|Cap Badge of the Royal Regiment of Scotland|
There have been lots of articles in the newspapers (particularly broadsheets) on the rumours of the latest round of army reorganisations as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The fate of the Royal Regiment of Scotland is of particular interest to the Scottish media and daily articles focus on the response of politicians of all hues to what Philip Hammond at the MoD is planning.
Most politicians and journalists have little grasp of the subject and are making mistakes. The most common one is that the seven battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are still all wearing their own cap badges. That is not correct. All battalions wear the same badge and dress uniform. The badge and uniform were designed by committee to try and retain individual features from the six regular battalions in existence in 2006 when the regiment was formed (two regiments amalgamated into one after the RRS was formed).
We used to use terms like precedence, antecedents, perpetuating and lineage but now this has all been replaced by a snappy little piece of spin called "The Golden Thread". Seemingly this was the promise made in 2005 when the plans were being made for merging the Scottish regiments that individual pieces of the regiments' history would be retained by the new large regiment. It would allow the battalions to rebrand themselves as the Royal Regiment but retain supplementary titles to identify their old regiment e.g. The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS). In practice this meant people use 1 SCOTS instead of the unfamiliar name of the Royal Scots Borderers. Even the old regiments such as the Black Watch and Argylls, who had never merged since 1881, are now commonly called by the MoD’s preferential titles of 3 SCOTS and 5 SCOTS. Another piece of the Golden Thread was that each battalion would distinguish itself from another by the use of a coloured hackle. In some case the hackle was not new. The Royal Highland Fusiliers and Black Watch have used white and red hackles in their Tam o' Shanters for many years. For some battalions though the coloured hackle was a new addition to their bonnets.
What should not have been a surprise to anyone is that at some point in the future after 2006 the MoD would drop the supplementary titles and then reduce the number of battalions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Army has been doing that since the 1960's which we covered in a recent blog post so I won't go into detail of that here.
Instead I'll produce a handy guide to the battalions which make up the Royal Regiment of Scotland. It lists their current name and their lineage, sorry, their Golden Thread. Some regiments like the Royal Scots retained their separate identity, from raising in 1633 to amalgamation in 2006 as part of the Delivering Security in a Changing World review. Others like the Highlanders had been through mergers in 1994 as part of Options for Change; 1961 as part of the 1957 Defence White Paper Review and in 1881 in the Childers Reforms (which we covered here)
Not covered here are the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who chose disbandment over amalgamation at a Conventicle in Douglas in 1968 as part of the 1966 Defence White Paper Review (however a piece of their history is still retained by the Royal Scots Borderers); The Scots Guards who have never been "Scottish Infantry"; the Scottish Yeomanry regiments and the Highland and Lowland Gunners.
Royal Scots Borderers aka 1 SCOTS
Black hackle used by RSB since 2006. Based on Blackcock feathers used by Royal Scots and KOSB in dress uniform. Also used by Cameronians prior to disbandment and the Cameronians’ Lanarkshire recruitment area passed to the KOSB in 1968.
Based at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh.
Primarily recruits from Lothians, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders
Formed in 2006 after amalgamation of Royal Scots, RRS and King's Own Scottish Borderers, RRS
King's Own Scottish Borderers (aka 1 KOSB pre-2006) had been known as 25th King's Own Borderers before 1881. Had been raised in Edinburgh in 1689
Royal Highland Fusiliers aka 2 SCOTS (aka 1 RHF pre-2006)
White hackle. Used by Royal Scots Fusiliers in Tam o'shanter since at least the Second World War. Used by 21st Foot in fusilier cap since 19th Century.
