Lothians and Border Horse

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Lothians and Border Horse
Cap Badge of The Lothians and Border Horse
Active 1797-1956
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Yeomanry
Size World War I, 3 Regiments
World War II, 2 Regiments
Part of Royal Armoured Corps
Engagements Battle of Normandy
Battle of the Scheldt
Geilenkirchen salient
Rhine crossing
Elbe crossing
Bou Arada
El Kourzia
Battle of Tunis
Liri Valley
Advance to Florence
Gothic Line
Argenta Gap

The Lothians and Border Horse was a Yeomanry regiment, part of the British Territorial Army. It was ranked 36th in the Yeomanry order of precedence and was based in the Scottish Lowland area, recruiting in the Lothians – East Lothian (Haddingtonshire), Midlothian (Edinburghshire), and West Lothian (Linlithgowshire) – and along the border with England, particularly Berwickshire.



Raised in 1797, the regiment comprised five troops among which were the "East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry" and the "Berwickshire Yeomanry". After several disbandments and re-risings, "The East Lothian and Berwickshire Yeomanry Cavalry" was formed in 1880 and became "The East Lothian and Berwickshire Imperial Yeomanry" in 1900. In 1908, the regiment was named "The Lothians and Border Horse TF (Dragoons)".

Second Boer War

In the Second Boer War, the regiment sponsored the 19th Company of the Imperial Yeomanry, which served in the 6th (Scottish) Battalion in South Africa from 1900 until 1902.

World War I

Lowland Mounted Brigade
Organisation on 4 August 1914
  • Source
  • Conrad, Mark (1996). "The British Army, 1914".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[1]

In August 1914, the Lothians and Border Horse was based in Edinburgh and assigned to the Lowland Mounted Brigade.[2][3]

1/1st Lothians and Border Horse

In the Summer of 1915, the 1/1st was split up as follows:[2]

  • Regimental Headquarters and B Squadron joined the 25th Division. In May 1916, it moved to become V Corps Cavalry Regiment[lower-alpha 1] but, in July 1917, due to manpower shortages, it was dismounted and transferred to the infantry. In September 1917, after infantry training, they were redesignated the 17th Battalion Royal Scots.
  • A Squadron first went to the 26th Division, then, in November 1916, it joined the 8th Mounted Brigade.
  • D Squadron initially joined the 22nd Division. In November 1916, it was reunited with A Squadron in the 8th Mounted Brigade.

On 11 May 1917, A and D Squadrons formed the XII Corps Cavalry Regiment in Salonika, where they remained until the end of the war.[2]

2/1st Lothians and Border Horse

The 2nd line regiment was formed in 1914. In 1915 it was under the command of the 2/1st Lowland Mounted Brigade in Scotland (along with the 2/1st Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick's Own) Yeomanry[5] and the 2/1st Lanarkshire Yeomanry[6]) and by March 1916 was at Dunbar, East Lothian.[7] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were numbered in a single sequence and the brigade became 20th Mounted Brigade, still at Dunbar under Scottish Command.[8]

In July 1916 there was a major reorganization of 2nd Line yeomanry units in the United Kingdom. All but 12 regiments were converted to cyclists[8] and, as a consequence, the regiment was dismounted and the brigade converted to 13th Cyclist Brigade. Further reorganization in October and November 1916 saw the brigade redesignated as 9th Cyclist Brigade in November, still at Dunbar.[9] The regiment moved to Haddington in July 1917.[7]

About May 1918 the Brigade moved to Ireland[9] and the regiment was stationed at Londonderry and Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. There were no further changes before the end of the war.[7]

3/1st Lothians and Border Horse

The 3rd Line regiment was formed in 1915 and in the summer it was affiliated to a Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Aldershot. In June 1916 it was affiliated to the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Regiment, also at Aldershot. Early in 1917 it was absorbed in the 4th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, still at Aldershot.[7]

