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The Lothians – Training for war

The Horse Lines at West BarnsThe Lothians trained throughout the Lothians and Borders. Summer camp was a mixture of military exercises and a social round.

In 1909 the regiment divided into Blue Force and Red Force and took to the field. The Blue Force attacked the Red: they “landed” at Berwick moved on towards Duns where the Red Force was falling back. The commanding officer of the Red rearguard was given strict orders to hold at Johnscleuch until 5 o’clock the next morning. This was where the first “battle” took place. Before this, the Blue Force led by Major Lord George Scott had moved on towards a field near Stenton from where patrols were sent out in search of the Red Force. By 1 o’clock in the morning Blue Force horsemen silently and cautiously took up their positions waiting for the assault on Johnscleuch while heavy rain poured down on them. Blue Force snipers had also flanked around undiscovered to try and distract the Red Force. After the battle, the Blue Force intended to move on towards North Berwick while more of the Red Force was moving in from Edinburgh. Cease firing was sounded at 3 o’clock and when it was light enough to see the positions of each Force and the situation was reviewed by the umpire.

Prizes awarded August 1909

On Friday the regiment was inspected by General Sir Edward Leach, V.C., the CiC Scotland, and Colonel Cavage. After 8 o’clock the squadrons marched out towards Belhaven sands for review and salute. This was followed by field firing. Afterwards the signallers, transport, books and camp went through a strict inspection; the General was very pleased!

Yeomanry on Belhaven SandsIt wasn’t all just militaristic but also sociable: there were horse races at WestBarns course. In 1909 it drew the largest crowd seen for many years with members, friends of the regiment and the general public. The officers, including Lord Binning and Lord George Scott, had brought not only their chargers but also race horses (as part of the local elite). Other entrants included M.P.s, high military ranks and even local tradesmen. Each race had its own reward, a purse of sovereigns or plate. There were also hurdle races – jump races. Results were published in the local press.

At the end of two weeks the regiment packed to leave. Within a day the luggage had been packed and was being sent by road to Dunbar station and then on to Edinburgh and the West. B squadron, under the command of Major Cadell, was the first to leave for Edinburgh. The other squadrons left before mid-day. By early afternoon, only the fatigue party was left to get things cleaned up. These men worked so well that the ground looked almost untouched except for the woodwork, which was to be sold later.

Compiled by Michael Statham

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