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Kings Own Scottish Borders in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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Kings Own Scottish Borders

   1st Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borders embarked for France in 1939 with 3rd Infantry Division in the BEF. In May 1940 they advanced into Belgium but facing an enemy of overwhelming numers, they were ordered to withdraw. On the night of 31st May/1st June they were evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. After a stretch on Home Defence duties in Britain, the Battalion returned to France on D-Day, 6th June 1944, landing on Queen Beach. They fought around Caen until the town capitulated, and then advanced north, fighting through Belgium and Holland to the Rhine and Bremen.

   2nd Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borders were in India when war broke out in September 1939. After jungle training in India, 2nd KOSB sailed with the 7th (Indian) Division to Burma in September 1943. They crossed into the Arakan, and saw action in the critical battles at Ngakydauk Pass and in the Admin Box. Later they were flown to the central front at Imphal. Early in 1945 they marched towards the Irrawaddy and participated in the assault which turned the Irrawaddy line. Their last action of the war took place at Prome in May 1945, by which time Rangoon had fallen.

   4th and 5th Battalions, Kings Own Scottish Borders, Territorial Battalions, served with 52nd (Lowland) Division, and went to France with the second BEF. They landed at St. Malo on the 13th June 1940, the aim was to establish a bridgehead with the French Army but after the fall of France, the 2nd BEF was evacuated from Cherbourg on 18th June. 4th and 5th KOSB were trained as mountain troops and later as airbourne troops. In the autumn of 1944, they make assault landings on Walcheren Island, at the mouth of the River Scheldt and fought through to Germany, taking part in the capture of Bremen.

   The 6th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borders served with 15th (Scottish) Division. The 6th landed on the Normandy beaches on the 15th June 1944, and were in action in the fierce battles around Caen and the River Odon. They fought through France, Belgium and Holland, crossed the Siegfried Line, and advanced across the Rhine into Germany and were just beyond Hamburg when the war ended.

   7th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borders served with 15th (Scottish) Division. Later 7th KOSB became glider-borne troops with the 1st Airborne Division. In September 1944 they made a drop at Arnhem, and fought until the order to retreat was given on 25th September, by then the Battalion had been reduced to 4 Officers and 72 men.

If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

Kings Own Scottish Borders

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Colley Stanley Alexander. Pte. (d.19th July 1944)
  • Cowley Samuel Henry. Mjr. (d.19th July 1944)
  • Crook Horace. Pte.
  • Dunn Richard. Sgt.
  • Fenton Henry. Pte.
  • Gray George A.. Lt.
  • Hart George Briggs. Pte.
  • Holt Alfred.
  • Leckie William. Pte. (d.2nd Nov 1944)
  • Martin John Michael. Cpl. (d.4th Oct 1944)
  • Milligan John. Cpl.
  • Noble Robert. Corporal (d.18th Sep 1944)
  • Purvis Joseph. Pte. (d.18th Nov 1940)
  • Richardson James Fisher. Pte.
  • Shaw Leslie. Pte.
  • Slaven Samuel.
  • Steadman Jonathan Charles. Pte.
  • Stevens Adam Topping. Tpr.
  • Sutherland Willliam. L/Cpl.
  • Turner David Wilson. Pte.
  • Voase Les.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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There are 5 pages in our library tagged Kings Own Scottish Borders  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.

Access our library

Pte. Henry Fenton Kings Own Scottish Borderers

My father, Henry Fenton, would never talk abut the war. He has sadly passed on now. I would love to know where he served in the war but I don't know where to start. I have two pictures that look like they were taken in Asia.

Gina Oakes

Pte. Horace Crook The King's Own Scottish Borderers

My Dad started with the K.O.S.B Regiment and transferred to the South Lancashire Regiment in India and Burma with the 14th army "The Forgotten Army" fighting the Japanese on the Arakan Peninsula.

Taken from the Stockport Advertiser 14th January 1941.


