The Black Watch RHR of Canada Red Hackle, Facts and Myths.

SVP this post was, on the 3rd. SCOTS, blog split in two, kindly disregard comments, etc, as they are not a accurate representation on Fact vs Myth. Just posted comments written by others in both Red Hackle Journals etc a more detailed, comprehensive account will be presented, the 3rd SCOTS accounts have been removed.

If you consider in order of importance, first “Mother,” Colours, the red hackle, part of the “old standing orders,” on its proper wear grooming and “Blooming,” desecration of the hackle is sacrilege and blasphemes. The Black Watch RHR C, raised 31st January 1862 as 5th Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles, Canada in response to the Trent Affair: Canada was in preparation of invading the USA. Six Montréal Scottish chieftains responded to the government’s call to arms, raised militia regiments, (Independent Companies) Six Volunteer Militia Rifle Companies (Montreal) 22nd January 1862. On 31st Jan the six Coy’s were fussed into a battalion, eventually a total of eight companies were raised.

CDN Black Watch roots, a former Scottish officer of No. 1 Coy 1855, “The Rifles,” appointed Captain 30th, October 1856. Capt. John Macpherson’s, No. 10 “Highland Company,” from 1st (or Prince of Wales) Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada, 9th Oct. transferred to 5th Batt. ‘Royal’ Light Infantry: With authority off parade the Coy, “wore trews of Black Watch tartan and a feather bonnet with red hackle.” In Capt. Ernest Chambers compilations: We find the following pen sketch of the company in the Portland “Transcript’s” account of the visit of the Montreal “Rifles” to Portland in 1858:—

“The dress of the Highland company was a green coatee faced with red and gold, plaid pants, tartan scarfs. Highland bonnet with ostrich plumes, and red feather. The piper, in full Highland costume, with his kilt and his bare knees, attracted some attention. The Highlanders were thoroughly Scotch in form and features, spare and sharp, and in their native costume looked like true followers of the Bruce.”

The uniform worn by the Highland Company while attached to the 1st P. W. Rifles is described by Lieut.-Col. Macpherson as consisting of rifle tunic or coatee, after the pattern of the “71st Highland Light Infantry,” but of rifle green cloth, trews and plaid of the tartan of the clan McKenzie of Seaforth as worn by the 78th Highlanders, highland plume bonnet, with red hackle.

With nemours name changes,“5th Regiment, Royal Scots of Canada, Highlanders,” were officially permitted to wear the Red Heckle by General Order dated 25th May 1895.

The Glengarry’s origin’s is still up for debate, however traced to Alasdair MacDonell (1771-1828) of Glengarry, Scotland, adopted by the British Infantry in 1868, and the Canadian militia in the 1870s. It was worn on dress occasions, by traditionally Scottish Infantry Regiments, during both world wars.

5th Regt. Royal Scots 1898 with Red Plum on Bearskin Cap.

5th Regt. Royal Scots 1898 with Red Plum on Bearskin Cap.

D Mckenzie Forbes

D Mckenzie Forbes

Black Watch Pre FWW. The 5th Regiment RHC 1906 wore hackles even on their Wolseley helmet, V formed, height 9cm top 6.5cm wide. The picture shows the feathers look bigger and slightly taller then ones worn in 1917.

Canadian Black Watch Pre FWW. The 5th Regiment RHC 1906 wore hackles even on their Wolseley helmet, V formed, height 9cm top 6.5cm wide. The picture shows the feathers look bigger and slightly taller then ones worn in 1915-1917.

When and how did 13th BATT., RHC FC CEF, and 42nd BATT RHC SC, wear their Red Hackles?

According too PH.Ds’ historical Accounts: “All members of the Regiment wore the Red Hackle in their bonnets during its early days but the Canadian units of the Black Watch did not wear the Red Hackle during the First World War because of its legend as a battle honour. So impressed was the commander of the Imperial Black Watch of the gallantry of the Black Watch in the Battle of Vimy Ridge an order was given to allow the Canadian regiment to wear the red hackle in the bonnet in place of the cap badge. There are only two regiments in the Commonwealth that wear a battle honour in place of the cap badge, that being the Canadian Black Watch and the Imperial Black Watch. The cap badge was only worn on the Glengarry.”

