Scots Guards

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The Scots Guards
Scots Guards Badge.jpg
Regimental badge of the Scots Guards
Active 1642–1651
Country  Kingdom of Scotland
 Kingdom of England
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Foot Guards
Role 1st Battalion – Mechanized Infantry
F Company – Public Duties
Size One battalion
One company
Part of Guards Division
Garrison/HQ RHQ – London
1st Battalion – Aldershot
F Company – London
Nickname(s) The Kiddies; Jock Guards
Motto(s) "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit"
"No one assails me with impunity"
March Quick – Highland Laddie
Slow – The Garb of Old Gaul
Anniversaries St Andrew's Day
Nov 30
Battle of Mount Tumbledown
Jun 13
Colonel-in-Chief Elizabeth II
Colonel of
the Regiment
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO
Tactical Recognition Flash GuardsTRF.svg
Tartan Royal Stewart (pipers kilts, trews and plaids)
Plume none
Abbreviation SG
Recruits practising drill on Catterick parade square
Scots Guards drummer, piper, bugler and bandsman, circa 1891
Sgt. A. Fraser of the Scots Fusilier Guards unhorsing Col. Cuieres during the Battle of Waterloo, Hougomont Farm. [1]

The Scots Guards (SG), part of the Guards Division, is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army. Their origins lie in the personal bodyguard of King Charles I of England and Scotland. Its lineage can be traced back to 1642, although it was only placed on the English Establishment (thus becoming part of what is now the British Army) in 1686. The Regiment is the oldest formed Regiment in the Regular Army in service today.


Formation; 17th Century[edit]

Citadel of Namur above the Meuse; the regiment gained its first battle honour for an assault during the 1695 Siege

The regiment now known as the Scots Guards traces its origins to the Marquis of Argyll's Royal Regiment, a unit raised in 1642 by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll in response to the 1641 Irish Rebellion.[2] After the Restoration of Charles II, the Earl of Linlithgow received a commission dated 23 November 1660 to raise a regiment which was called The Scottish Regiment of Footguards.[3]

It was used in the Covenanter risings of 1679, with James Douglas taking over from Linlithgow as Colonel in 1684.[4] The regiment helped suppress Argyll's Rising in June 1685, and expanded to two battalions. After the November 1688 Glorious Revolution, the first battalion was sent to Flanders; the second served in Ireland under Colonel Douglas and fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, before joining the First in 1691.[5] George Ramsay became Colonel when Douglas died of disease in July 1691; during the 1688-1697 Nine Years War, elements of the regiment were present at the battles of Steenkerque, Landen, or Neerwinden and the recapture of Namur in 1695. After the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, the regiment returned to England, then back to Scotland in 1699.[6]

The 18th Century[edit]

When the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702, Ramsay was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Scotland and the regiment spent most of the war on garrison duties at home; Ramsay died in 1705, but the Marquess of Lothian was appointed Colonel only in 1707. The First Battalion fought at the battles of Almenar and Saragossa in Spain but was forced to surrender with the rest of the British expeditionary force at Brihuega in December 1710.[7] It was officially named The Third Regiment of Foot Guards in 1712 and moved from Edinburgh to London; it would not return to Scotland for another 100 years. [8]

In the absence of a modern police force, the military was often used instead, an example of which appears in 'Memoirs of a Georgian Rake' by William Hickey. He describes events when a detachment from the 'Third Regiment of Guards, principally Scotchmen' dispersed a crowd trying to free the radical politician, John Wilkes from prison in 1768.[9]


In April 1809 the 1st Battalion made their way to the Iberian Peninsula where they were to take part in the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain. On 12 May 1809, the 1st Battalion took part in the crossing of the River Douro, an operation that ended so successfully that the French Army were in full retreat to Amarante after the actions in Oporto and its surrounding areas. In late July 1809 the regiment took part in the Battle of Talavera, one of the bloodiest and most bitter of engagements during the war.[2]

The 2nd Battalion's flank companies took part in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign in the Low Countries. The 1st Battalion went on to take part in the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811, the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, the Siege of San Sebastián in Summer 1813 and the Battle of the Nive in December 1813.[2]

A notable moment near Hougomont was the engagement of General Cubières by Sargent A. Fraser. [1] At the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the Scots Guards were positioned on the ridge just behind Hougoumont, while the light companies of the two battalions, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel James Macdonnell, garrisoned the Farm, a place on the right flank of the British and Allied army that would be a key position during the battle.[10]


The First World War[edit]

The 1st Battalion, part of the 1st (Guards) Brigade of the 1st Division, was part of the British Expeditionary Force which arrived in France in 1914. The Battalion took part in the Battle of Mons in August 1914, the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914 and the Battle of the Aisne also in September 1914. The 1st and 2nd Battalions then took part in the First Battle of Ypres in November 1914, the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915 and the Battle of Loos in September 1915. In July 1916 the Scots Guards took part in the first Battle of the Somme and in July 1917, the regiment began its involvement in the Battle of Passchendaele. In March 1918 they fought at the second Battle of the Somme and in Autumn the regiment took part in the final battles of the war on the Western Front.[11]

The Second World War[edit]

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. In North Africa, as part of the 22nd Guards Brigade, the 2nd Battalion took part in fighting against the Italians in Egypt followed by tough fighting in Libya, then also controlled by Italy. In North Africa, in March 1943, the 2nd Battalion took part in the defensive Battle of Medenine, after the Germans had counter-attacked the Allies.[12]

