96: Scots Guards Badges

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Scots Guards Badges

The Scots Guards (SG) is a regiment of the Guards Division of the British Army, whose origins lie in the personal bodyguard of King Charles I of England and Scotland. Its lineage can be traced as far back as 1642, although it was only placed on the English Establishment (thus becoming part of what is now the British Army) in 1686.

The Scots Guards is ranked as the third regiment in the Guards Division; as such, Scots Guardsmen can be recognised by having the buttons on their tunics spaced in threes. The regiment consists of a single operational battalion, which has been based in Catterick since 2008, in the armoured infantry role. However, since 1993, the regiment has also maintained an independent company, F Company, permanently based in Wellington Barracks, London on public duties. It is the custodian of the colours and traditions of the 2nd Battalion, which was placed in permanent suspended animation in 1993 as a result of Options for Change.

World War I

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife the Countess Sophie were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. This event triggered the First World War that would eventually lead every major power on the continent and the United Kingdom into war by August, a war that would affect much of the world.

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion was re-formed in August, though would not see service abroad, and would remain in the UK for the duration of the war, and was disbanded in 1919. Also in August, the 1st Battalion, part of the 1st (Guards) Brigade of the 1st Division, departed for foreign shores, arriving in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The first engagement of the war came at Mons where British forces successfully defended against the Germans, inflicting very heavy casualties on them, so much so that they believed the British Army had used far more machine-guns than they had actually used. Despite the victory, due to overwhelming Germans number, as well as the retreat of the French, the British had to withdraw from Mons which the 1st Battalion took part in. The retreat effectively saved the BEF and the French and kept the British in France to continue the fight against the German.

In September the 1st Battalion took part in its second major engagement, at the First Battle of the Marne, which saw the Germans advance halted after much bitter fighting, with the Germans eventually going into retreat. The sides soon dug-in, the trenches that would be made would become one of the defining symbols of the First World War. The battalion subsequently took part in the Battle of the Aisne where the battalion saw heavy fighting, including at the Aisne Heights and Chivy. In November, the 2nd Battalion landed in France as part of the 20th Brigade of the 7th Division. Both battalions as part of their respective divisions, took part in the First Battle of Ypres which took place between September and November. Both battalions saw very heavy fighting at Ypres and in the surrounding area, which eventually saw over 50,000 British soldiers of the Regular Army become casualties, though the British held the line against seemingly overwhelming German attacks, stopping the final German attempt to break the Allied line in 1914.

The regiment saw further involvement in the bitter cold month of December, and in that month, on 19 December, Private James Mackenzie of the 2nd Battalion won the regiment its first Victoria Cross (VC) of the war, and the first VC won by the Scots Guards, rather than its predecessor name, the Scots Fusilier Guards. He won the VC after he, under very heavy enemy fire and after a stretcher party had been forced to abandon its rescue attempt, came to the assistance of a British soldier severely wounded in front of the German trenches, and successfully brought him back to British lines. Private Mackenzie was killed later that day while performing a similar act of bravery.

In March 1915, the 2nd Battalion took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which was a relatively successful engagement, though it did fall short of its expected gains of advancing all the way to Lille. In May, both battalions took part in the Battle of Aubers, and later that month, the 2nd Battalion took part in the Battle of Festubert. On 3 August, Second Lieutenant George Arthur Boyd-Rochfort of the 1st Battalion was standing near a working party when a trench mortar bomb landed on the side of the parapet of the communications trench where he was standing. With no regard for his safety, Lieutenant Boyd-Rochfort shouted to the men to look out, and subsequently rushed to the bomb, grabbed it and duly threw it over the parapet where it instantly exploded. For his courageous actions, Lieutenant Boyd-Rochfort was awarded the Victoria Cross. Also in August, both battalions of the regiment were transferred from their respective divisions to the Guards Division. The 1st Battalion joined the 2nd Guards Brigade on August 25, while the 2nd Battalion joined the 3rd Guards Brigade on September 9.

