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First World War » 17th Highland Light Infantry

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion

Robert S Robertson wrote in his 'Memories of the First World War':
"In September, 1914 there were formed in Glasgow three of Kitchener's battalions ..... Every man was an enthusiastic volunteer so, on a Sunday afternoon prior to a church service where I was a member of the choir, with some pals and unknown to my parents I went to enlist at the Glasgow Technical College in the 3rd H.L.I." (Later renamed the 17th).
Record of War Service, 1914-1918

The Nation's Call To Arms

Great Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th, 1914, and almost immediately the combatant strength of its Regular Army was on service and the great bulk of that gallant force engaged in those fierce actions against odds which marked the early fighting.

The War Office was quickly alive to the fact that the Regular Army could not cope in point of numbers with the Germanic hordes. On the day following the declaration of war the Territorial Forces of Great Britain were mobilized, and with a marvellous and inspiring unanimity their members volunteered for Overseas Service.

But even the addition of these many thousands to our striking force was realised to provide no more than a relief for the rapidly exhausting strength of the "old contemptibles", and Lord Kitchener issued his great manifesto calling the people to the Empire's help, and laid the foundations of a New Army -- Kitchener's Army -- the finest and most disinterested body of soldier patriots that ever stepped in a sound and worthy cause.

At once the patriotism of the country declared itself and the Nation sprang to arms. The City of Glasgow proved itself second to none among the cities and districts of the Kingdom in its answer to the call. The Town Council recruited two fine battalions, the 1st Glasgow, which was mainly drawn from the Tramway employees of the city; and the 2nd Glasgow, which was recruited from former members of the Boys' Brigade.

Other institutions in the city were bestirring themselves in the national cause, and at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Directors, held on 3rd September, 1914, it was unanimously resolved, on the motion of Bailie W.F. Russell, to form a Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion.

At this stage the Council of the Royal Glasgow Technical College approached the Chamber of Commerce Committee, and it was arranged that students of the College would find special opportunities of forming a detachment within the Battalion. This arrangement was found acceptable in every way, and many students entered for the service of their country under the colours of what was at that early stage known as "The Chamber of Commerce Battalion, 3rd Glasgow".


Editors' Preface

  1. Formation And Home Training
    • The Nation's Call to Arms
      Declaration of War
      Strain on the resources of the Regular and Territorial Forces
      Kitchener's Call to Arms
      Civic response
      Glasgow Corporation Battalions
      Meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Resolution
      Committee formed
      The Technical College
    • A Battalion in Being
      Attestation and enrolment
      "A" Company from Technical College
      "B" Company from Schools
      "C" and "D" from the City
      C.O., Second in Command, Adjutant, Company Commanders, and Staff appointed
      Leaving the City
      Government acceptance
      Farewell visit to City
    • Esprit de Corps
      Traditions of the H.L.I.
      The 71st and 74th Foot
      Pre-War Establishment
      Regular and Territorial Battalions
      War Service Battalions raised
      The allocation of the 17th Battalion
    • Home Stations and Training
      Prees Heath
      Codford Camp
      Overseas Orders
      Message from the King
  2. On Active Service
    • On Trek
      Arrival at Havre
      March to the forward area
      Bouzincourt and Millencourt
      Instructional tour of front line trenches
      Condition of trenches
      First casualties
    • Trench Routine
      In the line
      Xmas '15 and the New Year
      The new trench
      "Standing to"
      Routine and patrols
    • The Raid
      The "Red" Division
      In the line at Authuille
      Colonel Morton wounded on March 21st
      A raid postponed
      Carried out on 22nd
      Success of Lieut. Begg's party
      Congratulatory messages and awards
    • A Lull before the Storm
      Preparations commenced for the Somme offensive
      A complimentary shoot with "P" Battery
      Divisional, Brigade and Battalion identification marks
      Happy days at Rubempré
    • The Battle of the Somme
      Spirit of the Battalion prior to the battle
      Zero and "over the top"
      Leipzig Trench carried
      Flanks exposed
      Precarious position of the unit
      Great casualties
      Protective bombing posts
      Battalion relieved
      Victoria Cross gained by Sergeant Turnbull
      Roll Call
    • A Diary Account of the Battle
      Extract from the personal diary of the late Lieut. B. Meadows giving a wonderfully realistic picture of the July 1st Battle
    • Hulluch and Thereabouts
      Last parade under Col. Morton
      Bombing raid north of Ovillers
      Move to Bethune
      1st Army Area
      Inspection by General Munro
      Depleted ranks
      Trench warfare about Hulluch
      Cambrin Sector
    • Beaumont-Hamel
      The attack
      Weather conditions
      Failure of artillery support
      Forlorn hope
      Break-down of assault
      Gallantry and sacrifice
      Xmas 1916 and New Year
      Football and high spirits
    • The New Year, 1917
      Bad weather
      Trench labours
      Varied moves
      Beginning of Spring Offensive
      Attack by the French
      The advance
      Condition of inhabitants
      Great digging work at Germaine
    • On the Heels of the Enemy
      The taking of Savy
      Capture of Fayet
      Congratulatory messages
      Strenuous days
      Competitions with the French
      Work and sport
      Leaving the Fourth Army
      Farewell message from General Rawlinson
    • In Flanders
      En route to Steenbecque
      The 14th Corps
      Reconnaissance of Messines Sector
      Heavy marches
      Coxyde and Kuhn
      Amenities of Nieuport area
    • Operations on the Coast
      Enemy hurricane bombardment
      Enemy attempt frustrated
      Attack abandoned
      Visit to H.L.I.
      Visit of Dr. Kelman
      Patrol work by Corpl. Wilson
      Listening post raided
      Departure for Adinkerke
    • The Ypres Salient
      Gallantry of attack
      Hilltop Farm
      Move to Landethun and Yeuse
      Serre Sector
      Close of 1917
    • The Disbandment
      With the II. Corps
      The blow
      New army establishment
      Hospital Camp
      The passing of the "17th"
  3. An Odd Muster
    • The Spirit of the Battalion
      The Padre's tribute
    • Co-operation
      The 17th and the Gunners
    • "The Outpost"
      The Battalion Magazine
    • Sport of the Battalion
    • The R.S.M.
      Tribute by Lieut. Col. D.S. Morton
    • A Remembrance
      An echo
    • The Comforts Committee
      The Ladies' Committee and Office-bearers
      Their helpful work
    • Memorial Service in Glasgow
      The Somme
      Rev. A. Herbert Gray's text
    • The Club
      The object
      Battalion Benevolent Fund
      Committee formed
      Hope of the future
    • "E" Company
      17th H.L.I. Reserve
      19th Battalion
      Lieut. Col. Anderson, V.C.
      78th T.R.B.
  4. Honours And Awards
    • Battalion Honour
    • The Victoria Cross
    • Honours gained by Officers and others while serving with the Battalion
    • Honours gained by original Members of the Battalion after being transferred to other units
    • List of Officers who were granted Commissions in the Battalion on its formation
    • "Other Ranks" of the Battalion who were granted Commissions in the Battalion
    • Roll of Warrant Officers, N.C.O.s and men who joined the Battalion prior to 22nd November, 1915


