‘Keep The Colours’ campaign could pay off this week

A decision will soon be made to determine the final resting place of the KOSB colours
A decision will soon be made to determine the final resting place of the KOSB colours

A DECISION is expected this week on the final resting place for the colours belonging to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB).

Ed Swales, president of the KOSB Association Berwick Branch, began a campaign backed by ‘The Advertiser’ in November to bring the regiment’s flag home to be layed up in Berwick.

In an attempt to show the depth of feeling towards the KOSB from the “regimental family”, ordinary members of the public as well as those with military ties were asked to back Berwick.

Mr Swales was overwhelmed by the response. “The reaction up to the original deadline [December 17] was astounding,” he said.

“I was able to go back to the trustees with such a strong majority supporting Berwick that they had to consider an extra review period up until their next AGM.”

That AGM will be held this Friday, May 25, and will decide whether the colours are retired to Berwick, Edinburgh Castle or Canongate Kirk.

Mr Swales was able to show the KOSB trustees the enduring military history of Berwick, which holds the first purpose-built barracks in Britain, and remembers KOSB involvement in the 1759 Battle of Minden with an annual parade.

“The Minden Parade has grown and grown,” Mr Swales continued, “until last year we had more than 400 former KOSB’s on parade.”

The KOSB has a proud history going back over 300 years. Up until a massive Government Defence Review in 2004, the KOSB was one of only five infantry regiments never to be amalgamated.

In 2006 the KOSB joined with the Royal Scots to form the Royal Scots Borderers. The KOSB colours were paraded before the Queen for the last time last year, and are currently held at Dreghorn, in Edinburgh.

There are precedents for regiments with regional connections not allowing their colours to be removed to a central location. The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers campaigned to keep their colours in Alnwick rather than London.

The colours of any regiment, particularly the infantry, are sacred and date back to a time when armies were trained to adopt set formations on the battlefield. In the chaos of battle, not least due to the amount of dust and smoke on a battlefield, soldiers needed to be able to determine where their regiment was by identifying the flag.