Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Scots Greys

The Scots Greys formed a regiment of the British Army from 1678 until 1971 when they amalgamated to form "The Royal Scots Dragoons Guards (Carabiniers and Greys)".

The Scots Greys' have the motto "Nemo me impune lacessit; Second to none". The second part of the motto does not translate the Latin words, which mean "Nobody touches me with impunity" and refer to the thistle, historic symbol of Scotland.

The regiment has many battle honours from Blenheim in 1704 through to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Their most famous engagement took place at Waterloo on 18 June 1815:

At about 1.30pm the second phase of the Battle of Waterloo opened. Napoleon launched D'Erlon's corps against the allied centre left. After being stopped by Picton's Peninsular War veterans, D'Erlon's troops came under attack from the side by the heavy cavalry including Major General Sir William Ponsonby's Scots Greys.

The shocked ranks of the French columns surrendered in their thousands. During the charge Sergeant Ewart, of the Greys, captured the eagle of the French 45th Ligne. The Greys charged too far and, having spiked some of the French cannon, came under counter-attack from enemy cavalry. Ponsonby, who had chosen to ride one of his less expensive mounts, was ridden down and killed by enemy lancers. The Scots Greys lost: 102 killed, 97 wounded, with the loss of 228 horses - from the 416 who started the charge.

"Ces terribles chevaux gris! Comme il travaillent!" (Those terrible grey horses, how they strive!) -Napoleon

The charge of the Scots Greys in the picture "Scotland Forever!" by Lady Butler in Leeds City Art Gallery famously depicts the event and inspired the slow-motion shots of the charge in the film "Waterloo directed by Sergei Bondarchuk in 1970.

External links