Between the wars

On 7 February 1920, the Regiment was reconstituted in the Territorial Army with HQ still at Edinburgh. Following the experience of the war, it was decided that only the fourteen most senior yeomanry regiments would be retained as horsed cavalry,[10] with the rest being transferred to other roles.[11] As a result, on 21 May 1920, the Regiment was one of eight[lower-alpha 2] converted and reduced to an Armoured Car Company. The company was originally designated 1st (Lothians and Border) Armoured Car Company, Tank Corps. It was later renumbered as 19th (Lothians and Border) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Corps. On 30 April 1939, it was transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.[13]

By 1939, it had become clear that a new European war was likely to break out, and the doubling of the Territorial Army was authorised, with each unit forming a duplicate.[14] The Lothians were expanded to an armoured regiment on 24 August 1939 as 1st Lothians and Border Horse[13] and formed a duplicate 2nd Lothians and Border Horse in the same month.[15]

World War II

1st Lothians and Border Horse

Bromsgrove cemetery, memorial for T.J. Atkins, MM

The 1st Lothians and Border Horse was part of the 51st Highland Division, which had been sent to reinforce the French Maginot Line and was serving there when the Germans started their offensive.

Together with the rest of the Division, the regiment attempted to rejoin the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Moving around the south of Paris, the regiment engaged the German Army south of the River Somme near Abbeville. Outnumbered, it fought a retreat of sixty miles in six days to the fishing port of St. Valery-en-Caux, where, having run out of food, ammunition and other supplies, they surrendered on June 12.[16]

Prior to this, some of the regiment's personnel were evacuated during Operation Ariel, and went on to re-form the 1st Lothians and Border Horse, which was attached to the 30th Armoured Brigade, 79th Armoured Division and returned to France on D Day, 6 June 1944. The regiment remained with 79th Armoured in North West Europe until the end of the war.

Casualties, from D-Day up to the end of the war, consisted of 17 men killed, 90 officers and other ranks wounded, and 16 officers and other ranks missing in action. Equipment losses were four Sherman Gun Tanks and 36 Sherman Crab Tanks destroyed.[17]

While part of 79th Armoured Division, the 1st Lothians and Border Horse took part in the following battles:

2nd Lothians and Border Horse

The 2nd Lothians and Border Horse was from June 1940 - October 1940 part of the British 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade, an interim formation formed due to the shortage of Tanks and Armoured Vehicle after the retreat from Dunkirk. In October 1940, the brigade was renamed the British 26th Armoured Brigade, which went on to form part of the British 6th Armoured Division[18]

While part of 6th Armoured Division, the 2nd Lothians and Border Horse took part in the following battles:

  • 18–25 January 1943—Bou Arada
  • 7–11 April 1943—Fondouk
  • 22–26 April 1943—El Kourzia
  • 5–12 May 1943—Battle of Tunis
  • 18–20 May 1944—Liri Valley
  • 4–17 July 1944—Arezzo
  • 17 July–10 August 1944—Advance to Florence
  • 25 August–22 September 1944—Gothic Line
  • 13–21 April 1945—Argenta Gap


World War II

On assuming the role of divisional cavalry in 1939, the 1st Lothians lost the privilege of wearing the cloth tank insignia. When the unit went to France in 1940, the only permissible ornamentation on the blouse was the sign of the 48th (T.A.) Division, a blue macaw on a red background. Later, it was decided that collar badges would be worn, at least by warrant officers (WO) and non-commissioned officers (NCOs), during the period that the regiment served with the 51st (Highland) Division.

The reformed 1st Lothians chose the much greener shade of blanco for webbing equipment and collar badges were also issued to all ranks. Sleeve badges made a reappearance, worn on the chevrons (rather than above as in earlier times) by corporals and sergeants as an 'optional' extra. Those WOs who accepted the privilege, wore the gold-wire garb beneath their rank insignia. French-grey cloth shoulder titles, bearing 'LOTHIANS & BORDER YEOMANRY' in yellow lettering further distinguished the unit for a short period after it was reformed. On joining the 79th Armoured Division, these were displaced, as Divisional Orders stipulated that Royal Armoured Corps cloth titles would be worn by all R.A.C. regiments in the division. In late 1944, this order was rescinded and the regimental cloth titles restored.

