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Author Topic: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards  (Read 389 times)

Offline CaptainHaddonCollider

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Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« on: May 22, 2018, 09:33:39 AM »
Hi all,
I was hoping, that some of you more enlightened and schooled Great War-members could help me with this spot of bother. I've begun research for the Battle of Longueval, in which the 8th Batt. Black Watch participated on the East Flank. In all the photo-evidence I've come across, all the highland soldiers are wearing kilts in covers. However, most of the photos are staged. My question therefore is this: Was the Black Watch solely equipped with kilts for combat duty and assaults, or would you be able to find a mixture of BD trousers and kilts on the front line? What was the general approach, and did it in any way change during the war?

As far as I know, the Highland Regiments of the Second World War all wore BD trousers, unless on parade. However a few units did a mix, especially in warmer climates - when did this become standard practice?

Thank you for your time!

Offline huevans

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Re: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2018, 02:29:49 PM »
I believe that highlanders wore the kilt until 1940 and it was withdrawn as "impractical" after Dunkirk.

Offline Cubs

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Re: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 03:08:34 PM »
From what I've read, kilts with kilt covers (either the apron of full wrap-around cover) were the order of the day in WW1, but presumably in extreme conditions a general order might go out allowing trousers to be worn. Uniform restrictions seem to have been often relaxed in sensible manner to adapt to circumstances - it seems some soldiers wore just the kilt cover occasionally without the kilt in hot weather.
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Offline Plynkes

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Re: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 03:48:45 PM »
As far as I know, the Highland Regiments of the Second World War all wore BD trousers, unless on parade.


Kilts were worn in action by some of the Commandos in the St. Nazaire raid.





Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong...

Offline Cubs

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Re: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 05:53:48 PM »
Yeah, Scots members of special ops units have a long (rumoured) history of wearing kilts occasionally, because … well, uniform restrictions don't really apply to such units and commanders are usually keen to emphasise their elite status by allowing, or even encouraging certain privileges. There's even rumours that SAS members in Iraq and Syria still wear kilts.

Offline Arlequín

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Re: Question on Black Watch Battledress 1916 and onwards
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2018, 01:41:51 PM »
Late to the party but...

GHQ were keen on the kilt because of the reputation Highlanders were believed to have had amongst German troops and ordered them to be worn accordingly. Amongst the people who had to wear them feelings were more mixed, especially amongst the thousands of men in highland units who had never wore a kilt before joining-up.

That they were being worn in action seems to be supported by the concerns regarding Highland units being especially vulnerable to Mustard Gas. You also wouldn't devote resources to make khaki aprons if they weren't worn in action either.

There was at least one occasion that trousers and kilts were worn within the same units, the idea being to fool the Germans into thinking the thinly-held XVII Corps Sector was not just manned by the 51st Division alone, prior to the Somme Offensive.

In 1940 the kilt was withdrawn before the bulk of the Army went to France (fear of casualties to gas and cost), but at least one unit had already sailed in them before the order was issued. Only regulars and first line TA units would have had them issued before war was declared in any case.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2018, 01:51:04 PM by Arlequín »