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The final days of the old Scottish Regiments


The Scotsman
Fri 26 May 2006

Nemo me impune lacessit

COLONEL ROBERT WATSON (retired)

1633 From a royal seal of approval

ON 28 MARCH 1633, Sir John Hepburn received a Royal Warrant from King Charles I to raise a regiment of Scottish soldiers for service in France. The regiment has given unbroken service to sovereign and country since that day making it not only the oldest in British service, but also the oldest continuously formed active army unit in the world today. In those 373 years it has served on operations from Canada in the West to China in the East, and from Northern Russia south to the Falkland Islands. Battalions of the regiment have been involved in almost every campaign in which the British Army has fought, from Marlborough's battles to the 1991 Gulf War, gaining 149 Battle Honours and winning seven Victoria Crosses in the process.

1643 Pilate error downs the French

AROUND this time, officers of the French Regiment of Picardy, during an argument as to which was the oldest regiment, claimed that they had guarded the tomb of Christ. The Royal Scots replied that, had they been on guard, Christ's body would not have disappeared. The French conceded the seniority, giving the regiment its nickname: "Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard".

1680 The first of many honours

THE regiment gained its first battle honour - "Tangier", the oldest honour in the British Army. Four years later, King Charles II awarded the regiment the title "The Royal Regiment of Foot", subsequently shortened to "The Royal Regiment", it was the first British "Royal Regiment" and the only one to have borne the shortened title.

1709 Age no object in battle

AT THE Battle of Malplaquet, the regiment probably had the youngest and oldest participants on the battlefield. The wife of a soldier, Private McBain, handed over their three-week old baby son to him just before the battle saying she would follow the Colours no more. McBain placed the baby in his knapsack where he remained, and survived throughout the battle. Also serving in the regiment as a soldier that day was William Hiseland, born in 1620, who, at 89, was almost certainly the oldest man on the field. Having survived the battle he lived until the age of 112, dying in 1732, as an in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, having got married at the age of 103.

1746 The last battle on British soil

THE 2nd Battalion, occupying its place of regimental seniority on the right of the front line of the Duke of Cumberland's army, took part in the Battle of Culloden, the last battle to be fought on British soil. The Royal Ecossais, consisting mainly of Scots recruited in the Highlands, formed part of the opposing second line of the Jacobite left.

1813 Kicking back with Wellington

THE 3rd Battalion played a major role in the capture of the key city of San Sebastian at the end of Wellington's Peninsular Campaign. It twice provided the major part of the "Forlorn Hope", the force formed to storm the breaches in the city wall, the second time successfully. The total losses from the battalion, consisting of 800 soldiers fit and in the field, were 140 men killed, while 389 were wounded.

1815 Regiment shows true colours

AT THE Battle of Waterloo, four junior officers had been killed while carrying the King's Colour at the front of the regiment. When the fourth of these, Ensign Kennedy, was killed, a sergeant attempted to take it from him but could not loosen the dead officer's grip.

The sergeant, whose name is not known, threw the ensign, still clutching the Colour, over his shoulder and carried both back to the regiment's ranks.

The onlooking French, in recognition of that remarkable act of gallantry, with- held their fire.

1817 A unique battle honour

THE 2nd Battalion, which served in India and Burma from 1806 to 1830, took part in the Battle of Nagpore and the regiment was awarded this as its 21st battle honour - the only British regiment to have been awarded that honour.

1854 Together for the last time

BOTH the 1st and 2nd Battalions served in the Crimea War, the last time the two served together. Private Joseph Prosser won the first of the Regiment's seven Victoria Crosses for aprehending a deserter and carrying an injured comrade to safety.

1899-1903 The bloody greyhounds

THE 1st, and later, the 3rd Battalions both served in the Boer War. The 3rd was dubbed "the bloody greyhounds" for the speed of its marches.

1914-1918 Heavy price of victory

THE First World War. The regiment expanded to 35 battalions, of which 15 were front-line units, with over 100,000 men serving in it. Of these, more than 11,000 were killed and 40,000 wounded, a casualty rate of over 50 per cent. The regiment was the largest in Scotland and suffered the greatest number of casualties. Battalions served on the Western Front , Gallipoli, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine and Russia. A total of 79 battle honours (of the 168 which were designated) were awarded to the regiment.

1918 A royal Colonel-in-Chief

PRINCESS Mary, the only daughter of King George V, and later to be the Princess Royal, was appointed as the regiment's first Colonel-in-Chief.

