KOSB colours coming home to the 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 old army regiment’s sacred flag, with Edinburgh Castle and Canongate Kirk also nominated.

But at an AGM of the KOSB Association, 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. 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 commitment towards the regiment.

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

Berwick has historically been the home of the KOSB since the regiment, first created in 1689, assumed that title in 1805. But after it became part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006 debate began over the location of the flag’s final resting place.

The colours, or standard, of a regiment were pivotal 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,” he said. “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 ‘Kosby’ of all.

A memorial service takes place on Saturday, 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.