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The Broken Thread

It would appear that the Royal Regiment of Scotland is trying to distance itself from the old Scottish regiments. Up until recently the battalions proudly gave precedence to the pre-2006 units which formed it. The Black Watch, for instance, became The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland. But now precedence is to be given to the 3rd Battalion designation and “Black Watch” is to take a back seat in the name. Once again to use the example of the Black Watch, the unit is to be referred to in everyday usage as 3Scots. New recruits are invited to express a preference for which battalion they’d like to join, based on family or regional affiliations, but the days when, say, a Fife man would probably end up in the Black Watch, are apparently long past. Recruits are sent to whichever battalion can prove it needs them most. I also understand that officers who don’t want to damage their career prospects are expected to toe the line when it comes to ditching the old historic affiliations. It is understandable that the new super regiment wants to create its own identity and traditions. Service in Afghanistan and to a lesser extent Iraq, has meant that most of the battalions already have combat histories. And the Scots receive very little sympathy from the other British infantry regiments which long resented that the old Scottish battalions retained their historic identities when they were being amalgamated again and again and forced to shed their identities. The creation of the Royal Regiment of Scotland recognised some realities when it came to recruiting. Particularly in the Highland regiments, many of the soldiers were not from the recruiting area assigned to the unit. That said, many were following their grandfathers and great-grandfathers into the regiment of their choice. All I’m suggesting is that the baby isn’t thrown out with the bath water as the Royal Regiment of Scotland strives to create its own identity.


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