1922 A tribute to those who fell

PRINCESS Mary, Colonel-in-Chief, opened the Royal Scots Club, the regiment's War Memorial, in Abercromby Place, Edinburgh as a tribute to those who had lost their lives in the First World War.

1933 Celebrating three centuries

THE regiment celebrated its 300th anniversary. King George V inspected the 1st Battalion at Aldershot and, during his address to them, announced his decision to confer on the regiment's pipers the right to wear his personal tartan, the Royal Stuart.

1939-1945 Earning worldwide respect

THE Second World War. The 1st Battalion moved with the BEF to France and was later deployed to cover the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Few made it home alive. The 2nd Battalion, stationed in Hong Kong, fought against the overwhelming Japanese invasion but were ordered to surrender with the rest of the garrison on Christmas Day, 1941.

The 1st Battalion was reconstituted and fought in Burma. A new 2nd Battalion was formed in May 1942 and served in Italy and Palestine, whilst the two territorial battalions, the 7th/9th and 8th, fought in north-west Europe from D-Day to the German surrender. Thirty-nine battle honours were awarded to the regiment .

Captain Douglas Ford of the 2nd Battalion was posthumously awarded a George Cross for refusing to implicate others accused of spying by the Japanese, despite being tortured, starved and eventually executed by firing squad in Hong Kong in December 1943.

1949 Joining forces as a single batallion

THE 1st and 2nd Battalions amalgamate at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh. This was the first time the regiment had been reduced to a single regular battalion since 1686.

1953 Monumental tribute to the fallen

THE Regimental Monument in West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh is opened by Princess Mary. The monument features an inscription of a passage from the Declaration of Arbroath.

1962 The new kings of the castle

REGIMENTAL headquarters and the museum moved from Glencorse Barracks, Penicuik, which had been the regimental depot since 1881, to Edinburgh Castle, which remains the regiment's home today.

1965 Death of the Colonel-in-Chief

PRINCESS Mary, The Princess Royal, died on Regimental Day, 28 March, having served as Colonel-in-Chief for nearly 47 years.

1983 By royal appointment

THE regiment celebrated its 350th anniversary. The highlight of a number of commemorative events saw the Queen inspect a regimental parade in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh and, in her address, announced the appointment of her daughter, the Princess Anne - now the Princess Royal - to be the regiment's new Colonel-in-Chief.

1990 Awards for gallantry in the Gulf

THE 1st Battalion deployed to the Gulf as an armoured infantry battalion mounted in Warrior armoured vehicles. The batallion won more operational awards for gallantry than any unit, other than the SAS, and was awarded the battle honours "Wadi El Batin" and "Gulf 1991".

1999 Tattoo leaves an indelible mark

AFTER participating in the 1998 Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a number of Fijians applied to transfer to the British Army and to join The Royal Scots. The first 15 arrived the following year and, since then, more than 2,000 have followed to join all units of the army.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 1st Battalion won the army's 7-a-side rugby tournament the following year and has now won the competition for a record seven successive times - as well as making a name for themselves on the Scottish circuit. In 2006, the 1st Battalion, having lost in the final in 2005, finally won the 15-a-side Army Rugby Cup.

2006 A regiment united once again

ON 28 March, 373 years to the day since it was formed, The Royal Scots ceased to exist as an independent regiment and merged with the five other surviving Scottish regiments to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The regiment has been committed to the range of operations in which the British Army has been engaged since 1945. The regiment's territorials have been involved reinforcing the 1st Battalion on its overseas deployments as well as providing almost 50 individual reinforcements for six-month tours in Iraq since 2003.

The wheel has come full circle and, once again, the regiment has become a single entity recruited from across Scotland. It takes pride in its continuing service to Queen and country its position as the senior regiment of the British infantry, its "royal" title and its motto, which are all drawn directly from The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), First of Foot and Right of the Line.

Edinburgh Evening News
Fri 26 May 2006

Proud Royal Scots march into history
JOANNA VALLELY

THE proud 373-year reign of the Royal Scots was laid to rest today as crowds lined Princes Street to bid Edinburgh's regiment an emotional farewell.

Up to a 1000 serving soldiers and veterans took part in the historic regiment's final parade, with hundreds turning out in the drizzle to watch the spectacle.

The Dreghorn-based troops, who have just returned from their second tour of duty in Iraq, marched in desert uniform, drums beating and bayonets fixed, down Princes Street. The damp conditions suited the sombre mood as the men saluted The Princess Royal, their Colonel in Chief, for the last time as they passed the Royal Scottish Academy.

