2nd Battalion

Royal Scots Fusiliers

 

The Title "Fusilier" (accordng the Kemp's excellent book)

 

Before starting the story of the 2nd Bn it is appro­priate to record the change of title accorded to the rank and file of Fusilier regiments, and also the adoption of the Erskine tartan by the Pipers of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, both of which occurred during the period under review. Up to 1923, the man in the ranks of Fusilier regiments, in common with his counter­part in most other infantry regiments, was called a “Private “. By Army Order 222 of that year the title for soldiers in Fusilier regiments was changed to “Fusilier “. Regimental Standing Orders have this to say on the subject: “The title ‘Fusilier’ arose from the practice, in the later part of the seventeenth century, of arming certain selected troops with the fusil, a flintlock musket superior to the matchlock musket in use by the rest of the army. One of the duties of Fusiliers in those days was to guard the artillery and it is pertinent to note that the Regi­ment’s first Victoria Cross was won while carrying out this role in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902.

 

The first two regiments of Fusiliers are the 7th (Royal Fusiliers) and the 21st (Royal Scots Fusiliers). Buchan considers that both regiments were armed with the fusil in 1685 when the Royal Fusiliers were first raised. Although the Scots Fusiliers is the older regiment, numerical order was ruled by the date on which regiments came on to the English establishment. Fusilier regiments were regarded as corps d’elite and the suffix’ Fusiliers ‘was awarded at later dates as an honour and title of distinction.”

 

 A further distinction followed in 1928 to mark the Regi­ment’s 250th anniversary. Army Order 142 of that year announced that His Majesty the King was graciously pleased to approve that the ceremonial Erskine tartan should be worn by the Pipe-Major and pipers of the Regiment. This too is ex­plained in Regimental Standing Orders: “About 1880 the Highland doublet with tartan trews was introduced for Low­land regiments. When regiments were consulted about the adoption of a tartan, the Scots Fusiliers raised strong objections and the Scots Guards refused to conform. The tartan selected for the Regiment was the old blue, black and green Government tartan, issued in 1729 to the Independent Highland Companies.

It is clear, however, that there was never any real historical basis for the adoption of this tartan and it was not until 1928 that the first step was taken to introduce, for the pipers, the clan tartan of the Earl of Mar. Later, in 1951, when a new Number One dress was under review, the Hunting Erskine tartan was adopted by the rest of the Regiment.”