Nearly a thousand ex-servicemen and friends of the King’s Own Scottish Borders gathered in Berwick to celebrate Minden Day and bid farewell to the KOSB’s colours.
Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Patron of the KOSB Association, took the final salute under the colours before they were ‘laid up’.
Arriving early on Thursday morning, a 300-strong crowd in specially constructed stands on the barracks parade ground were entertained by the traditional dancing of Nancy Steele’s dancers.
Nancy, who works in the barracks museum and has connections to the KOSB through her father, put her young charges through three choreographed pieces. They ended their performance with the Borderers’ adopted anthem, ‘Blue Bonnets Over the Border’.
Princes Anne arrived by helicopter, landing on Beriwick golf course, before driving the short distance to the barracks entrance.
There she was met by the town’s civic party and other Northumberland dignitaries.
Northumberland County Council’s Civic Chair, councillor Kath Nesbitt, said the princess was keen to praise the diversity and wide appeal of the county, which was a relief after Lord Howell’s comments this week describing the north east as “desolate”.
Her Royal Highness took her seat in front of a specially erected stand, while Captain Edward Swales, secretary of the KOSB Association, gave the Minden Address, retelling the story of the battle in 1759 where the tradition began.
He ended the address: “In memory of our ancestors who earned this great Battle Honour and who plucked roses from the gardens of Minden as they went forward to the battle, we of the Minden Regiments wear roses in our headdress on this proud day.”
In her speech, Princess Anne paid tribute to the men of the KOSB who had given so much in the name of duty over more than 300 years.
She also made a special point of recognising the rivalry between “the Fusiliers and the Borders, who for so many years had been coming here, to the Tweed, mainly to shout at each other.”
Her Royal Highness then took part in the giving out of red roses to the veterans gathered on the parade ground.
She was aided in her task by fourteen local army cadets, under the guidance of 2Lt Debra Jerden. Each cadet bore 40 red roses on a silver platter.
More than 650 veterans and former servicemen pinned their red roses to their Glenngarry caps, bowler hats or their buttonholes.
“This is exceptional,” said Debra, “it’s quite a thing for us every year, but with the royal visit and the colours being retired, this is a fantastic day.”
The crowd and the veterans then stood for the Regimental Collect: “O Lord, without whom our labour is but lost and all our watching is in vain, grant that the King’s Own Scottish Borderers may ever trust in Thy true religion and endure hardness as good soldiers of Him who bore the cross, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Those gathered then marched from the barracks to the town hall, where Princess Anne took their salute.
The parade was led by two jeeps as well as the motorcycles of the Scottish branch of the Royal British Legion Riders.
These bikers, based in Jedburgh, provide support for many fundraising ventures across the east of Scotland, including the Jim Clark Rally and, most recently, the Race for Life event run by ex-servicemen at Birgham.
The colours were then piped into their final laying-up place in the barracks museum to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.