The Royal Scots will merge later this year with the King's Own Scottish Borderers to form The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The creation of a Scottish super-regiment was billed by the UK Government as a move to modernise Britain's Armed Forces but critics denounced the reform as penny-pinching.

Commanding Officer of the Royal Scots, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bruce, 40, who took over the post in February, said he felt proud to command the parade. He said: "It's a great honour. They did a great job in Iraq and the honour of leading them is even greater on such a public occasion."

The commanding officer said the mood was only subdued for the veterans. He added: "For the serving community it's not sad. It is for some of the retired community but what we hope with a parade such as today's is to take forward the history and tradition of the Royal Scots with pride."

He said that they had decided to wear their combat uniforms in recognition of their recent tour of Iraq. "We decided to illustrate to the crowd first and foremost we are a fighting infantry battalion."

Lieutenant General Sir Robert Richardson, former Royal Scots Colonel of the Regiment, said: "The golden thread linking the past and over three and a half centuries of unrivalled tradition of service, comradeship, courage and loyalty to crown and country will be fostered and maintained in the present and the future.

"I have the greatest admiration for those serving today and am confident that they and those that follow will not rest on their laurels but through their ability and commitment will ensure the success of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland and the continuance of the Scottish military tradition."

HMS Edinburgh cruised into Leith harbour to pay respect to the battleship's Royal Scots-affiliated Army battalion. The marchers gathered outside the City Arts Centre on Market Street from before 9am. Among those on parade were serving soldiers and veterans, some in wheelchairs and many who had followed fathers and brothers into the regiment.

The Royal Scots led cadets, veterans, Territorial Army and Gurkhas over Waverley Bridge and along Princes Street. The Gurkhas, led by a man in a leopard print cloak beating a drum, were followed by three camouflage vehicles carrying soldiers with blackened faces.

Spectators lined the route, clapping the marchers as they passed. Staff at Marks & Spencer, Romanes and Paterson and Jenners, which had a display of old uniforms in its window to mark the occasion, turned out to watch from their doorways.

Princess Anne stood on the podium on the steps of the RSA wearing a camel and navy skirt suit and matching hat to take the final salute from her regiment. The Princess, who was holding her own umbrella, stood alongside Brigadier Robbie Scott-Bowden, Colonel of the Regiment of the Royal Scots, until the parade passed at 10.15am.

She waved at the crowd and then spent over half-an-hour chatting to soldiers past and present before going off to a private reception at the Royal Scots Club in Abercromby Place with approximately 100 people, including the Lord Lieutenants of all the recruiting districts and Edinburgh's Lord Provost Lesley Hinds.

• The Royal Scots is the oldest, continuously formed, active army unit in the world and the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army.

It was formed in 1633 by King Charles I as the sovereign recruited men from Edinburgh to fight in France. They won their first battle honour in Tangiers in 1680 and their first Victoria Cross at the Siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War.

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 was the last time the regiment fought on British soil.

Members of The Royal Scots have won seven Victoria Crosses - six during the First World War when The Royal Scots lost 11,162 men. The regiment's motto, "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit" ("no-one dares me with impunity") is now the motto of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

In 1983, the regiment celebrated its 350th anniversary and the Queen carried out a review of the regiment at which she announced the appointment of her daughter, HRH The Princess Anne, to be Colonel in Chief.

'IT'S SAD BUT WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD'

SANDY MCKINNON, 57, from Haddington, was sad to leave behind a long family history of Royal Scots soldiers. He said: "I feel extremely sad. I have four brothers, one of whom is dead, and we all served in the greatest regiment. It's a sad day. I feel pride and sorrow."

Retired major Steve Simpson, 75, from Colinton, served in The Royal Scots from 1948 for 37 years. He said: "I will support the new regiment but I feel very bitter."

The old soldier, who was wounded in the Radfan mountains serving in Yemen, added: "My grandson, who's 12, said he wanted to join The Royal Scots when he grew up, but now he won't be able to."

Former captain Jack Storie, 84, from East Linton, near Dunbar, served in The Royal Scots for just over eight years.

He said: "I've accepted the fact it's going to happen but I am sorry it's come to an end.

Kenny Scott, 88, from Dalkeith, served from 1936-1944. He said: "I feel terrible about the amalgamation. I joined the Royal Scots in 1936, but got put out because I was too young at 16-and-a-half. My mother had the police out looking for me."

