Brigadier George Pigot-Moodie: A Distinguished Service

The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie OstJ, MC (1888-1959), acquired in 2016 by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum with an NFA grant of £3,750.

In late 2016 the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum acquired the collection of orders, decorations and medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie, OstJ, MC, who served with the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) from 1908 to 1938.

IMG_4648 - alteredAbove: Brigadier Pigot-Moodie’s decorations ‘court-mounted’ on a bar-brooch. From left to right:

  • Military Cross 1915
  • Badge of an Officer (Brother) of the Order of St John 1952
  • 1914 Star (‘Mons Star’) with clasp ‘5th August-22nd November’
  • British War Medal 1914-20
  • Allied Victory Medal 1914-19 with Oak Leaf (signifying Mention in Dispatches)
  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
  • King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
  • Russian Order of St Anne, 2nd Class, with swords, 1915

 

George Pigot-Moodie was born in Cape Colony, South Africa, on 3 November 1888 to Scottish parents. The young George was sent to Britain to be educated at Harrow School followed by the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. George was commissioned into the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) from RMC Sandhurst on 19 September 1908.

At the outbreak of the First World War Pigot-Moodie, by then a lieutenant, mobilised with the Greys and departed for France from York on 15 August 1914. He was the Regiment’s machine-gun officer, commanding twenty-nine other ranks armed with three Maxim machine-guns. The Greys were part of the 5th Cavalry Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The 5th Cavalry Brigade was deployed as part of the BEF’s withdrawal, subsequently known as the march ‘Mons to the Marne’ (23 August- 5 September 1914). On 22 August Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie demonstrated the effectiveness of well concealed machine-guns:

Pte. Dykes (Greys) met a patrol of 17 men. Hiding in a wood, the men were allowed to pass. Suddenly Lieut. Pigot-Moodie opened on them with his machine guns at a range of about a mile, and with the first burst hit every man.

For his services in the early engagements of the war Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie was among thirteen of all ranks of the Greys mentioned in dispatches by the commander of the BEF, Sir John French, on 8 October 1914.

On 1 January 1915 a new decoration for bravery was established, the Military Cross (MC), reserved for junior officers and warrant officers. Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie was the first officer of the 2nd Dragoons and the first from any of the antecedent regiments of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to receive the award; indeed, he was one of the first in the British Army to receive it.

Pigot-Moodie 1915 - alteredAbove: Captain George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie on the Western Front, 1915

 

In 1915 Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie’s distinguished service, represented by his MC and mention in dispatches, was recognised by the Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, by the award of the 2nd Class of the Order of St Anne, with swords. Pigot-Moodie was among a number of all ranks of the Greys to be awarded Russian decorations for gallantry and brave conduct on 24 September 1915.

On 16 October 1915 Pigot-Moodie was promoted substantive captain, on secondment from the Regiment. Almost a year later, on 3 September, he was promoted temporary major and, owing to his previous experience, was placed in command of a Machine-Gun School within the newly-formed Machine-Gun Corp. Within a month, on 11 November 1916, Pigot-Moodie was promoted temporary lieutenant-colonel in the Machine-Gun Corps (Infantry).

Pigot-Moodie received his second Mention in Dispatches on 13 November 1916 in a dispatch from the BEF’s commander, Sir Douglas Haig. From 1917 Pigot-Moodie served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) as part of XX Corps as a Corps Machine-Gun Officer. His third Mention in Despatches was in March 1919 from the commander of the EEF, Sir Edmund Allenby.

With the Armistice declared on 11 November 1918, Pigot-Moodie left the disbanding Machine-Gun Corps, relinquished his temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel and returned to the 2nd Dragoons, reverting to the rank of captain.

On 1 October 1932 Pigot-Moodie was promoted lieutenant-colonel to command The Royal Scots Greys, a post which he held for four years. In mid-1934, in order to raise the profile of the Regiment in its native Scotland and as an aid to recruiting, Pigot-Moodie led 21 officers and 250 men, 200 grey horses and the Regiment’s supporting motor transport on a 470-mile march through the country.

