Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gordon Highlander Museum

Duchess Gordon helps recruit the Highlanders

Ask an American about the name "Gordon" and they are likely to be reminded of Gotham's Police Commissioner Gordon of Batman fame.  Or perhaps they are familiar with General George "Chinese" Gordon who died fighting the Mahdi in the Sudan in 1885 and was played by Charlton Heston in the 1966 film Khartoum...?

But to the British, and particularly the Scots, the name "Gordon" primarily describes one of the greatest military units in history.

Gordon Highlander Museum
Aberdeen, Scotland

The Gordon Highlanders were a storied unit in the British Army that was founded (first as the 100th regiment of foot, soon becoming known as the 92nd Highlanders) in 1794.  They were created in order to combat the French who were making bloody noises with their Revolution across the channel at the time.  The Duke of Gordon was the regiment's first patron.  His wife, the beautiful young Duchess of Gordon (see painting above), is said to have offered kisses as an inducement for recruitment to the regiment!

Scottish Piper

Today in the town of Aberdeen, Scotland a visitor will find the Gordon Highlander Museum (  This museum was founded in 1997 to commemorate their illustrious and valiant history.  Here you will discover how the Gordon Highlanders fought in the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.  The 92nd Highland regiment distinguished themselves at the during the 1815 Waterloo campaign.  They received a drubbing and took many casualties defending the crossroads of Quatre Bras two days before the Battle of Waterloo.  On June 18 they launched a bayonet charge into the ranks of D'Erlon's French infantry.  In this crucial attack they were accompanied by their mounted countrymen -- the Scots Greys.

Gordon Highlander
A long period of peace followed the Allied victory at the Battle of Waterloo.  But the 92nd Regiment of Foot continued to serve in imperial outposts around the world.  During the Victorian era they were deployed to the Crimean War and the siege of Sevastopol.  They fought in two Afghan wars.  They fought in Africa.  In 1881 the 92nd was amalgamated into the Gordon Highlanders.

Highlander storm the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944

The Gordon Highlanders served in two World Wars in the 20th century.  During the Second World War elements of the Gordon Highlanders were evacuated from Dunkirk during the dark days of 1940, landed on the Normandy beaches in June 1944 and fought against the Japanese in Burma.

During the Cold War Gordon Highlanders distinguished themselves during the counterinsurgency campaign in Malaya where they fought to win hearts and minds.  The Gordons served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and on garrison duty in West Germany.

The highest medal for gallantry in the British Army is the fabled Victoria Cross.  Over the course of their history nineteen Gordon Highlanders have won the VC and eleven of these are on display at the Gordon Highlanders museum.

Royal Patronage of the Gordon Highlander's Museum

Prince Charles has been and continues to be a patron of the Gordon Highlander's Museum.

Gordon Highlander's Museum Dining Room

The Gordon Highlanders Museum even has an ornate dining hall that can rented out for events.

Gordon Highlander's Battle Flag

After two centuries and many battles in far away lands, the pipes of the Gordons fell silent.  Sadly, this legendary regiment was, in 1994,  amalgamated into different units of the British Army and has not, therefore, existed as an independent unit since that time.  Scots continue, of course, to serve in the British army just no longer as Gordons.

Though they now belong to history and will muster no more, it is important to remember the Gordon Highlanders for their galant defense of liberty over two centuries.  They were Celtic Fighters par excellence.

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur (from the co-authors of America Invades and America Invaded) is coming soon!

You can find signed copies of our books at 
these web sites...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Florence's Stibbert Museum

"Choose Wisely" and visit
The Stibbert Museum!

Florence is known for its splendid treasuries of Renaissance art.  In contemporary Florence, as in Eliot's time, "the women come and go talking of Michelangelo".  But one must step away from the hordes swarming around the statue of David at the Academia or the glories of the Uffizzi in order to take in a curious gem in hidden Florence that most tourists miss.  One can visit the Stibbert Museum (

Frederick Stibbert
1838 - 1906
Frederick Stibbert was an eccentric collector who had a lifelong passion for knights in shining armor.  His father, Thomas Stibbert, was a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards.  This unit, founded in 1650, is the oldest regiment in the British Army that has been in continuous service.  Stibbert's grandfather amassed a fortune as the Governor of Bengal and commander in chief of the East India Company.   His mother, Giulia Stibbert née Cafaggi, was Italian and Frederick was born in Florence.  It was Giulia who, as the Colonel's young widow, purchased the original home in 1849.  Stibbert was himself an accomplished artist as well as being a determined collector.

Stibbert, like Winston Churchill, must have developed a lifelong love for toy soldiers as a boy.  His family fortune allowed him and opportunity to indulge his passion for soldiering and collecting militaria over many years.

Halberds, etc.
Stibbert's armory could equip a Wizard of Oz sequel with enough halberds for all the flying monkeys in the Wicked Witches army!

Islamic Warrior

Stibbert had catholic tastes, assembling an important collection of Japanese knights as well as western and Islamic soldiers.

Hall of the Cavalcade

The enormous Hall of the Cavalcade lies at the heart of the Stibbert Museum.  It features twelve mounted knights in double file with a mix of European and Islamic styles.   St. George, the patron saint of England, looks down on the armored equestrians.

St. George
Stibbert Museum
Stibbert's collection extended far beyond warfare including paintings and exquisite furniture.  The collection contains, for example, a Madonna and Child painted by Sandro Botticelli

Stibbert never married.  His family wealth allowed him to assemble a magnificent collection of armor, weapons and art. Stibbert died in 1906 and left his home / museum to the city of Florence which manages it to this day.

If you have a chance to visit Florence, break away from the ordinary and check out the astonishing Stibbert Museum (

You can find signed copies of our books at 
these web sites...