Other historical account, “Col. P. P. Hutchison”: “Due to the gallantry or the 13th Battalion CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) during the first gas attack in the Second Battle of the Ypres in 1915, and the three Canadian Battalions of the Black Watch in the Battle of Vimy Ridge during Easter in 1917. So impressed was the commander of the Imperial Black Watch, that an order was given to allow the Canadian regiment to wear the red hackle in the bonnet in place of the cap badge.”

According to Robert Collier Featherstonhough, 13th Batt., official history; “on November 12th the companies paraded and proceeded to the Divisional Gas School. For nearly a week the 13th remained at Cambligneul, large parties attending courses of instruction in the use of Stokes Guns, It was during this week at Cambligneul that the Battalion abandoned as its official head dress the Glengarry, with the Black Watch badge, and substituted for it the Balmoral bonnet, with the famous Red Hackle. This change was no ordinary alteration of uniform, but represented a distinct milestone in the history of the Regiment, “as the Red Hackle was an honour highly prized.” On January 4th, 1795, the Black Watch Regiment had gained this distinction while serving- against the French at Guildermausen, in Flanders, by an act of devotion and bravery involving the recapture of some abandoned guns. Through affiliation with the Black Watch, the 13th might have worn this red vulture feather from the beginning, but officers had decided that it was not fitting for a new and untried battalion, merely because of affiliation, to wear a battle honour that had been the pride and glory of the Black Watch for over a hundred years. Accordingly, permission to wear the Red Hackle had been withheld until on the bloody fields of Ypres, Festubert, Sanctuary Wood and the Somme, the Battalion had earned the distinction in its own right.

At its first parade following the issue of the Balmorals and Red Hackle, the 13th was honoured by a visit from the Corps Commander, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Julian Byng, who conducted a careful inspection. After this event the men were paid, allowing them to purchase a few extras to make them more comfortable during the next tour in the line.

On the morning of November 18th the Battalion moved up and relieved the 8th Canadian Battalion in Brigade Support, in the Carency Sector.” Source R.C.F. p.147.

 
13th Battalion RHC War Diary, dated November 16th, 1916 states; “as many men as possible were fitted out with Balmorals and Red Hackles an honour which they greatly appreciated.” A year later, on 30 November 1917, the war diarist of the 42nd Battalion recorded that “the Battalion, pursuant to a request received some time prior from the 1st Bn., of Imperial Black Watch, adopted the Red Hackle as part of its head-dress.”

Spañiard: The majority of hackles worn by 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada CEF FC were Scots BW. Of the 291 “Original” counting “Billy” 5th Regiment RHC Aug, 1914, with 13 members of the SCOTS Black Watch, many possessed Canadian made hackles. Glengarries were the official headdress of 13th Batt., FC, with the 5th Regiment RHC boer head, and Black Watch style cap badge with boer head and 5th. 13th BATT: First contingent only wore hackles after they had muddied the waters and proven themselves, (won their spurs in battle, Col. P. P. Hutchison, p.91). SVP still adding here.

Canadian Black Watch RHR C Second World War (SWW) Red Hackle.

Canadian Black Watch RHR C Second World War (SWW) Red Hackle.

In the Second World War the Black Watch RHR of Canada 1st Bn. wore small hackles, similar to 1917. Scot Black Watch hackles in those times were very similar to the RHR of Canada. There’s two styles worn that are known to me, for that period in time, and confirmed by survivors. 8cm tall 9cm wide bright red feathers, bottom extends with a double thicker wire 4cm long raped in red plastic tape on its length, widen oval eye loop. According too accounts, they would bend the wire to make it small or cut it off, inserting into the left side of the Balmoral. A taller red feathered style were worn which I have never seen, and advised, they would take barbwire cutters and cut-off 2-3” from the top.

IMG_0001

The Origin of the Canadian Flavoured Black Watch, Bloomed Hackle.

After the Second World War the Black Watch RHR, of Canada, were stationed in Germany.

Capt Ian Fraser & Sergt Maj Ron Finnie Royal Highlanders of Canada Toronto Augst 1962.

Capt Ian Fraser & Sergt Maj Ron Finnie Royal Highlanders of Canada Toronto Augst 196.

Canadian Flavoured Bloomed Hackles.

Canadian Flavoured Bloomed Hackles.

SVP: Still under construction
© Spañiard 2014.

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