In September, both battalions took part in the Battle of Loos. On 27 September, when the 3rd Guards Brigade (2nd Battalion) were moving in preparation to attack a German-held position known as Hill 70, via Loos, an artillery barrage caught them, causing many casualties among the Guards. The following day, the 2nd Guards Brigade (1st Battalion) attacked a position known as Puits 14 bis, and in the process, suffered very heavy casualties, forcing the brigade to halt the attack. Both battalions continued to experience heavy fighting throughout September, and into October, and by the end of the Battle of Loos, the regiment had suffered over 500 casualties.

On 1 July 1916, the first Battle of the Somme began, and on the very first day of the offensive, over 57,000 British soldiers became casualties. In September, the Scots Guards got involved in the Somme Offensive for the first, taking part in the subsidiary Battle of Flers-Courcelette, which saw the first introduction of the tank, and at another subsidiary battle, at Morval, where the Guards captured Lesboeufs. On 15 July, Lance-Sergeant Frederick McNess of the 1st Battalion, led a bombing party under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire. The party successfully reached the first enemy trench but found the left flank to be exposed, and the enemy were lobbing bombs. Sergeant McNess duly led a counter-attack, being badly wounded in the jaw and neck in the process. Despite the severe wounds the Sergeant subsequently made a ‘block’, encouraged his men and continued to throw grenades until eventually succumbing to the loss of blood.

In July 1917, the regiment began its involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres, which lasted into November. The regiment took part in the subsidiary engagements at Pilckem, Menin Road, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, experiencing very severe fighting which saw the British suffer very heavy casualties against stiff German defenders in terrible fighting conditions. In November, the regiment took part in the Battle of Cambrai (1917), most famous for the first large-scale use of British tanks, eventually 476 tanks in total, in battle.

On 27 November, Sergeant John McAulay, of the 1st Battalion, assumed command of his company after all its officers had become casualties, and under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, the company held and consolidated the company’s gained objectives. The Sergeant subsequently reorganised the company and upon noticing a counter-attack developing, he successfully repulsed it by skillfully exploiting machine-guns to his advantage to inflict very heavy casualties on the German attackers. Sergeant McAulay also carried a considerable distance to a safer location, while under heavy fire, the mortally wounded company commander. He performed valiantly in doing this duty, and did not waver, despite being knocked off his feet twice by shell blasts. For his heroic and professional actions, Sergeant McAulay was awarded the Victoria Cross.

In March 1918, the second Battle of the Somme began, and would last until April, though further Somme region would last until September. The regiment took part in the subsidiary battles at St. Quentin, Bapaume, Arras and Albert. In September, the regiment took part in the Battle of Havrincourt during the operations against the Hindenburg Line, as well as the Canal du Nord and, in October, took part in the Battle of Cambrai (1918).

On 13 October, Lance Corporal Harry Blanshard Wood of the 2nd Battalion, at St. Python, took command of his platoon, the leading platoon of the company, after the platoon sergeant was killed, under very heavy fire, during the advance on the village of St. Python. The company that Corporal Wood was part of, was tasked with taking the western half of the village and to secure the crossing of the River Selle, as well as secure the ruined bridge. However, the space in front of it was covered by snipers, but this did not deter Corporal Wood. The Corporal took a large brick into the open space, lay behind it, and continuously shot at the snipers, ordering his men to get across the open space while he covered them, remaining in the open space until all his men had got across. Later that day, Corporal Wood drove off a number of German counter-attacks on his position, proving his professional and gallant leadership throughout the day. For his actions Corporal Wood was awarded the Victoria Cross, the last VC won by the regiment during the First World War.

The regiment took part in the final battles of the war on the Western Front, on 17 October, the Battle of the Selle began which eventually saw the town of Valenciennes captured by the Allies, and on 4 November took part in the Battle of the Sambre. At 11 AM of November 11, the Armistice was signed between the victorious Allies and the Germans. The Guards Division soon after the end of the war was ordered to the Rhine, eventually crossing the frontier on 11 December. The Scots Guards subsequently joined the British Army of Occupation in Cologne and returned home in 1919. For its part during the First World War, the regiment gained thirty-three battle honours though lost just under 3,000 men during the war.


