CHARGE! 200 years on, the Greys ride again
Army in special tribute to bravery at Waterloo
WITH a thunderous roar, they charged into battle – defeating Napoleon and earning themselves immortality in the glorious annals of British military history.
In 1815, the massed cavalry of the Royal Scots Greys spearheaded Wellington’s defeat of the French emperor at the Battle of Waterloo.
To cries of ‘Scotland Forever!’, around 400 Scots soldiers – riding grey horses and clad in vivid red tunics – galloped to victory with swords drawn.
Now, as the bicentenary approaches of a conflict that helped shape modern Europe, the Army has prepared a powerful and symbolic tribute.
The Scottish Mail on Sunday can reveal that a special cavalry unit has been created, named the Waterloo Squadron.
Mounted on the same grey horses and wearing the same ceremonial scarlet, the troop of riders and horses will go on parade around Scotland later this month.
Our exclusive pictures show members of the squadron training in London’s Hyde Park last week. The riders taking part are all serving soldiers with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – direct successors of the Royal Scots Greys.
All are fiercely proud of the part they will play in marking the battle’s anniversary.
Corporal Mike Crawford said: ‘When you look back at the courage and determination shown by the soldiers involved in conflict 200 years ago, you see these are qualities that all of us should aim to have.’
Although the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are still technically regarded as a cavalry unit, they have specialised in recent decades in tank warfare. The new squadron represents their return to horseback for the first time in 80 years.
Cpl Crawford, 30, of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, continued: ‘When you look at the men in the past, you think it’s just a guy on a horse, anybody could do that, but it’s not that easy.
‘Horses tend to talk back, tanks don’t and vehicles you can turn off – this is much harder.
‘The level of discipline must have been harder because the regiment fought with hundreds of horses – when we’re doing these smaller exercises with four or five horses you realise how hard it must have been to keep a battlefield together.’
Along with marching bands of pipes and drums, the squadron will take to the streets of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, on June 20, 27 and 28 respectively.
Trooper Andrew Burgen said commemorating the occasion came at a significant time for the Dragoons, who are moving from their current base in Fallingbostel, Germany, to the former RAF base at Leuchars, Fife – and the legendary troops also play a part in his per- sonal heritage. The 19-year-old from Balerno, near Edinburgh, said: ‘It’s a massive thing, not just for the regiment but for the country as a whole – seeing Scotland’s most senior regiment go through the 200th anniversary of one of the biggest wars this side of Europe has ever seen.
‘It’s an incredible achievement. If you trace my history back on my mother’s side, it turns out I had ancestors in the Royal Scots Greys.
‘I didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago when my mum spoke to parents and grandparents and one came back and said their father was among them, and now that’s come forward to me.
‘With the Waterloo 200 parade and our homecoming, it’s a big year for the regiment.’
Brigadier Mel Jameson, chairman of the troop’s Waterloo 200 committee, said: ‘The heroic actions of the Scottish cavalry who fought, died and prevailed at Waterloo still resonate with our soldiers of today.
‘It is important that their valiant deeds should still be remembered.’
‘Important their deeds should be remembered’
MARTIAL TRADITION: The troopers are proud to uphold the reputation of the Royal Scots Greys, 200 years after the regiment made its brave charge at Waterloo