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Scots Regiment team plan US canoe trip in memory of 18th century predecessors

Published 22/08/2016

The soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland plan to arrive in Manhattan on September 10, in time for ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (Mark Owen/Ministry of Defence via AP)
The soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland plan to arrive in Manhattan on September 10, in time for ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (Mark Owen/Ministry of Defence via AP)

Sixteen members of the British Army are setting off on a 340-mile (547km) canoe trip to trace the route travelled by many of their military forebears who fought and died in two North American wars in the 18th century.

The soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland are scheduled to leave Montreal on August 30 and travel south via Quebec's Richelieu River, Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River. They plan to arrive in Manhattan on September 10, in time for ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

En route they will camp at historic New York sites where Scottish soldiers serving alongside the British fought during the American Revolution and the French and Indian War, part of the Seven Years' War.

Major Scotty Menzies, the officer leading the expedition, told the Associated Press the 340-mile journey will be part training exercise, part history lesson.

"It's a way we can take a soldier from a known environment and expose him to the unknown, take them out of their comfort zone, and educate them on the history of the regiment," said Maj Menzies, a member of the regiment's Glasgow-based battalion.

British units carry out similar exercises elsewhere, but it will be the first held in North America, he said. Unlike the redcoats who had to haul canoes and boats over rugged terrain between waterways, the Scots will use vehicles to transport their canoes and gear.

The soldiers will be covering water and ground that were not welcoming to Scotsmen in the 1700s.

At Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain's southern end, the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, known as the Black Watch, suffered more than 500 deaths and injuries while assaulting enemy positions on July 6 1758, during the French and Indian War.

At Stillwater, on the upper Hudson, a Scottish regiment was among the British forces who surrendered to the Americans after the Battles at Saratoga in 1777, during the Revolutionary War.

The expedition will end at the USS Intrepid, a Second World War aircraft carrier that serves as a floating museum in Manhattan.

After the September 11 ceremony, the soldiers, most of them veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will head to Brooklyn, scene of the Battle of Brooklyn, fought on August 271776.

The two Highland regiments fared much better there, with the Revolutionary War's largest battle ending in a victory for British forces.

AP

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