Scots Guards

The Scots Guards (SG) is one of the five Foot Guards regiments of the British Army. Its origins are as 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.[2]

Scots Guards
Scots Guards Badge.jpg
Regimental badge of the Scots Guards
Country Kingdom of Scotland
 Kingdom of England
 Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
 United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeFoot Guards
Role1st Battalion Scots Guards – Mechanized Infantry
F Company – Public Duties
SizeOne battalion – 707 personnel[1]
One company
Part ofGuards Division
Garrison/HQRHQ – London
1st Battalion – Catterick
F Company – London
Nickname(s)The Kiddies; Jock Guards
Motto(s)"Nemo Me Impune Lacessit"
"No one assails me with impunity"
MarchQuick – Highland Laddie
Slow – The Garb of Old Gaul
AnniversariesSt Andrew's Day
Nov 30
Battle of Mount Tumbledown
Jun 13
Colonel-in-ChiefElizabeth II
Colonel of
the Regiment
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO
Tactical Recognition FlashGuardsTRF.svg
TartanRoyal Stewart (Pipers kilts, Trews and Plaids)


Formation; 17th CenturyEdit

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.[3] 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.[4]

It served in the 1679 Covenanter rising of 1679, as well as Argyll's Rising in June 1685, after which it was expanded to two battalions.[5] When the Nine Years War began in 1689, the first battalion was sent to Flanders; the second served in Ireland, and fought at the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, before joining the First in 1691.[6] The combined unit fought at Steenkerque and Landen, as well as the 1695 Namur. After the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, the regiment returned to Scotland.[7]

18th CenturyEdit

The Guards remained in Scotland during the War of the Spanish Succession; retitled The Third Regiment of Foot Guards, it moved to London in 1712, and did not return to Scotland for another 100 years. During the 1740-1748 War of the Austrian Succession, the First Battalion served at Dettingen in 1743 and Fontenoy in April 1745, a British defeat famous for the Gardes françaises and Grenadier Guards inviting each other to fire first.[8]

Both battalions were in London during the 1745 Rising; an engraving by William Hogarth shows them marching to take up defensive positions in North London. However, the Jacobite army turned back at Derby, and in July 1747, the Second Battalion was sent to Flanders, where it fought at Lauffeld, before the war ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.[9]

In the absence of a modern police force, the military was often used for crowd control; in 'Memoirs of a Georgian Rake,' William Hickey describes a detachment from the 'Third Regiment of Guards, principally Scotchmen' dispersing a crowd attempting to release the radical politician, John Wilkes from prison in 1768.[10]


Scots Guard Sergeant A. Fraser unhorsing Col. Cuieres at Hougoumont Farm, June 1815[11]

In April 1809, the 1st Battalion was sent to the Iberian Peninsula, and served in the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain. It took part in the crossing of the River Douro on 12 May, 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.[3]

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.[3]

At the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the Scots Guards were positioned on the ridge just behind Hougoumont. Their light companies, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Macdonnell, held Hougoumont Farm throughout the battle, a key defensive position on the right flank of the Allied army.[12]

Scots Guards drummer, piper, bugler and musician, circa 1891


The First World WarEdit

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.[13]

The Second World WarEdit

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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

The Batang Kali Massacre (1948)Edit

In 1948, the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards were deployed to Malaya (now Malaysia) to crush a Communist-inspired and pro-independence uprising during a conflict known as the Malayan Emergency. The uprising was led by communist guerrillas of the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), many of which had been previously trained and funded by the British military to fight against Japan during WWII. During their time in Malaya the Scots Guards rounded up the population of a villiage near the Batang Kali river, began psychologically torturing civilians by staging mock executions,[17][18] before executing 24 innocent unarmed civilians,[19] and burning their village down.[20][19] Many of their corpses were found to have been mutilated by the Scots Guards.[21] The massacre, which became known as the Batang Kali massacre, has often been described by historians as "Britain's My Lai" and compared to the Mỹ Lai massacre committed by the United States military in Vietnam.[22][23][21]

