Happy 125th Birthday to the Cape Town Highlanders!

On Saturday morning, after a brief hike in Newlands Forest, we headed down into the Cape Town City Centre. Neither of us has been there for… um… months? Years? Well, the last time we were near the centre was in November for the Cape Town Military Tattoo at the Castle of Good Hope (which I’ve been meaning to blog about, but haven’t gotten around to yet).

The Cape Town Highlanders, founded in 1885 by a group of volunteer soldiers, who were descendants of Scottish immigrants to South Africa, were celebrating their 125th birthday on Saturday. The Highlanders (homepage) are a mechanised infantry unit in the South African Army, and they have a long and glorious history of fighting in many wars. In more recent years, they have been (and are still) deployed as part of the country’s peace-keeping forces both in SA and around the African continent.

On Saturday, they celebrated 125 years of continuous service to the people of Cape Town and South Africa, with a parade through central Cape Town (Cape Town Highlanders Celebrate 125th Birthday with Freedom March).

At midday on Saturday, they marched from their Regimental Headquarters at the Castle of Good Hope up Darling Street and to the City Hall. Alderman Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor, inspected the regiment, and confirmed “their right to exercise the Freedom of the City”. This means that they can “march through the city centre ‘with flags waving, bands playing and bayonets fixed'”.

After a short service and prayer, the Company, led by Officer Commanding of the Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel André van der Bijl, and the magnificent pipe band, marched around the block and back to the Castle. Here, they collected the rest of the Battalion and a convoy of Ratel armoured vehicles. They marched up Strand Street, left into Adderley and left into Darling Street once more, past the City Hall and back to the Castle.

We only witnessed the first half of the parade, as I hadn’t realised that there was a second half! But I hope you’ll enjoy the slideshow nonetheless.

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16 thoughts on “Happy 125th Birthday to the Cape Town Highlanders!

    • Thank you, Helen. Yes, I agree. The slideshows are a wonderful new function of WordPress. The only downside is that readers can’t click on a photo to see it in its proper resolution or to save it (which does have its advantages on the internet, mind you! :-)). I thought of putting in a gallery instead, but then the photos are just very small thumbnails, and it’s tiresome to click on every single one.

      I am just disappointed that I hadn’t read the City of Cape Town press release earlier, or I would have known that there was a second half. It’d have been so exciting to see that too!

    • Thank you very much, Pauline. 🙂 The pictures cannot fully capture the thrill of standing right there, though, and hearing the rattling and thumping of the drums, and that unmistakeable sound of the bagpipes – it was exhilarating!

      In the pause between the departure of the Army Band and the arrival of the Highlanders, I met Bruce Sutherland, the official photographer for the City Council. I’d been watching him, as he was shooting with his two large cameras, and amazingly, he came over and said Hi. He’s the man who took those awe-inspiring shots of the new Cape Town (Green Point) Stadium (I’ve got one photo here).

  1. First of all, I didn’t realize you had palm trees! I wonder why that realization hadn’t hit before? Sounds like you had a good time listening to the band and getting into the music and history. Happy 125th birthday to the Highlanders!

    • Hello Kathy – Oh! Really? You didn’t know we had palm trees? Hm… I need to remedy that. Even in our neighbourhood of Pinelands, which is named after the many PINE TREES that used to grow here (and still do), there are numerous palm trees, both in the communal parks and in people’s gardens. The next time I go for a walk, I’ll take some photos of palm trees for you. 🙂

    • Ah, you sure would have, Slamdunk! Sadly, there weren’t many spectators, at least not in the first half – it was mainly passers-by who heard the glorious music and who came over for a closer look. I’ll make a note in my diary of next year’s dates.

  2. Thank you all for the wishes.
    We had a great day thanks to the City, on sunday we did it again, this time marching up Strand street to the Regimental Church, only got a bit wet.
    Next year 23rd and 24th April 2011, hope to see you there.
    Many Thanks
    Captain Ian Long Adjutant CTH

    • You’re welcome, Captain. 🙂 It’s a pity there weren’t so many spectators, apart from passers-by, as parades are always so exciting!

      Thank you for leaving a comment and telling me about the 2011 dates – I’ve already diarised them so that I don’t miss the event next year. I’d really have loved to see the second half too – and I believe there was even a sunset parade! Sadly, none of the info was available on the CTH website.

      For now, we’re looking forward to the next Cape Military Tattoo at the Castle! 🙂

  3. As a Belgian CTH reenactor, I would like to wish the Cape Town Highlanders a happy 125th birthday. I enjoyed the article and the lovely photo’s. Shame I could’n be there.
    (Would love to hear the band marching by.)
    But I will be visiting South Africa & Cape Town at the end off this year. A visit to the Castle is already planned.

    Gerhard, Brussels-Belgium

  4. Hello Gerhard

    You are a Belgian CTH reenactor? Really? What exactly does that mean? I’m very curious! Do you have a website or blog where you post pictures?

    If you’re in Cape Town in early November, I can highly recommend the Cape Military Tattoo at the Castle of Good Hope. This year, it’s scheduled for 3-6 November – see http://www.capetattoo.co.za/. It’s a very exciting spectacle, and very entertaining.

    You can see some photos here of the 2008 tattoo and the 2009 tattoo.

    I took some video clips of the Birthday parade, so I could put them and the photos onto a DVD for you and mail it to you, if you like? (And if they aren’t ‘lost’ by the SA Post Office).

    Let me know, okay?

  5. Hello Reggie,

    It all started with my Dad buying a 1944 WC54 Dodge Ambulance and joining a military vehicle club -see http://www.leuvencentraal.com/. From there on I stumbled into reenacting, freelancing into other groups -see http://www.blha.be/ and http://www.1stbelgianfieldbattery.be/. I started out with Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, then The 1/6 East Surrey’s. When joining BLHA we all decided on 7th The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (WWI & II). With that I also do 1st Belgian Field Artillery and Cape Corps. And as a latest interest The Cape Town Highlanders (WWI & II).
    Reenactment is for me putting together the uniforms and kit, wearing and using it with pride. But also studying the history behind it all and sharing this with other enthusiasts and the general public. Why CTH and Cape Corps…because I am a Belgian born in Cape Town from a South African Mother and a Belgian Father. And because it is a unique thing to to here in the Belgian reenactors world.
    Concerning the Military Tattoo, looks like we are missing that to, as we only arrive in Cape Town on november 11th.
    Would like to have the DVD if it’s possible. Let me know what the postal charges are and I will refund you on that.

    Regards, Gerhard

    • Hello Gerhard – thank you for explaining that, it’s really fascinating! I have sent you an email re: the details. And I’m sorry to hear that you’ll be missing the 2010 Tattoo by just a week – any chance of moving your trip forward? 😉

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