With a long history, the London Scottish Regiment has more than contributed to society with its former members.
Scottish Field previously told of the regiment’s proud past.
The London Scottish Regiment, in addition to its distinguished military service, has been privileged to have amongst is members a number of soldiers and officers who went on to make significant contributions in public service.
Sir Alexander Fleming (inventor of penicillin)
Alexander Fleming, born in Ayrshire, in 1881 and studied at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in Paddington.
Private Fleming joined two of his brothers in ‘H’ company The London Scottish in 1900-1914, when he was reluctantly forced to retire due to the pressure of work. An active member of the Regiment he attended most of the camps during his service.
A keen shot he represented the London Scottish on numerous occasions. He represented London Scottish in swimming and water polo. Fleming was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps at the outbreak of war to the rank of Captain. He joined a team studying modern methods of treating war wounds and quickly became an expert in the use of antiseptics.
In 1929 Fleming announced the discovery of penicillin which went on to become a miracle drug saving the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers during the Second World War.
He was knighted by King George VI and in 1945 received the Nobel Prize for medicine. He is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral and his Territorial Force Efficiency Medal and Nobel Prize can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland.
Robert Edward Cruickshank VC
Cruickshank was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1888, to a family of Scottish ancestry, moving to England with his family when he was 3.
In the First World War he initially volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps, but transferred to the London Scottish Regiment in 1915. After being injured in the Battle of the Somme he returned home to recuperate before transferring to Egypt with the 2nd Battalion.
Cruickshank was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace, which he received at the age of 29 for his actions on 1st May 1918 during the battle of the second crossing of the River Jordan in Palestine, when he volunteered to carry a message along the front line to headquarters after his platoon came under heavy fire.
Cruickshank was repeatedly shot by sniper fire as he continued his attempts at climbing the slopes of a wadi to deliver the message. His citation states ‘He displayed the utmost valour and endurance, and was cheerful and uncomplaining throughout.’ After the war Cruickshank resumed work for Lever Brothers, staying with the company for 34 years.
He donated his medal to the London Scottish Regiment, where it is on display in the Regimental Museum. In 2013, the Canadian Government announced that it had named a lake in Manitoba ‘Cruickshank Lake’ as part of its efforts to honour Canadian-born VC recipients.
Charles William Train VC
Charles William Train was born in Finsbury Park, London, his paternal family hailing from Midlothian, Scotland. At only 18, he enlisted in the London Scottish Regiment and was sent to France with the 1st Battalion at the outbreak of the war fighting in Messines.
Despite suffering bouts of illness during the First World War, Train continued to serve the Regiment in France, Salonika and in the Battle of Beersheba.
Corporal Train was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of 27, for his actions on 8th December 1917 at Ein Karen, during the Battle of Jerusalem. Charles William Train’s Victoria Cross Citation. read: ‘For most conspicuous bravery, dash and initiative displayed under heavy fire when his company was unexpectedly engaged at close range by a party of the enemy with two machine guns and brought to a standstill.’
Following the war, he was promoted to Colour Sergeant and appointed CQMS in 1919. Train emigrated to Canada on an agricultural bursary in 1921, later being appointed Secretary of the British Columbia Shipping Federation. He lived in Canada for the remainder of his life and died in Vancouver in 1964, aged 74.
His Victoria Cross can be seen in the Regimental Museum.
Colonel Dougie Lyall-Grant
Dougie Lyall-Grant was from an established London Scottish family. He was a banker and followed his father into the Regiment.
An avid sportsman, with a passion for rugby he became one of the great personalities of the Regiment and the London Scottish Football Club.
He enlisted as a private soldier in 1909 and went straight into the Pipes and Drums, having learned to play bagpipes at school in Perthshire. Lyall-Grant went on to be awarded the Military Cross for gallantry under fire in 1915. He was taken prisoner in 1916 and spent almost two years in camps.
He kept an illicit diary, which recorded an extraordinary 50,000 words during his experience. This was smuggled out in his bagpipes upon his release in 1918.
Repatriated after the war, he carried on with the Territorial Army and commanded his Regiment from 1926–1930. He was one of the main players in restarting the London Scottish Rugby Club, serving as Honorary Secretary from 1913–1939 and then President from 1939–1963.