Feather Hackles – Regimental Traditions

Feather Hackles – Regimental Traditions

Feather Hackles - Regimental Traditions. The hackle is a clipped feather plume that is attached to a military headdress. In the British Army and the armies of some Commonwealth countries, the hackle is worn by some infantry regiments, especially those designated as fusilier regiments and those with Scottish and Northern Irish origins. The colour of the hackle varies from regiment to regiment. The modern hackle has its origins in a much longer plume, originally referred to by its Scots name, heckle, which was commonly attached to the feather bonnet worn by Highland regiments (now usually only worn by drummers, pipers and bandsmen). The smaller version originated in a regimental emblem adopted by the 42nd Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment, to be worn in the sun helmet issued in hot-weather postings from the 1870s.

The black cock style feather hackle has long been used by both regiments and civilian wear in the glengarry and Kilmarnock bonnet since the mid nineteenth century. These are styled on the tail feathers of the Black grouse. In the past these have also been presented as prizes for Highland dancing, piping and civilian shooting competitions.

We supply a wide range of high quality Scottish regimental and civilian feather hackles and plumes. All 100% made in the UK to the high quality expected by the Scottish regiments and British army.

Perfect addition to any glengarry, Balmoral, Lowland bonnet, Irish caubeen or feather bonnets.

As supplied to regiments and pipe bands around the world. To order hackles please visit the hackle department of the store.

Feather Hackles - Regimental Traditions
Feather Hackles - Regimental Traditions

Royal Regiment of Scotland

Following the amalgamation of the regiments of the Scottish Division to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland on 28 March 2006, the following hackles are being worn by the regiment's constituent battalions:

  • Royal Scots Borderers (1 SCOTS): Black
  • Royal Highland Fusiliers (2 SCOTS): White
  • Black Watch (3 SCOTS): Red
  • The Highlanders (4 SCOTS): Blue
  • Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (5 SCOTS): Green
  • 52nd Lowland Volunteers (6 SCOTS): Grey
  • 51st Highland Volunteers (7 SCOTS): Purple
  • Blackcock style hackle worn by regimental pipers

Whilst the white hackle of 2 SCOTS, red hackle of 3 SCOTS and blue hackle of 4 SCOTS have a known ancestry, the origin of 1 SCOTS black hackle and 5 SCOTS green hackle are not clear and have no apparent precedent. It may be that the black hackle of 1 SCOTS simulates the black-cock tail feathers originally worn in the 1904 pattern Kilmarnock Bonnet and latterly in the regimental Glengarry Cap by the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers, who merged in August 2006 to form 1 SCOTS.

Alternatively, it may be a sympathetic gesture to a former Lowland regiment, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), who went into 'suspended animation' in 1968 (and later disbanded), who wore a black hackle in their rifle green dress Balmoral. The adoption of the green hackle now being worn by the Argylls battalion (5 SCOTS) is no doubt a continuation of that regiment's association with the colour green, most prominent in the hue of their regimental kilts and stripes on their regimental association ties. (It is, however, worthy of note that in the 19th Century, all line regiments of the British Army used to designate their "light company" with a green hackle.)

The Regimental Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland does not wear the hackle. However, the Highland Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Territorial Army) continues to wear the red hackle with the Tam o' Shanter. Tradition holds that the black hackle originated as a Scottish tradition of wearing a black feather in your hat to signify you have an ongoing quarrel with someone

Scarlet Regimental Feather Bonnet Hackle
Red Black Watch feather bonnet hackle
Blackcock Feather Hackle
Blackcock Feather Hackle
White Regimental Feather Bonnet Hackle
White feather bonnet hackle

Historic fusilier regiments

There were several other fusilier regiments which have been amalgamated and no longer exist. The hackle colours worn were as follows:

  • Lancashire Fusiliers: Primrose yellow
  • Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment): White
  • Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers: Grey
  • Royal Irish Fusiliers: Green
  • Royal Northumberland Fusiliers: Red over White
  • Royal Scots Fusiliers: White
  • Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers: Blue over Old Gold (Orange)
  • Royal Welsh Fusiliers: White
  • Royal Munster Fusiliers: White over Green
  • Royal Dublin Fusiliers: Green over Blue

Modern fusiliers regimental hackles

In the modern British Army, there is a single regiment of fusiliers, plus a battalion of a large regiment. Hackle colours are:

  • Royal Regiment of Fusiliers: Red over white
  • Royal Highland Fusiliers (a battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland): White