In 1918, the rank of Private was replaced in the Foot Guards by the title Guardsman. The Scots Guards, while in Germany, joined the British Army of Occupation in Cologne before returning home in 1919, where it marched in London as part of the Guards Division. Both battalions would remain in the United Kingdom for the majority of the inter-war years where it carried out the usual public duties, though would, at times, be deployed abroad. In 1927, the 2nd Battalion departed for Shanghai in the Far East during the conflict between the Communists and Nationalists, with the dangers that this posed to the British populace living in Shanghai. The battalion was also stationed in Hong Kong before returning home in 1929.

In 1933, the regiment formed an alliance with the Winnipeg Grenadiers of Canada. In 1935, it was the 1st Battalion’s turn to be deployed abroad when it was stationed in Egypt during the tense times between the British Empire and Italy, after the latter had invaded the East African nation of Abyssinia. In 1936, the 2nd Battalion deployed to Palestine, which was experiencing violent troubles during the Arab Revolt. That same year the alliance with the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons, of Canada, ended with the disbandment of that regiment. The regiment also gained two new Colonel-in-Chiefs with the accession of HM King Edward VIII and His Majesty King George VI, the latter ascended the throne after King Edward had abdicated. In 1938, the 2nd Battalion deployed to Egypt where it would be stationed at the outbreak of the Second World War.

World War II

On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Two days later war was declared between the British Empire and Nazi Germany. In April 1940, the 1st Battalion, as part of the 24th Guards Brigade, took part in its first campaign of the war, during the expedition to Norway, and began to land in Harstad on 16 April. The 24th Guards Brigade was then used to protect a number of Norwegian ports from German attack, though all fell by the end of May, and the British, due to the troubling situation in France, the British began evacuating from Norway, which was completed by the 8th June. Later that year, the 3rd Battalion was re-formed for the second time and joined the 30th Infantry Brigade, while the 4th Battalion and Holding Battalion was also raised.

North Africa

In North Africa, as part of the 22nd Guards Brigade, the 2nd Battalion took part in fighting against the Italians in Egypt before the following year when it saw tough fighting in Libya, then controlled by Italy. Engagements that the regiment took part in were many, and it fought valiantly against tough opposition. In May, the regiment saw action at the Battle of Halfaya Pass, which saw British and Commonwealth forces experiencing tough fighting against Erwin Rommel‘s Afrika Korps. In June, the battalion was involved in Operation Battleaxe, a British/Commonwealth offensive push to relieve the besieged city of Tobruk, though the offensive saw stiff resistance from the enemy forces, and the Allies eventually had to withdraw in the face of numerically superior, and better armed Afrika Korps. The next British offensive did not come until November when Operation Crusader began, which was another attempt to break the siege of the Allied-held Tobruk, and unlike previous attempts, this operation succeeded, though it was a close-run thing which saw bitter heavy fighting and heavy losses, especially in tanks, with the operation ending in December. The Siege of Tobruk was finally lifted, with its defenders, mostly Australians, having held out since April. Back in the United Kingdom, the 3rd Battalion re-roled to an armoured battalion, being renamed 3rd (Armoured) Battalion and joined the 6th Guards Armoured Brigade.

In early 1942, Rommel’s Afrika Korps started a new offensive which caught the Allies by surprise, forcing them into retreat, though the German offensive came to a halt in early February at Gazala. Later that year, the battalion joined the 201st Guards Brigade and in May the Germans launched another offensive against the Allies. The 201st Guards Brigade were located at a position known as Knightsbridge Box, with other ‘Boxes’ being manned by other British, Commonwealth and Free French brigades which formed the ‘Gazala Line’. The Guards at Knightbridge saw heavy fighting against the attacking German forces, and by the 13th June, the Guards were cut off from Allied forces, and eventually a German attack, during terrible weather, overran the 2nd Battalion and at night, after an Allied counter-attack by armoured units, the Guards eventually managed to withdraw in a professional manner. Soon after, most of the Allies were in retreat to the “El Alamein Line” and Tobruk eventually fell on 20 June, with many thousands of Allied troops being captured, including men of the 2nd Battalion, though some managed to escape to Egypt. The battalion was subsequently reformed back in Egypt.

