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Chapter 4 THE KING’S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS The Regiment was formed in the space of two hours on 18th March 1689 in Edinburgh by David Leslie, 3rd Earl of Leven in support of the Scottish Parliament (The Convention). In July 1689 at the Battle of Killiecrankie, Leven’s Regiment had its baptism of fire and, though on the losing side, stood its ground until ordered to withdraw. The opponents were the Highlanders under Bonnie Dundee, who died of wounds received in the Battle. Recognition of the fighting spirit of Leven’s Regiment came at once in the spontaneous conferment by the Provost and magistrates of Edinburgh, of the Regiments exclusive privilege to recruit by Beat of Drum in the City any day, except Sunday, without asking the permission of the Lord Provost. A right that has been exercised regularly ever since.

Over the next 317 years The King’s Own Scottish Borderers have been engaged in many parts of the world serving with great distinction as soldiers of the Crown. Namur, Fontenoy, The West Indies, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Burma, Borneo, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibralter, Holland, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, USA, Zimbabwe to name but a few countries. Perhaps the Regiment’s proudest battle honour was gained on 1st August 1759 at the Battle of Minden. It was here that the British Infantry won immortal glory and world renown. The battle is celebrated every year with the traditional presentation of a rose to each soldier. Roses were plucked from the gardens of Minden by the men of the Regiment as they went forward and were then worn in their bonnets throughout the battle.


The 1st Battalion fought in Korea with great distinction from April 1951 to August 1952. The following awards were made: VC - Pte Speakman, DSO (5), MC (5), DCM (3), MM (12), MBE (2), BEM (1), MID 23) In May 1937 Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester was appointed the first Colonel of the Regiment and was to remain so until her death on the 29th October 2004. Being the daughter of the 8th Duke of Buccleuch she was no stranger to the Regiment. For 67 years she took an enormous interest in the Regiment and all it did throughout the world. The Regimental recruiting area covers the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and since the demise of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Lanarkshire. The wearing of the distinctive Leslie tartan as trews in honour of the Earl of Leven was not authorised until 1898, and even these were not issued to the rank and file until 1904. The Regimental pipers wear Royal Stewart Tartan Kilts.

The 1st Battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia in the Gulf War of 2001 and was involved in operations in Iraq and Kuwait. In June 2003 the 1st Battalion again deployed to Iraq for six months. During this tour there were many instances of Bravery and courage resulting in Corporal Jardine being awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and Corporal Currie the Military Cross. This was the first time that the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross had been awarded to a member of the Regiment. Likewise this was to be the first Military Cross to be awarded to a JNCO. On return the Battalion moved to Northern Ireland for two years before returning to Scotland to end 317 years of loyal service to the Crown. The Regiment amalgamated with The Royal Scots on 1 August 2006 to form The Royal Scots Borderers. BATTLE OF MINDEN – 1ST AUGUST 1759 Of this battle, one of the crucial engagements of the Seven Years War, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, commander of the allied British, Hanoverian and Hessian armies, remarked, ‘It was here that the British Army gained immortal glory.’


