Title: King’s Own Scottish Borderers in the Great War
Author: Stair, Gillon
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2002
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 468 pages
Comments: Histories of the eight KOSB battalions that saw action in the Great War.
In all the King’s Own Scottish Borderers totalled fourteen battalions during the Great War of which eight saw action, most of them on the Western Front but battalions also served at Gallipoli, in the Egypt/Palestine campaign and, for a brief period, in Italy. There were no battalions in India, Macedonia or Mesopotamia. Altogether some 7,000 died, 66 Battle Honours and four VCs were awarded, all four were won on the Western Front and one of them, CSM J Skinner who was subsequently killed, had the unique honour of being escorted to his grave in Vlamertinghe by six fellow VCs as pall-bearers.
The author has tackled his history on a battalion rather than chronological basis, and after a brief but interesting account of the early history of the regiment (formed in 1689) he leads the reader into the consecutive history of each of the fighting battalions in the order in which they entered the Great War. He divides his account into a series of books, each dealing with a separate battalion or group of battalions, each with their separate chapters beginning in each case with Chapter I. He begins with the 2nd Battalion which was in Dublin when war broke out, part of 13th Brigade, 5th Division. It arrived in France on 15th August 1914 with the original BEF and was soon in action at Mons and Le Cateau.
The battalion remained in the same brigade and division on the Western Front throughout the war, apart from three and a half months, mid-December 1917 to early April 1918, when the division was sent to Italy. The 1st Battalion was in Lucknow, India; it arrived back in the UK in December 1914 and was allotted to the newly formed 29th Division. In April 1915 it went to Gallipoli and, when that campaign ended, transferred to France in March 1916 after a two-month break in Egypt. The 1st Battalion also remained in the same brigade (87th) and division throughout the war. Book III is concerned with the Territorial battalions of which there were two before the war, the 4th (Border) Battalion and the 5th (Dumfries and Galloway). Both these battalions were in 52nd Lowland Division, a Territorial formation, and fought in it at Gallipoli and in Egypt and Palestine. In April 1918 the division was sent to France where the 1/5th was transferred to 103rd Brigade in the re-constituted 34th Division.
Then comes the 6th (Service ) Battalion which arrived in France in May 1915 with 9th (Scottish) Division, followed by 7th and 8th (Service) Battalions in 15th (Scottish) Division in July; all three fought on the Western Front and Loos was their first major battle. The final Book VI deals with the battalions that remained in the UK – 3rd (Special Reserve), 9th and 10th. This is a competent piece of work, based on war diaries, letters, personal accounts and diaries, much of which had been assembled before Stair Gillon was called in to do the job.