Between October and November the Second Battle of Alamein took place, which saw General Montgomery‘s British 8th Army achieve a decisive victory over the German, which saw them go into full-retreat. By January 1943, the Allied army had pushed the enemy back significantly, going as far as capturing Tripoli. Back in the UK, the 3rd Battalion was renamed the 3rd (Tank) Battalion and joined the 6th Guards Tank Brigade. In North Africa, on 6 March, the 2nd Battalion took part in the defensive Battle of Medenine, after the Germans had counter-attacked the Allies, an attack that, if it had succeeded, would have caused the British many problems. The Scots Guards performed valiantly, using their anti-tank guns to great effect against the German armour, with many German tanks being knocked out by the Guards and other regiments, and the German offensive was soon called off. That same month the 1st Battalion arrived in North Africa from the UK as part of the 24th Guards Brigade. Both battalions saw further engagements in North Africa, with the 1st Battalion seeing heavy fighting in April at Medjez Plain and Djebel Bou Aoukaz.

During that month, Captain The Lord Lyell of the 1st Battalion, commanded a company with great dash and valour during engagements between 23 and 27 April, taking part in tremendously heavy fighting against German forces and kept the morale of his troops high.[citation needed] On 27 April, Captain The Lord Lyell’s company took part in the attack on Djebel Bou Aoukaz and were coming under fire from an enemy post, consisting of an 88 mm gun and heavy machine-gun in two separate pits, which was holding the company’s advance up. Lord Lyell thus led an attack, consisting of a sergeant, a lance-corporal and two guardsmen on the post. Lord Lyell was ahead of the others by quite a bit and destroyed the machine-gun gun crew by grenade, and three of Lord Lyell’s party became casualties, while the lance-corporal gave covering fire for Lord Lyell. Lord Lyell, with this covering fire, then attacked the pit containing the 88 mm gun with bayonet and pistol, killing several of the gun crew before being overwhelmed by the surviving gun crew and killed. The remaining crew then left and both guns were silenced, allowing the advance to continue. Lord Lyell was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross for his courageous actions and leadership.

Italy and France

By May 1943, the battle for North Africa was over, Tunis had fallen, the Allies were victorious and 130,000 German and 120,000 Italian soldiers had surrendered. In September, the 2nd Battalion, as part of the 201st Guards Brigade of the 56th (London) Division, took part in the Landing at Salerno and subsequently saw heavy fighting during that month and in October took part in the crossing of the Volturno River. At the Battle of Monte Cassino, the 2nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties in tough fighting though it was eventually captured in May 1944. In December, the 1st Battalion, as part of 24th Guards Brigade, arrived in the Italian Theatre. In January 1944, the Scots Guards took part in the landings at Anzio and saw heavy fighting there, including at Campoleone and Carroceto, with the Allies not breaking out of the Anzio beachhead for a number of months. The 1st Battalion, as part of its brigade, joined the 6th South African Armoured Division in May. The regiment took part in many fierce engagements throughout 1944, including at Monte San Michele and against the Gothic Line, a formidable defensive line. In 1945, the regiment continued to take part in some bitter engagements, including in April when it took part in an amphibious landing of the Bonifica area, east of the Argenta Gap, where the 1st Battalion saw heavy fighting, receiving heavy casualties in the process. In May, the battalion found itself in Trieste which had been captured by Yugoslavian and Croatian forces. The battalion would remain in Trieste until 1946.

Back in July 1944, the 3rd (Tank) Battalion landed in France, with heavy fighting still raging in the Normandy area. The battalion saw action at Mont Pincon, where at Quarry Hill, a squadron of the battalion was ambushed by three 8.8 cm armed Jagdpanther tank destroyers, who duly accounted for eleven Churchill tanks of the battalion who eventually forced the Germans to withdraw. The battalion saw further service taking part in the steady Allied advance, including at the Venlo Pocket in the Low Countries and in 1945, the Rhineland, where the battalion was involved in a variety of engagements. In March, the 2nd Battalion arrived in North-West Europe and joined the Guards Armoured Division. The regiment saw further engagements deeper inside Germany, including at Lingen and Uelzen. On May 8, after six long years of war, the war in the European theatre was officially over, with the declaration of VE Day and on 14 May, the regiment took control of the small German island of Heligoland. In June, the 3rd (Tank) Battalion re-roled to an infantry battalion, reverting to its original 3rd Battalion name, as part of the renamed 6th Guards Brigade. The 2nd and 3rd battalions were stationed in Germany, and in early 1946, the 3rd Battalion was disbanded in Cologne-Weiden, while the 2nd Battalion returned home to the UK in December.

