26 Dec 2006

Letting Down the Side

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Philip Howard, late of the Black Watch, in today’s Wall Street Journal, editorializes about Britain’s Labour Government’s cheese-paring over minor and trivial expenses attendant upon keeping up the traditions of Britain’s fighting Highland regiments.

The British Army has (created) a shortage of kilts for its Highland Regiment. It has ordered only 320 ceremonial kilts for 5,000 Jocks, so they are having to share, which is not a comfortable business for the buttock-swinging, elite warriors…

This dire deficiency of the kilt has arisen because last August the British Army, in its infinite wisdom, decided to amalgamate its remaining Scottish regiments. No doubt there were sound strategic and logistic reasons for this, on the ground that bigger is cheaper to administer. But it destroyed the ancient traditions and symbols of tribal families…

The Royal Scots were the First of Foot and Right of the Line. They claim to be the oldest regiment in the British Army, nicknamed Pontius Pilate’s Bodyguard. The legend goes that Pilate’s Roman legionary dad married a Highland lass from Fortingal in Perthshire. The Royal Scots wore trews (tight tartan breeks) rather than the kilt, because they were a Lowland Regiment. When they were in French service as “Le Régiment de Douglas”, a dispute arose with the “Régiment de Picardie” as to which was the senior. The French Colonel claimed that his regiment was on duty on the night of the Crucifixion. To which the Colonel of the Royal Scots replied: “Had it been our shift that night, we wouldna hae slept at our post.”

Read the whole thing.


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