Other ranks of the Royal Welsh; the regiment that was formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and Royal Regiment of Wales, continue to wear the white hackle of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

REME Pipers Glengarry Hackle
REME Pipers Glengarry Hackle
Flat Blue Feather Hackle - Scottish Regimental Issue 4 Scots Queens Own Highlanders
QOH flat blue hackle
Scottish Commando Black Hackle - No. 11 Scottish Commando
Scottish Commando Black Hackle

Non-fusilier regiments

Non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle are:

  • Irish Guards (pipers on caubeen only): St Patrick's blue
  • Liverpool Scottish (now a platoon of A (Ladysmith) Company, 4th Bn Duke of Lancaster's Regiment): Royal blue
  • Liverpool Irish (now A Troop of 208 Battery, 103rd Regiment Royal Artillery): Blue over red
  • London Irish Rifles (now D (London Irish Rifles) Company, London Regiment): Green [Pipers wear St Patrick's blue]
  • Royal Irish Regiment (as the direct descendant of two regiments of fusiliers): Green
  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (on pipers' feather bonnet in Full Dress, pipers' / drummers' glengarry /atholl bonnet in No.1 and No.2 dress): White
  • Royal Welsh (Other Ranks only): White
  • Scots Guards (pipers on feather bonnet only): Blue over red
  • The Queen's University Officers' Training Corps: St Patrick's Blue (A Coy Caubeen Only)
  • Royal Air Force (pipe band only): Blue
  • REME Blue over yellow over red ( Pipers glengarry hackle )
  • Royal Tank Regiment Blackcock feather hackle ( Pipers glengarry hackle )

Other regiments

Former non-fusilier regiments, now amalgamated, which also wore the hackle were:

  • 40 (Ulster) Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals: Navy blue, sky blue and green.
  • Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: (feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major): White
  • Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: (Pipers only) Black Cock Feather
  • Black Watch: Red
  • The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles): Black
  • Gordon Highlanders: Feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major: White, Bandsmen: Red and White
  • Gordon Highlanders: (Pipers only) Black Cock Feather
  • Highland Light Infantry: White over red
  • The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons): Royal blue
  • The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons): (feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major) White
  • The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons): (Pipers only) Eagle feather
  • Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders: Royal blue
  • Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders: (feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major) White
  • Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders: (Pipers only) Eagle feather
  • Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons): Royal blue
  • Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons): (feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major) White
  • Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons): (Pipers only) Eagle feather
  • Queen's Royal Irish Hussars (pipers on caubeen only): White over red
  • Royal Irish Rangers: Green
  • Royal Corps of Transport (pipers on feather bonnet only): Red over white over blue
  • Royal Ulster Rifles: Black
  • Seaforth Highlanders (feather bonnet only - Drummers and Drum Major): White
  • Seaforth Highlanders (Pipers only) Black Cock Feather
  • No. 9 Commando and No. 11 (Scottish) Commando: Black
Irish Guards Caubeen Hackle
Irish Guards pipers caubeen hackle
Scots Guards Feather Bonnet.
Scots Guards pipers feather bonnet
Liverpool Irish Caubeen Hackle
Liverpool Irish Caubeen Hackle

Canadian Army

There are several fusilier regiments in the Canadian Army which wear the hackle (the French-speaking fusilier regiments do not appear to do so):

  • The Princess Louise Fusiliers: French grey
  • The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada: White
  • Royal 22e Régiment: Red (not otherwise considered a fusilier regiment, they wear fusilier full dress because of their alliance with the Royal Welch Fusiliers)

Scottish-influenced non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle include:

  • 48th Highlanders of Canada (feather bonnet only): White
  • The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) (drummers on feather bonnet only): White
  • The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada: Red
  • The Calgary Highlanders (drummers on feather bonnet only): White 
  • The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own): Royal blue
  • The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) (drummers on feather bonnet only): White
  • The Essex and Kent Scottish (feather bonnet only): White
  • The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment): Primrose yellow
  • The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada: Royal blue (except pipers in full dress, who wear an eagle feather instead).
  • The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (drummers on feather bonnet only): White

Irish-influenced non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle (on the caubeen):

  • 2nd Battalion, Irish Regiment of Canada: Green (light blue for senior NCOs and officers)

South African Army

Scottish- and Irish-influenced regiments which wear the hackle include:

  • South African Irish Regiment: Green
  • Transvaal Scottish Regiment: Red
  • Witwatersrand Rifles: Black
Feather Hackles - Regimental Traditions
Feather Hackles - Regimental Traditions