The Gordon Highlanders was raised in 1794 by the 4th Duke of Gordon as a regiment of Highland Foot (infantry). Originally designated the 100th Regiment of Foot and later the 92nd, the regiment was officially named "The Gordon Highlanders" in 1881. Many of the original recruits were drawn from the Gordon estates. The early recruitment campaign was assisted by the 4th Duke’s wife, the Duchess of Gordon (Duchess Jean). The Duchess is said to have offered a kiss as an incentive to join her husband's Regiment.
The Gordons were formed during the French Revolutionary Wars. They saw action against the armies of France, first at Egmont-op-Zee in Holland in 1799, then in the Egypt expedition of 1801, and in the long campaigns and many battles of the Peninsular War in Spain from 1808-14. The Regiment then played a prominent role in the final defeat of Napoleon at Quatre Bras and Waterloo in 1815.
Later in the 19th century, the expanding British Empire saw The Gordons serve on the frontiers of India, Egypt, Sudan and South Africa. One of many extraordinary feats was a march over 320 miles of Afghanistan's unforgiving terrain between Kabul and Kandahar, in 1880, which The Gordons achieved in just 23 days. In 1897, one of their most celebrated achievements was the stunning victory on the Heights of Dargai, on India's North-West Frontier.
During the 1880's, the old 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment, with its own record of war service in India, was incorporated into The Gordons which had now established a permanent presence in Aberdeen. At the same time, the development of local volunteer and militia units into the Territorial Army gave the Regiment a truly local character.
In World War One, some 50,000 Gordons served in the regular, territorial and service battalions. Of these, approximately 27,000 were killed or wounded. Among other major battles, every Gordon Battalion saw action in the Somme in 1916.
In World War Two, Gordon Battalions served with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940, and in the Far East in 1942, where many became prisoners of war. Great success was achieved in the North African Campaign, in Sicily and Italy, in the invasion of north-west Europe, followed by the long advance into Germany, and the liberation of Burma.
In the years after 1945, the Regiment took part in peace-keeping and anti-terrorist operations in Malaya, Borneo, Cyprus, Germany and Northern Ireland, with detachments serving in the Gulf War and Bosnia. In 1994, the Regiment was amalgamated to become part of The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) – the new regiment of the north of Scotland.
In 2006, The Highlanders were merged with Scotland’s five other infantry regiments to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The legacy of The Gordons therefore lives on through The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, and The Royal Regiment of Scotland.