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Statistics

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. But people love stats. If the statistics are to be believed, then the Scots Guards are by far the bravest of Scottish soldiers; or at least they were during the First World War. The Scots Guards, the most English of Scottish regiments, netted five Victoria Crosses 1914-1918. Spread between only two frontline battalions, that gives an easily calculated 2.5 VCs per battalion. So, there you go. Whether you choose to believe the Scots Guards were truly the bravest of Scotland's fighting men or perhaps had better contacts when it came to the medals list is up to you. It is harder to work out where the other Scottish infantry regiments place in the table. The Guards had only two fighting battalions, which served throughout the war on the Western Front. The other Scottish regiments had numerous battalions, some of which fought throughout the war, some were disbanded or amalgamated , some were used as labourers, others were solely training or reinforcement units and some were shunted off to quiet theatres of the war such as Salonika in Greece. So, calculating a VC quotient for most of the Scottish infantry units during the First World War is far from straightforward. Including the labour battalions and those sent to Salonika, which did eventually see action, then the next best performer after the Scots Guards would have been the Seaforth Highlanders. But the Seaforths with seven VCs from the eight battalions I calculate could be considered "active" yields a quotient of only 0.87. So, not even half as brave as the Scots Guards. The Royal Scots Fusiliers and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders tie for third place in the table with a quotient of 0.66. The King's Own Scottish Borderers with 0.57 pipped the Highland Light Infantry on 0.53 for fourth place. The Black Watch and Gordon Highlanders took joint sixth place with 0.44. The Cameron Highlanders, Royal Scots and Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) all scored 0.43. Personally, I put little stock in these quotients but knowing how much people love statistics, and having done the work needed to undertake the calculations, I thought I'd share them with you.

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