End of line for Black Watch?

The Black Watch Homecoming Parade through the streets of Kirkcaldy last month
The Black Watch Homecoming Parade through the streets of Kirkcaldy last month

THE historic names of Scotland’s army regiments, including the Black Watch, could be axed within two years.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond sparked a row among his fellow politicians with the plans, which are part of a shake up of the army and a cost cutting exercise.

Under the proposals the traditional regimental names, which are steeped in history, would be lost, as would at least one infantry battalion.


There had been major criticism and fears when the Scottish battalions were amalgamated in 2006 to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland, but at that time they were promised they could keep their historic names and cap badges to keep centuries old traditions alive.

The plans would see the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) would become just 3 SCOTS by 2014.

The plans are part of a major restructuring exercise which would ultimately see the size of the army cut from 102,000 soldiers to 82,000.

On Tuesday, Mr Hammond said that the battalions’ full titles had fallen out of use since the last reforms and insisted army units no longer all have the strong geographical ties for recruitment they once did.

Cap badges

He said: “The ancient cap badges have largely gone, they are attached in brackets to some unit names.”

But the number of people who turned out on the streets of Kirkcaldy just a few weeks ago to welcome the Black Watch soldiers home from their latest tour of Afghanistan would suggest the geographical ties still remain as Fife, Tayside and Perth have long been the recruitment area for the battalion.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “A review of the future structure of the army is ongoing and no conclusions have yet been reached.”