Warrant Officer, class one, Phil Gilbert, 42, said:

"It's sad because I'm the third generation but we have to look forward and not be sentimental about it."


29th March 2006
GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN

CHIEF NEWS CORRESPONDENT
- The Scotsman

Key quote
"From this moment forward, the very best way to cherish and respect the memory of the Royal Scots will be to carry this honour forward with pride into the regiment. Change may be painful, but it has come to visit us in our day and generation" - LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT BRUCE

Story in full IN BASRA, the sun beat down on the soldiers gathered in the dust of Shaibah camp. In Edinburgh, a light drizzle fell on the men and women lined up on parade at the top of the castle. In Glasgow, Baghdad, Omagh, Belfast, Cyprus and Canterbury, similar ceremonies were taking place. As midday struck in Scotland, the country's old regiments slipped into history.

 

Gone were the Royal Scots - almost 400 years old - the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Highlanders. In their place, to a flurry of pipes and drums, was the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

It was certainly not the first merger imposed on Scotland's soldiery, but it has proved to be one of the most controversial. Yesterday, however, the army was putting a brave face on it.

As the moment drew near, a large crowd had gathered around the edges of Edinburgh Castle's Crown Square. Kenny Mackenzie, the Royal Scots' Regimental Sergeant Major, marched smartly into the square and snapped to attention.

"By the right, quick march," the order came, and from around the corner came the new regimental band, belting out the tunes of the Athol Highlander and Glendaruel Highlander. Behind them, a carefully chosen cross-section of the new regiment marched into the Crown Square, wheeled right and came to a halt.

They had been practising hard, apparently, but perhaps in keeping with the furore surrounding the merger, not all were in step. Their boots hit the cobbles like a burst of machine gun fire, rather than the single sharp report that the sergeant major was hoping for. He made them suffer by shuffling them backwards and forwards for a couple of minutes, barking out instructions until he was happy.

Still, as Major-General Euan Loudon, the new regiment's most senior officer was to say, change may be painful.

"Parade will remove head dress", RSM Mackenzie yelled, and they whipped off the old caps. Two more soldiers appeared, bearing between them a tray draped in the new regimental tartan and worked their way among the ranks, collecting the last vestiges of the old regiments. They marched out smartly, covering the abandoned hats discreetly with the tartan.

Those remaining in the square waited. The drizzle continued. The crowd, mainly tourists interspersed with press and some military types, craned their necks to see what was going on. Nothing happened. "Where's the general?" one soldier whispered. More drizzle fell. The onlookers began to talk among themselves.

In Basra, the soldiers of the Royal Scots were baking in the heat. The regiment, the oldest in the British Army, is not due back until May; they had the curious experience of being consigned to history while still being called on to serve in action.

As if there was not enough historical baggage hanging around, the Ministry of Defence had chosen the 373rd anniversary of the formation of the regiment to disband it. About 200 soldiers who were not required for patrolling stood and watched as the standard of the Royal Scots was lowered for the last time, while a lone piper played a lament.

Their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Bruce, addressed them. They were, he said, part of history, the history of the Royal Scots, the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the history of Scotland itself. "From this moment forward," he told them, "the very best way to cherish and respect the memory of the Royal Scots will be to carry this honour forward with pride into the regiment." Then they slipped on Glengarry caps bearing the new regimental badge and got back to dodging roadside bombs.

Back in Edinburgh, the general finally appeared, striding into the square, sleeves rolled up. The others had apparently been a little too quick off the mark.

"Parade, general salute," barked RSM Mackenzie and the band broke into a stirring burst of regimental music. And stopped again, just as quickly.

The general strode up and down the lines, dishing out new caps, each bearing the hackle appropriate to what were once individual regiments, but are now mere battalions: black for the 1st Battalion (Royal Scots Borderers - the old Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers); white for 2nd Battalion (Royal Highland Fusiliers); the famous red for the 3rd Battalion (Black Watch); blue for the 4th Battalion (Highlanders); and green for the 5th Battalion (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

The caps also bore the new insignia of the Royal Regiment, a lion rampant on a cross of St Andrew, or the crucified cat, as some wags have taken to calling it. It looked quite smart. The general stood in front of them and made his big pitch. It was, he said, a new chapter in the story of the Scottish soldier. "Change may be painful, but it has come to visit us in our day and generation," he said, but it followed on from a glorious past.

They had to fight to win the best roles they could and not forget their past - the golden thread of tradition which the opponents of merger declare cut and which the army insists is intact.

