Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The French Eagle of the Royal Scots Greys on the Western Front


The Scots Greys' badge depicts the French 45th Line Infantry Regiment's eagle that Sergeant Charles Ewart captured at Waterloo in 1815.

By James Patton

Only four regiments that had captured a French Imperial Eagle in battle were granted the right to display this image on their badge. Without a doubt the most illustrious was the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), named after the color of their horses. Dating from 1678, the regiment garnered fame over and over, from Blenheim to Balaclava. The iconic painting titled Scotland Forever depicts the regiment’s near-suicidal charge at Waterloo that broke an entire division of French and gained the Greys the eagle. I have an ancestor who was a Grey and survived that action. 

Farriers of the Scots Greys at Work in France, 1918

During the First World War, the Greys were rushed to Belgium at the start of the Great War, arriving just in time to fight dismounted at Mon,  Le Cateau, and the Marne. They then spent most of 1915 in the trenches of the Salient and later fought at Arras (1917) and  Amiens (1918). The Greys were combined in 1971 to form the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Photos from the National Army Museum

1 comment:

  1. Capturing the enemy's, in particular a formidable enemy's colours in battle is a special achievement reserved for courage, valour, teamwork, and oh yes, luck. In the annals of famous units the Royal Scots Greys will certainly be an esteemed member. All the horses being grey must certainly be a sight to see.