The TA – a changing role in a changing world

The TA was recruited in localities and trained at local depots and Drill Halls, which were built for the purpose. The officers and soldiers were for the most part time though a few instructors and administrative officers were full time, seconded from the regular army. The TA played a prominent part in the second world war, when its strength had been doubled by the formation of the duplicate units, and its role had evolved to no longer be a support to, but an integral part of, the regular army. In the post-war period, there was some debate over the role of the TA; this debate continued over the period, right through to 2000 and beyond.

Over the 55 years, Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world changed, and the role of the British army within that world also changed. The threat of nuclear war – apparently from Russia in the 1950s and 1960s – later came from developing countries; the Cold War ended; Russia and the USA reached a degree of understanding, and wars broke out in the composite countries of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. British forces were involved not only in the British concerns of the Falkland Islands and in Northern Ireland but in a UN role too in many other parts of the world, including the Gulf. By the 1990s, TA personnel were serving six-month stints in Kosovo, and were supplementing the army in other locations.

As a result, the demands on the TA and the expectations of government also changed; the latter swung between investment in the services (1987) and cutbacks (1950s, 1967, 1998), depending on the political requirements in any given world situation at the time.

It is against this backdrop that the story of the TA in the county must be set. With increasing centralisation, TA battalions were amalgamated, often renamed and sometimes relocated. In 1956, the Lothian & Border Horse was amalgamated with other Scottish yeomanry regiments to form the Queen’s Own Lowland Yeomanry; this in turn was disbanded in 1967, then reformed in 1992 as the Scottish Yeomanry; and again disbanded in 1999. Similarly, the 8th Royal Scots were amalgamated with the 7th/9th in 1961 to become the 8th/9th. After 1967, there were no units based within East Lothian. By the end of the period would-be volunteers joined units in Edinburgh.