United by their past, confident in their future, excelling in their jobs and relying for success on their courage, good humour and selflessness. That was the ticket, he said. RSM Mackenzie demanded another general salute and the band piped up and piped down.

And with that they were off, disappearing to the sounds of the new regimental march, Scotland the Brave. Appropriately, this time they were in step.

• The Black Watch's name came from the dark tartan its soldiers wore and from its role to "watch" the Highlands after its formation in 1725, when six companies were formed to stop fighting among the clans. The regimental motto was Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No-one Attacks Me With Impunity).

• The King's Own Scottish Borderers were the local infantry battalion for the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and Lanarkshire. They were founded 1689 to defend Edinburgh from Jacobites and fought in every major conflict of the last 300 years including, with distinction, the Gulf in 2003.

• The Royal Scots was the oldest Infantry Regiment of the Line in the army. It was formed in 1633 under a warrant granted by Charles I, raising a body of men for service in France. The regiment saw conflict in many theatres, both world wars and the Gulf war, and action in Northern Ireland.

• The Royal Highland Fusiliers were formed in 1959 by the controversial amalgamation of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry. The regiment was awarded more than 200 battle honours, a number unsurpassed by any other unit in the British Army.

• The Highlanders, a combat infantry regiment of about 550 men, was formed in 1994 with the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) and The Gordon Highlanders. It was the only one with a Gaelic motto - Cuidich 'n Righ (Aid the King).

• The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, nicknamed the "Thin Red Line" for their actions at Balaclava, were formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the Princess Louise's Argyllshire Regiment and the Sutherland Highlanders. They had the army's largest cap badge and the Glengarry as headgear.


Silent watch at regiments’ last post
ALISON CHIESA - The Herald - March 29 2006

In the end, the only sound that could be heard was the cawing of crows circling overhead.

Below, the massed ranks of Black Watch veterans, their heads bowed in red hackle bonnets, stood in silent commemoration as one of Britain's most famous fighting regiments passed into the history books.
After nearly 300 years, the final act of several hundred former soldiers at a rain-soaked Balhousie Castle, the regiment's Perthshire home, marked an end to a valiant era.

The famous infantry unit now joins The Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at Edinburgh Castle, and will be known as the 3rd Battalion.

As such, it has effectively lost its historic insignia – the red hackle – which can now only be worn when the men are in combat kit.

Yesterday a palpable anger ran through the veterans, politicians and public paying their final respects.

Among those heralded into the event by Pipe Sergeant Jimmy Doig, who later performed his own composition – The Vile Plot – was a father and son whose connections to the Black Watch span five generations.

Warrant Officer Bob Scott, 63, who served under the regiment for nearly 25 years, said: "This occasion is beyond sad. I cannot understand how history can just be taken away like this. The people who make these decisions do not understand how unique the regiments are and what they mean to people.

"There are our families and then there is the Black Watch."

Gesturing to the hackle on his bonnet, he added: "This is such a powerful symbol. It has always been the case that when a soldier felt the need for extra support, he would touch the hackle and say 'Black Watch'.

Warrant Officer Scott vowed: "I myself will wear this hackle until the day they put me in a wooden box."

His son, Sergeant Hamilton Scott, 40, is due to be discharged from service tomorrow after more than 22 years.

Sergeant Scott – whose son Charles, 20, is serving in Northern Ireland – said: "I wanted to commemorate the regiment today because it is no longer going to be the regiment I grew up with. It is a sad day and it is wrong.

"Some changes could have been made to the Army without destroying the whole system. The people who have done this really haven't got a clue."

Decorated veterans fought back tears during a ceremony which included a service of remembrance, as well as biting criticism of government ministers.

Major Ronnie Proctor, of the Angus Black Watch Association, which hosted the event, said: "The purpose of this ceremony is to remember all those who served in the Black Watch over the regiment's existence since 1739.

"There are also a lot of members who are not happy about the amalgamation, and although serving soldiers cannot protest, we can."

Politicians who addressed the event included Murdo Fraser, the Scots Tory deputy leader.

Mr Fraser, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, questioned the removal of individual regimental identities at a time of increased military commitments.

He said: "In Iraq, the Black Watch returned home after serving with the highest dignity, bravery and honour.

"They had carried out a tremendous job and for Labour to pat them on the back for serving them in Iraq and to then stab them in the back the next moment with amalgamation is disgusting."

Roseanna Cunningham the SNP MSP for Perth, paid tribute to those involved in the campaign to save the Black Watch. "I am sorry the government has no time for history," she said.

