The Royal Scots Greys

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  • Royal Scots Greys Memorial stands in front of Edinburgh Castle
    Royal Scots Greys Monument stands in front of Edinburgh Castle
  • Displays inside the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum
    Displays inside the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum
  • Silhouette of the Royal Scots Greys Monunument and Edinburgh Castle at dusk, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
    The Royal Scots Greys Monument, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Scotland's only cavalry regiment, the Royal Scots Greys were descended from the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons, raised in the 17th century. During its distinguished history the regiment saw active service in many major conflicts fought by the British Army, from the Jacobite risings to the Napoleonic Wars. But the Great War marked the beginning of the end for cavalry regiments with mechanised warfare rendering them obsolete.

Active:

1687-1971

Type:

Line Cavalry

Regimental Depot:

Redford Barracks, Edinburgh

Nicknames:

It was the Battle of Waterloo which sealed the regiment’s legendary reputation and earned it the nickname of ‘The Bird Catchers’. Following their infamous charge into battle, Ensign Charles Ewart managed to the capture the regimental eagle of the 45e Régiment de Ligne (45th Regiment of the Line). One of the most treasured honours of the Scots Greys, you can view the eagle on display in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum. The capture of the eagle is also commemorated in the regiment’s cap badge. It was also known by the nickname of ‘The Bubbly Jocks’, reputedly on account of its members fondness of champagne.

Official motto:

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No one Attacks Me With Impunity)

Unofficial motto:

Nulli Secundus (Second to None)

Marches:

Heilan’ Laddie (quick band), The Garb of Old (slow band) and My Home (pipes and drums)

Tartan:

Royal Stewart

Origins:

The first mounted troops to be raised in Scotland for the British crown, the Royal Scots Greys were originally comprised of three independent troops of dragoons formed in 1668 and were amalgamated, along with three other troops, to form the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons in 1681. Their earliest postings were to maintain law and order in Scotland in the period leading up to the Jacobite rebellions. When inspected in London by William III in 1693, the whole regiment appeared mounted on grey-coated horses and thereafter became commonly known as the ‘Grey Dragoons’ or the ‘Scots Regiment of Grey Dragoons’. However it was not until 1877 that these monikers were incorporated into its official title and it was renamed the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys).

First World War:

In 1914, equipped with Lee Enfield rifles and new swords, the regiment was reorganised into three squadrons each consisting of four troops. It was initially assigned to the 5th Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Brigadier P.W. Chetwode, before being expanded into the 2nd Cavalry Division under the command of Brigadier-General Gough. The Scots Greys and the other cavalry regiments of the 5th Brigade would remain with the 2nd Cavalry Division for the rest of the war garnering 26 battle honours.

Did you know?

  • Upon landing in France on 17 August 1914, the regiment was ordered by the British Expeditionary Force to dye its horses a dark chestnut so they would make less conspicuous targets and be more difficult for the enemy to identify.
  • Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment until his execution by the Bolsheviks in 1917.
  • The Royal Scots Greys Monument, which stands in Princes Street Gardens was erected in 1906 after the Boer War. Plaques to commemorate the regiment during the First World War were added later.
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