The regiment, as in the First World War, proved its professionalism once more, seeing service in North Africa, Italy and across North-West Europe, taking part in some of the British Army’s most famous moments. During the war, just over 1,000 men of the Scots Guards lost their lives and many gallanty awards were won, including a single Victoria Cross.

Both battalions were back in the UK by 1946, having returned from Germany and Trieste respectively. In 1948, the 1st Battalion assumed the role of Guards Training Battalion, a role that lasted until 1951.

The 2nd Battalion was once more involved in war, however, when it deployed to Malaya during the native insurgency there as part of the 2nd Guards Brigade. The State of Emergency in Malaya had been declared in June after increased violence and terrorist acts against British, Asian and other citizens were perpetrated by the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA), an organisation made up largely of ethnic Chinese Communists who opposed the creation of the Federation of Malaya as they believed it did not directly lead to the creation of a Communist state, and also opposed the British Empire. The Communist insurgents were originally known as ‘Bandits’ but this was soon replaced with the term CT (Communist Terrorist). The battalion arrived in Malaya in October with the rest of the Guards Brigade and in 1950, the battalion joined the 18th Infantry Brigade, the retitled 2nd Guards Brigade.

During its time in Malaya, the 2nd Battalion performed a variety of duties, including, in their involvement in the Emergency, guarding duties due to the Malayan Police‘s manpower problems, but also performed more aggressive tasks, such as patrolling into the dense jungle, hunting for CT. The patrols were difficult for the Commonwealth forces, who did not know where the CT lurked, and who had to contend with all the many aspects of the jungle, such as the diverse animals and sounds that make the jungle their home (especially leeches), and the claustrophobia of such a place, with the soldiers having probably been accustomed to living in relatively wide-open cities. A very apparent danger was the deadly booby traps laid by the CT. Patrols at times, despite hard slogging in the energy-sapping jungle, gave very little to show for the hard-work, but when contact was made with the CT, it invariably ended in fierce, close-quarters combat, with much valour and professionalism often displayed by the battalion. In 1948, the Scots Guards were involved in the Batang Kali massacre. By the time the battalion departed Malaya in 1951 for home. it had lost thirteen officers and other ranks. The Emergency was declared over on 31 July 1960, the Communists had been defeated.

In late 1951, the 1st Battalion deployed to Cyprus with the rest of the 32nd Guards Brigade, and in February the following year, the battalion deployed to the Suez Canal Zone, Egypt which was experiencing strife within the Zone, fomented by the Egyptian Government (as well as newspapers) who, in 1951, had unilaterally abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 which had given the British a base in the Suez Canal Zone, and was intended to expire in 1956. During its time in Egypt, the battalion performed a number of tasks, including the usual patrolling and guarding, which at times, tended to be monotonous and uneventful, though at others, such duties sometimes involved incidents which included coming under attack from Egyptians, including by snipers as well as rioting taking place. The battalion remained in Egypt until late 1954, when it, and the rest of the 32nd Guards Brigade, departed after a Treaty was signed between the two countries, which agreed that British and Egyptian technicians would maintain the base, and that a gradual phase-out of British forces in Egypt would begin, with the last British forces leaving Egypt in June 1956. During its time in Egypt the battalion suffered a single fatality.

Also in 1952, Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, and became the regiment’s fifth Colonel-in-Chief since the first, King Edward VII, in 1901. Also in 1952, the regiment formed a new alliance with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, an alliance that remains intact as of 2004. In July 1953, the 2nd Battalion deployed to West Germany to join the 4th Guards Brigade at Hubbelrath, part of the British Army of the Rhine, and returned home in 1957. That year the 1st Battalion headed for Hubbelrath to join the 4th Guards Brigade and remained there until 1960 when it too returned home to the UK. In February 1962, the 2nd Battalion arrived in Kenya where it joined the 24th Infantry Brigade. While there the battalion operated in support of the civil power there, which included in 1964, assistance during the mutiny of the 1st Battalion, The Kenya Rifles and in Uganda, sent a company to help in quelling the mutiny of the 1st Battalion, The Uganda Rifles, and the battalion departed Kenya that same year for home.

