The heritage and tradition of Scottish Regiments
Learn something about Scotland's Regiments and their museums. Alternatively, obtain more information by visiting the MoD website.
The Scots Guards were formed in 1642. Originally Commanded by Archibald, First Marquis of Argyle, the regiment was formed to protect Scottish settlers in Ulster and become part of the Royal Guard for Charles 1.
Over the centuries the Regiment has been known by a number of different names such as the Scots Fusilier Guards, before having the present title restored by Queen Victoria in 1877.
The Scots Guards have fought in every major war and campaign that the British Army has been involved in, including The Seven Year War, American Revolution, Napoleonic War, South African War (186 1-1864) World Wars I and II, Malaya, the Falkland Islands 1982 and the Gulf 1991.
In recent years, the 1st Battalion were deployed to Iraq on a 6-month posting as part of the 4th Armoured Brigade in 2004 and again in 2008. This was followed by tours to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012 before the 1st Battalion relinquished the Armoured Infantry Role in 2013 and converting to Mechanized Infantry the following year.
Throughout the Regiment’s long history, 92 battle honours have been awarded and 11 members of the Regiment have won the Victoria Cross.
The Battalion is currently stationed at Mons Barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire, the Army centre of excellence for Mechanized Infantry. The Battalion is made up of three rifle companies, a support weapons company, which includes a reconnaissance, mortar, anti-tank and machine gun platoons, and a Headquarter company.
The Royal Regiment of Scotland was formed on 28 March 2006 after it was announced that Scotland’s Historic Regiments would reform as five regular and two TA battalions, The Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers having amalgamated the same year to form The Royal Scots Borderers.
Battalion titles are as follows:
The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS)
The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS)
The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS)
The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS)
Balaklava Company, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS)
52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (6 SCOTS)
51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (7 SCOTS)
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Scotland’s only Regiment of Cavalry, formed in 1971 through the amalgamation of the 3rd Carabiniers and The Royal Scots Greys. The regiment have served in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo as well as having completed three tours in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan.
Although cavalry regiments do not traditionally have pipe bands, The Royal Scot’s Dragoon Guards are renowned for their outstanding contribution to military music. After the amalgamation of 3rd Carabiniers and The Royal Scots Greys, the bands played together and released an album entitled ‘Farewell to the Greys’. This album featured the bands’ own version of ‘Amazing Grace’ which sold over 1 million copies in one year, earning the band eight ‘gold discs’. The bands album ‘Spirit of the Glen: Journey’ won the Classical Brit Awards 2009 ‘Album of The Year’.
The Regiment’s Home Headquarters is in Edinburgh Castle with the serving regiment based in Leuchars, Fife, where they are based in Waterloo lines and are part of 51 Brigade.
The Royal Scots is the oldest Regiment of the Line in the British Army. The official raising of the regiment was in 1633 when Sir John Hepburn, under a warrant given by King Charles I, recruited 1200 men in Scotland to fight in France. Their first Battle Honour was Tangier 1680 and since then a further 148 have been gained in a history which has involved them in almost every campaign in which the British Army has fought.
During World War I, the Regiment increased to a total of 35 battalions. Seventy nine Battle Honours and 6 VC's were awarded and battalions fought in all areas from the Western Front to Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt and briefly Northern Russia.
At the start of World War II, the 1st Battalion was part of the BEF and after suffering heavy casualties covering the retreat to Dunkirk, many were taken prisoner; whilst the 2nd Battalion bore the brunt of the Japanese attack on Hong Kong. Battalions also fought in Burma, Italy and NW Europe. In post war years, they have seen active service in Korea, Cyprus, Egypt, Aden and the Gulf.
In March 2006, the Regiment merged with the six surviving Regular and two Territorial Regiments of Scottish Infantry to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The 1st Battalion was renamed The Royal Scots Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
In August 2006 that Battalion further merged with The King’s Own Scottish Borderers Battalion to form The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, abbreviated to 1 SCOTS.
1 SCOTS recruits its soldiers from Edinburgh, the Lothians and the former county of Peeblesshire. The Regimental tartan is Hunting Stuart which is worn by all ranks except Pipers who wear the Sovereign's personal tartan, Royal Stuart, an honour granted by King George V to mark the tercentenary of the Regiment in 1933.
This regiment was formed in January 1959 through the Amalgamation of The Royal Scots Fusiliers and The Highland Light Infantry.
The Royal Scots Fusiliers were raised in 1678. Originally known as The Earl of Mar's Regiment, they had several name changes over the years: - Scots Fusiliers, 21st Royal North British Fusiliers, and finally Royal Scots Fusiliers.
The Highland Light Infantry were raised in 1777 as the 73 (Lord McLeod's) Highlanders, were renumbered 71st in 1786, and became the 71st Highland Light Infantry in 1809. Meanwhile the 74th Highland Regiment raised in 1787, had a separate existence until both formed to become the Highland Light Infantry.
