Kilts and the BEF 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Owen, Sep 15, 2006.

  1. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    VP - not only did Baade of the German Army wear a kilt in the desert and Italy - but Brig. Gatehouse of the 4th Armoured bde also wore the kilt in battle in the desert - sat on top of his tank to direct operations - had to scurry at Gazala though !
    Cheers
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Taken from 1 Black Watch war diary WO167/710

    [​IMG]
     
  3. L Detachment

    L Detachment Junior Member

    Capt Ogilvie is, I believe, the 'Captain Z' mentioned throughout Louis Hagen's Arnhem Lift. The book describes them setting off together to swim the Neder Rijn, though Hagen himself doesn't make the claim about the kilt.

    On a lighter note, is it significant that kilts were worn by glider troops and not paras?
    Ogilvie is the "Captain Z" in the book by Hagen. Regarding Ogilvie and Hagen at Arnhem, I believe it was Ogilivie who recomended Hagen (Haig) for the Military Medal.

    Regarding the photo of Ogilvie in his kilt at Arnhem with his kilted batman/bodyguard also in the photo, does anyone know the name of the batman ?


    Cheers Ian
     
  4. L Detachment

    L Detachment Junior Member

    Hi Folks,

    I have attached two photos of Captain James Graeme Ogilivie, Glider Pilot Regiment. One is taken from the Roll of Honour on the Loretto School website and the other taken at Arnhem from the Imperial War Museum.

    Hope they are of interest.

    Best regards,

    Ian
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Koen

    Koen Member

    Does somebody know if the 6th Bn Seaforth Highlanders still wore kilts in 1940?

    Regards Koen
     
  6. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    POW 1940.jpg POWs 1940 with kilts. photo from my collection.
    Keith
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I've never seen any evidence that any part of Fifth Division (who were a fully equipped regular division) fought in anything other than battledress.

    6th Seaforth were with 51st Div prior to march 1940, having been in France since January.

    Although the pre-war regulars would have had a kilt for 'walking out', they would not normally have been taken with them into Belgium.

    I think that you'll be hard-pushed to find any evidence of any regular unit in Belgium being deployed with kilts, any more than the non-Scots units would have fought in Service Dress and furthermore, as mentioned above, the kilt contravened the anti-gas regulations.

    There are photographs of prisoners in kilts, generally 51st Division I believe but that may well have been an act of defiance on being captured.
     
  8. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    A lot of the 51st HD took their kilts with them in defiance of orders. Though not worn in battle, they were often hidden in ammo boxes etc. 4th Camerons captured at St Valery buried a lot of their kilts, some of which were recovered when 5th Camerons re-entered St Valery in 1944. My Father had his kilt with him from before Alamein through to Germany.
     
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    From the 6 Seaforths war diary:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Not much doubt there then Andy.

    Are the 'puttees, short' simply standard gaiters ?

    It's a shame that there is no list of the webbing.
     
  12. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    View attachment 57766

    View attachment 57767 The colour of the BD would indicate Canadian pattern, Short pattern puttees


    View attachment 56947 Web anklets/Gaiters 37 pattern. ACF 1964 we used KG 103 Blanco


    Plaid, when appointed to my first 'desk job' in the Battalion, the Sergeant Major said get yourself off to the Tailors shop and get yourself 3 or 4 yards of plaid. Royal Stewart Tartan adorned all the appointment desks in the battalion. You'll need 4 yards said the tailors. My new desk - was I pleased! A couple of months later my wife said whats this stoppage on your bank transfer - Billed for ........... I should have known.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    What are "embroidered titles"? See post 72, Items and Necessities Carried on the Person, at the bottom of the list.
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    What are "embroidered titles"? See post 72, Items and Necessities Carried on the Person, at the bottom of the list.
    Sewn onto top of arm .
     

    Attached Files:

    Slipdigit likes this.
  16. Koen

    Koen Member

    I thought the BEF didn't not wore shoulder titles or any markings?
     
  17. cameronlad

    cameronlad Member

    I've never seen any evidence that any part of Fifth Division (who were a fully equipped regular division) fought in anything other than battledress.

    6th Seaforth were with 51st Div prior to march 1940, having been in France since January.

    Although the pre-war regulars would have had a kilt for 'walking out', they would not normally have been taken with them into Belgium.

    I think that you'll be hard-pushed to find any evidence of any regular unit in Belgium being deployed with kilts, any more than the non-Scots units would have fought in Service Dress and furthermore, as mentioned above, the kilt contravened the anti-gas regulations.