Elsewhere in 1964 the regiment’s alliance with the Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers came to an end, ending an alliance that had existed since 1933. The Winnipeg Grenadiers would disband the following year. In late 1964 the 1st Battalion deployed to Malaysia, which had only been formed the previous year, where it joined the 28th Commonwealth Brigade, and was based in Camp Terendak, Malacca. In 1965 the battalion undertook two tours in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation. The battalion’s time in Borneo was quite similar to the 2nd Battalion’s experiences in the Malaysian mainland during the Malayan Emergency, with patrols being undertaken against Indonesian incursions in the dense jungle that covered Borneo. The following year the 1st Battalion returned home from the Far East. That same year the 2nd Battalion deployed to West Germany where it was based in Iserlohn as part of 4th Armoured Brigade and the following year moved to Munster [disambiguation needed].

Usage in Northern Ireland

The 1st Battalion deployed for the first time to the Persian Gulf when it arrived in Sharjah, now part of the United Arab Emirates and left in late 1970. Also that year the 2nd Battalion returned home from Germany and deployed on a short tour of Northern Ireland which would be one of many for the regiment, and especially so during the 1970s. In 1971 the 2nd Battalion, due to defence cuts, was placed in ‘suspended animation’ and two companies were retained, but the following year, due to the change of Government, the battalion was reformed. Also in 1971 the 1st Battalion deployed to Ireland for the first time. Such deployments were difficult with troops being in constant danger from snipers and bombs, with patrols and guarding being the main routine duties. Their tour came to an end in December; during their deployment five men were lost to shooting and bombing incidents.

In 1972 the 1st Battalion deployed to West Germany where it was stationed in Munster as part of 4th Armoured Brigade. That same year the recently reformed 2nd Battalion undertook a tour of Northern Ireland and during its tour the battalion lost three of its men by gunfire. In May 1973 the 1st Battalion deployed to Northern Ireland, leaving in September to return to its base in Germany. The 2nd Battalion followed in late 1973 and suffered a fatality from sniper fire during its tour. In 1974 two members of the regiment lost their lives during an IRA bombing of two pubs in Guildford; two members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps and a civilian were also killed and dozens were wounded.

In 1975 the 1st Battalion deployed to Ireland yet again, though this time they thankfully did not suffer any fatalities during their 4-month tour-of-duty and returned to Munster in August. The 2nd Battalion had a decidedly warmer deployment when it arrived in Belize in Central America for a five-month deployment. In January 1976 the 1st Battalion returned home from Germany while the 2nd Battalion journeyed in the opposite direction, being based in Munster. Later that year the 2nd Battalion deployed to Northern Ireland for another tour-of-duty fulfilling the usual roles of troops in Ireland before returning to Munster in January 1977. The 1st Battalion arrived in Northern Ireland later that year for a very brief tour there. In August 1978 the 1st Battalion returned again to Ireland for another 4-month tour-of-duty. That year a member of the 2nd Battalion was killed while working undercover for the 14th Intelligence Company in Northern Ireland. In March 1980 the 1st Battalion deployed to Northern Ireland where it was stationed at Aldergrove, England for a deployment that would last until late 1981. The 2nd Battalion joined the 1st Battalion when it deployed to Northern Ireland in May 1980 for a 5-month tour-of-duty. In late 1981 the 1st Battalion left Aldergrove for warmer climes when it deployed to Hong Kong in the Far East on a two-year posting.

Falklands War

On 2 April 1982, Argentina, then under a dictatorship led by General Galtieri, invaded the British territory of the Falkland Islands off South America. The British soon assembled a large array of Royal Navy (RN) warships, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and merchant ships and headed south for Ascension Island. On the 25 April, the island of South Georgia, off Antarctica was recaptured and on the 1 May the RN Carrier Battle Group had entered the 200-mile (370 km) Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) which had been placed around the Falklands. On 12 May the 2nd Battalion, as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade (1st Battalion, The Welsh Guards, 1st/7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles), embarked aboard RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), which had been requisitioned by the Government for use as a troopship, and departed Southampton for South Georgia. In the early hours of the 21 May D-Day began with 3 Commando Brigade (including two Para battalions) landing unopposed at San Carlos water and successfully established a bridgehead.

