British Highland Officer’s Cross Hilt Sword
The Victorian Highland Light Infantry sword (with field service cross hilt) for Ernest Montagu Leith (1888-1971), winner of the Military Cross during WW1. Captain Leith served with the 1/5 City of Glasgow Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Highland Light Infantry, commissioning as 2nd Lieutenant in 1912 and reaching Captain by 1917 (back-dated to 1916). He served through WW1, including at Gallipoli, was Mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (London Gazette 20 May 1918) and was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Roumania (Romania) and Chevalier of the Military Order of Avis (Portugal). His Military Cross citation, as featured in the London Gazette of 14 March 1916 reads:
“Lieutenant Ernest Montagu Leith, 1/5th (City of Glasgow) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, Territorial Force. For conspicuous gallantry when commanding grenade parties in an attack. All the officers and several men were wounded, but he at once established and held a barricade, reorganised his party behind it, and, at a critical moment, assured the success of the attack”.
The sword has a 32 inch double-edged blade and has the field service cruciform hilt fitted, with the extended langets particular to the Highland Light Infantry pattern. The blade is bright and etching clean, with thistles and the VR cypher showing that it dates to pre-1901. This means that Leith presumably got this sword second-hand, perhaps handed down from a family member or fellow officer, but we know it was Leith’s because he wrote his name on the scabbard strap (pictured). The sword also comes complete with a transit/storage bag, which has a weather-proofed outer skin and is lined with chamois.