At 0700 hours on August 1st 1759, a column of British and Hanoverian troops under the command of General von Sporcken emerged from woodland and marched on to Minden Heath. Von Sporcken’s force was made up of the British light artillery, six British Regiments (the 12th, 20th 23rd, 25th, 37th and 51st Regiments of Foot) and two battalions of Hanoverian guards. The 12th, 23rd and 27th Foot were brigaded together under General Waldegrave, and the 20th, 25th and 51st Foot were under the command of Brigadier Kingsley. Directly across the heath, a kilometre away, was the French Cavalry, commanded by the Duc de FitzJames. As the column halted, a messenger arrived from Prince Ferdinand with an order to advance ‘on sound of drum’; however this was misinterpreted as ‘by sound of drum’, and accordingly von Sporcken’s column advanced, drums beating, towards the centre of the French cavalry. When they had advanced to within 500 metres of the enemy lines, FitzJames ordered his first line of cavalry into attack. Twelve squadrons charged von Sporcken’s small force, and were halted by disciplined volleys at 40 paces. The second line of French cavalry was ordered into the attack with similar results. Von Sporcken’s men closed up their ranks and advanced into the gap where the two lines of French cavalry had been. By doing so, they exposed their right flank to the French infantry, and the order was given for the 12th and 37th Foot to wheel and show their front to the enemy. A fierce fight followed, but British discipline and superior musketry prevailed and the French fell back. A further attack by French Grenadiers was repulsed, whereupon the allies came under fire from the left flank of the French army. Kingsley’s Brigade (20th, 25th and 51st Foot) turned to face the assault, and again superior British musketry stemmed the attack. As the French infantry retreated, their reserve cavalry went into the attack. 2000 French Gendarmes and Carabiniers bore down on von Sporcken’s Division in an enveloping movement towards the left flank and rear. As the cavalry tore through the allied lines, the rear ranks of Kingsley’s Brigade turned round, so that the French found themselves caught between the fire of Kingsley’s battalions and that of an advancing allied relief force. The main body of the French cavalry had been broken, and, uniquely, by unsupported infantry. 1 officer and 19 men of the 25th Regiment of Foot lost their lives in the battle; 7 officers and 119 other ranks were wounded, and 9 other ranks were posted missing. On the 1st January


1801, the 25th Regiment of Foot was awarded MINDEN as a Battle Honour to be borne upon its Colours. KOWANG-SAN, KOREA 4th/5th NOVEMBER 1951 On the night of the 4th/5th November 1951, the 1st Battalion KOSB were holding positions on a number of prominences which formed an arc around Kowang-San (Point 355). Throughout the day they had been subjected to a concentrated barrage of shell and mortar fire, and as night fell, the Chinese infantry advanced. ‘C’ Company on a feature code-named HINGE received the first assault at 1615 hours, and after two hours of fierce close-quarter fighting, were forced to withdraw to the reserve company. In the meantime, the enemy had been systematically destroying the forward defences of ‘B’ Company’s position, UNITED. The survivors from these positions joined the remainder of the Company on the reverse slopes of UNITED. By 1730 hours, the high point of UNITED (Point 217) had been overrun. However, ‘B’ Company remained in their positions and by the light of parachute flares inflicted heavy

casualties on the enemy as they advanced wave upon wave over the crest. It was at this time that Private Bill Speakman decided to take the initiative. He collected a large pile of hand grenades, and led a party of six men in a series of grenade charges to try and drive the enemy off the position. When the order to withdraw was given, ‘amid an inferno of enemy machinegun and mortar fire, as well as grenades’, he led a final charge to clear the crest of the hill, holding it until the remainder of his Company withdrew. By this time (midnight) most of the forward companies had been overrun, although ‘D’ Company still held part of their position on PEAK. On the feature known as KNOLL, 7 Platoon, ‘C’ Company and 11 Platoon, ‘D’ Company still held out. 2nd Lieutenant Henderson commanding 11 Platoon had been wounded, so 2nd Lieutenant William Purves assumed command of both platoons. He had been advised to withdraw, but as his position was intact saw no reason to do so and continued to fight. Eventually, surrounded by the enemy on three sides, and running out of ammunition and water, 2nd Lieutenant Purves was ordered to withdraw. Under heavy mortar fire he managed to evacuate all his men, including the walking wounded (he had himself received a shrapnel


wound in the shoulder) and stretcher cases, and all the undamaged equipment of his force. He reported to Battalion Headquarters at dawn. During the early hours of the morning, the enemy shelled Battalion HQ and ‘A’ Company, which had been the reserve company. The Battalion, depleted in strength and short of ammunition prepared for further attacks, which, however, did not materialise. Intelligence reports subsequently revealed that the Battalion had been attacked by a Chinese Division of around 6000 men. Of these, over 1000 were killed in the course of the battle. A casualty check immediately after the battle showed that 7 Borderers had been killed, 87 wounded and 44 were missing. Private Speakman was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle; 2nd Lieutenant Purves received the Distinguished Service Order, the only National Service officer to have been so honoured. The Battle Honour KOWANG-SAN was added to the Regimental Colours.


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