Many of the surviving relatives of the innocent civilians executed by the Scots Guards were forced to live their lives in poverty, one became a child bride at the age of 16 in order to survive, some were forced to live in decrepit houses for shelter, and others were split up as orphans and were never able to rediscover their siblings.[24] A week after the massacre some of the families returned to the villiage to find that the Scots Guards had burnt down their homes, and that the corpses had been left to rot. One of the last surviving witnesses to the massacre was Wong Then Loy, who was 8 years old when he and his father collected and buried the bodies of the victims.[24] Many of the bodies had also been mutilated.[22] No weapons were ever found at the site of the massacre, and the former leader of the MNLA guerrillas came forward to testify that none of his soldiers were ever involved with the villagers.[22]

One of the Scots Guards soldiers who took part in the massacre came forward after the news broke of the Mỹ Lai massacre, and commented that "Once we started firing we seemed to go mad."[22] Four Scots Guards soldiers came forward to The People magazine and gave eyewitness accounts of the massacre.[25] Some of the Scots Guards testified that they had been ordered by superiors to lie about the massacre.[25] A total of 6 Scots Guards confessed to committing the Batang Kali Massacre and their testimonies were corroborated by forensic evidence, though intervention by the British government attempted to halt any investigations into the matter.[18]

Since 1948Edit

By 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.[26] During their time in Northern Ireland, Scots Guards were involved in the contentious shooting of civilian Peter McBride, for which two soldiers were convicted of murder.[27][28]

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 'wearing berets instead of helmets' launched a bayonet charge on the redoubtable Argentinian defenders which resulted in bitter and bloody fighting, and was one of the last bayonet charges by the British Army.[15]

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 British command.[2]

In 2021, the 1st Battalion moved to Somme Barracks, Catterick Garrison as part of the Army 2020 Refine reforms.[29][30]

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

Traditions and affiliationsEdit

A Scots Guards sentry at Buckingham Palace

The Scots Guards and other Guards regiments have a long-standing connection to the Parachute Regiment. Guardsmen who have completed the P company selection course are transferred into the Guards Parachute Platoon, which is currently attached to 3 PARA. This continues the lineage of the No. 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company, who were the original Pathfinder Group of the 16th Parachute Brigade.[31]

The Scots Guards is ranked as the third regiment in the Guards Division. As such, Scots Guardsmen can be recognized by having the buttons on their tunics spaced in threes.[15]

Modern-day recruits practising drill at Catterick

Structure and RoleEdit

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.[32] F Company was formerly part of the 2nd Bn as its 'support weapons company', operating mortars, anti-tank weapons, and reconnaissance vehicles.[33]

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. 1st Battalion will be equipped with Mastiff Vehicles (and later the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)) under Army 2020 Refine and be under the first Strike Brigade. The 1st Battalion will not rotate public ceremonial duties unlike the other guards regiments with F Company performing that role.[34][35][36][37]


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.[38]

Regimental Lieutenant ColonelsEdit

The Regimental Lieutenant Colonels have been:[39]

  • 1959–1962: Col. Earl Cathcart
  • 1962–1964: Col. Adrian J.C. Seymour
  • 1964–1967: Col. George P.M. Ramsay
  • 1967–1970: Col. Archibald I.D. Fletcher
  • 1970–1971: Col. John Swinton
  • 1971–1974: Col. Sir Gregor MacGregor, 6th Baronet
  • 1974–1978: Col. Murray P. de Klee
  • 1978–1981: Col. Iain A. Ferguson
  • 1981–1985: Col. James A. Dunsmure
  • 1985–1987: Col. John M. Clavering
  • 1987–1989: Lt.-Col. Michael G.L. Whiteley
  • 1989–1993: Brig. Michael I.E. Scott
  • 1993–1995: Brig. Antony G. Ross
  • 1995–2001: Maj.-Gen. John P. Kiszely
  • 2001–2006: Maj.-Gen. John T. Holmes
  • 2006–2011: Col. Alastair D. Mathewson
  • 2011–2020: Brig. G. Harry F.S. Nickerson
  • 2020–present: Lt.-Col. James D.L. Leask.