The 2nd Lothians also adopted the French grey shoulder titles, in this case bearing 'LOTHIANS & BORDER HORSE'; but nothing else, apart from the divisional sign of the 6th Armoured Division, a mailed fist on a black background, was used to embellish the battle-dress blouse. During the period of the unit's service as a mobile machine gun unit, peaked or forage caps were worn by sergeants and above, whilst khaki field service caps were worn by other ranks. Only in the 2nd Lothians was the practice continued of having this traditional colour on the head-band of the peaked or forage cap. A number of officers also wore a French grey field service cap, edged with gold piping on off-duty occasions.[19]

Post war

Battledress features show little change from their wartime originals, except that other ranks were now permitted to wear collar and tie on off-duty periods. The practice of wearing regimental sleeve badges with rank insignia adopted by the 1st Lothians corporals and above in the early 1940s was discontinued. Officers' service-dress reverted to the pre-war pattern with box-pleated pockets reappearing on the skirts of the tunic. With the return of peacetime conditions, a No. 1 Dress in dark blue was re-adopted, similar in form to that worn before the war. The officers' version was set-off with a French-grey stand-up collar. By the time of the Coronation in 1953, the features of this No. 1 Dress had altered considerably and illustrated, in the case of other ranks, both the horsed and mechanized eras of the regiment's history. Shoulder-straps were replaced by chains and the twin bands of scarlet separated by piping were restored to the trouser-seams. In the case of officers, the black beret was displaced by a peaked forage cap, similar in appearance to that worn around the start of the 20th century. This had a shiny peak, a head-band faced in scarlet and the seam on the crown was enhanced with piping in the same colour. Overalls were re-introduced, worn over Wellingtons with spurs.[19]

See also


  1. Along with RHQ and A and B Squadrons of Queen's Own Royal Glasgow Yeomanry,[4]
  2. The eight yeomanry regiments converted to Armoured Car Companies of the Royal Tank Corps (RTC) were:[12]


  1. Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Scots at war".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Baker, Chris. "The Lothians & Border Horse Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. James 1978, p. 19
  5. Baker, Chris. "The Ayrshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Baker, Chris. "The Lanarkshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 13 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 James 1978, p. 24
  8. 8.0 8.1 James 1978, p. 36
  9. 9.0 9.1 James 1978, pp. 16,21,24
  10. Mileham 1994, p. 48
  11. Mileham 1994, p. 50
  12. The Royal Tank Regiment at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 May 2007)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Lothians and Border Horse at regiments.org by T.F.Mills at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 April 2007)
  14. "History of the Army Reserve". MOD. Retrieved 2 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Bellis 1994, p. 18
  16. "Clara.net".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Peoples war".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Flames of War".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 Sabres to Scout Cars — An Illustrated History of The Lothians and Border Horse by Andrew S. Gardiner[page needed]


  • Antonio, D.G. (1947). Driver Advance, a Short Account of the 2nd Lothians and Border Horse 1939-1946. Edinburgh: Constable.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bellis, Malcolm A. (1994). Regiments of the British Army 1939–1945 (Armour & Infantry). London: Military Press International. ISBN 0-85420-999-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gardiner, Andrew S. Sabres to Scout Cars — An Illustrated History of The Lothians and Border Horse.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mileham, Patrick (1994). The Yeomanry Regiments; 200 Years of Tradition. Edinburgh: Canongate Academic. ISBN 1-898410-36-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle of the British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 978-0-97760728-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wooloward, W.A. (1946). A Short Account of the 1st Lothians and Border Yeomanry in the Campaigns of 1940 and 1944-45. Edinburgh: Regimental Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links