KOSB colours are returning home to Berwick Barracks

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AFTER six months of debating and lobbying, the colours of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers will be returned to Berwick within a year.

There had been fierce debate over the final resting place of the standard, with Edinburgh Castle and Canongate Kirk also nominated.

But at an AGM of the KOSB Association on Friday, the trustees came to a unanimous decision to award Berwick the honour.

Ed Swales, president of the KOSB association, Berwick Branch, was lobbying right up until the night before the AGM.

He said: “I presented some responses and press cuttings to the trustees on Thursday night. Their eyes popped out!

“They could see the amazing level of comittment towards the regiment.

“The president of the KOSB Association brought up the need for support from ordinary people in the border area, not just KOSB members. We were able to show him the support of thousands of people, particularly through our website.”

The colours, or standard, of a regiment were vital in providing a rallying point for soldiers in the thick of battle. Swales is convinced that they will exert a similar pull on people when exhibited in the Barracks Museum.

“There are a set of really good circumstances in Berwick that can be taken advantage of,” he said.

“Berwick definitely has that garrison town feel. At one time, the only other purpose-built garrisons were in Carlisle and Calais.”

Berwick also has the best-preserved garrison walls of their age in Europe.

Swales expects the banner to appear in Berwick around the time of the Minden Day parade next year, and is hoping to attract a worthy guest to oversee its retirement.

It is highly probable that the Princess Royal, who recently became patron of the KOSB association, will do the honours.

Swales added: “After 300-odd years, if we’re retiring our standard, we want to make sure we do it properly!”

Brigadier Andrew Jackson, chairman of the trustees, emphasised the importance of the decision being unanimous.

“It provided a clear view that such historic colours had to be retired to Berwick. Normally, these processes are internal, but this was a unique decision, so it was vital to hear not only from trustees but members of the association, too.”

The announcement came as the KOSB Association prepared to honour the most famous KOSB of all. A memorial service takes place this Saturday, 12 noon, at Norham Church, in honour of Daniel Laidlaw. Known as ‘The Piper of Loos’, Laidlaw, of Swinton, was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry after he led the 7th KOSB out of the trenches with his bagpipe playing at the Battle of Loos.

June 2 marks the 62nd anniversary of his death. He is the only recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the British forces, to be buried in Northumberland.