. The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders).

War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, Long Number Papers (numerical).

Officers Services (including Civilian Dependants and Military Staff Appointments): Long Service Papers.

Collection:Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Date range: 01 January 1915 - 31 December 1920

Reference:WO 339/39586

Subjects:Regiments and Corps, Operations, battles and campaigns, Conflict

Former references: in its original department: 106843


Page 78 of the Black Watch History, under Appendix A relating to 8th Battalion Black Watch states the following under officers brief records of service:

Glen, A. 2nd Lieut. To Hospital, 21st March 1917. Rejoined 27th March 1917. Promoted Lieut. 17th February 1918. Promoted Captain. To Hospital 24th April 1918. Rejoined 30th May 1918. Awarded MC 1st October 1918.

Page 28 of the text shows him as Signalling Officer with Battalion HQ in October 1916.

Page 38 shows him as being wounded by a shell explosion on 15th April 1917 whilst, as Adjutant of the 8th, he was guiding the 7th Black Watch into the trenches to relieve the 8th.

Further London Gazette entries:

London Gazette 13-7-1916

Arg. & Suth'd Highrs.

The undermentioned temp. 2nd Lts. to be temp. Lts.: —

A. Glen. 10 Apr. 1916.


London Gazette 23-4-1918

R. Highrs.

Temp. Lt. A. Glen to be actg. Capt. (addtl.). 25 Feb. 1918.


London Gazette 12-9-1918

R. Highrs.

Temp. Lt. (actg. Capt., without pay), D. A. Soutar, M.C., reverts to his temp, rank. 29 June 1918.

Temp. Lt. D. A. Soutar, M.C., to be actg. Capt. (addtl.). 29 June 1918.

Temp. JLt. H. L. Bryson to be actg. Capt. while comdg. a Co. 7 June 1918.

Temp. Lt. (actg. Capt. (addtl.), without pay) A. Glen reverts to his temp. rank. 2 June 1918.

Temp. Lt. A. Glen to be actg. Capt. while comdg. a Co. 16 June 1918


London Gazette 25-11-1919

R. Highrs.

8th 'Bn.—

Temp. Capt. A. Glen, M.C., to be actg. Maj. while 2nd in commd. of the Bn. 28 July 1919.


London Gazette 8-1-1920

R. Highrs.

8th Bn.—

Temp. Capt. A. Glen, M.C. (R. Highrs (Serv. Bns.)), relinquishes the actg. rank of Maj. on ceasing to be 2nd in comd. of the Bn. 19 Nov. 1919


London Gazette 29-10-1920

R. Highrs.

Temp. Capt. A. Glen, M.C. relinquishes his commission on completion of Service, 30 Oct. 1920, and retains the rank of Capt.



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Thank you both very much for your in-depth knowledge and your willingness to share - I will certainly follow up these leads and piece together as much of the story of my Grandfather and his brother as I can. I had seen the account of Captain Glen's part in the action in 1918 but had not picked up on the fact that he had been awarded the MC for it - this is truly remarkable as his son is still alive and in his 80's was not aware of this and neither was his daughter who died a couple of years ago. Yet another example of those who served in WW1 and spoke little or nothing of their experiences - I wonder what became of the MC, its certainly not in the family any more.

For those with an interest in 8th Battalion Black Watch and the Battle of Arras, I have attached a picture from the family collection which is of interest mainly because the sitters are named and the picture is dated - i have got so much information from the forum that I hope this will be of use to others.

The pencil written text reads: "Bn HQ 8/Black Watch 6/4/17 just prior to the initial action at Arras on 9/4/17"

The names are (I think) "Harley - Glen - Bates - Soutar - Anstruther - Abercromby - Goudy

The names against each sitter are harder to decipher but may read as follows; 2nd Lt W. C. Harley (W) - Lt A. Glen (W) - Capt I.V. Bates NEMC? - 2nd Lt D.A. Soutar - Major B.E. Anstruther MC - Col Sir G.W. Abercromby - ???? M.P Goudy

I would welcome any confirmation or alternative interpretation - its got me just about cross-eyed trying to decipher!

A couple of further questions present themselves - what does the (w) mean and where might the picture have been taken - ie where was 8th Battalion Black Watch HQ just prior to Arras?

Any other comments or further detail that can be discerned from the picture woukld be gratefully received.

Thanks again and I hope that this is of interest - I have more to follow which may add some further clues.

Best Regards



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This London Gazette entry has less context than the others but may be his initial Commissioning:

London Gazette 9 April 1915

The undermentioned Cadets and ex-Cadets of the Officers Training Corps to be temporary Second Lieutenants. Dated 10th April, 1915: —

Alexander Glen.



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The list of officers in the Regimental history shows:

Sir George Abercromby, Bart. - commanding officer from 22-9-1916 to 21-5-1917

Capt. Robert Edward Anstruther - assumed command of battalion 23-5-1917, second in command prior to the battle

Second Lieutenant William Couper Harley, wounded 3-5-1917 - no details of HQ employment, though possibly the Machine Gun Officer

Second Lt David Alexander Soutar - signalling officer

Hon. Lt. & Quartermaster Patrick Goudy - Quartermaster

I believe Captain Bates would be the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) Medical Officer - probably John Vincent Bates, M.C.

I would suggest that the (W) would mean Wounded.

8th Black Watch HQ was at Haute Avesnes where the battalion was in billets whilst in reserve. Heavy rain is mentioned, which seems to be borne out by the photo.


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Thanks once again for an absolute wealth of information - its more than I could have hoped for!

I'm putting it all together for the family particularly the younger members and I'm sure this will capture their interest and commemorate the service of their not too distant ancestors. Thats the plan anyway.......

Attached is another view of an expanded 8th Battalion Black Watch HQ staff taken at Haute Avesnes which may be of interest. theres a few "weell kent faces" from the previous photo........

Best Regards



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The second picture has over 30 officers in it, so I would suspect that it is the full officer compliment of the 8th Battalion, rather than just the HQ Staff.


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  • 8 months later...
Guest Don Page


I note the last post here was on 17th September last year so hope you pick this message up.

This afternoon, I was visiting the granddaughter of the "P Goudy" in your group photo of the 7 Officers. He was a Captain Quartermaster for the 8th and had joined the army ca 1888 as a boy. He was commissioned I believe at the beginning of the war and served until 1928, a total of some 40 years. He was awarded the MC around the end of 1917 but it is not known what for. I presume that he will also be in the larger group photo which you subsequently posted. I have saved the photos to pass to his granddaughter and I was wondering if it would be possible to get higher quality copies. You can contact me directly at donpage43@gmail.com.


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... but he does appear to have a Lance Corporal's stripe which would tally from his records although his MIC has him down as a Private (admin. error perhaps).

Sticking my neck out here, but IIRC, MIC's don't show Lance Corporals as this is an appointment not a rank and as such would not be inscribed on the medal rim.

Not 100% certain of this and no doubt a wiser Pal will soon correct me if that's wrong!



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