Here's a family record that will take some beating - six sons, all wearing the King's uniform! They are the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Crook of 47 Luton Road, Reddish, and they all joined the Forces as volunteers. George, the eldest is 35 years old and in the Kings Own Scottish Borderers; Charles aged 32, is in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment; Horace 28, is also in the K.O.S.B.; Sydney, aged 20 is in the Cheshires, Gilbert, aged 19, is in the Border Regiment; and Leonard, aged 18 is a gunner in the Royal Artillery to which he transferred from the Cheshire Territorials. Their father served in the Manchester Regiment in the South African War!

Mr. and Mrs. Crook came to live in Reddish during the last war, and all the boys went to Houldsworth School. Mr. Crook has worked at local mills as a boiler fireman but now, 66 years old, though still active, he is unemployed and would like a light job. Bravo the Crook family! Reddish is proud of you.

My Dad held the Burma Star, 1939-1945 Star, Defence Medal and usual Campaign awards. After the war my Dad and Mum emigrated to Australia and passed away there in 1973. I am very proud of my Dad and his brothers and their war service.

Howard Crook

Cpl. John Michael Martin 6th Battalion, D coy. Kings Own British Borders (d.4th Oct 1944)

The Fighting Fools

by Cpl John Michael Martin, D-Coy 6th KOSB 16th July 1944

Remember that hill termed 113?

To many just a number,

Except the KOSB

But wait,I'll tell it to you right

Of the KOSB's brave and gallant fight.

Though their numbers were few,

They did not quail,

They had been given a task,

And they would not fail.

They would hold that ground,

Come what may,

And though cut off,

Kept the Hun at bay.

The Boche tried everything they knew,

To try and make a big breakthrough,

But they'd underestimated those heroes all,

Who, before they'd retreat,

Decided to fight or fall,

So they took the strain and did not flinch,

And the Boche advanced not a single inch.

So praise those lads of the 6/KOSB

Whose stand made possible this victory,

Unknown till now, they've made their name,

And covered their Regiment with undying fame.

Cpl. John Martin was wounded in action and died at 4 am on the 4th Oct 1944 in 39th British General Hospital - due to a shell wound to his neck which left him paralised. He is buried in the Brussels Town Cemetary.

Liz Robb

Lt. George A. Gray Kings Own Scottish Borderers

I am in the possession of 22 letters and some snapshots of a POW, Lt George A. Gray. The first letter dates May 28th 1941, the last March 24th 1944. They record the POW Camps he was in: On the 24th of May 1941 he is in Oflag VII-D; this is Tittmoning Castle, in south-eastern Bavaria On the 28th of November 1941 he is in Oflag VI-B; this is near Dessel (nowadays part of the town of Warburg in the north west of Germany) (1) On the 24th of November 1942 he is in Oflag VII-B; in Eichst�tt. He mentions Brig. W.Southam as a good friend (also photo) His last letter from the 24th of March 1944 is also from Oflag VII-B (as were all letters between both dates)

From certain details in his later letters I conclude that George probably belonged to the 41 prisoners that escaped from this camp in the Warburg Wire Job in August 1942.

In 1941 George was 33 years old, so he must have been born appr. 1908. He describes himself as a small chap, 5 foot 9 (1.72 m.) His father was Scottish, his mother English. He was married and had children (don't know how many, but at least two) Iin 1943 he writes: I will be living in England after the war. I have sold my house in Lockerbie, but I still hope to show you that charming countryside. During (and because of) the war his wife, named Gladys, and children stayed in their summerhouse in the Isle of Man. George worked for nine years (appr. 1925-1934) in the Garanty Trust Co. of New York & Liverpool. From 1934 he worked in the company of his brother-in-law, Jack Bibby: J. Bibby and Sons Ltd in Liverpool and sold cattle, poultry, sheep, pigs etc. George's father died in November 1942 after a heart attack; his mother, who had moved from Lockerbie to Kent to live with her sister, in December 1942 when the house was bombed; the sister was wounded.

There is an entry of a Gray, George A. in the ABC Eichstett address book that reads a follows: Gray, George A., The Kings's Own Scottish Borderers, Seed Crushers; Manufacturers of Farm Stock Feeding Stuff, Soap and Trex (J Bibby and Sons Ltd, King Edward Street, Liverpool, Lancashire).

