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Unit History: King's Own Scottish Borderers

King's Own Scottish Borderers The King’s Own Scottish Borderers were raised in Edinburgh in 1689 by David Leslie, 3rd Earl of Leven, following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Prince William of Orange was invited to take the throne by the English Lords becoming King William III and deposing James II.

The Regiment was soon in action at the Battle of Killiecrankie, when James II raised an army and attempted to retake the throne. Although the government army was defeated at this battle, a Regimental volley killed the Jacobite commander Viscount Dundee (Bonny Dundee) and was granted the privilege of recruiting ‘by beat of drum’ without prior permission. This Jacobite uprising was short lived, the rebels were defeated at the Battle of the Boyne and James II was unable to save his throne.

In 1715 James Stuart the son of James II raised the Scottish clans and attempted to regain the crown and the Regiment was again in action against Jacobite rebels at the Battle of Sheriffmuir (1715). In 1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie (grandson of James II) attempted to regain the lost crown to the Stuart family, by once again raising the Scottish clans into rebellion and the Regiment fought at the Battle of Culloden (1746), making it the only Regiment to fight during all 3 Jacobite rebellions. In 1747 the Regimental naming system was simplified from designating Regiments after the current colonel to a numerical title according to seniority, therefore ‘Semphill's Regiment of Foot’ became the 25th Regiment of Foot. The Regiment went on to serve during the Seven Years War (1754–1763) fighting at the Battle of Minden breaking 10,000 French cavalry. In 1782 all British Regiments without Royal titles were granted county titles in order to aid recruitment, therefore the 25th became The 25th (Sussex) Regiment of Foot.

During the French Revolutionary War (1792–1802) the Regiment supplied Marine parties for service in the Mediterranean, the English Channel and the North Sea. A second Battalion was raised in 1795 to quell a slave revolt in Grenada, en route to the West Indies two ships were captured by the French and the men of the Regiment were placed in irons. The men managed to overpower the French and turned the ships back towards Grenada. In 1799 the Regiment was part of the Helder Campaign during the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) and took part in the battle at Egmont-op-Zee. The campaign had two objectives: to neutralize the Batavian fleet and to promote an uprising against the Batavian government. The Anglo-Russian forces brokered a deal in order to be able to evacuate from the peninsula after defeat at the Battle of Castricum (1799). The Regiment returned to the West Indies to capture Martinique (1809) and Guadeloupe (1811), where more men were lost through disease than combat.

In 1805 the title of King’s Own Borderers was awarded by King George III becoming the 25th (King’s Own Borderers) Regiment of Foot. In 1873 the Regiment was re-designated ‘The York Regiment (King’s Own Borderers)’. However in 1881 it moved to a new Depot at Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks in Northumberland and in 1887 the national origins of Regiments were recognised and it acquired the title ‘The King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ (KOSB). The Regiment was also affectionately known as the "Kosbies" but was never used within the Regiment. It went on to serve during the Second Anglo-Boer War and two World Wars.

In 2004, as part of the British Government's defence review, it was announced that the Scottish Division would lose an infantry battalion. Campaigners against the amalgamation argued that the government did not have the right to merge or disband a Regiment raised by the independent Scottish Parliament prior to the foundation of the United Kingdom. They were unsuccessful and on the 1st Aug 2006 the King's Own Scottish Borderers was merged with the Royal Scots forming the Royal Scots Borderers. In May 2006 it was further amalgamated with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the Black Watch, The Highlanders and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

