Defending the Empire

Burghs were responsible for defending their towns in the event of war or unrest. In order to carry out this task local militias were formed. One early example of the need of these armed groups was the mobilising of militias in south west Scotland to meet the threat posed by the first Jacobite rebellion in 1715 then again in 1745. Towns like Ayr and Dumfries armed volunteers with pikes and bills to meet the threat posed by the Southwards march of the Jacobite host.
In the late 18th century the Ayrshire Fencible Cavalry was formed by Archibald, Lord Kennedy, to counter the threat posed by France. Their name was changed soon after to the Ayrshire Yeomanry. They were later joined by a new force, the Ayrshire Militia whose volunteers were organised into squads armed with rifles or artillery. These units remained the first line of defence for the region for many years during the hey day of the British Empire and remained an independent regiment until 1968 serving in South Africa (1899 - 1902), World War One and World War Two. It still exists however as a squadron in the British Army and has a specialised role in reconnaissance operations and is equipped with light tracked vehicles.
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