In late May the QE2 arrived at her destination but because she could not be risked by moving her closer to the Falklands, most of 5th Brigade were transferred to the P & O liner SS Canberra who would then take them to their destination. On the 2 June, Canberra anchored in San Carlos Water, and subsequently the Guards were landed at San Carlos by LCU, a day after the 1st/7th Gurkhas had been landed by LCU from the ferry Norland. On 5 June the Scots Guards were embarked aboard the assault ship HMS Intrepid before being transferred to the ship’s four LCUs who transported them to Bluff Cove. On 8 June the 1st Welsh Guards were aboard RFA Sir Galahad also waiting to be landed at Bluff Cove when Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram were attacked by Argentinian Skyhawk fighters who proceeded to hit both ships. Sir Galahad was terribly hit and both ships caught fire, causing terrible casualties aboard Sir Galahad. Forty eight people, including thirty two Welsh Guards, were killed and many were wounded, many suffering from terrible burns. Unfortunately, only 200 survived.

On the morning of 13 June the Scots Guards were moved from their positions at Bluff Cove by helicopter to an assembly area near Goat Ridge near to their objective, Mount Tumbledown, which was defended by a crack Argentinian unit, the 5th Marine Infantry Battalion. On the night of the 13th the main force of the Scots Guards began its advance on the western side of Mount Tumbledown. During the course of the battle in the early hours of the 14th, men of the battalion launched a bayonet charge on the stout Argentinian defenders which resulted in bitter and bloody fighting, and was one of the last bayonet charges by the British Army. The battle raged on and by 8:00 am the final objective was taken and Mount Tumbledown was in the hands of the Scots Guards. The battle had been bloody, yet successful, and the battalion had proven the elite calibre and professionalism of the regiment in taking a well-defended mountain, defended by a top Argentinian unit, for it had been performing public duties back in London only a few months before. The Scots Guards casualties were eight Guards and one Royal Engineer killed, and forty three wounded. Their Argentinian opponents lost forty men and over thirty captured. See Battle of Mount Tumbledown.

On 14 June the Argentinian commander surrendered his forces of just under 10,000 men to the British, the war was over, though the end of hostilities would not officially be declared until the 20 June. The following day, Juiliet Company (made up mostly of men of Naval Party 8901 who had defended the Falklands when it had been invaded) raised the Governor’s flag above Government House, it had been down for seventy four days; the Falklands was finally liberated. Most of 5th Brigade were moved back to Fitzroy and the Scots Guards were subsequently moved to West Falkland to await the arrival of the first garrison troops and eventually departed the Falklands for Ascension on Norland on 19 July. The battalion was subsequently returned home by air, being transported by RAF VC-10 aircraft. The regiment won a number of gallantry awards for their actions in the Falklands War. A single Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was won, being awarded to the battalion’s CO Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Scott. Also won by the battalion were two Military Crosses (MC), two Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM) and two Military Medals (MM). The battalion was awarded two battle honours for its part in the war, “Tumbledown Mountain” and “Falkland Islands 1982”.

A 21st century guardsman

In 1984 the 1st Battalion returned from Hong Kong while the 2nd Battalion did the opposite and left for abroad, being deployed to the Sovereign Base Area, Cyprus where the battalion would remain until February 1986 when it returned home. In June the 1st Battalion took part once more in the Queen’s Birthday Parade, a parade which was the last time Queen Elizabeth rode on horseback during the parade. In September the 1st Battalion deployed to Ireland on an emergency tour that lasted until January 1987 The 1st Battalion was presented with new Colours by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace and the regiment also takes part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade. In October the 2nd Battalion deployed on the usual tour of NI, a tour that lasted until February 1988. That same month, the 1st Battalion deployed to Hohne, West Germany where it joined the 22nd Armoured Brigade.The 2nd Battalion also deployed abroad, when it took part in mechanised infantry exercises in the BATUS, Canada which lasted for 6-weeks. Also that year the 2nd Battalion was presented with new colours by the Queen at Hopeton House, Edinburgh In 1989 the 1st Battalion deployed on an emergency tour of East Tyrone, NI, a tour that lasted for about 4 months. The 2nd Battalion also deployed abroad, to Canada where they took part in 6-week exercises at the BATUS.