King's Own Scottish Borderers during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy rivalling that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph's the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised 14 Battalions and was awarded 66 Battle Honours and 4 Victoria Crosses losing 7,740 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed in Lucknow, India at the outbreak of war and were recalled to England.
02.11.1914 Set sail from Bombay arrived in Egypt 17.11.1914.
28.12.1914 Arrived in Plymouth, then moved to Warley in January and on to Rugby to join the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division.
18.03.1915 Mobilised for war and sailed for Egypt from Avonmouth.
30.03.1915 Arrived in Mudros, Greece.
25.04.1915 Landed at Gallipoli, where they were involved in various actions on the Gallipoli peninsular.
08.01.1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Alexandria.
18.03.1916 Moved to Marseilles where the Division was involved in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges.
During 1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle, The Battle of Cambrai.
During 1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines 1918, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bailleul, The Action of Outtersteene Ridge, The capture of Ploegsteert and Hill 63, The Battle of Ypres 1918, The Battle of Courtrai.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Celles, S.W. Renaix. This Division was one of those selected to occupy Germany at the Rhine bridgehead, demobilization was not complete until March 1919.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed in Dublin, Ireland at the outbreak of war and joined the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division.
15.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Harvre, France where the Division was involved in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines, The First Battle of Ypres
During 1915
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60
During 1916
The Attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy,
Dec 1917 Moved to Italy in an effort to strength Italian resistance.
07.04.1918 Recalled back to France and once again engaged in action on the Western Front;
During 1918
The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Epehy, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle and The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France near Le Quesnoy.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed in Dumfries, Scotland at the outbreak of war.
09.08.1914 Moved to Portland and Weymouth, Dorset.
April 1915 Moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Dec 1917 Station at Templemore, Ireland
May 1918 Stations at Claremorris, Ireland.

1/4th (The Border) Battalion Territorial Forces
04.08.1914 Stationed at Galashiels, Scottish Borders and part of the South Scottish Brigade of the Lowland Division then moved to Cambusbarron near Stirling.
11.05.1915 Became the 155th Brigade of the 52nd Division.
24.05.1915 Mobilised for war and sailed for Gallipoli from Liverpool.
14.06.1915 Arrived in Gallipoli via Alexandria and were engaged in various action including;
During 1915
Gully Ravine, Achi Baba Nullah, Krithia Nullahs.
During 1916
The evacuation of Helles.
08.01.1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Alexandria via Mudros. Then were involved in the defence of No 3 Section of the Suez Canal as well as various other actions in the area including;
During 1917
The First, Second and Third Battles of Gaza, Wadi el Hesi, El Maghar, The capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil, The Battle of Jaffa.
17.04.1918 Moved to Marseilles where the Division was involved in various action on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Sirault, N.W. Mons

1/5th (Dumfries & Galloway) Battalion Territorial Forces
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dumfries, Scotland and part of the South Scottish Brigade of the Lowland Division then moved to Bannockburn near Stirling.
11.05.1915 Became the 155th Brigade of the 52nd Division.
21.05.1915 Mobilised for war and sailed for Gallipoli from Liverpool.
06.06.1915 Arrived in Gallipoli via Mudros and were engaged in various action including;
During 1915
Gully Ravine, Achi Baba Nullah, Krithia Nullahs.
During 1916
The evacuation of Helles.
07.01.1916 Evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Alexandria via Mudros and were involved in the defence of No 3 Section of the Suez Canal as well as being involved in various action including;
During 1917
The First, Second and Third Battles of Gaza, Wadi el Hesi, El Maghar, The capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil, The Battle of Jaffa.
17.04.1918 Moved to Marseilles, France.
28.06.1918 Transferred to the 103rd Brigade of the 34th Division where the Division was involved in various action on the Western Front including;
The Battle of the Soissonais and of the Ourcq, The capture of Baigneux Ridge, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem, The action of Tieghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in France, Halluin.

2/4th (The Border) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Galashiels, Scottish Borders
Jan 1915 Joined the 194th Brigade of the 65th Division.
Aug 1915 Moved to Hawick, Scottish Borders.
Nov 1915 Combined with the 2/5th Battalion to form the No. 14 Battalion in the 194th Brigade.

2/5th (Dumfries & Galloway) Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed at Dumfries.
Jan 1915 Joined the 194th Brigade of the 65th Division.
Aug 1915 Moved to Rumbling Bridge, and Milnathort, Perth Scotland.
Nov 1915 Combined with the 2/5th Battalion to form the No. 14 Battalion in the 194th Brigade and moved to Falkirk.
Jan 1916 Absorbed 2/4th Battalion
Feb 1916 Moved to Chelmsford, Essex.
Jan 1917 Moved to Ballykinler, Ireland
15.05.1918 Disbanded in Curragh, Ireland.

