KOSB four reunited by Colours controversy

KOSB soldiers meet up sixty years to the day when they signed up.'L-r, Eck Brodie (Haddington), George Hughes (Kelso), George McDonald (Morebattle) and David Spouse (Duns).
KOSB soldiers meet up sixty years to the day when they signed up.'L-r, Eck Brodie (Haddington), George Hughes (Kelso), George McDonald (Morebattle) and David Spouse (Duns).

FOUR Kings Own Scottish Borderers’ veterans who revisited Berwick Barracks this month have thrown their weight behind the bid to return the regiment’s Colours to be laid-up in the town.

Ed Swales started the campaign after becoming concerned that the regimental council may decide the Colours should be laid up in Edinburgh instead of the border town which houses the KOSB Museum.

And now Eck Brodie from Haddington, George McDonald of Morebattle, Kelso’s George Hughes and David Spouse from Duns have added their support after meeting at the barracks – 60 years since they all signed up for National Service at the same site.

Mr McDonald said: “They must come back, it’s an absolute disgrace they’re not here.”

Mr Hughes added: “There’s so little tradition about these days. It would mean a lot to us all and the town to have them back.”

And Mr Brodie commented: “The KOSB means so much to Berwick and the surrounding area, it’s only right the Colours should be here.”

New Colours have been presented to the merged Royal Scots Borderers – the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

But the KOSB Regimental Council has yet to decide where the old KOSB Colours should be laid up, with Berwick and Edinburgh two of the possibilities.

The quartet didn’t know each other when they arrived in Berwick back in 1951, but after their six weeks at the barracks, and, for three of them, time spent serving together in Malaysia, they became extremely close and formed a bond that has stood the test of time.

All of them could still remember the day when they first signed up to join the ranks of the much celebrated KOSBs.

Mr Spouse said: “I’d just had a haircut, but straight away I was sent for another – I remember that bit really well.

“I also remember being quite frightened of what was to come; I was 18 and had to learn so much, not to mention my number.”

Mr Brodie added: “I was the only child in my family so they were plenty of tears at home when I left.

“I thought the world began in Edinburgh and ended in Newcastle so going to Malaysia was a big shock to the system.”

After being drilled at Berwick, the young soldiers were then stationed at Dreghorn in Edinburgh before Mr Spouse was posted to The Royal Scots Fusiliers and Mr McDonald, along with Mr Hughes and Mr Brodie, was sent to Malaysia with the Cameronian (Scottish Rifles) regiment.

Like many other young men who signed up to National Service, the four Borderers returned home to their families in 1953, meaning they were exempt from being awarded the Malayan medal, awarded to those who fought in Malaysia during conflict in 1954.

The group drifted apart and it was a chance meeting between Mr Hughes and Mr Spouse that saw the pair become firm friends again.

The latter explained: “I was getting a new leg in the Borders General Hospital about five years ago. Next thing I know George is in the bed beside me – I couldn’t believe it.

“Going back to 1951, none of us really knew each other, I knew of Eck a bit as he worked for a rival firm, but we’ll never forget our experience.”

Mr Brodie added: “The KOSB regiment brought people together from all walks of life as far as Ayrshire and Stranraer, right across the Borders and into Northumberland. A lot of people made friends for life.”

The closing date to show your support for the campaign to return the Colours to Berwick is Saturday.

Vote at www.berwick4borderers.org.uk. Public votes won’t be counted in the final decision, but campaigners hope they will do enough to sway the decision in favour of the barrack borough.