IMG_4643Above: Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie pictured with his personal trumpeter during the 470-mile ride of the Royal Scots Greys in Scotland, July – August, 1934

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie relinquished command of the Regiment in Aldershot on 1 October 1936 and was promoted to the rank of colonel on the same day. Colonel Pigot-Moodie joined the list of officers on the Half Pay List pending further employment before moving to the Retired List in August 1938.

During the Second World War Colonel Pigot-Moodie appears to have been re-employed, possibly commanding a Pioneer Brigade in Eastern Command between 1944-45, though details of this are vague and await further research. He was finally retired and promoted to the honorary rank of Brigadier on 29 December 1945. In about 1952 it is thought Brigadier Pigot-Moodie returned to South Africa or Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He died in South Africa on 14 June 1959.

Brigadier Pigot-Moodie’s orders, decorations and medals will be put on temporary display prior to forming part of a permanent display on the First World War in the planned large-scale refurbishment of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum galleries.

 

Paul Newman
Assistant Curator
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) Regimental Museum

Stephen Wood MSA, FSA
Curatorial Adviser

www.scotsdgmuseum.com

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A particularly sociable Sentinel

Sentinel steam waggon acquired by Grampian Transport Museum in 2000 with an NFA grant of £15,200. Mike Ward wrote about the acquisition of the Sentinel in a post published on 19 March. Now he’s back with an update on what has been a busy summer for this popular vehicle as it took part in events to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

Of all historic vehicles, steamers are most often credited with ‘being alive’. There is something about steam … it is almost a natural, living source of power and if that’s true perhaps steam vehicles are the most likely to have personalities.

Fifteen years ago the NFA helped Grampian Transport Museum purchase V 3507, a 1914 Sentinel steam waggon (Sentinel’s spelling!) It turned out to be the sole surviving complete and working Glasgow-built example, new to Alexander Runcie, a Carrier from Inverurie close by the museum.

Copyright of Grampian Transport Museum

The Sentinel steam waggon out on the road

We coaxed the old steamer back into safe working condition and decided to treat it as a working exhibit. After some careful thought it was agreed that with safe mounting steps and temporary seating it could give passenger rides on special occasions. This was a great success from the outset, although some among us thought it a little irregular to give rides on the back of a lorry.

Imagine our surprise, therefore, to discover as our researches continued, photographs of V 3507 giving rides to large groups of school children during the First World War. This old steamer had done it all before and on a huge scale. During the war government took over the railways and all pleasure excursions were banned. This was particularly significant in the Aberdeen area as the town was a vitally important port and railhead for supporting the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. The Great North of Scotland Railway’s network was overloaded with traffic. As losses mounted on the Western Front, Sandy Runcie stepped in and began to organise outings for local children to lift the mood and boost failing morale. He did this throughout the war with picnic excursions to local beauty spots, even carrying up to 145 people to church on Sundays. After the war this unofficial home front war work was commented on in the press.

Rev John Cook with Sentinel crew on a tour of local war memorials, 3 August 2014

Rev John Cook with Sentinel crew on a tour of local war memorials, 3 August 2014

With the centenary of the start of the war on 3rd August 2014, V 3507 had its own commemoration. The waggon carried our local Minister and members of his congregation on a tour of the local war memorials where services of remembrance were held. All agreed that the old waggon was like a ‘living’ link to those dark days. It seemed like a natural thing for this particularly sociable Sentinel to do.

 

Mike Ward MBE
Curator
Grampian Transport Museum
www.gtm.org.uk

 

 

Gone but not forgotten

Bronze miniature, Cambuslang 1914, 1922, by Alexander Proudfoot, acquired by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture in 2014 with an NFA grant of £114.

A couple of months ago I found myself sitting at home browsing the online catalogue of a local auction house. A listing for a statue of a soldier jumped out at me. I have a deep interest in military history so went in for a closer look. The statue was a miniature of the figure that appears on the war memorial in the town of Cambuslang. I realised this would be an interesting object for the museum collection. The statue has further local significance given that the sculptor based the figure on the first man from Cambuslang to be killed in the First World War. John McAlpine was serving in the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch Regiment when he was killed on 11th November 1914. At the time of his death, John was 37 years old, married and father to six children. Private McAlpine has no known grave and is instead commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

Bronze miniature of fig on Cambuslang War Memorial 2

Bronze miniature of John McAlpine by Alexander Proudfoot

At work, we agreed this was definitely worth bidding for, assuming funds were available. The auction was taking place in less than a week, so we had to move fast. I contacted the NFA to see if an application could be turned around in time, and was given very useful help and encouragement. I submitted the application and was duly informed that the NFA was able to offer us match funding.

