Letters to the Museum

How the Robertsons Gollies Were Earned

I have visited your site on numerous occasions and must praise your efforts to bring to the attention of all those hurtful emblems of racism, which though perhaps not intended as demeaning or hateful when they were devised, can, with the clarity of time and a wakening up, show how hurtful they must have been.

However, there was one reference which I don't completely agree with. In your Golliwogs section, you make a definitive remark that the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, in Aden in 1967, awarded themselves a Roberston's Golly badge for each Arab rebel killed. You have cited a reference which I am unable to check. I had a relative and family friends with the battalion in Aden, 1967 and they do not agree with your comment. They also feel somewhat aggrieved by it. Considering the media was in the thick of things whilst the Argylls were there, memorable when Mad Mitch and his lads retook the Crater district one night, posting snipers and taking key buildings and Crater awoke next morning to the strains of the Argylls' pipers playing the rest of the Argylls into Crater, it would have been difficult to keep secret such a visual and perfidious reward scheme. It did not make the British papers or TV, so if it did happen and the press did know, then they were party to the whole affair.

However, another website, called britains-smallwars.com, hopefully sheds some light on the subject. This account covers the Argylls predecessors, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers tenure in Aden and sees the arrival of the Argylls.

Yes, there were Robertsons gollies, yes - also - potential Arab enemies were referred to as gollies, but the award was not for shooting real enemies. If you go to the website I have described it, to this page:

http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Aden/AdenLastHours2.html

Read that page and you will see how the Robertsons gollies were earned.

Yours faithfully

L.G., Great Britain
-- April 28, 2008


BACK