In 2006, the 1st Battalion The Royal Highland Fusiliers were further amalgamated to become The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS).
The Regiment and its forebears have fought in most of the major campaigns over the years and carries more than 120 Battle Honours on its colours from Blenheim (1704) to The Gulf (1991). 2 SCOTS are now based in Glencorse Barracks near Edinburgh. The Battalion have completed four operational tours in Afghanistan as part of the Kabuk Security providing protection for UK and NATO personnel in the city.
In early 2015, 2 SCOTS completed an overseas exercise in Kenya and throughout 2014 the Battalion was employed in a high readiness role as the UK Standby Battalion.
The King’s Own Scottish Borderers was created in 1689 as a crisis measure for the defence of Edinburgh against the Jacobites. The Regiment was recruited “by beat of drum” along the Royal Mile (the High Street in the Old Town) of the City of Edinburgh in the record time of two hours with 800 men flocking to join the Earl of Leven to safeguard their city.
The King's Own Scottish Borderers are one of the six infantry regiments which 'gained immortal glory' at the Battle of Minden in 1759 by advancing against a superior force of French Cavalry. This battle commemorated annually on the first of August when the Regiment wear red roses in their headdress following the tradition that the soldiers had picked roses as they advanced through gardens before the battle. This custom was even observed by Borderers in 1944 when they mounted an attack on Minden Day during the invasion of Normandy - for they attached to their helmets the roses which they plucked from the hedgerows.
During the last fifty years the King's Own Scottish Borderers have seen action in Palestine, Korea, Malaya, Aden, Borneo, The Gulf and Iraq. During their deployment in Afghanistan in 2003 the Battalion had added an OBE, a CGC an MC and five mentions in dispatches to the list of regimental honours and awards.
Until 2004 the regiment was one of five in the line infantry never to have been amalgamated. However, The Royal Scots Battalion and King's Own Scottish Borderers Battalion amalgamated on 1 August 2006 with the new battalion taking the name The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The Cameronian Regiment, the 26th of foot was raised in 1689 and took the name of Richard Cameron, a Covenanter, whose efforts to defend the Presbyterian Faith led ultimately to this capture and death in 1680.
In 1881 the Regiment was linked to the Perthshire Light Infantry, the 90th of foot, raised in 1794 in the Lowlands of Perthshire by Thomas Graham (later to become Lord Lynedoch) who achieved fame in the Pennisular War.
The Regiment took part in many campaigns around the world not least the terrible battle of Neuve Chapelle. It saw action in Burma, Sicily, Italy and marched across Europe from Normandy to the Baltic. In more recent times the Regiment served in Trieste, Germany, Jordan, Kenya and Aden and took part in operations in Malaya, and the Arabian Peninsula.
In 1968, as part of the first round of Defence cuts the Regiment chose to disband rather than amalgamate with another Lowland Regiment.
The origins of The Black Watch can be traced back to 1725, when George II requested a series of Independent Companies to watch and patrol areas of the Highlands. The primary purpose of the Companies was to prevent smuggling and cattle rustling following the Jacobite Rising of 1715. The Companies originally wore kilts of locally woven tartan and comprised of groups of local men, most of whom were trusted and respected members of society.
The first combat operation by The Black Watch was at the Battle of Fontenoy in Flanders in 1745, where the regiment distinguished themselves with great bravery and surprised the French with their brutal ferocity. The regiment was renumbered the 42nd Regiment of Foot in 1751 and eventually elevated as the 73rd Perthshire Regiment.
The Black Watch fought during the initial siege of Basra in the 2003 Iraq War and were deployed to Iraq again the following year. In 2004 it was announced that The Black Watch would join The Royal Regiment of Scotland and so in 2006 became The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS).
Between March and September 2015, 3 SCOTS led 250 soldiers from 14 Units to fulfil the UK’s commitment to the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Closer to home, they have provided notable support to the wider UK community. Soldiers assisted with the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the London 2012 Olympics.
3 SCOTS are now based in Fort George near Inverness and are currently a light role Infantry battalion.
Queen's Own Highlanders were an amalgamation of three of the famous Highland regiments raised in the late 18th Century; The 72nd Highlanders (Duke of Albany's Own), The 78th Highlanders (Ross-Shire Buffs) and the 79th Cameron Highlanders, who became Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1873.
The 72nd Highlanders were originally numbered for the 78th Highlanders, they were recruited by the Earl of Seaforth mainly from Ross-Shire and Lewis, and first mustered at Elgin in 1778. They were subsequently renumbered as the 72nd Highlanders. In 1881 they were amalgamated with the 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs) to become the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. The 78th has the emblem of the Assaye Elephant in India in 1803, and the 79th has the Sphinx for their service in Egypt in 1801.
