KOSB’s greatest battle still celebrated

Minden Day Parade in Berwick.
Minden Day Parade in Berwick.

AS 400 KOSB veterans prepare to celebrate Minden Day in Berwick later this month there is relief in the region that the regimental names and cap badges of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and also the Coldstream Guards have been retained in the latest restructuring of the British Army.

Borders MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore said: “I welcome that all of the historic regimental names and cap badges of the Royal Regiment of Scotland have been retained. In the Borders and Scotland we have a proud military history and tradition and it is right that these have been respected by the UK Government.

“Despite the challenging economic circumstances, I am glad that the announcement confirms that the army will continue to maintain a significant presence in Scotland. It is a visible sign of our commitment as a Government to Scotland and to Scotland’s continued vital role in the defence of the UK.

“Many Borderers also contribute to the army reserves and I am pleased that the Defence Secretary outlined that reservists will become better integrated into the armed forces as a result of these changes.”

In the 2006 restructuring of the army the Kings Own Scottish Borderers were merged into the Royal Regiment of Scotland, but local pride in the KOSB remains undiminished, and their greatest victory, at Minden, Germany, in 1759 continues to be commemorated on the last Saturday of July, with a parade in Berwick.

The battle of Minden took place on August 1, 1759, during the Seven Years War against the French. A force of six British Battalions, seven German Battalions and Allied Cavalry, was operating in the valley of the River Weser near the town of Minden. The British Battalions were ordered to take a minor objective, but owing to a misunderstanding, they advanced on the main body of the French Army.

Seeing the advance of such a small force the French sent their 10,0000 strong cavalry to the charge. The six British Battalions halted and at close range and with well aimed, disciplined volleys, broke up the charge. The enemy cavalry reformed and on six occasions returned to the charge. Only once did a squadron of cavalry succeed in penetrating the front rank of the allied lines and they were almost annihilated by the second rank. Finally all 75 squadrons of French Cavalry were sent fleeing in total disorder.

The British Infantry continued their advance and coming under the crossfire of 60 artillery guns and musket fire from the enemy infantry, suffered heavily. The enemy lost 7,000 men compared to the British and German losses of 2,800, of which over 1,500 were lost by the six British Battalions.

In memory of ancestors who earned this great battle honour, and who plucked roses from the gardens of Minden village as they went forward to the battle, members of the Minden Regiments wear roses in their head dress on Minden Day.

KOSB Regimental Association secretary, Bill Foster said that as well as expecting a great turnout of veterans, their families and members of the public on the day there will be two bands on parade: The Berwick and Eyemouth Royal British Legion Pipe Band and The Dutch Inter Scaldis Pipe Band.

The July 28 celebrations start at 10.30am with a display of bands and dancers on the Barracks Square. At 11.50am there will be a ceremonial presentation of Minden Roses to all those on parade. At 12.30pm the parade will step off from the Barracks and will see soldiers and veterans marching through Berwick Town Centre, passing the Guildhall at around 12.40pm where a salute will be taken.