Sunday Post - Anger over “insult” to Black Watch veteran


Anger over “insult” to Black Watch veterans

LEADERS OF the campaign to halt the planned merger of Scotland’s six infantry regiments last night reacted angrily to the idea that old soldiers should stop complaining and back the proposals.

The commanding officer of the Black Watch, Lt-Col James Cowan, said retired members of the regiment were allowing their emotion to override reason.

Speaking from the regiment’s base at Camp Dogwood he said, “Retired soldiers are criticising the reorganisation because they feel passionately about our historic regiment, but the changes proposed are sensible.

“They should stop complaining and rally round. The time has come for peace in the regimental family.”

Jeff Duncan, organiser of the Save the Scottish Regiments campaign, called the comments an insult to ex-servicemen.


He blamed General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, and said he will have put Lt-Col Cowan under pressure to back the proposals.

He said, “I think it is extremely disingenuous to say the glorious veteran soldiers are being sentimental and should get behind the plans.

“But it is no surprise that James Cowan is having to say what he’s saying because he’s under immense pressure from General Jackson.

“Everybody knows James Cowan is an exceptional man.

“What is questioned is that he is being told what to say, and if he doesn’t, he faces losing his career.

“This is a desperate Army board, a desperate General and a desperate Government that will do anything to suppress the feelings of the serving soldiers.

“The board and General Jackson will do do whatever they need to do to make people look as if they are out of line.”


Politicians also said they still oppose the creation of one Scottish “super-regiment”.

SNP MP for Tayside North, Pete Wishart, said, “James Cowan’s priority is to look after the best interests of serving soldiers in Iraq.

“However, the Government’s plans to disband the regiments have created a climate of uncertainty and this cannot continue.”

Peter Duncan, the Conservative shadow Scottish Secretary said, “Our troops are focused on the job at hand. At home we are completely focused on ending the current uncertainty.

“A Consevative government will reverse any cuts to Scotland’s regiments.”

Lt-Col Cowan said that although retired soldiers may be disappointed with the reforms, all the main characteristics that make The Black Watch what it is would remain, including the distinctive red hackle.

The regiment would continue to recruit mostly in Tayside and Fife, and it would be known as The Black Watch, 3rd battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

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