From its formation 1st Battalion Queen's Own Highlanders has served all over the world. Its operational duty has included the Brunei revolt in 1962, the confrontation campaign in Borneo, patrolling the Hong Kong border, the rehabilitation of the Falklands Islands and the Gulf War and many tours of Northern Ireland. Other services abroad included Germany and Berlin, Sharjah, Belize, with regular training exercises in Canada and the USA.
Under the 1980s programme of Defence cuts, Queen's Own Highlanders were amalgamated with the Gordon Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons). They them amalgamated further in 2006 to become The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS).
4 SCOTS are based in North Yorkshire having returned to the UK from Germany in 2015. They have served twice in Iraq and three times in Afghanistan, and were the last Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland to be deployed on combat operations in Afghanistan.
Raised by the 4th Duke of Gordon in 1794, The Gordon Highlanders were numbered the 100th, traditionally recruited from the North East of Scotland. The raising of the Regiment was famously assisted by the Duchess Jean who is said to have offered a kiss to prospective recruits with a guinea between her lips.
In 1798 the Gordons were numbered the 92nd. The Sphinx emblem was awarded for services against the French armies in Egypt in 1801 and the Tiger emblem in 1807 in recognition of the 75th's service in India. Further honours were earned in the Peninsular War and in 1815, the 92nd fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, taking part in the famous 'Scotland for Ever' charge with the Scots Greys.
Service further afield then brought honours in India and Afghanistan and, following amalgamation with the 75th in 1881, the Gordons earned further fame for their victory at the Dargai Heights, where two of the Regiment's 19 Victoria Crosses were won. Six Victoria Crosses were later won during the Boer War.
In the twentieth century, Gordon battalions have fought with distinction and great sacrifice through the two World Wars and have since been involved in operations throughout the world in Malaya, Cyprus, Borneo and Northern Ireland and service in Germany, Singapore and Berlin.
Under the 1980s programme of Defence cuts, The Gordon Highlanders were amalgamated with the Queen's Own Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) and now make up The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS).
The Argyllshire Highlanders (91st) were raised on the 10th February 1794 five years after the raising of the 91st, another Highland Corps, came into being. This was the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders.
For the next eighty years both Regiments fought with distinction all over the world. The 91st served in South Africa and in the Peninsula against Napoleon, during the course of which nine battle honours were gained.
The 93rd's most famous actions were in the Crimea at Alma, Sevastopol and Balaklava where they earned the nickname of the 'Thin Red Line'. During the Indian Mutiny they took part in the relief of Lucknow and won seven Victoria Crosses, six in one day. They also played a heroic part in the Battle of New Orleans.
During the First World War the Regiment raised 7 Battalions, of which 2 Regular, 5 Territorial and 4 service Battalions fought with great distinction in France and Flanders and the Middle East. A further 6 Victoria Crosses were won.
In the Second World War the 1st Battalion fought in Africa, Crete, Abyssinia, Sicily and Italy. The 2nd Battalion fought with great gallantry in Malaya and Singapore. A further two Victoria Crosses were won during the war.
In 1948 the 2nd Battalion was amalgamated with the 1st Battalion which then saw service in Palestine, Korea, British Guiana, Berlin, Suez, Cyprus, BAOR, Singapore, Borneo, Aden, Hong Kong and the Falklands.
As part of the restructuring of the British Army's infantry in 2006, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were amalgamated into the seven battalion strong The Royal Regiment of Scotland. Following a further round of defence cuts announced in July 2012 the 5th Battalion was reduced to a rifle company called Balaklava Company, The Royal Regiment of Scotland. 5 SCOTS are now based at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.
52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (6 SCOTS) is one of two Army Reserve battalions within The Royal Regiment of Scotland. 6 SCOTS is a light role Infantry Battalion, operating from Army Reserve centres across the central belt and lowlands of Scotland.
6 SCOTS are also known for their Military Music, The Lowland Band, who provide brass, wind and concert bands. The role of the Lowland Band is to provide musical support to the military in Scotland on ceremonial occasions. Engagements include Royal Garden Parties, State Banquets, Guards of Honour at Holyrood Palace and Gun Salutes at both Stirling and Edinburgh Castles.
51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (7 SCOTS) is the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) Infantry Battalion for the North of Scotland. The Battalion Headquarters are based in Perth with Company and Platoon locations also being stationed at Army Reserve Centres in Dundee, Aberdeen, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Elgin, Stornoway, Dumbarton and Stirling. Their paired Regular Battalion is The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) forming part of 51 Infantry Brigade.
An essential part of 7 SCOTS life is music, with the talented Pipes and Drums training at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in Edinburgh. It also has its own Military Band known as The Highland Band The Royal Regiment of Scotland which is formed from gifted Army Reserve musicians. The Highland Band strive to maintain and build the repertoire of Scottish music, to keep alive the folk / ceilidh band tradition and to promote the work of composers who have served in one or other of the Scottish regiments.