In September 1943, the 2nd Battalion, as part of the 201st Guards Brigade of the 56th (London) Division, took part in the Landing at Salerno. In December 1943, the 1st Battalion, as part of 24th Guards Brigade, arrived in the Italian Theatre. At the Battle of Monte Cassino in early 1944, the 2nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties in tough fighting.[13]

The 1st Battalion, as part of its brigade, joined the 6th South African Armoured Division in May 1944. The regiment took part in many fierce engagements throughout 1944, including those against the Gothic Line, a formidable defensive line.[14]

Since 1946[edit]

The 2nd Battalion was once more involved in war when it deployed to Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. Then in late 1951, the 1st Battalion was deployed to Cyprus and in February 1952, the battalion deployed to the Suez Canal Zone, Egypt. Both the 1st and 2nd Battalion deployed to Northern Ireland during the Troubles in the early 1970s.[15]

During the Falklands War in 1982 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 14 June 1982, men of the 2nd 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.[13]

In 2004 the 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq on a 6-month posting as part of 4th Armoured Brigade. The 4th Brigade relieved 1st Mechanised Brigade, and joined the Multi-National Division (South East), which was under UK command.[16]

Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles of the Scots Guards patrolling in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2008

Traditions and affiliations[edit]

The Scots Guards and other Guards regiments have a long-standing connection to the Parachute Regiment. Guardsman who have completed the P company selection course are transferred into the Guards Parachute Platoon, who are currently attached to 3 PARA. This continues the lineage of the No. 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company, who were the original Pathfinder Group of 16th Parachute Brigade.[17]

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.[13]


The Scots Guards has five operational companies: three mechanized companies (Right Flank, C Company and Left Flank), one Support Weapons company (B Company) and one headquarters and logistics company (HQ Company). The regiment consists of a single operational battalion, which was based in Catterick between 2008 and 2015, thereafter moving to Aldershot in the armoured infantry role. Since 1993, F Company, permanently based in Wellington Barracks, London on public duties, has been 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. 1st Battalion will be equipped with Mastiff Vehicles (and later the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)) under Army 2020 and be under the first Strike Brigade.[18][19]


Recruits to the Guards Division go through a thirty-week gruelling training programme at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC). The training is two weeks more than the training for the Regular line infantry regiments of the British Army; the extra training, carried out throughout the course, is devoted to drill and ceremonies.[20]


  • 1st Battalion[21][22]
    • IV (Headquarters) Company
      • Signals Platoon
      • Mechanical Motor Transport Platoon
      • Quatermaster's Department
      • Other Departments
    • I (Right Flank) Company
      • 1 Platoon
      • 2 Platoon
      • 3 Platoon
    • II B (Support) Company
      • Reconnaissance Platoon
      • Mortar Platoon
      • Machine Gun Platoon
      • Anti-Tank Platoon
    • III (C) Company
      • 4 Platoon
      • 5 Platoon
      • 6 Platoon
    • VIII (Left Flank) Company
      • 7 Platoon
      • 8 Platoon
      • 9 Platoon

Regimental colonels[edit]

Regimental colonels have included:

Battle honours[edit]

The battle honours of the Scots Guards are as follows:[30]


Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Coldstream Guards
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Irish Guards


  1. ^ a b "Scots Guards". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  2. ^ a b c "Scots Guards". British Empire. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  3. ^ Dalton, Charles (1896). English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV (2018 ed.). London: Forgotten Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-1333543266.
  4. ^ Dalton, p.51.
  5. ^ Dalton, p.85.
  6. ^ Folker, Martin. "3rd Foot Guards (Or Scotch Guards)". War of the Spanish succession. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  7. ^ Atkinson, CT (Autumn 1942). "Brihuega 1710". Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. 21 (23): 114.
  8. ^ Archibald, Murray (1862). History of the Scottish Regiments in the British Army. Glasgow: Thomas Murray and Son. pp. Chapter V. ISBN 978-1169988187.
  9. ^ Hickey, William (1995). Memoirs of a Georgian Rake (Folio ed.). The Folio Society. pp. 53–55.
  10. ^ Longford, Elizabeth, Wellington: The Years of the Sword, p.450
  11. ^ "The Wartime Memories Project – The Great War". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  12. ^ "The Battle Of Medenine". Queen's Royal Surreys. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b c "The Scots Guards – Ex Servicemen Recruitment". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  14. ^ "6th South African Armoured Division". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Scots Guards". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  16. ^ "Scots Guards". Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  17. ^ "No 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company". ParaData. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  18. ^ "Regular Army basing matrix" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  19. ^ "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army:Written statement - HCWS367 - UK Parliament". 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  20. ^ "Combat Infantryman's Course – Foot Guards". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  21. ^ "1st Bn, Scots Guards: Service". Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  22. ^ "Our Fighting Role". Scots Guards. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  23. ^ "2nd Bn, Scots Guards: Service". Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Scots Guards Colonels". British Empire. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  25. ^ Collins, Arthur; Brydges, Sir Egerton (1812). Peerage of England: Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical. 8. F.C. and J. Rivington and others. p. 65.
  26. ^ Handley, Stuart. "Kerr, William, second marquess of Lothian". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  27. ^ "Sir William Knollys". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  28. ^ a b "No. 27672". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 May 1904. p. 2837.
  29. ^ a b c "History of the Scots Guards". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  30. ^ "Scots Guards Sword". Retrieved 27 April 2014.

External links[edit]