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The regimental quick march of the Royal Highland Fusiliers is a combination of the Royal Scots Fusiliers' British Grenadiers and the Highland Light Infantry's cheeky Whistle o'er the Lave'ot (Whistle over the bits you leave out). The hymn, Abide with Me, was always played after last post on Sundays in the RSF.
The quick march, All the Blue Bonnets Are over the Border was chosen by the Black Watch, the original wearers of the headgear in the eighteenth century, and the Borderers. It was immortalised for the KOSB in 1915 after Piper Laidlaw recklessly played the tune on the parapet of his trench in order to encourage his battalion through a gas attack at Loos. Their slow march included The Standard on the Braes of Mar. The pipes and drums of the Black Watch traditionally play My Home and Highland Cradle Song; they used to play a Crimean Long Reveille on the 15th of every month.
Musicians of the Lowland Band (formed in 1994) deploying to the Gulf in support of 33 Field Hospital Regiment. (MoD)
The Highlanders march to the Pibroch o' Donuil Dhu, as played in both the Camerons and the Seaforths, and The Cock o' the North from the Gordons. Like Piper Laidlaw at Loos, the Highlanders have two examples of a similar devotion to duty. Piper Findlater of the Gordon Highlanders, shot through both ankles in the battle for Dargai (1896), continued to play his comrades on tip the heights with lively pibrochs. At Waterloo Piper McKay of the 79th Cameron Highlanders left the comparative safety of his battalion square to march around its perimeter with Cogadh no Sith (Peace or War).
. A private of the Royal Army Pay Corps assists in the presentation of red roses for the glengarries
Bandmaster Ricketts of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders composed The Thin Red Line in 1908, inspired by the famous nickname of his battalion earned in the Crimean War. It was given official status in 1960, displacing The Campbells Are Coming as the regimental quick march, around the time that The Skye Boat Song was arranged as a slow march for the pipes and drums. The custom of playing Rule Britannia in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders' mess is attributed to a nineteenth-century shipwreck that involved a wing of the regiment.
The Cameronians had Within a Mile of Edinburgh Toun (1st Battalion) and The Gathering of the Grahams (2nd Battalion). Thomas Graham founded the 90th Perthshire Volunteers after French Revolutionaries had desecrated the body of his dead wife.
Formation Day (28 March) marks not only the birth of the RRS in 2006, but also that of Scotland's oldest regiment the Royal Scots, raised as Hepburne's Regiment in 1633. Sir John Hepburne, an officer of Scottish mercenaries appointed colonel in the service of Louis XIV, is regarded as the father of the regiment. This antecedence is a point of pride; the nickname 'Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard' is said to derive from an argument with a French regiment over the question of seniority. The French claimed descent from soldiers who had stood watch over the tomb of Christ, but the Scots retorted that they would not have succumbed to sleep if they had been on that watch.
KOSB customs are remembered on three days of the year. Minden Day (1 August) sees the distribution of red roses for the glengarries in the tradition of 'Minden regiments' that gathered roses from the fields in the 1759 battle. St Andrew's Day (30 November) is celebrated with officers and sergeants competing in a light-hearted tournament that culminates with Atholl brose drunk from a quaich. Burns' Night (25 January ) is marked with a sergeants' mess supper, which has a special significance for the KOSB since the poet once joined one of their antecedent regiments, the Dumfries Volunteers.
The Royal Highland Fusiliers' Assaye/Inkerman Day commemorates battle anniversaries of the HLI and the RSF respectively. At the Battle of Assaye in 1803 the 74th (Highland) Regiment won Wellesley's admiration and an honorary colour. Colours were presented to both the 74th and the 78th regiments by the Indian government in recognition of their outstanding conduct in the battle. The prized Assaye colour used to be trooped by a quartermaster in the 2nd Battalion HLI on Assaye Day in memory of Quartermaster Grant, the senior survivor of the 74th, who led the remnant from the field. It was replaced by the City of Glasgow in 1931 and the original, which was damaged by fire in 1918, was laid up. A 1936 replacement modelled on the original has an elephant on a white field emblazoned with ASSAYE, LXXIV and SERINGAPATAM. The buff honorary colour of the 78th was replaced by the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders in 1899, but eventually laid up in Fort George. The Queen's Own Highlanders kept 23 September as Assaye Day to mark the honour. Inkerman Day (5 November) honoured the part played by the 21st Fusiliers in this Crimean battle of 1854. On a foggy day remembered for its seesaw actions of confused skirmishing, the 21st fought a static position at a stone breastwork called the Barrier. In spite of several Russian attempts to force the position the 21st doggedly held on and provided an anchor for soldiers separated from their companies.
Officers and soldiers of the 72nd Highlanders, originally drawn from the same clan, messed together on special days, such as St Andrew's and Hogmanay. The Seaforth Highlanders celebrated the New Year by booting out the oldest-serving soldier at midnight and welcoming in the youngest.
The famous painting of The Thin Red Line of 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders repulsing Russian cavalry at Balaklava in 1854
Red Hackle Day (4 June) celebrates the time in 1795 when the 42nd Royal Highlanders made a halt at Royston on their way home from Flanders to mark the King's birthday. On the parade each man was given a red feather plume for his bonnet in recognition of gallantry in recent campaigns. The plume was ratified by an army order of 1822 and has been a proud distinction of the Black Watch ever since.