Based at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik
Primarily recruits from Glasgow, and South West Scotland
Formed 1957 after amalgamation of Royal Scots Fusiliers and Highland Light Infantry
Royal Scots Fusiliers had been known as 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers before 1881. Had been raised in 1678
Highland Light Infantry had been formed in 1881 after amalgamation of 71st Highland Light Infantry and 74th Highlanders
71st Highland Light Infantry had been raised in 1777 (as 73rd Highlanders)
74th Highlanders had been raised in 1787
Black Watch aka 3 SCOTS (aka 1 BW pre-2006)
Red hackle. Used by Black Watch for many years; origins debatable, possibly dates back to American war of Independence. Used in Tam o'shanter since First World War
Based at Fort George near Inverness
Primarily recruits from Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus
Formed 1881 after amalgamation of 42nd Royal Highlanders, Black Watch and 73rd Highlanders
42nd Royal Highlanders, Black Watch had been raised in 1739
73rd Highlanders had been raised in 1779 (as 2nd Bn 42nd Highlanders)
The Highlanders aka 4 SCOTS (aka 1 HLDRS pre-2006)
Blue hackle. First used by Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1940. Perpetuated by Queen's Own Highlanders and Highlanders
Based at Fallingbostel, Germany
Primarily recruits from Highlands, Islands, Moray and Aberdeenshire
Formed in 1994 after amalgamation of Queen's Own Highlanders (aka 1 QOHldrs pre-1994) and The Gordon Highlanders (aka 1 GH pre-1994)
Queens Own Highlanders had been formed in 1961 after amalgamation of Seaforth Highlanders and Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Seaforth Highlanders had been formed in 1881 from amalgamation of 72nd Duke of Albany's Highlanders and 78th Highlanders, Ross-shire Buffs
72nd Duke of Albany's Highlanders had been raised in 1778 (as 78th Highlanders)
78th Highlanders, Ross-shire Buffs had been raised in 1793
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders had been renamed in 1881 from the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders had been raised in 1794
The Gordon Highlanders had been formed in 1881 from amalgamation of 75th Stirlingshire Regiment and 92nd Gordon Highlanders
75th Stirlingshire Regiment had been raised in 1787
92nd Gordon Highlanders had been raised in 1794 (as 100th Highlanders)
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders aka 5 SCOTS (aka 1 A and SH pre-2006)
Green hackle. Used by Argylls since 2006. Based at Canterbury, England
Primarily recruits from Argyll & Bute, Dunbartonshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Kinross, Clackmannan, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
Formed 1881 after amalgamation of 91st Argyllshire Highlanders and 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders
91st Argyllshire Highlanders had been raised in 1794 (as 98th Highlanders)
93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders had been raised in 1799
The following two battalions are the Territorial Army battalions of the regiment. Up until 2005 the battalions were made up of individual companies uniformed as their parent regiments, so you would have Black Watch T.A. and Highlanders T.A. serving in the 51st Volunteers. Their battalion hackle colours, which were only introduced in August 2010, were deliberately chosen to not be representative of any former regiment. Purple and green were colours associated with the Highland Division; with green being used by the 5 SCOTS it was an obvious choice of purple for 7 SCOTS.
The history of the Territorial units are too complicated to go into here so a brief explanation of their names is given instead.
52nd Volunteers aka 6 SCOTS
Grey hackle. Used by 52nd Volunteers since 2010
The 52nd Volunteers is the Territorial Army infantry battalion for most of the Lowlands of Scotland. It recruits in the same area as the Royal Scots Borderers and Royal Highland Fusiliers. It was originally formed in 1967 as the 52nd Lowland Volunteers after all the Territorial battalions of the Lowland Regiments were amalgamated into one regiment.
The name is taken from the 52nd (Lowland) Division. This division was numbered in 1915 when the then Territorial Force Lowland Division was sent overseas to Gallipoli. The 52nd (Lowland) Division served with distinction in both World Wars.
51st Volunteers aka 7 SCOTS
Purple hackle. Used by 51st Volunteers since 2010
The 51st Volunteers is the Territorial Army infantry battalion for the Highlands of Scotland. It recruits in the same area as the Black Watch, Highlanders and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It was originally formed in 1967 as the 51st Highland Volunteers after all the Territorial battalions of the Highland Regiments were amalgamated into one regiment.
The name is taken from the 51st (Highland) Division. This division was numbered in 1915 when the then Territorial Force Highland Division was sent overseas to France. The 51st (Highland) Division served with distinction in both World Wars.