The first year of the 1990s brought much of the same for the Scots Guards when the 1st Battalion departed for 6-weeks of exercises at BATUS, Canada. The 1st Battalion did gain new equipment that year when it converted from the FV432 to the much more capable Warrior APC. In March the 2nd Battalion arrived in Northern Ireland for another tour, and during that year the regiment suffered one fatality in Ireland.

In November 1990, commanded by Lt. Col. Price, the Regimental Band of the scots guards set off to the gulf to take part in operation granby. The band served in 33 Field Hospital in Kuwait as medics on various wards, as well as providing musical entertainment at the British ambassadors residence as well as playing for the coffins as they returned back home. Musicians of the Scots Guards band can still be seen wearing there medals today. The 1st Battalion also deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Granby, the British contribution to the war against Saddam Hussein, for which the battalion was awarded the theatre honour “Gulf 1991”. That same year the 2nd Battalion took part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

In 1992 the 1st Battalion deployed to Belfast, N. Ireland and during that 6-month tour the battalion suffered a single fatality. During this tour members of the 1st Battalion were involved in the shooting of an unarmed civilian, Peter McBride, for which two members were imprisoned.

Other events that year for the regiment included the 2nd Battalion providing the Royal Guard at Balmoral Castle, participating in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, in which the regiment has participated in many times. Also that year the regiment celebrated at Holyrood Palace, the 350th Anniversary of the regiment’s creation. In 1993 the 2nd Battalion took part in 6-week exercises at BATUS in Canada but on the 4 November, due to defence cuts, the battalion was placed in ‘suspended animation’ and a single company (F Company) was formed for public and other duties. In 1994 the 1st Battalion deployed on a tour of Ireland that lasted for 6-months. The following year saw the 1st Battalion take part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade and deploy to Canada for 6-weeks of exercises at BATUS. In 1996 the battalion deployed once more to Ireland and the following year the regiment takes part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade. In 1998 the 1st Battalion deployed to Ballykinler, Ireland on a 2-year posting and returned home.

The new millennium also brought much of the same for the regiment. The 1st Battalion deployed to Ireland in 2000. That year the battalion also deployed to Kenya for exercises that lasted 6-weeks. A contingent of the Scots Guards was also deployed to Sierra Leone in West Africa. In 2001 the 1st Battalion was back in Ireland, and a single company stayed there for 6-months. Sadness struck the nation in 2002 when the Queen Mother died in March, only a month after her daughter, Princess Margaret, had died. The regiment was very active in duties and on 5 April, 6 officers and 300 other ranks of the regiment took part in the funeral procession to Westminster Hall where the late Queen Mother would be lying-in-state until 9 April. Officers of the regiment took turns at standing vigil in Westminster Hall around the Queen Mother’s coffin, provoking sombre scenes. Later that month, after such sombre scenes, the 1st Battalion and F Company were presented with their new Colours by Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. On 15 June the battalion took part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade, a parade that was significant all the more because 2002 was also the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee, her 50th year as Queen. The regiment was also celebrating its 360th year, and had also been the first regiment (the 2nd Battalion) to parade the Colour for Queen Elizabeth in 1952. The battalion and F Company were also involved in firefighting duties as part of Operation Fresco during the firefighters strike, and the Scots Guards, as did all other armed forces units, used vintage Army Green Goddess fire engines. The Scots Guards operated in Greater London during their firefighting duties.

In 2003 the 1st Battalion deployed to Münster, Germany where it joined British Forces Germany (BFG) on a 6-year posting. Also that year F Company deployed abroad too when it took part in “exercises” in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan. In 2004 the 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq on a 6-month posting as part of 4th Armoured Brigade from October, where the Brigade, which will relieve 1st Mechanised Brigade, will join the Multi-National Division (South East), which is under UK command.

Under the reforms announced in 2004, the Scots Guards will remain as a single battalion regiment, but be given a fixed role. It will remain as an armoured infantry battalion, moving from Münster to Catterick, in northern England in 2009. As a consequence, it is unlikely that the 1st Battalion will be employed on public duties for a considerable time – this task will instead remain with F Company.

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