401: The Royal Scots Fusiliers, raised 1678

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Royal Scots Fusiliers

The Royal Scots Fusiliers was a Regiment of the British Army.

The Earl of Mar’s Regiment of Foot (‘Mar’s Grey Breeks’) (1678-1695)

The regiment was raised in Scotland in 1678 by Stuart loyalist Charles Erskine, de jure 5th Earl of Mar for service against the rebel covenanting forces during the Second Whig Revolt (1678-1679). They were used to keep the peace and put down brigands, mercenaries, and rebels. In the Glorious Revolution of 1689, the regiment was ordered south. Initially they stayed loyal to James II of England until he fled to Ireland, upon which they opted to serve Prince William of Orange. The regiment later ironically fought against the Jacobites during the Second Jacobite Rebellion (1745) at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The Scots Fusilier Regiment of Foot (1695-1712)

The regiment was converted to fusiliers in 1689, but didn’t receive the title officially until 1695. It was nicknamed the “Duke of Marlborough’s Own” for its excellent service in all of the Duke’s campaigns in the War of the Spanish Succession and received the title of “Royal” in 1712.

21st (Royal North British Fusilier) Regiment of Foot (1713-1877)

The regiment was renamed the Royal North British Fusilier Regiment of Foot in 1713. It was later numbered the 21st Regiment in 1751, when seniority numbers were introduced.

21st (Royal Scots Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot (1877-1881)

The regiment finally saw the restoration of “Scots” in their title in 1877.

Childers Reforms of 1881

The regiment did not suffer the indignity of being amalgamated, as it already had two regular battalions. However, it did become the County Regiment of Ayrshire, Dumfries-shire, Kircudbrightshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, and Wigtownshire in South-West Scotland. This made them a Lowland Regiment and forced them to adopt trews. It also had to lose its numbering, becoming The Scots Fusiliers.

Amalgamations of 1959

The Scots Fusiliers was amalgamated with the Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) in 1959 to form The Royal Highland Fusiliers, (Princess Margaret’s Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment). The regular 1st battalions of the two Regiments combined at Redford BarracksEdinburgh to form the 1st battalion of the new regiment (1 RHF).

Battle honours

The most notable battle honours of the Regiment are: BlenheimDettingenInkermanGheluvelt (1914) and numerous honours from the Boer and First and Second world wars.

Famous Officers

  • Sir Andrew Agnew (in command at the Battle of Dettingen)
  • Field Marshal Sir Paul Haynes (in command at Inkerman).
  • Lord Trenchard (founder of the Royal Air Force and later made Marshal of the Royal Air Force) served as a subaltern during the Second Boer War.
  • Deneys Reitz, one time deputy Prime Minister of South Africa and South African High Commissioner in London. Reitz served as a Commando against the British during the Second Boer War but served on the British side against the Germans in Africa, later commanding the 1st Battalion of The Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front in France.
  • Sir Winston Churchill commanded the 6th Battalion (Territorial Army) of the Regiment for a few months in 1915 on the Western Front while in disgrace after Gallipoli.
    • Churchill’s second-in-command was Sir Archibald Sinclair, later made Secretary of State for Air in 1940 as part of Churchill’s coalition government.
    • One of Churchill’s subalterns was Sir Edmund Hakewell Smith, During World War 2, he would later be promoted to Major-General and become commander of 52 (Lowland) Division in 1943.

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