    There are photographs of prisoners in kilts, generally 51st Division I believe but that may well have been an act of defiance on being captured.

    I may have misinterpreted the underlined comment quoted here. Is it reference specific to the 5th Divn or a wider assertion about the wearing of kilts in the BEF?
    If the latter, then sorry, the assumption is totally wrong.
    So many other previous posts, threads and pics testify as to the wearing of the kilt by the 1st Btn QOCH 1939-1940 despite all official attempts to stop their use. The QOCH were regulars, went into France and Belgium in kilts, fought in kilts and came home in kilts. See also 51st Highlander, Drew and the late Ernie Oates posts.
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Thanks Andrew and Owen.
     
  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I may have misinterpreted the underlined comment quoted here. Is it reference specific to the 5th Divn or a wider assertion about the wearing of kilts in the BEF?
    If the latter, then sorry, the assumption is totally wrong.
    So many other previous posts, threads and pics testify as to the wearing of the kilt by the 1st Btn QOCH 1939-1940 despite all official attempts to stop their use. The QOCH were regulars, went into France and Belgium in kilts, fought in kilts and came home in kilts. See also 51st Highlander, Drew and the late Ernie Oates posts.

    I did have 5th Div in mind but had overlooked that 1st Camerons, as part of 2nd Div's 5th Brigade did indeed fight in Belgium. Did they travel up to the Dyle in kilts or change over later ?
     
  20. cameronlad

    cameronlad Member

    I did have 5th Div in mind but had overlooked that 1st Camerons, as part of 2nd Div's 5th Brigade did indeed fight in Belgium. Did they travel up to the Dyle in kilts or change over later ?


    Rich. Sorry, been away so just catching up with clarifications in reply to yours.

    Regarding the QOCH. To confirm, it was the last regiment to retain the kilt and to wear it in battle. While other Scots regiments succumbed to the CIGS and ministry decisions in 1939 to replace kilts with standardised khaki service trousers, the QOCH held out by using guerilla tactics to stall things.

    The Cameron’s C.O., Lt Col Wimberley, turned the ministry and military’s own red tape against them and for several months used lengthy administrative correspondence as a delaying manoeuvre. He batted off the arguments against the kilt for months (alleged shortage of material stocks, not suitable protection during gas attack, etc) and the result was that although the inevitable was always going to happen, his carefully calculated resistance meant both 1st and 4th Btns continued wearing the kilt throughout the BEF debacle up until late 1940 back in the UK.

    The only exceptions to rule can be seen in btn orders setting out formal and informal dress codes for all ranks. For practical reasons, trousers were worn informally during fatigues, and also by MT drivers and runners. But, despite the deliberately posed press photos of Cameron’s digging trenches in kilts, this didn’t happen. They did wear canvas trousers then. The C.O’s standing orders remained even beyond the outbreak of hostilities on 9th May 9th ’39 because from that date onward the army had other things on its mind.

    On your other comment, despite a wrongly made-up newspaper report published in the UK at the time, there were no fancy dress changes before going into Belgium. All 1st Cameron ranks esp infantrymen left Aix and arrived near the river Dyle wearing combat dress – steel helmet, battle tunic – and the kilt. Surplus kit was left behind. No mention of aprons though! As per standing orders, all attached officers and units, such as AT’s, also wore kilts – willingly and proudly. Again, only vehicle operators, riders, some Pioneers and other support units wore full khaki.

    Contrary to some reports, when the 1st Cameron’s moved into Belgium, they took up positions on the Dyle just north of Wavre, well south of Louvain. There, on 15th May, ‘B’ coy were ordered to cross the Dyle and occupied a wooded area near Ottenburg for two days in support of the Lancers. Their first action saw them coming under intense enemy bombing, mortar and MG fire for two days before covering the retreat (sorry, withdrawal) of the advance BEF units. They were last out just before the bridge crossing was blown.

    Interestingly, there’s a well-known painting of the Cams at the Battle of the Escaut. It’s often referred to as “the last charge of the kilts”. Wrong! The charge did happen but it wasn’t the last in a kilt. The final mass battle charge(s) of the kilts was against Rommel’s tanks in the fields between Violaines and La Bassee– again by the 1st Camerons - on the 25th and 26th May - but that’s another hair raising, boys-own-hero story touched on in other posts.
     

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