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Brigadier H. S. Watts' address to Royal Scots Fusileers

Address to the officers and men of the Royal Scots Fusileers, Second Battalion, by Brigadier H. S. Watts, CB CMT, commanding 21st Infantry Brigade.

5 March 1915

Major Pollarde, officers, NCOs and men of the Royal Scots Fusileers.

It is only within the last few days that I have learnt the true history of the gallant doings of your battalion on the 31st of October last, and in case where troops are captured, I think the facts should be known.

On the 30th of October in order to cover the right flank of troops on our left, your battalion was ordered to take up a very bad and exposed position on a forward slope and sure enough on the morning of the 32st you were exposed to a very heavy shell fire followed by an infantry attack by vastly superior numbers. As far as your battalion was concerned, all went well, until the troops on your left were driven back, and your left flank exposed.

The Germans came pouring through, and it soon became obvious, that your position was untenable, and we were ordered to take up a position farther back. I tried to telephone to Colonel Baird-Smith but the wire had been cut by shrapnel. I then sent two orderlies with a message to withdraw but the message was never received, both orderlies must have been killed or wounded.

Colonel Baird-Smith, gallant soldier that he was, decided and rightly to hold his ground and the Royal Scots Fusiliers fought and fought until the Germans absolutely surrounded and swarmed into the trenches.

I think it was perfectly splendid, mind you it was not a case of ‘hands up’ or any nonsense of that sort, it was a fight to a finish. What more do you want, why even a German General came to Colonel Baird-Smith afterwards and congratulated him, and said he could not understand how his men had held out so long.

You may well be proud to belong to such a regiment, and I am proud to have you in my Brigade, a regiment with a spirit like that cannot go far wrong, and I feel sure, that when next called upon we need none of us feel nervous as to the results.

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