Borders-wide campaign launched to bring KOSB colours back to Berwick Barracks

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THE president of the Berwick branch of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Association has launched a campaign to have the regiment’s colours ‘laid up’ at Berwick Barracks.

Ed Swales started the campaign after he was made aware of the regimental council’s plans to put the colours, which display the regiment’s battle honours, in their final resting place.

Mr Swales was concerned that most KOSB veterans were unaware of the proposals, which include the options of laying up the colours at the Scottish National War Museum within Edinburgh Castle or in the capital’s Canongate Kirk.

He said that he believed the colours should be laid up in Berwick Barracks, to forever maintain the link between the regiment, the town and its home depot.

A hastily-arranged meeting of the branch recently resulted in 20 veterans attending the barracks to discuss the proposals.

Mr Swales said: “The meeting was a great success. I called it once I realised that nothing was happening. I’m branch president and I thought I may as well stand up and do something for the branch and for the regiment.”

The KOSB colours are currently with 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1SCOTS), formed following the amalgamation on August 1, 2006, of the KOSB and the Royal Scots. They are based at Dreghorn in Edinburgh.

Mr Swales said: “It’s quite clear that we need to put the colours in a final resting place. It has to be done, I quite agree, it’s just a case of where.

“The last time there was a vote on it there was quite a strong show from Berwick, but they are running the vote again and the message hasn’t got out to many I served with, or other veterans.”

He added: “At Edinburgh Castle there are very many colours, but you don’t have that home spirit present anything like at your own barracks.

“And, I would dispute the argument that it would put our colours into a potentially wider audience [by laying them up at Edionburgh Castle]. I would dispute that with the way the campaign is going, the response has been phenomenal, so I would contest that fairly confidently.”

One of Mr Swales’s main concerns about the colours going to Edinburgh is the loss of association between the regiment and Berwick, where the regiment has had a continuous presence since 1887.

“I don’t want that for the Borderers,” said Mr Swales. “It really is the thin end of the wedge if the colours go to Edinburgh.

“The colours are what you rallied to in battle. Blokes died for them, it doesn’t get bigger than that. If you take the regiment’s rallying spirit away we will have dealt a blow to the spirit of the Borderers, and that is not justified or called for.

“If it does happen and they do go to Edinburgh then so be it, but I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.”

A website has been established to enable KOSB veterans, their families and the wider public to support Ed’s campaign to bring the colours home to Berwick. It can be found at www.berwick4borderers.org.uk

Mr Swales found an old list of KOSB Association members and sent letters to them all, around 750 in total, and received letters back and calls from the widows of association members, informing him that their partners had since died, but also voicing their support for his campaign.

“I’ve had as much support from them, as well as ex-serving members’ mothers, daughters, grandchildren and so on as I’ve had from those who have worn the badge,” said Mr Swales.

“I’ve been humbled by the volume and tone of the support.”

The closing date for voting is December 17.