King's Own Scottish Borderers


Early History

Seven Years War

Napoleonic Wars

India and Pakistan

South Africa

World War I

World War II

Wars Since 1945

Intermediate Names

Battle Honours


The Regiment was formed by Royal Warrant at Edinburgh Castle on 18th March 1689 as the Earl of Leven's or Edinburgh Regiment of Foot.

The Regiment was raised to protect Edinburgh from the threat of armed resistance by Catholic rebels following the establishment of the protestant King William III (William of Orange).

David, the third Earl of Leven, who commanded the regiment, was a Scottish expatriate who had landed with William at Torbay in 1688. His father, the first Earl Leven, Alexander Leslie, (1580-1660) commanded the Scottish army that fought on the side of Parliament in the English Civil War and took the surrender of King Charles I at Newark, Nottinghamshire in May 1646.

After six redesignations but no amalgamations the Regiment was redesignated as The King's Own Scottish Borderers on 1st May 1887 and has remained as such ever since.

Early History

After formation the regiment served in Scotland including fighting at Killiecrankie on 27th July 1689 where the Regiment and Hasting's Regiment (now the Somerset Light Infantry) were described as saving the honour of the Army.

In 1691 the Regiment joined the army in Ireland (siege of Ballymore, assault on Athlone, battle of Aughrim, sieges of Gallway and Limerick), and later Flanders for the 1692 War of the League of Augsburg where it participated at Steenkirk, Landen, and the 1695 Siege of Namur - the Regiment's first battle honour.

The Regiment returned to Edinburgh following the Peace of Ryswick and remained there for 13 years during the reign of Queen Anne.

During the rebellion of 1715 the Regiment fought at the indecisive battle of Sheriffmuir. The Regiment then spent time abroad including:

  • Participating in the Vigo expedition of 1719
  • Being one of the regiments involved in defeating Spaniards at the siege of Gibraltar in 1727-8
  • Fontenay in May 1745

Later in 1745, for the last time, Stuart factions in Scotland raised a rebellion, the famous 'Forty-Five' and the Regiment returned to take part in the battle of Culloden.

The Seven Years War (1756-1763)

The Regiment fought at the glorious battle of Minden on 1st August 1759 where six Regiments of British Infantry, some 2,000 men in total, advanced alone against 10,000 crack French Cavalry and defeated them.  For their prowess at Minden, the Regiment (and the 12th, 20th, 23d,  37th, and 51st) were granted leave to carry a laurel wreath on their colours and equipment. Also on Minden day each year the men wear roses in their Glengarries from the tradition that at Minden the regiments marched through flower-gardens, and most of the men wore roses as they went into action.

After Minden they continued at the battles of Warburg, Campen, Fellinghausen and Wilhemsthal.

The Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815)

Uncharacteristically, and along with some others the Regiment served as Marine Infantry for a period commencing 1794.

India and Pakistan

South Africa

The 1st Battalion took part in the South African War, winning the battle honours of "Paardeberg" and "South Africa 1900-1902". It also won its first Victoria Cross when Lieutenant Coulson was awarded it for gallantry at Lambrechtfontein.

The First World War (1914-1918)

At the outbreak of the First World War the 1st Battalion was in India and the 2nd in Ireland.  The 2nd was among the first units to come to grips with the enemy, playing a heroic part in the retreat from Mons in 1914 including the desperate battle of Le Cateau, in the so-called Battle of the Marne, and on the Aisne.  In the hard fighting around La Bassee and Neuve Chapelle it played a leading part and other Battalions, newly raised for the war, went to France as 1915 wore on.  In September 1915, at the battle of Loos, Piper Daniel Laidlaw of the 7th Battalion won one of the most famous VC's of all time for playing his pipes up and down the trench during a critical moment of the fight.   The Regiment was represented at the Somme in 1916, at Arras and Vimy Ridge in 1917, and in the desperate fighting in the spring of 1918.  Three other VC's were won, one in the 5th Battalion, and two in the 1st.