  • The Late Mr. Montagu M.W. Baird and Mr. James W. Murray, Presidents of the Chamber
  • Original Officers in Command of Companies
    Majors W.J. Paul, J.R. Young, W. Auld, V.D., and E. Hutchison
  • Farewell Meeting at the Technical College
  • Early Days
    A Rest by the Way
  • H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, Colonel-in-Chief of the H.L.I., and Colonel J. Stanley Paterson
  • Lieut. Colonel David S. Morton, V.D., C.M.G.
  • On the Sea Front at Troon
    Leaving Troon
  • Mess Orderlies (Prees Heath Camp)
    "Guard, Turn Out" (Wensley Camp)
  • A Peaceful Bivouac (Salisbury Plain)
    Recruiting March at Codford
  • Officers of the Battalion at Mar Lodge, Troon, 1915
  • Visit of the Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, Troon, 1915
  • The Battalion on Parade
  • Havre
    Ruins of Bethune
  • The Cathedral, Albert
    and After Bombardment
  • Map Illustrating Operations of 1st July, 1916
  • View from Bouzincourt Looking Towards the Line
  • Cookhouse at Becourt
    Observation Post, Hulluch Sector
    War's Destruction
  • Lieut. Colonel W.J. Paul
  • Lieut. Colonel J. Inglis, C.M.G., D.S.O.
  • Types of Support Line Dug-outs and First Aid Post
  • Major the Rev. A. Herbert Gray
    Parade (Prees Heath)
  • Phases of Battalion Training
  • "The Outpost" Staff on Active Service
    Original Editorial Staff
  • The Late Steven D. Reith, D.C.M.
    Lce. Corpl. F.K. Pickles
  • Margus, The Mascot
    One of the Battalion Rugby Football Teams
  • Lieut. and Q.-M. (formerly Regimental-Sergeant-Major) James Kelly
  • Mrs. David S. Morton, Convener of the Comforts Committee
  • Lieut. Colonel W. Auld, V.D.
  • The Late Lieut. Colonel William Herbert Anderson, V.C., and Sergeant J.Y. Turnbull, V.C.


Robert S Robertson had this book amongst his many possessions from the 'Great War'.
Given here is a summary of 'The Nation's Call To Arms', the Contents of the book,
plus some of the photographs used.

The Seventeenth Highland Light Infantry

The small print
Project Gutenberg EBook of The 17th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion).
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Seventeenth Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion) Record of War Service, 1914-1918

Farewell Meeting In The Technical College
Farewell Meeting In The Technical College

Early Days
Early Days

A Rest By The Way
A Rest By The Way

On The Sea Front At Troon
On The Sea Front At Troon

Leaving Troon
Leaving Troon

"Guard, Turn Out" -- Wensley Camp
"Guard, Turn Out" -- Wensley Camp

Mess Orderlies -- Prees Heath Camp
Mess Orderlies -- Prees Heath Camp

A Peaceful Bivouac -- Salisbury Plain
A Peaceful Bivouac -- Salisbury Plain

Recruiting March At Codford
Recruiting March At Codford

Chamber of Commerce Battalion, Troon, April, 1915
Chamber of Commerce Battalion, Troon,
April, 1915

Ruins of Bethun1915
Ruins of Bethun

Map Illustrating The Operations Of 1st July, 1916
Map Illustrating The Operations
Of 1st July, 1916

View From Bouzincourt Looking Towards The Line
View From Bouzincourt
Looking Towards The Line

Cookhouse at Becourt
Cookhouse at Becourt

Observation Post, Hulluch Sector
Observation Post, Hulluch Sector

War's Destruction
War's Destruction