The Royal Scots, the oldest Infantry Regiment of the Line in the British Army, was formed in 1633.
In February 1812, the regiment was re-titled as the 1st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots), the first official appearance of the popular name. Two new battalions, the 3rd and 4th, were raised in late 1804 and saw extensive service throughout the Peninsular War. In April 1815 the 3rd Battalion sailed to Ostend and were quartered in Brussels until the 16th of June when they were ordered to the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras.
During the battle a famous incident occurred. Four Officers and a Sergeant Major had fallen carrying the King’s Colours. The fourth officer to take the Colours was Ensign James Grant Kennedy, a newly commissioned officer who had celebrated his 15th birthday just three days before. He was shot in the arm, but bravely carried on until shot again and fatally wounded.
An unknown sergeant went forward to retrieve the Colours, but the boy ensign was holding them so tightly that he could not break the lad’s grip, so he picked up young Kennedy, carrying him over his shoulder with the Colours still in the dead youth’s fist.
The French commander, on seeing this display of bravery, is said to have ordered his men to withhold their fire until the sergeant had regained his own lines with his burden.
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Illustration by David Higham