Cambuslang Cenotaph 4

Cambuslang War Memorial showing the full-size figure of John McAlpine. Image courtesy of the Friends of Low Parks Museum Society

The day of the auction finally came. We had decided to bid by telephone and I remember standing in my garden waiting on the call, terrified that my mobile signal would fail and we’d miss our chance. Thankfully our bid was successful and we received the statue in time to display as our ‘Object of the Month’ for November. Tuesday 11th November, Remembrance Day, marks the 100th anniversary of John McAlpine’s death – with his memorial figure on display in Low Parks Museum in Hamilton, we will ensure that he and all his fallen comrades are remembered.

 

Barrie Duncan
Assistant Museums Officer
South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd

www.slleisureandculture.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

A Highland Officer’s Dress Dirk

As we commemorate the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, we take a look at an object closely associated with one Scot’s experience of the conflict, an officer’s dirk acquired by Mallaig Heritage Centre in 2014 with an NFA grant of £1,220.

Dirk and scabbard

Lt John Hay Caldwell’s dirk and scabbard

This Cameron Highlanders dirk was made by the Edinburgh firm of Marshall & Aitken in 1914 for Lieutenant John Hay Caldwell who was commissioned into the regiment in January 1914, only seven months before the outbreak of the First World War. Lt Caldwell was the only son of William Caldwell, an Edinburgh paper manufacturer who had taken up residence at Morar Lodge, near Mallaig, at some time between 1901 and 1911. After serving with the 3rd and 5th battalions of the Cameron Highlanders, Lt Caldwell was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps early in 1917, training as a pilot at Cambusbarron near Stirling and joining 63rd Squadron in Mesopotamia in August that year. While on a reconnaissance mission behind Turkish lines on 12 January 1918 his plane was forced to land. Somehow he avoided capture but died from exhaustion and exposure some 10 days later while trying to make his way back to the British lines. The dirk does not appear on the list of his personal possessions which were sent back to Britain in March 1918 and then forwarded to Morar railway station; it was probably among other items of kit which were sold at auction for a total of £67.13s.

Dirk and case

Dirk and case

The dirk has a long history in Scotland as an effective weapon that was more affordable and versatile than the sword. It was a common item in the Highlands until the wearing of Highland dress and weapons was forbidden following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746. At one time all soldiers in Scottish regiments carried dirks, but from the end of the 18th century, as the musket and bayonet was adopted as the ordinary weapon of the rank and file, they were worn only by officers and by pipe and drum majors and became more of a status symbol than a weapon of war. Each regiment adopted its own design, with some having silver mounts and others gilt. Due to the requirements for kilts, trews, plaid broaches, dirks and other costly dress items, officers commissioned into Highland regiments had a much higher uniform allowance than those in regular infantry regiments. Dirks were commonly worn up until the First World War, after which dress regulations changed and they were seldom used.

The Morar War Memorial which forms the entrance to Kilchuimein cemetery

The Morar War Memorial which forms the entrance to Kilchuimein cemetery

The Caldwell family continued to live at Morar Lodge after the War. Lt Caldwell’s sisters presented funds to build a clinic in his memory which was erected in Mallaig for the Morar and Knoydart District Nursing Association. The Morar War Memorial, on which John Hay Caldwell and others from the district are commemorated, was designed by his brother-in-law the cartoonist Kenneth Bird (1887-1965) who worked under the pen name ‘Fougasse’. Bird had himself been badly wounded at the Battle of Gallipoli and contributed his first cartoon for Punch magazine in 1916 while recovering from his injuries. He would go on to become editor of Punch and became well known during the Second World War for the series of Government posters he designed on the theme ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’.

Malcolm Poole
Curator
Mallaig Heritage Centre

http://www.mallaigheritage.org.uk