Home Forums General General Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders’ badger sporrans

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    John D Salt

    I have reference to National Archive piece number WO 32/19828, “Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders”, former reference 54/Inf/8839.

    The following letter gives a summary of a matter which occupied some of the Ministry of Defence’s attention in 1973.

                                Regimental Headquarters
                                     Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
                                          The Castle
    Tel. Stirling 2356
    Ministry of Defence,
    Lansdowne House,
    Berkeley Square,
    LONDON W1X 6AA.                              Ref:  RHQ/D/2
                                                 16 November, 1973
    Reference  A MOD letter A/54/Infantry/8839(C&Tic) dated 17
               Oct 73
               B Letter from Animals’ Vigilantes TEC/LM/HB dated
               2 Oct 73
               C MOD letter A/38/Misc/1539/PS12(Army) dated 19
               Oct 73
    1.  As there may be some misunderstanding about the number of 
    sporrans required each year it is pointed out that the majority
    of the sporrans now in use in the Regiment are second-hand, 
    having been handed down, some more than once, from officers and 
    N.C.Os leaving the Army. If properly looked after these sporrans
    last a very long time and some of them in use today were 
    purchased more than 50 years ago.
         To re-inforce this point Messrs. Jardines of Edinburgh, our
    main supplier, has made only three/four new sporrans in the last
    eight years.
    2.  It should also be stressed that Badgers are NOT specifically
    killed for the purpose of making sporrans.  Skins for making
    sporrans are obtained from animals either killed on the road
    accidentally trapped or those dying of natural causes.  This
    availability of such skins is confirmed by a Veterinary Surgeon
    working for a Government Department who states that he could
    supply a substantial number of skins each year.
    3.  The three firms who supply these sporrans to the Regiment
    have been requested to investigate the possibility of the
    production of a synthetic Badger Sporran. It is confirmed that
    they are proceeding with this matter although it is anticipated
    that it will not be an easy task and may take some time.
                                       T B D Slessor
                                      (T.B.C. SLESSOR)
    Copies to:-  C&Tic, Ministry of Defence
                 H.Q., The Scottish Division
                 Brigadier A.C.S. Boswell, OBE
                 Lieut.Colonel C.P.R. Falmer

    Other parts of the file reveal than “Animals’ Vigilantes”, the organization calling for an end to the Argylls’ wearing of badger sporrans, had Spike Milligan for its president, and numbered among its patrons Lady Dowding, David Jacobs, Jack Warner, J B Priestley, Cliff Richard, and Harry Corbett & Sooty.

    As far as I can determine, the synthetic badger sporran was never developed, and real dead badgers continued to be used in full mask sporrans for officers and NCOs of the Argylls until they were amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

    Jemima Fawr

    I suppose they had to use badger once the supply of wild haggis was made illegal and farmed haggis was never commercially viable.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/


    As someone who occasionally wore a Gordon Highlanders sporran between the years of 1975 to 1978, whilst they were not made from badgers, I can confirm that they were decidedly ancient.

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

    John D Salt

    So much for my attempt to flush out the sporran nerds in the group.

    All the best,



    Try spats next.  I wore those too.

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

    Jemima Fawr

    Try spats next. I wore those too.

    A gentleman always takes his spats off first.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/


    Try spats next. I wore those too.

    A gentleman always takes his spats off first.

    You have to, otherwise you can’t get your shoes off!

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

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