Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

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Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby rd72 » 12 Dec 2017 19:46

Hi all,

Came across an interesting topic today and was wondering if any might lend some clarity...

There is artwork depicting sporrans worn by Highlanders at the Modder River and at Magersfontein but I was wondering if there are any photographs or accounts of the same?
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby SWB » 12 Dec 2017 23:08

The Highlanders wore khaki aprons to cover the colours of their kilts. It seems sporrans and claymores were left in camp:

see this site: http://www.blackwatch.50megs.com/mags.html
"Half the Btn stayed at Naauwpoort whilst the other half arrived at Orange River station arriving around Nov 28th.Officer's claymores had been left along with all sporrans. To replace the sporran an apron of khaki drill was worn and all ranks carried the rifle."
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby rd72 » 13 Dec 2017 01:27

Thank you very much... That was generally what I thought but had to address the seed of doubt that had crept in... :)
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby SWB » 13 Dec 2017 08:54

If you are looking at Caton Woodville's "All that was left of them" - beware he was an artist with pictures to sell.
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby RobD » 13 Dec 2017 09:22

Next time you are in Ladysmith, visit Dougie McMaster's private museum, The Blockhouse. He has several remains of sporrans on display which seem to have been disinterred when battlefield burials were moved. So while it is unclear from this whether they wore them in battle, at least some of them wore them when they took their Long Journey.
Rob
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby RobD » 13 Dec 2017 20:04

Here's a photo of a Wounded Highlander on the Battlefield at Magersfontein from With The Flag to Pretoria
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Re: Sporrans at Modder River/Magersfontein

Postby rd72 » 14 Dec 2017 05:53

Thank you all,

I can assure you that I certainly was not being led down the garden path into thinking that they were worn, based on artwork,.... :-) On the contrary, the "doubt" came into my mind as a result of a discussion elsewhere which featured the Gordons' use of the cantle cover, a particularly of that Bn, it would seem. They are shown worn in SA, although during the initial, non contact, stages of the campaign. They had worn the same piece of kit on the NW Frontier (where of course, the sporrans had been worn in action) and I came to thinking that perhaps, with the covers fitted, the intent may have been to wear them again, in action. As mentioned, it was this that caused me to think again and perhaps some research into thing was in order. It had always been my understanding that sporrans were worn, initially, by troops in the deployment phase of the war, in transit to the "front" and so on. Stands to reason as this had been the order of dress for preceding campaigns, including the Sudan, the year previous. It was also my understanding that late in that phase, they were replaced with the aprons, so that sporrans weren't actually worn in action. I could think of no better place to come for such a question than here for some timely input. Your evidence seems to match that version of events and the reference to the Black Watch even goes so far as to give a particular moment when this took place. Great stuff. The artwork, always taken with a grain of salt, did seem to indicate that the sporrans were worn "at first contact" after which then, they were replaced,.... a kind of, "what were we thinking" moment.... This would seem not to be the case and the sporrans left in baggage before the battalions moved into the "advance to contact" phase. As for sporrans that seem to have been buried, I am not privileged to the details and accuracy of where and when they may have been dug up... for them to be on the battlefield would seem at this point to be incidental or a misunderstanding.

Thanks again!
Cheers,
Rob
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