The 1st Battalion returned from India in time to land at "Y" Beach in Gallipoli at dawn on Sunday 24th April 1915.  Other landings met with great success and the "Y" Beach operation was abandoned after 34 hours ashore during which 296 officers and men were killed or wounded.  The 4th and 5th Battalions also fought in Gallipoli losing 800 men in one attack, and later in Palestine before going, like the 1st, to Flanders.

Two notable landmarks in the history of the Regiment occurred before the Second World War.   The first was the appointment of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester, daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleugh, as the first Colonel in Chief.  The second was a remarkable parade in Edinburgh in 1939 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Raising of the Regiment.  The 2nd Battalion was abroad, but the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th were all represented.  Led by the massed Pipe Bands and exercising their privilege of marching with bayonets fixed and Colours flying, they marched from Holyrood house to the Mound where Her Royal Highness, supported by the 13th Earl of Leven and Melville, took the salute.  Thirty-seven days later Britain was at war again.

The Second World War (1939-1945)

The Regiment were involved in campaigns throughout Burma and in the Battles of Dunkirk, D-Day and Arnhem.

The 1st Battalion was early on the continent and fought its way stubbornly back to Dunkirk, landing in Normandy in 1944 and amply revenged itself before reaching Hamburg around VE Day.  The 2nd fought for three years in Burma.  The 4th and 5th Battalions were in the 52nd Lowland Division, which trained as mountain troops.  They landed on the Island of Walcheren and fought in the assault on the island.  The 6th Battalion shared the fortunes of the 15th Scottish Division, fighting across three countries into Germany.  The 7th was dropped at Arnhem and suffered its full share of   the heavy casualties suffered there.

Wars since 1945

In April 1951 the 1st Battalion sailed from Hong Kong for Korea destined for hard fighting against the communist forces. The month of October showed increased activity, and on 4th November the enemy launched a ferocious attack heralded by a bombardment at the rate of 100 shells per minute. The battle went on all night against an enemy reckoned to outnumber the defenders by 10 to 1. Our men held the ground and Private William Speakman won the VC.

The Battalion returned to Northern Ireland in December 1952 and proceeded to Malaya in 1955. There they experienced three years of jungle operations against Communist terrorists and assisted the Civil Powers of Singapore. After a brief spell in Edinburgh the Battalion served in Berlin from 1959 to 1961. A further short period of duty in Edinburgh was followed by an arduous tour in Aden. The Battalion had only been home for three months when it was flown back to Aden amongst the burning rock and dust of the Radfan Mountains in mid 1964. In 1965 and 1966 it was on operations in the jungles of Borneo.

The Battalion was called upon to serve in the Gulf War of 1991.

More recently the Battalion has done its share of tours in Northern Ireland serving in South Armagh and Belfast. They have been honoured with many awards for their service. Currently (Oct 2003) the Regiment is based in the Maysan Province of Southern Iraq as part of OP TELIC 2.

Intermediate Regimental Names

The Regiment had six intermediate designations from its formation including an unsuccessful association with Sussex

  • William, Earl Panmure's Regt of Foot (1 Dec 1747). Ranked 25th Regt
  • 25th (Edinburgh) Regt of Foot (1751)
  • 25th (Sussex) Regt of Foot (31 Aug 1782)
  • 25th (The King's Own Borderers) Regt of Foot (7 May 1805)
  • 25th (The York) Regt of Foot (the King's Own Borderers) (1870)
  • The York Regt (King's Own Borderers) (1 July 1881)
  • The King's Own Borderers (later in 1881)

 kosb.jpg (8384 bytes)

In veritate religionis confido

(I trust in the truth of my belief)

A motto chosen by King George III and conferred on the Regiment when the title was changed in 1805

Nisi dominus frustra

(In vain without the Lord)

The motto of the City of Edinburgh

2_kosb_1912.jpg (32685 bytes)

The 2nd KOSB march to St Giles' Cathedral, Oct 1912 for the ceremony of Laying-up the Colours.

Regimental Tartans

  • Trews of Leslie Tartan.

Leslie Tartan

  • The pipers wear the kilt of Royal Stewart tartan.

Royal Stewart Tartan