Wills rallies support for the regiment that foiled the Russians

Argylls veterans studying the famous painting of the Thin Red Line in the museum in Stirling.
Argylls veterans studying the famous painting of the Thin Red Line in the museum in Stirling.

HRH Prince William has today backed a campaign aimed at preserving the memory of a famous regiment in which countless Bairns once served.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum at Stirling Castle needs to find £200,000 to fund the completion of a ground-breaking development project which seeks to honour the Argylls’ achievements in war and peace.

HRH Prince William visiting the Argylls museum in Stirling.

HRH Prince William visiting the Argylls museum in Stirling.

It will see what amounts to a completely new £4 million visitor attraction open next summer.

The appeal, under Prince William’s patronage, is named The Thin Red Line after the regiment’s famous stand against Russian cavalry during the 1854 Battle of Balaklava in the Crimean War.

Museum organisers say volunteers from the regimental heartland are already organising teams and sponsored events for fundraising activities to boost the project.

Based in Stirling Castle, the Argylls museum is planning a major revamp of its officially Nationally Recognised collection of militaria, art, and archives.

The Museum aims to set new standards of presentation for UK military museums, and boost visitor numbers beyond the current 215,000 a year.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland, the £4 million new visitor attraction will also feature enhanced retail and corporate entertainment facilities.

In his Appeal Letter, Prince William, who is Earl of Strathearn, writes: “The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum needs your help.

“This project has already received substantial donations and pledges but we still need to raise more.

“We need to ensure that future generations will discover for themselves what we owe to the Argylls’ memory.”

“This ambitious project will ensure that this great historical legacy will survive, engaging and educating the visitors of tomorrow.”

The Appeal is asking well-wishers to organise sponsored fundraising events and activities, and to contribute donations large or small.

Supporters of the project include former Colour Sergeant Adam McKenzie (90), who joined the regiment in 1945 and served for 35 years, fighting in Palestine, Korea and Aden.

He said “Without The Argylls’ Museum the history will be lost as The Argylls no longer exist as a regiment in their own right.

“We have to keep the memory alive of what The Argylls have contributed to history - I am proud to support The Thin Red Line Appeal to preserve this great collection for future generations.”

The phrase “a thin red streak, tipped with a fringe of steel” - later abbreviated to “Thin Red Line” - was coined by legendary war correspondent William Howard Russell of The Times.

Armed with new-style rifled muskets, and supported by 1,000 Turkish troops and artillery, the Argylls gained their soubriquet by standing in line to face down massed Russian cavalry formations which had appeared set to lunge at the British base.

Russell told readers the truth about the shambolic management of the war, and the terrible fate endured by wounded British soldiers.

The same battle also saw the Charge of the Light Brigade, a catastrophic blunder - immortalised in the famous poem by Lord Tennyson - in which British cavalry were ordered to conduct a suicidal charge against Russian artillery.

A new Thin Red Line Appeal video is released today on the Museum’s website www.argylls.co.uk and social media pages.