3/4th and 3/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Jan & Mar 1914 Formed at Galashiels and Dumfries, Scottish Borders
Early 1916 Moved to Ripon, Harrogate.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th and 5th (Reserve) Battalions.
01.09.1916 5th Battalion absorbed by the 4th Battalion at Catterick, North Yorkshire, in the Lowland Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1917 Moved to Dunfermline, Fife where it remained.

6th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Berwick-on-Tweed as part of the First New Army (K1), then moved to Bordon, East Hampshire and joined the 28th Brigade of the 9th Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Bramshott, East Hampshire.
12.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne, France where they were engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Le Transloy.
06.05.1916 Transferred to 27th Brigade of the 9th Division and continued to engage in action on the Western Front;
During 1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The action of Welsh Ridge
During 1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel, The Second Battle of Kemmel.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium near Courtrai. This Division was one of those selected to occupy Germany at the Cologne bridgehead, demobilization was not complete until February 1919.

7th and 8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Berwick-on-Tweed as part of the Second New Army (K2), then moved to Bordon, East Hampshire and joined the 46th Brigade of the 15th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Winchester, Hampshire.
April 1915 Moved to Salisbury Plain (Park House & Chisledon Camps).
10.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne, France where they were engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Loos
During 1916
The Actions of Spring 1916, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Le Transloy,
28.05.1916 Amalgamated with the 8th Battalion to form the 7/8th Battalion and continued to engage in action on the Western Front with the 15th Division;
During 1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Pilckem, The Battle of Langemark.
During 1918
The First Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais, The Battles of the Marne, The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium Tongres-Notre-Dame, south of Ath.

9th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Portland as a service Battalion in the Fourth New Army (K4), and joined the 102nd Brigade of the original 34th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Dorchester.
10.04.1915 Became the Second Reserve Battalion.
June 1915 Moved to Stobs Military Camp, Hawick.
Oct 1915 Moved to Catterick, North Yorkshire in the 12th reserve brigade.
April 1916 Moved to Kinghorn, Fife.
01.09.1916 Became the 53rd Training Reserve Battalion in the 12th Reserve Brigade.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
11.06.1918 Formed in Lederzeele, France as the 9th Garrison Guard Battalion then became the 10 (Garrison) Battalion in the 120th Brigade of the 40th Division.
13.07.1918 Became a service Battalion
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium near Pecq East of Roubaix.

King's Own Scottish Borderers during WW2

WW2 The Kings Own Scottish Borders

1st Battalion:
In late 1939: The Battalion set sail for France with the BEF (3rd Infantry Division).
May 1940: They crossed the Belgian frontier and were ordered to withdraw from the overwhelming enemy.
31 May - 01 June 1940: It was evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
06 June 1944: Returned to France on D-Day and landed at ‘Queen’ Beach. It fought around Caen until the enemy surrendered. It then advanced north through Belgium and Holland to the Rhine and Bremen.

2nd Battalion:
September 1939: The Battalion was serving in India when war broke out.
September 1943: Having undergone jungle training in India it sailed with the 7th (Indian) Division to Burma. They crossed into the Arakan, and took part in the critical actions at Ngakydauk Pass and in the ‘Admin Box’, where 2 COs were killed.
Later with the same Division the Battalion were flown to the central front at Imphal.
Early in 1945: They marched towards the Irrawaddy River and took part in the assault that turned the Irrawaddy line.
May 1945: The Battalions last battle took place at Prome in Burma.

4th and 5th (Territorial) Battalions:
13 June 1940: The Battalions landing at St. Malo in France and was attached to the 52nd (Lowland) Division, forming part of a second BEF.
18 June 1940: A long with the 2nd BEF they were evacuated from Cherbourg. The Battalions then trained as mountain troops and later as air-transportable troops.
1944 in autumn: They made assault landings on Walcheren Island, at the mouth of the River Scheldt. They fought through into Germany, taking part in the capture of Bremen.