Regimental Sergeant Major Bob Ritchie, who served in the Black Watch for four decades, asked veterans to remove their hackle bonnets before cheering the regiment and association.

He said: "This is the last time you will be asked to remove your blue bonnets. Continue to wear them with pride."


‘God’s tears’ bless Black Watch

THE RED of the world-famous trademark hackle contrasted sharply with overcast skies as around 200 veterans bade a final farewell to the historic Black Watch regiment at a ceremony in Perth yesterday.

Referring to steady drizzle falling on those who had come to pay tribute, one veteran said the regiment was being blessed by “God’s tears.”

The Black Watch is now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS) and its red hackle will only be worn as part of combat uniform.

The controversial merger may have caused massive divisions but veterans, politicians and Perth residents stood united at the ceremony which marked 266 years of distinguished service.

Held at Balhousie Castle—the regiment’s historic headquarters—the sombre event included a short service of commemoration and speeches by dignitaries and MSPs.

Amid emotionally-charged scenes, The Black Watch was described as “one of the best fighting units in the world today.”

A strong sense of pride was clear for all to see, with politicians insisting the regiment must never be regarded as a “relic of the past.”

In fact some spoke of their continued opposition to the merger and insisted they would fight for a reversal of the controversial decision.

It was almost 50 years ago that Brigadier Garry Barnett enlisted with The Black Watch and he welcomed veterans to yesterday’s ceremony.

“I have mixed feelings today,” he said. “I would like to express thanks to all those who have campaigned tirelessly for our regiment.

“Today we think of the regiment and remember all that it means to us.”

However, he said it was time to look forward as well as back.

“We must admit our campaign to save The Black Watch has not succeeded,” he added.

“We must recognise that The Black Watch as we have known it is no more.

“The regiment has served the Crown loyally and without question—we can all be immensely proud of our regiment.”

Retired major Colin Innes gave a brief history of the regiment and the Rev Alex Forsyth of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department led a religious service of commemoration.

A loan piper played Lochaber No More before silence fell over Balhousie Castle.

The ceremony ended with veterans giving a spirited and emotional three cheers for The Black Watch.

Politicians were then given their chance to address those assembled in Balhousie Castle’s Wavell Gardens.

They struck a defiant note, with Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart saying those behind the amalgamation should be “ashamed of themselves.”

“The fight goes on comrades,” he said. “We must ensure The Black Watch can keep its identity within the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.”

Perth MSP Roseanna Cunningham paid tribute to all those involved in campaigning to save The Black Watch.

“I am sorry the Government has no time for history, no time for tradition,” she said.

“Recruitment figures are falling and the Government may come to regret the day it came to this decision.”

The Black Watch has fought in some of the world’s most famous battles, as Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser recalled.

“This is the end of a regiment that has fought across the globe with the highest of dignity and has battled in some of the most ferocious battles in history,” he said.

Mr Fraser added, “They have fought in North America against native tribes during the seven years’ war. They have defeated George Washington in the Battle of Long Island. They have fought in the Boer War. They fought at Waterloo, the Somme and Ypres.

“Black Watch soldiers were among the first forward in some of the most intense fighting of world war two in Normandy after the D-Day landings.

“The 1st Battalion of The Black Watch became the first British unit to enter German territory in world war two.”

Mr Fraser fears the “honourable traditions” of The Black Watch may well be lost forever—harming recruitment in the process.

“Our local area and The Black Watch are intertwined with one another and it will be a severe loss for the communities that have had long standing ties with the regiment,” he said.

“This strong bond with the local area undoubtedly aids recruiting, as we see different generations from the same family joining their local regiment.

“This will be lost and I fear recruitment for our regiments will fall.”

He added, “After so many battles and victories this is a sad end for The Black Watch.

“Do not forget The Black Watch.” Mr Fraser added.

Politicians of several parties attended yesterday’s event, along with association branch members in Dundee, Perth, Fife, Newcastle, Chorley, Stoke and London.

The other five regiments becoming battalions of the super regiment are the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Royal Scots, Royal Highland Fusiliers, King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the Highlanders.

As well as the Perth event there were special parades in parts of the world where Scottish soldiers are based, including the Royal Scots in Iraq and the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Cyprus.

* Soldiers from The Black Watch’s Territorial Army unit were presented with their new Royal Regiment of Scotland cap badges by Perth Provost Bob Scott last night.

The presentation took place at Queen’s Barracks on Dunkeld Road in Perth.


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