The infantry

The infantry was represented in the county by The Royal Scots, also known as ‘The Royal Regiment’, with a visible presence between 1947 and 1967. There were 2 battalions that featured in the county – the 1st Battalion Royal Scots (part of the regular army) and the 8th – the Territorial Battalion.

The 8th Battalion played a distinguished role in both world wars, following the usual pattern of disbanding (1920), re-forming (1939), and disbanding (1945). It was reformed on 23rd April 1947 with companies in Tranent and Dunbar; by 1948 there was also a platoon in Haddington, meeting in the Corn Exchange. By 1950, Dunbar was unable to sustain a company and was down to a platoon. There seems no record of a presence in Dunbar from 1954.

In Musselburgh, the Drill Hall in Fisherrow was sold to the Scottish Coast Mission in January 1950. In the 1950s, the Company HQ plus one platoon was in the Drill Hall in Tranent; another platoon in Haddington paraded in the Nungate Hall.

On 28th October 1951 two memorial cottages were handed over in Dunbar Road, Haddington; built from the War Memorial Fund, they were opened by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Mary, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Scots (1918-1965). On the 10th March 1956, she opened the refurbished Town House in Haddington. On both occasions, the 8th Royal Scots were on parade.

The 8th Royal Scots amalgamated with the 7th/9th in 1961 to become the 8th /9th Battalion, with a company in Tranent.

Maintaining the links with the county

Although after 1967 there was no training location in East Lothian, the Royal Scots maintained their links with the county. This was because of the connection with their founder, John Hepburn, and because East Lothian was a good recruiting area. On 5th July 1989, a party of 8th Royal Scots veterans visited their battalion area to commemorate the re-mobilisation in 1939; their visit included a trip to Athelstaneford. There, they presented a seat to the local community council and laid a wreath, then went on to visit other locations. This celebration was graced by the presence of HRH the Princess Royal (HRH Princess Anne), Colonel in Chief of the regiment (from the regiment’s 350th anniversary in 1983 to date).

On 20th October 1990, a commemorative service was held at Athelstaneford, to honour their founder. On behalf of the 8th Battalion Association, Major Adam Lothian TD (originally from West Barns, Dunbar) presented the parish church of Athelstaneford with a plaque in Sir John Hepburn’s honour. The East Lothian Company of the ACF was on parade.