6th and 7th Battalions:
The Battalions were initially both in the 15th (Scottish) Division (were duplicates of the 4th and 5th Battalions).
15 June 1944: In the same Division Battalions landed on the Normandy beaches. They were involved in the fierce battles around Caen and the River Odon and continually fought through France, Belgium and Holland, and crossing the Siegfried Line, they advanced across the Rhine into Germany, ending the war just beyond Hamburg.
September 1944: The 7th Battalion by now had become part Glider-Borne Troops of the 1st Air landing Brigade, 1st Airborne Division, were flown into the dropping zones at Arnhem (code name Operation Market-Garden). They found themselves surrounded by an enemy force not only superior in numbers but also equipped with tanks. They courageously fought but were overwhelmed.
25 September 1944: When the order to retreat was given the 740 strong Battalion had been reduced to 4 Officers and 72 men.
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Battles / Campaigns

Marne (1914) WW1

2nd Kings Own Scottish Borderers were attached to 13th Infantry Brigade 5th Division and was part of the British Expeditionary Force (John French, serving as the first Commander-in-Chief of the BEF)

The First Battle of the Marne fought between 5 and 12 September 1914 marked the end of the German sweep into France and the beginning of the trench warfare that was to characterise World War One.
It was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them.

Germany's grand Schlieffen Plan to conquer France entailed a wheeling movement of the northern wing of its armies through central Belgium to enter France near Lille. It would turn west near the English Channel and then south to cut off the French retreat. If the plan succeeded, Germany's armies would simultaneously encircle the French Army from the north and capture Paris.

A French offensive in Lorraine prompted German counter-attacks that threw the French back onto a fortified barrier. Their defence strengthened, they could send troops to reinforce their left flank - a redistribution of strength that would prove vital in the Battle of the Marne. The German northern wing was weakened further by the removal of 11 divisions to fight in Belgium and East Prussia. The German 1st Army, under Kluck, then swung north of Paris, rather than south west, as intended. This required them to pass into the valley of the River Marne across the Paris defences, exposing them to a flank attack and a possible counter-envelopment.

On 3 September, Joffre ordered a halt to the French retreat and three days later his reinforced left flank began a general offensive. Kluck was forced to halt his advance prematurely in order to support his flank: he was still no further up the Marne Valley than Meaux.

On 9 September Bülow learned that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was advancing into the gap between his 2nd Army and Kluck. He ordered a retreat, obliging Kluck to do the same. The counterattack of the French 5th and 6th Armies and the BEF developed into the First Battle of the Marne, a general counter-attack by the French Army. By 11 September the Germans were in full retreat.

This remarkable change in fortunes was caused partially by the exhaustion of many of the German forces: some had marched more than 240km (150 miles), fighting frequently. The German advance was also hampered by demolished bridges and railways, constricting their supply lines, and they had underestimated the resilience of the French.

The Germans withdrew northward from the Marne and made a firm defensive stand along the Lower Aisne River. Here the benefits of defence over attack became clear as the Germans repelled successive Allied attacks from the shelter of trenches: the First Battle of the Aisne marked the real beginning of trench warfare on the Western Front.

In saving Paris from capture by pushing the Germans back some 72km (45 miles), the First Battle of the Marne was a great strategic victory, as it enabled the French to continue the war. However, the Germans succeeded in capturing a large part of the industrial north east of France, a serious blow. Furthermore, the rest of 1914 bred the geographic and tactical deadlock that would take another three years and countless lives to break.

The Battle of Marne was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them. The mobility and destructive power of the numerous French 75 batteries engaged in the Battle of the Marne played a key role in slowing down and then halting German progress everywhere.

Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne, of whom more than 500,000 were killed or wounded. French casualties totalled 250,000, 80,000 of them dead, while British casualties were 13,000, 1,700 of them dead. The Germans suffered 220,000 casualties.
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Active From: 1805 - 2004

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