April 06, 2004

Scotland The Brave!

Today, I choose to honor The Royal Scots and say "Thank You"

Our Brothers-in-Arms, The Royal Scots, 1st Battlation is serving in Iraq. Visit their web site and click on Company A, C and R for an Irag diary and photos. You might give them a shout on the regimental email.
Recce Coy in Basrah Recce Coy in Basrah

Today is the Blogosphere's Tartan Day, you can find a list of participating blogs at Blackfive or Absinthe and Cookies. While I'm not a Scot, I appreciate the culture and adore the people, the heartbreakingly beautiful countryside, and their bemused fondness for Yanks, not just because of shared ancestry, but because like the Scots, we take names and kick ass. They get it.

A bit of military history for those who appreciate such things:

The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) is the oldest Regiment in the British Army and as such is the senior Infantry Regiment of the Line. It was raised in 1633 when Sir John Hepburn, under a Royal Warrant from King Charles I, recruited 1200 men in Scotland. The first battle honour awarded to the Regiment was Tangier 1680, since when a further 148 have been gained in a history which has involved them in almost every campaign the British Army has fought.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

We were living in the UK and attended the 1983 Tattoo when the Regiment celebrated its 350th Anniversary and it was spectacular. I recommend the Tatto as a must see for anyone holidaying in the UK in August.

The word tattoo is a corruption of a Dutch phrase meaning "turn off the taps"....when a lone drummer would play a "tattoo" or drum roll to signal the inkeepers to stop serving beer and to summon the troops back to barracks. This ceremony was performed by the British while they were in the low countries during the early 18th century, but it is a custom common to many armies of that time, in particular the various German princeapalities of the day. Over time the Tattoo evolved into a more elaborate affair as more bands and musicians were drawn into its fare and 1947 became the Tattoo we know today.

There are usually five or six pipe bands massed in the Edinburgh Tattoo. In 1983 they pulled out the all the stops for a massive celebration attended by the Royals... it was a peak experience.

The infantry battalions of the Scottish Division are always well represented and the regular services will provide at least one other band -perhaps from the Guards, the Cavalry, the Gurkhas or the Royal Air Force. The musicians in these bands are all fighting servicemen for whom combat must take priority over piping and drumming. In the infantry, for example, the pipe band usually has the official role of battalion machine gun platoon.

On 30th June, 1667 Samuel Pepys met Lord George Douglas in Rochester and mentions seeing his Regiment; he records that "here in the streets I did hear the Scotch March beat by the drums before the soldiers, which is very odde."

The battle marches (mpeg- turn up your speakers) struck fear in the hearts of their enemies as they heard the din of the drums and pipes marching towards them, knowing the fiercest of the fierce were just over the hill and it was their day to die.

Posted by feste at April 6, 2004 11:06 AM | TrackBack

I got to see the Tattoo my first trip to Scotland, and it was wonderful. Even if we were so high up, the bands looked about the size of kittens :)

Posted by: Ith at April 6, 2004 11:12 AM

Yes...it is very cool. We had good seats thanks to our firm's subsidiary in Glasgow...the security was a nightmare, and we almost froze our butts off in spite of being prepared...but worth every minute.

However, the very best experience we had with a military drum and pipe corps came one day in the countryside. We were driving to a friend's country place near Haddington for a weekend, and as usual got hopelessly lost. We pulled over to squizz the map and bicker when we heard a regimental band nearby...we followed the sound, turned down a lane, and there they were marching towards us...we pulled off the road, popped open the sunroof and stood grinning like a pair of idiots. They gave us the full dress routine, then marched off.

Sometimes it pays to get lost...the best places and times are often those that find you in route to somewhere else.

Posted by: feste at April 6, 2004 11:55 AM
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