I never heard if George survived the war; if he had I'm almost certain I would have heard, so I'm afraid not. Please could anyone help me to trace his children or other relatives. They might be interested in these letters.

Hein Bloemers

Samuel Slaven King's Own Scottish Borderers

Samuel Slaven served with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and was a Prisoner of war in Stalag 8B, he took part in the long march. My Dad often talks about this part of his life, he is now 87yrs old and quite frail. Does anyone have memories of him and his many adventures?

Isabel Slaven

Pte. Joseph Purvis 6th Btn. King's Own Scottish Borderers (d.18th Nov 1940)

Joseph Purvis who died age 21 was born in Jarrow in 1919 to David and Catherine Jane Purvis (nee Botto) of Jarrow.

He is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.

Vin Mullen

Mjr. Samuel Henry Cowley 9th Btn. Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (d.19th July 1944)

Sam with his sister and friends. Sam is on the right in army uniform. His sister Elizabeth, who was my grandmother (Betty Lee as she was known) is the first on the left.

My great uncle Sam Cowley was killed in Normandy in the fighting around Caen in July 1944. Although listed as being in the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment, 9th Battalion, his CWGC certificate says he was seconded to the King's Own Scottish Borderers and held the rank of Major.

I have managed to work out that the 1st King's Own Scottish Borderers landed on D-Day at Queens Beach and the 6th Battalion (as part of the 15th Scottish Division) also landed in Normandy on 15th June 1944. I would like to find out more.

If by sheer fluke anyone is able to shed more light on my great uncle through personal recollection or could recommend on-line links where I could find out more I'd be very appreciative. I live in Australia, so have to rely mainly on on-line services.

Phil Carter

Sgt. Richard Dunn MiD. King's Own Scottish Borderers

Sgt Richard Dunn served with the 155 Infantry Brigade HQ.

Karen Dunn

Alfred Holt 7th Btn King;s Own Scottish Borderers

Alfred Holt was a POW No. 90489.

Les Voase Royal Army Service Corps

Les Voase joined the RASC as a driver early in the war and was commissioned in May 1943 into the RASC before transferring to the King's Own Scottish Borderers in May 1945. While he was with the RASC he worked on tank transporters and he may have been involved in taking the surrender of u-boats in Scotland at the end of the war.

Andy Voase

Cpl. John Milligan DCM & Bar King's OwnScottish Borderers

Cpl John Milligan was captured at Dunkirk and became a POW at Stalag 8B. He was awarded the DCM and Bar for deeds in the First World War. Does anyone remember him?

Linda Tudball

Pte. David Wilson Turner 4th Btn. King's Own Scottish Borderers

My father David Turner served with the 4th Battalion KOSBs. He was evacuated at Dunkirk and was in a second wave of glider troops bound for Arnhem which was aborted. Any information would be appreciated

John Turner

L/Cpl. Willliam Sutherland 2nd Btn. Seaforth Highlanders

In 1937, at the age of 16, Bill Sutherland joined the Territorials, so when the war broke out two years later he was involved from the start, joining the 4th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers and going over to France with the British Expeditionary Force, later being evacuated from Dunkirk. He was posted with the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in 51st Division, in May 1942 and went to North Africa, where he served as batman to a major. After its notable victory at El Alamein, the Eighth Army invaded Sicily and crossed into Italy, where Bill was involved in the capture of Salerno and Monte Cassino. After Italy surrendered, he returned home to prepare for the Normandy landings in 1944. In August 1944 he was badly hurt when a German tank attacked the jeep he was driving in France and he had to be flown home.

In 2015 Bill was awarded the Chevalier in Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur, France's highest national honour, but unfortunately he passed away before he could receive it in person.

Neil Sutherland

Tpr. Adam Topping Stevens 4th Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers

Adam Stevens enlisted as a Driver Mechanic but transferred to 52nd Battalion Recce Corp as a Dispatch rider.

Gordon Stevens

Pte. William Leckie 6th Btn. King's Own Scottish Borderers (d.2nd Nov 1944)

William Leckie was my father's cousin and died aged 20 years. He is buried in Mierlo Cemetery in the Netherlands. He was the grandson of William Leckie of Denny.


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