Tuesday, 30 June 2009



New fears for future of the Red Hackle
Friday 26 June 2009
This News Item courtesy of: The Courier

By Chris Ferguson

THE RED Hackle, the most recognisable symbol of The Black Watch, is set to disappear from the cap badges of Territorial Army soldiers.

Instead, it is likely they will wear purple hackles as part of a drive to forge common identities for Scotland’s two TA battalions.

The news has infuriated Black Watch supporters, who fear the identity of the historic regiment is once again under threat.

When The Black Watch was merged with Scotland’s other regiments into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006, the promise given was that the “golden thread” of identity would be retained.

Campaigners now see this as a first step to breaking the golden thread and consigning centuries of tradition to history.

Their concern now is that Black Watch regulars (3 Scots) will be next in line to lose their Red Hackles.

But this was flatly denied last night by Major Alastair Campbell, regimental secretary of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He said, “The Red Hackle is safe. There is no long-term plan to replace it, there have been no discussions, it is not on the agenda and there is no aspiration to replace it.

“Everyone is proud of the identities they have got.”

Major Campbell said the idea of a single hackle for the 51st Highland Battalion and the 52nd Lowland Battalion had come from within the chain of command of the battalions.

At the moment, soldiers in the battalions wear a mixture of hackles, reflecting the recruiting areas from where they were drawn such as red (Black Watch), green (Argylls) and blue (Highlanders).

He said, “It is the aspiration of the chain of command within these two battalions and a large number of soldiers to have a single unit identity brand and a single coloured hackle.”

The matter was put to the May meeting of the Council of Scottish Colonels that agreed that the two TA battalions look into the matter.

Purple is the suggested colour, said Major Campbell, but this has yet to be confirmed.

“The commanders of the two battalions have been told to come up with some suggestions, prototypes, and they will be shown to the Council of Colonels.

“Provided they agree, we will then put it to the army dress committee and the aspiration is that it will be in place by June 2011, but it could be sooner. It is eminently sensible to have a single identity.

“There is absolutely no suggestion of this being extended to the Royal Regiment of Scotland.”

But retired TA Lieutenant Colonel Roland Rose (73), of Dundee, said ditching the Red Hackle would prompt a reaction of horror and sense of betrayal among those who cherish the regiment.

“Few if any of those involved in The Black Watch supported the merger in 2006 but we were promised that the golden thread of identity would go on, that it would preserve our history and traditions and be a recruiting tool in our footprint area of Tayside and Fife.

“Its removal under any circumstances will lead many to think this is a precursor to it being ditched completely. And one has to suppose we are seeing the first step down this road.

“On Saturday, our regimental reunion takes place in Perth and this will be one of the talking points.

“The regulars have already been denied the right to wear the Red Hackle with their dress uniform. How long will it be before we are denied the right to wear it at all?”

If you have any views on a future threat to the Red Hackle or what the symbol means to you, contact The Courier newsdesk. Email: courier@dcthomson.co.uk or call 01382 575290.

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