Serious Topic - Black Watch Cowardice?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by The-Daddy, Jan 16, 2007.

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  1. I remember once hearing a story about why the Black Watch never wore a cap badge under the red hackle on their TOS's - it was supposed to have been taken away for cowardice. Any truth in this?
  2. The Black Watch were raised by the Government of the day to protect the highlands from marauding clans and thieves. So they had no aliegience to any particular clan, family or Lord.

    Cowardice would be the last thing you could accuse them of.
  3. HEE HEE HEE! That should bring 'em in!!

    Hang on a minute - Do they still exist?
  4. I would never dare to call them cowards but there must be a reason why they wore the red hackle on its own. I also remember that when the badge was reinstated the Watch refused to wear it
  5. Ask them for a pint of 'broken square' whilst you are at it!
  6. I tried the web but couldn't find out anything regarding cowardice apart from a mutiny. Maybe that was it?
  7. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    You might like to read this. Black Watch

    Some members of the Watch mutinied in 1743 when they got hacked off when they were ordered out of Scotland to the West Indies.

    The government of the time wanted less armed scotsmen in Scotland and sending the Regiment (in those days several Bns) away was acceptable. You may notice that this is a couple of years before the '45 rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie fame.

    To my knowledge, The Watch has never been accused of cowardise.
  8. That could be it - in the eyes of Horse Guards Mutiny was worse than cowardice - but what about the lack of a cap badge on their TOS's?
  9. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    Still barking up the wrong tree, me thinks.

    The red hackle, which the Regiment considers a Battle Honor, was awarded in 1795. Legend claims it was awarded for service at the Battle of Geldermalsen. However, it was more likely an award for many years of service in North America.

    See Here for a link to the site that this comes from.

    Parliament then gave the 42nd sole ownership of the honour of the Red Hackle around in 1820's.
  10. Many Regiments mutinied.A great book on this topic is "Mutiny" by John Prebble.This book tells of mutinies involving a number Highland Regiments.

    A very brief resume` of the BW mutiny;-

    A hundred or so men the Watch went absent from camp at Finchley in 1743, as they were of the opinion that they had been decieved.They were alledgedly under the impression that they had been recruited soley for service in Scotland....They had previously marched from Scotland to London supposidly to be reviewed by the King. In London they were reviewed by Marshal Wade, one time Commander In Chief of Govt Forces in Scotland.

    However on the march to London various recruiting parties heading North told them that they were bound for the East Indies, known as a place were many died of fever.The East Indies was also the place were the Government of the day transported there worse criminals to as well. All in all the muntineers felt that they had been treated dishonourably.

    They were alledgedly infiltrated by jacobite sympathisers whilst on the march too, who no doubt fed the men who had never left the Highlands before, with terrible tales of what awaited them.

    Sometime after the review on 17May 1743 they set out under cover of darkness to march home. They were caught in a wood near Oundle, Northamptonshire on 21st by Dragoons commanded by Gen; Blakeney.

    Three of the mutineers were shot , Samuel and Malcolm MacPherson ,the only two NCOs among the deserters and a Private, Farquhar Shaw.Interestingly there is a huge monument in Aberfeldy just across the River Tay from where the Regiment first mustered.....this monument was raised some time about 1890. Atop this monument is a figure of a soldier of the Watch from 1739. It is said to be the shot mutineer Farquar Shaw.

    A table size copy of this monumet made in silver can be found and seen on any Officers mess night at 1BW, and no doubt 3SCOTS.

    All three were shot in the Tower of London in front of the other "mutineers" who were then drafted to other Regiments.

    in- the-cheapseats in correct in what he says about the - 45 too,whereby the first Clan to rally to Bonnie Prince Charlie`s standard were the Camerons, of the mutineers sent in exile nine were from this clan.Of the other adherents to Charlie were the MacPhersons who had 15 men involved in the mutiny and also the MacGregors, MacIntyres, Grants ,Robertsons, MacDonalds and Frasers.
  11. More or less correct. Im under the impression that it became a custom for the Red Hackle to be worn in the Feather Bonnet without a badge (sometimes called a cap star) after the order from Horse Guards - 1822. This custom seemed to continue until about the time of the Crimea - when a badge was placed under it on the feather bonnet.The Hackle is a badge itself.

    There have been several other forms of headwear in which the Hackle has been worn with out a badge - eg Pith Helmet, Slouch Hat.

    Ive never heard of the badge being reinstated and the Regiment refusing to use it though. The badge was worn until recently in Glengarry bonnets and Feather Bonnets and also used on all signs within the Regt.

    As for a pint of Broken Square....there in lies another tale!.....hahahahaha :threaten: :threaten: :threaten:
  12. Might be a bit of a mix up in the story but was always under the impression that the Royal Scots lost their spats for Cowardice in the face of the enemy and the Watch lost the toe of the spats for the broken square...?
  13. The Black Watch dont wear a cap badge the same as the RHF dont wear a cap badge, not for cowardice I can assure you. The HACKLE is considered to be THE cap badge when the TOS is worn however both the BW & the RHF have cap badges when they wear their Bonnets (BW) and the Glengarry (RHF).

    No Regiment in the Army has any item of clothing awarded for cowardice.
  14. Another myth.....the square toed spats came into being duiring the Crimea, as round toed spats got ragged and scruffy due to wear and tear. The QM of the 42nd being a thrifty type.....(arent they all??) decided to have the Bn chop the ends off their spats, thus smartening up their appearance....alledgedly.

    Sure the square was broken at Tamai in 1884....the Yorks & Lancs Regt were part of that square too....which was a mobile square not the type of static defensive square we normally associate with our infantry.The square was broken due to the commanding General (Graham) ordering 1BW to charge the Sudanese to their front.

    The Watch drove the enemy back, but were surrounded when the main force which was hidden in the shelter of a gully attacked.After a desperate struggle the square was reformed, and with rifle and machine gun they drove off the Sudanese.

    BW have a campaign honour which includes this action and also won a VC at this battle.

    Not a great photo but perhaps you can see the square toed spats in the photo below taken in 1856.

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