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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 11-08-2008, 09:32 PM   #1
Ian Lawther
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Default Cross belts and plaids....

I noticed today that a number of photographs in Barry Shears "Dance to the Piper" show pipers with their cross belts on top of their plaids as they cross their chests. I have always worn the belt underneath the plaid (as was the tradition in the band I learned in).

My interest aroused I have just looked at photos in the Scots Guards, Gordons and Queen's Own Highlanders books and find that the SG are plaid on top but the QOH seem to be underneath. Photos of individual well known P/Ms show G.S MacLennan &John MacLellan belt on top, Donald MacLeod and Willie Ross plaid on top.

So do different regiments have different rules?

Ian

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Old 11-08-2008, 09:57 PM   #2
Rob MacDonald
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

yes - and sometimes it would be different between different battalions of the same regiment.shawl-plaids could also be worn in a variety of ways.

The Armies of the Empire didn't pay a great deal of attention to what we moderns consider 'smartness' in dress before the Franco-Prussian War. loose tailoring, beards like privet hedges and a great deal of mix-and match informality when off parade.

This all changed after the Prussians beat the French like a red-headed step-child (and the Germans weren't the bookies' favorites to win).

Prussian military fashion swept the boards - beards, kepi hats and jackets that fitted where they touched (all French in fashion) went out and clean chins, the (Prussian) pickelhaube which morphed into the blue cloth 'Home Service' and 'Bobby' helmets and Horse Guards helmets, and tightly-tailored tunics with meticulous, inviolable dress regulations replaced the 'Ken Shabby' look.

the decision to adopt a particular style could be highly arbitrary - a certain Royal Personage, the Honourary Colonel of one of the British cavalry regiments, showed up before Parade one morning in the 1920's with his Sam Browne shoulder-belt on backwards. The officers waged a brief silent arguement with their eyes about who was going to tell him....and all of them nicked 'round the corner to switch their own belts backwards - and they've worn them that way ever since.
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Old 11-09-2008, 06:51 AM   #3
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

In the Scottish regiments (of Scotland) each regiment has/had a different approach, and sometimes different photos of the same regiment at different periods shows a change.

One issue seems to be the wearing of badges on the crossbelt.

So, the Black Watch, who wear two badges on the crossbelt, one above the buckle and one below, wear the crossbelt over the plaid. (Otherwise the lower badge would be covered.)

The Scots Guards, who have no badges on their crossbelts, wear the plaid on top.

I have a large collection of photos of pipers of the Cameron Highlanders, and it seems that they have always worn the crossbelt on top despite having no badges. In their case the issue seems to be that they wore the tip and keeper plus an additional plain keeper fairly closely-spaced. (I have found one painting showing the plaid on top, but all the photographs show the opposite.) When the Queens Own Highlanders were formed badges were added to the existing Cameron Highlanders crossbelt and it remained on top of the plaid.

Here's an old photo of some PMs and DMs in India.

Note the badges on the BW crossbelt (worn by all the pipers, not just the PM).
Note the closely-spaced hardware on the Cameron Highlanders crossbelt. This photo is interesting because the PM is wearing the ordinary piper's hardware, not the ornate PM hardware.
I can't quite see if the Seaforth PM is wearing the plaid over or under...I think under.
The A&SH PM is wearing the crossbelt over despite having no badge below the buckle.
So from this photo it looks like the Highland regiments are pretty much all doing the crossbelt on top.
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Old 11-09-2008, 07:54 AM   #4
12cmgc
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

In looking at pictures of full dress from the early 1900's - Great War, all I have seen had the crossbelt over the plaid. I had presumed this just changed over time intentionally or otherwise.....
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Old 11-09-2008, 11:11 AM   #5
Rob MacDonald
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

I've never seen a photo of any Seaforth piper wearing his belt over his plaid until the 1st and 2nd Bn's were amalgamated in 1947. at that point the 2nd Bn 'Assaye' badge was added below the buckle of the 1st Bn belt.

1st and 2nd Bn Seaforth of Canada have always worn it under the plaid.
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Old 11-09-2008, 11:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

Every regiment has their own traditions, but when the cross belt is worn over the plaid it is because of ornamentation on the belt that wouldn't otherwise be seen.
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Old 11-10-2008, 06:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

Well I went through all the images of Cameron Highlanders pipers and what do you know- I found one with the plaids over.
It's from the period from the end of WWII and the creation of the QOH when they wore Royal Stewart, 1955 to be exact...



But here's a photo from the same period with the crossbelt over...



Every photo I have of the pre-WWII Cameron pipes shows the crossbelt over...



Now what about the Gordons? Here's 1895...



But wait...



and...



So the Gordons seem to be unusual amongst Highland regiments in having the plaid over (except that 1895 photo...)
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....




So the Gordons seem to be unusual amongst Highland regiments in having the plaid over (except that 1895 photo...) [/quote]



Oh now you have started something!!!!!!!!!!!

The BW pipe major is wearing a blue bag cover, when infact he is from a highland regiment and the P/m's of the highland regiments wear green! I will have to ask around about this, this being my former regiment as well!
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

Yep some strange bagcovers in that photo. Royal Scots wearing red? QOH PM with tartan?

Recently, at least, all Highland regiments have been wearing green, Lowland and Guards blue.
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Old 11-11-2008, 07:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Cross belts and plaids....

what's strange about them?

Over the years, things change and not just in civvie street.

The P/M (WO1 when the pic was taken) of the Queens Own Highlanders in the photo is Jock Allan, formerly of the 1st Bn. Scots Guards, who subsequently went on to become Director of the Army School of Piping and who retired with the rank of Major. Not only a superb piper but also a fantastic accordion player.

You'll note from the photo that the P/M and D/M of the Gordons aren't wearing shells on their jackets which also happen to be the 60/early 70s style jackets.

The Gordons P/M also appears to be wearing (although it may be caused by the colouring of the photo only)a red wool sash rather than a lovely crimson silk one.

It is however nice to see that all only have "three dicings" showing on their hose above their spat tops.

One thing that nobody has mentioned in this thread yet is the lowland and guards style of wearing a plaid. The guards traditonal wear the plaid brooch higher than the lowland regiments and also wear their plaid so it hangs backwards rather than lying to the front.

And now it's time to change my anorak.....I do believe the 1015 from Kings Cross is arriving at Platform 19 and that's it's engine number 53267.
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