Regimental ColonelsEdit

Regimental Colonels have included:

Battle honoursEdit

The battle honours of the Scots Guards are as follows:[46]


Freedom of Entry (in accordance with Section 249(5) of the Local Government Act 1972)Edit

Order of precedenceEdit

Preceded by Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by


  1. ^ "Army – Question for Ministry of Defence". p. 1. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Scots Guards". Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Scots Guards". British Empire. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  4. ^ Dalton 1896, p. 3.
  5. ^ Dalton 1896, p. 51.
  6. ^ Dalton 1896, p. 85.
  7. ^ Folker.
  8. ^ McKinnon 1883, p. 368.
  9. ^ History.
  10. ^ Hickey 1995, pp. 53–55.
  11. ^ "Scots Guards". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  12. ^ Longford 1971, p. 450.
  13. ^ "The Wartime Memories Project – The Great War". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  14. ^ "The Battle Of Medenine". Queen's Royal Surreys (Archived). Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
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  16. ^ "6th South African Armoured Division". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Batang Kali massacre a lesson for British Army's murderers, and all others... the truth will out in end". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  18. ^ a b Boycott, Owen (21 April 2015). "Malaya inquiry to hear from survivors of Batang Kali shootings by British troops". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  19. ^ a b Shirbon, Estelle (4 September 2012). "Britain held responsible for 1948 mass killing in Malaya". Reuters. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Batang Kali killings: Britain in the dock over 1948 massacre in". The Independent. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Revealed: how Britain tried to legitimise Batang Kali massacre". The Guardian. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b c d Townsend, Mark (6 May 2012). "Revealed: how Britain tried to legitimise Batang Kali massacre". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Britain's My Lai? Remembering the Batang Kali massacre in Malaysia". Southeast Asia Globe. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  24. ^ a b Vengadesan, Martin; Chia Ying, Lim (8 May 2012). "Agony of massacre victims' descendants". The Star. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  25. ^ a b Bowcott, Owen (2015). "Relatives lose fight for inquiry into 1948 Batang Kali 'massacre'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  26. ^ "Scots Guards". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  27. ^ "Teenager shot dead by troops in Belfast". The Independent. 23 October 2011.
  28. ^ "Roy Greenslade: Remember Peter McBride?". The Guardian. 10 September 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  29. ^ "Who's excisted about moving to Catterick...?! The team in Erbil certainly are". Scots Guards – Twitter. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  30. ^ "1st Battalion Scots Guards Awarded Medals For Work In Middle East". Forces Network. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  31. ^ "No 1 (Guards) Independent Parachute Company". ParaData. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  32. ^ "Our Ceremonial Role". Scots Guards. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  33. ^ Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 1988, archived from the original on 14 December 2021, retrieved 11 May 2021
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  35. ^ "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army:Written statement - HCWS367 - UK Parliament". 15 December 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  36. ^ "Role of Scots Guards under Army 2020 model" (PDF). Ministry of Defence,UK. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  37. ^ Army Secretariat (10 March 2017). "Response to FOI2017/02130 - Request for information related to Army 2020 Refine" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2018.
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  39. ^ "Regiments and Commanding Officers, 1960 - Colin Mackie" (PDF). p. 39. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Scots Guards Colonels". British Empire. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  41. ^ Collins, Arthur; Brydges, Sir Egerton (1812). Peerage of England: Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical. 8. F.C. and J. Rivington and others. p. 65.
  42. ^ Handley, Stuart (2004). "Kerr, William, second marquess of Lothian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15469. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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  44. ^ a b "No. 27672". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 May 1904. p. 2837.
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  46. ^ "Scots Guards Sword". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  47. ^ "Freedom of Wantage Recipients". Wantage Town Council. Retrieved 27 January 2021.


  • Dalton, Charles (1896). English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV (2018 ed.). London: Forgotten Books. ISBN 978-1333543266.
  • Folker, Martin. "3rd Foot Guards (Or Scotch Guards)". War of the Spanish succession. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  • Hickey, William (1995). Memoirs of a Georgian Rake. The Folio Society.
  • Longford, Elizabeth (1971). Wellington; The years of the sword. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-0586035481.
  • McKinnon, Daniel (1883). Origins and Services of the Coldstream Guards, Volume I. Richard Bentley.
  • "History". Scots Guards Association. Retrieved 1 November 2018.

External linksEdit