Menu Close

2nd Battalion Scots Guards

History

The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards was a regular army battalion which was stationed in Egypt at the outbreak of war in 1939. It served throughout the North African campaign ultimately ending up in Tunisia in May 1943.

The battalion was part of 201 Guards Brigade throughout its time in Italy which in turn operated with 56 Infantry Division from September to December 1943 and subsequently with 5 Infantry Division from January to March 1944. On 9th September the battalion formed the reserve of 201 Guards Brigade when it landed at Salerno as part of the second wave. The battalion was heavily engaged at the Tobacco Factory where it suffered heavy casualties. 

It proceeded to take part in the advance to the Volturno and then onto the Gustav Line. It saw action in both of the battles at Monte Camino before 201 Guards Brigade was transferred to 5 Infantry Division in January 1944.

Together with the rest of the 201 Guards Brigade the battalion was in reserve when 5 Infantry Division crossed the River Garigliano on 17th January 1944. It moved into the bridgehead shortly afterwards and remained there in defensive positions until early March when the entire Brigade was withdrawn. The decision had been taken to disband the brigade and use its personnel to reinforce 24 Guards Brigade, which had taken heavy casualties at Anzio.

The majority of 2nd Battalion Scots Guards was transferred to the 1st Battalion Scots Guards but a cadre of long-serving personnel left Italy on 9th April 1944 and returned to the UK. The battalion then served as a training battalion in the UK until February 1945 when it once again returned to active service in North West Europe as part of 32nd Guards Brigade, Guards Armoured Division.

Commanding Officers

The following were the unit's Commanding Officers during its service in Italy.

DatesNameComments
09 September 1943 - 25 October 1943Lieutenant-Colonel G.A.D. TaylorTaken ill.
25 October 1943 - 29 October 1943Major P. Steuart-FotheringhamLieutenant-Colonel Taylor returned.
29 October 1943 - 5 November 1943Lieutenant-Colonel G.A.D. TaylorReturned to England. He subsequently took command of 1st Battalion Scots Guards in Italy and was killed on 27th June 1944.
05 November 1943 - 12 December 1943Major P. Steuart-FotheringhamLieutenant-Colonel Harris took command.
12 December 1943 - 14 February 1944Lieutenant-Colonel F.H.H.B. HarrisReturned to B Echelon for rest.
14 February 1944 - 19 February 1944Major P. Steuart-FotheringhamLieutenant-Colonel Harris resumed command.
19 February 1944 - 22 February 1944Lieutenant-Colonel F.H.H.B. HarrisBattalion HQ shelled and was badly wounded. Subsequently died in hospital on 27th February.
22 February 1944 - 9 April 1944Major P. Steuart-Fotheringham

Organisation

At the start of the Italian campaign the battalion was organised as a standard British infantry battalion as per WE II/233/2. Its companies were named Left Flank, F Company, G Company and Right Flank, in keeping with Scots Guards traditions.

Due to heavy casualties the battalion was reduced to a three rifle company organisation on 27th October 1943 when Left Flank was disbanded and its personnel transferred to the three other companies. On 26th January 1944 a company of Welsh Guards was transferred to the battalion, allowing it to return to a four-company organisation. This company was replaced on 10th February by a full company of Scots Guards that had been sent from the 4th Battalion in the UK. This became the new Left Flank.

On 9th March 1944 it was announced that the battalion was to be reduced to cadre. The rest of the personnel were transferred to the 1st Battalion Scots Guards to replace the casualties that battalion had suffered at Anzio.

Strength

The following table is based on the WE 3008 returns in the war diaries. The standard WE for an infantry battalion at this time was for 36 officers and 809 NCOs and ORs, for a total of 845 personnel. The WE included the attached Regimental Medical Officer and attached personnel such as cooks and mechanics are included in the figures below. Personnel not part of the WE (i.e. the attached chaplain and his driver) have not been included.

The battalion war diaries do not have the WE 3008 returns for September and October 1943 but strength returns for these months can be found in 201 Guards Brigade daily returns and also in 56 (London) Infantry Division daily returns.

DateOfficersNCOsORsTotalDeficit/Surplus
6 November 194331120690841-4
13 November 194329110620759-86
20 November 194325111542678-167
27 November 194332114613759-86
4 December 194332127612771-74
11 December 194333121575729-116
18 December 194340114559713-132
25 December 194340124666830-15
1 January 194434122637793-52
8 January 19443898592728-117
15 January 194440103630773-72
22 January 194435102608745-100
29 January 194435112668815-30
5 February 194436109645790-55
12 February 194433111648792-53
19 February 194433118622773-72
26 February 194435116608759-86
4 March 194434109586729-116
11 March 194436120590746-99
18 March 19442554267346-499
28 March 19442456217297-548

Awards and Decorations

The following shows the number of awards for the Italian campaign only.

AwardNumber Awarded
Bar to Military Cross1
Distinguished Conduct Medal2
Military Cross6
Military Medal7
NumberNameAwardLG DateDate of Action
2700715L/Sjt. R. BalcombeMilitary Medal 21 December 1944Periodic
72673T/Capt. A.M. BalfourMilitary Cross24 February 194423 October 1943
2696194Gdsmn. W.L. ChadwickDistinguished Conduct Medal26 February 194411 September 1943
100833W/Capt. R.L. CokeMilitary Cross 23 March 194409 November 1943
2695734Gdsmn. G.H. ConnorMilitary Medal 23 March 194410 November 1943
240639T/Capt. R.S. DollardMilitary Cross25 February 194410 September 1943
2697310Gdsmn. R.S. DougallMilitary Medal 29 June 194404 February 1944
247094WS/Lt. W.A. ElliottMilitary Cross27 January 194411 September 1943
247095Lt. A.R.H. ErskineMilitary Cross 21 December 1944Periodic
207675WS/Lt. D.J. Fyfe-JamiesonMilitary Cross28 January 194410 September 1943
2695416Gdsmn. J. HutchisonMilitary Medal30 January 194411 September 1943
2694174Sjt. W. LumsdenDistinguished Conduct Medal29 January 194410 September 1943
2694174P/A/W.O.II W. Lumsden Bar to Military Cross 23 March 194410 December 1943
2700486P/L/Cpl. J. McIlhargeyMilitary Medal 24 August 1944Periodic
2700544Gdsmn. R. PerksMilitary Medal 20 July 194423 January 1944
2696495Gdsmn. H.J. SpraggonMilitary Medal 23 March 194410 November 1943

War Diaries

The following are the files in the National Archives that cover the unit's service in Italy.

TNA File NameDescriptionDates
WO 169/101702 Scots Guards1943 January - December
WO 170/13532 Scots Guards1944 January - April

The following are the currently transcribed war diaries.

War DiaryTNA File Name
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary September 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary October 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary November 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary December 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary January 1944WO 170/1353
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary February 1944WO 170/1353
2nd Battalion Scots Guards War Diary March 1944WO 170/1353

Other Documentation

The following are documents of interest for the unit that have been transcribed, mainly from the war diaries but also from other TNA Files.

Document NameTNA File
2nd Battalion Scots Guards Roll of Honour September 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards Roll of Honour October 1943WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards F Company Report 6th 11th November 1943 (1st Battle of Monte Camino)WO 169/10170
2nd Battalion Scots Guards Roll of Honour November 1943WO 169/10170

Casualties

Not yet fully compiled.

Literature

The following published literature includes coverage of the units time in Italy.

Erskine, D. The Scots Guards 1919-1945. London: Wlliam Clownes & Sons Ltd., 1956. 624 pp.