Shetland Territorials

Shetland Territorials

After the disbandment of the Shetland Volunteers around 1880, the Shetland Territorial Force was a new set of volunteers formed around 1900. They were re-formed when the War Office gave the go ahead for a Volunteer Battalion of Gordon Highlanders to be raised in Shetland. Before the outbreak of World War One, the 7th Volunteer Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders, was reorganised as two companies of the 4th (Aberdeen) Battalion of the same regiment. Initially, no title was given to these companies. However, as time went on, the War Office agreed that they be called 'The Shetland Companies, The Gordon Highlanders'. As such, they would not be connected to any other battalion and would remain an independent unit. At a later stage, the War Office authorised the appointment of a Major Commandant to command the two companies. With this, they had their own service uniform, with the Gordon bonnet badge. Despite the connection to the Gordon Highlanders, these men were a Shetland unit. Then, surely as now, anything Shetlandic takes on its own unique identity and character. Within it were young men who were no doubt 'weel kent' locally and to each other.

Before all of this happened, there had been some debate. The official view was that the Territorials should be attached to the Seaforth Highlanders, and be within the regimental district of Fort George near Inverness. But Shetland had usually been more closely associated with the Aberdeen areas. So, it made sense that the Shetland infantry unit be part of the Gordon Highlanders.

This local volunteer force, as much an excuse for young men to meet up socially as it was a military outfit, had been in existence for some time.

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Gordons outside Garrison. Photograph courtesy of Shetland Museum and Archive.