In the second week of 9 August, under the command of Sir John French, the first units of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) landed in Boulogne. Due to strict censorship, it was a further week before an official dispatch informed the people of Britain and Ireland that 'the Expeditionary Force as detailed for Foreign Service has been safely landed on French soil'. The men and 40,000 horses of the BEF disembarked in three separate ports - Boulogne, Le Havre and Rouen where they arrived to enthusiastic welcomes.
The first Scottish detachment to set foot in France was the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. They disembarked at Boulogne on 11 August and marched to the sound of their regimental pipes playing 'Hielan' Laddie', 'Cock o' the North' and 'The Road to the Isles'. One onlooker claimed that the docks at Boulogne were 'hit by waves of khaki and tartan'. Prior to leaving for France, a decision was made by the Argylls that it would be diplomatic to give a bagpipe rendition of 'La Marseillaise' on arrival. As the assembled dignitaries and local crowds enthusiastically watched, the Argylls formed up and the pipers gave a rousing rendition of the French National anthem. To repay the compliment, a French brass band played 'Auld Lang Syne'. The Auld Alliance was secured.
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