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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Battalion's goodbye to home towns
KOSB marching
The KOSB will stage freedom parades in a number of towns
The King's Own Scottish Borderers are staging a series of freedom marches across their recruitment area before merging with the Royal Scots.

The battalion will parade in towns from Stranraer to Berwick between 23 May and 3 June with a final event in Edinburgh.

The KOSB will then merge into the Royal Scots Borderers - a battalion of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A spokesman said they wanted to say "farewell" to their recruitment area after more than 317 years of history.

The famous name will disappear on 1 August when the merger with the Royal Scots takes place.

According to Capt Ben Birkbeck, of the KOSB, local soldiers wanted the opportunity to march through their home towns for a final time.

"We are now the first battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, KOSB battalion," he explained.

"We are then going to merge with the Royal Scots battalion on 1 August - that takes place in Edinburgh at the Dreghorn Barracks.

Freedom parades
23 May Stranraer and Newton Stewart
24 May Kirkcudbright and Dumfries
25 May Sanquhar and Lanark
26 May Motherwell and Hamilton
1 June Melrose and Hawick
2 June Duns and Kelso
3 June Berwick-upon-Tweed

"We have freedoms of these cities and towns and districts where we can march through with bayonets fixed.

"It is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. It is the last time we will do it as the KOSB."

Capt Birkbeck said that although the soldiers had marched many times in the area it would be more emotional this time.

Any men wishing to march in their home towns have been given the opportunity to do so.

"It is more poignant now because of the merger that is occurring on 1 August," he said.

"You would be surprised how emotional this is for people.

KOSB colour party
A KOSB colour party marching in a tradition dating back years

"A lot of guys have fought in a lot of campaigns or are third of fourth generation Borderers and are seeing their family history changing.

"But we are looking forward to the future - we are keeping the 'golden thread'," he insisted.

Hundreds of soldiers - both past and present - are expected to take part in the series of marches.

The events will culminate with a final parade in Edinburgh on 23 June followed by an all-ranks lunch.

The KOSB was formed in the capital in 1689 where it was reported that 800 men were recruited in the space of two hours.

"That is where the regiment was formed and we are finishing it off in exactly the same place," said Capt Birkbeck.

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