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Title: Hackle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Liverpool Scottish, Culture of Scotland, Tam o' shanter (cap), Royal Regiment of Scotland, Headgear
Collection: Headgear, Military Uniforms
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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 in colloquial Scots as 'a heckle' which 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 Royal Highland Regiment to be worn in the sun helmet issued in hot-weather postings from the 1870s. [1]


  • British Army 1
  • Hackle colours in British fusilier regiments 2
    • Modern fusiliers 2.1
    • Historic fusilier regiments 2.2
  • Non-Fusilier Regiments 3
    • Royal Regiment of Scotland 3.1
    • Other regiments 3.2
  • Other armies 4
    • Dutch Army 4.1
  • Canadian Army 5
  • Indian Army 6
  • New Zealand Army 7
  • Malaysian Army 8
  • Pakistan Army 9
  • South African Army 10
  • United States Army 11
  • References 12

British Army

Hackle colours in British fusilier regiments

Soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Modern fusiliers

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

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

A Fusilier of the Royal Welsh

Historic fusilier regiments

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

Non-Fusilier Regiments

Soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment

Non-fusilier regiments which wear the hackle are:

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:

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.)[2] 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.

Other regiments

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

Other armies

Dutch Army

A few infantry regiments in the dutch army wearing the hackle:

Canadian Army

Hackle as worn by the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own). Hackles worn by the QOCH in the Second World War were smaller and less voluminous; peacetime hackles adopted post-war were fuller as illustrated here.

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

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

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

Indian Army

In the Indian Army, a few selected infantry regiments wear the hackle:

New Zealand Army

Malaysian Army

Pakistan Army

South African Army

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

United States Army


  1. ^ 'Report on Ashantee' (1874), Glasgow Herald, 26th December 1895
  2. ^ This is illustrated in The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders by Osprey Men at Arms (Osprey, 1988). ISBN 0-85045-085-3
  3. ^ Spaan, LCol Warren (editor). Calgary Highlanders Regimental Book, published by the Regiment, 2002.
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