Lovat Scouts

Cap badge of the Lovat Scouts

Cap badge of the Lovat Scouts

In December 1899, Simon Joseph Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat approached the War Office with a proposal for the formation of a Scottish Highland regiment of Scouts skilled in stalking, signalling, military tactics and marksmanship to fight in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). The proposal was accepted and the first contingent of Lovat Scouts arrived in in South Africa in January 1900. They are the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit or camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage.

Lovat Scouts were disbanded in 1901 except for two companies which were attached to the Imperial Yeomanry, a British volunteer cavalry regiment. On the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908, these companies were replaced with two regiments of Lovat Scouts Yeomanry, known as 1st and 2nd Lovat Scouts. Both regiments saw extensive involvement in the First World War and served on the Western Front and in Gallipoli, Egypt and Macedonia.

In October 1916, a sharpshooter unit was formed from the ranks of the Lovat Scouts to become the first sniper unit of the British Army. Operating close to enemy positions, they were highly valued for their skills of reconnaissance. The celebrated marksman and adventurer Major Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Pritchard (1876-1922) is quoted to have said about the Lovat Scouts that ‘if they reported a thing, the thing was as they reported it’.

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