Ayrshire's Military History
The county has long established connections with two major units of the British Army; the Royal Scots Fusiliers, one of the oldest infantry regiments; and the Ayrshire Yeomanry, an ancient volunteer cavalry unit. Both of these regiments are still represented today in the British Army's orbat.
In addition, Ayrshire has a long tradition of volunteer service, initially in the militia system but from the mid-19th century, in the volunteers, who were increasingly affiliated to the regular units.
Royal Scots Fusiliers
The Cardwell territorial reforms of the British Army of 1881, which assigned infantry regiments of the line to counties throughout the United Kingdom, ensured that Ayrshire had its place. The county has maintained strong links with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, formerly the 21st Royal North British Fusiliers Regiment of Foot. That regiment is still represented in the British Army's orbat as the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment) (formerly the 21st, 71st and 74th Regiments of Foot). This regiment was formed in 1959 by the amalgamation of The Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st Regiment of Foot) and The Highland Light Infantry (71st and 74th Regiments of Foot). The regiment continues to recruit from the City of Glasgow and Ayrshire. HRH Princess Margaret is the Colonel in Chief.
The Royal Scottish Fusiliers were first raised in 1678. Originally known as 'The Earl of Mar's Regiment' they had several name changes over the years: Scots Fusiliers, 21st Royal North British Fusiliers, and finally Royal Scots Fusiliers. Their nickname "the Duke O'Mars Greybreeks" stems from their first title. The 21st had a long tradition of recruiting in Ayrshire and in south-west Scotland. But the formal county affiliations only took place after the 1881 Cardwell reforms of the British Army.
The Royal Scots Fusiliers and its forebears has fought in most of the major campaigns over the two centuries of its existence and carries more than 120 Battle Honours on its colours from Blenheim (1704), through Sevastopol and South Africa and the Great War and World War II to The Gulf (1991). This page offers a more detailed history of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
The Regimental Museum of the Royal Highland Fusiliers is located at Regimental Headquarters, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 518 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3LW, Scotland; Phone: (0141) 332 0961. It offers uniforms and medals, weapons, pictures, models etc. illustrating three centuries' history of the Highland Light Infantry and the Royal Scots Fusiliers infantry regiments which were merged into the Royal Highland Fusiliers in 1959. Open Monday - Friday 0930 - 1730. (weekends by appointment).
Ayrshire Yeomanry (Earl of Carrick's Own)
The Ayrshire Yeomanry is the senior yeomanry regiment in Scotland and the seventh yeomanry regiment in Great Britain. It was formed in 1793, at the onset of the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1971, as part of the Queen's Own Yeomanry, it became the only armoured corps unit permanently stationed in Scotland. In 1992, the regiment again underwent considerable change, when under British Army post Cold War restructuring, it became the founder member of the Scottish Yeomanry. Currently the Scottish Yeomanry is a four-squadron, long-range reconnaissance regiment equipped with communications Land Rovers. It has responsibility for national defence Scotland-wide.
There is more detail on the history of the Ayrshire Yeomanry here.
The majority of the personnel and unit records of the Ayrshire units, both regular and volunteer, are held in the War Office archives in the Public Record Office, Kew, Surrey, England.
The few surviving records of Ayrshire militias from the period before the Act of Union (of the Parliaments) of 1707 are held in the Scottish Record Office.
The names of those Scots who fell in the two World Wars and other conflicts since 1914 are recorded in the Books of Remembrance at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. The Books of Remembrance record the names of members of the Armed Forces of the Crown or of The Merchant Navy who were either a Scotsman or woman or served in a Scottish Regiment, and was killed or died as a result of a wound, injury or disease sustained in a theatre of operations for which a medal has been awarded; or whilst on duty in aid of the civil power; or whilst on duty in a foreign country under direct orders of the Crown.