Remembering a very special regimental icon

Flashback to 2014, when  Pony Major Corp Mark Wilkinson , with (left) mascot LCpl Cruachan IV  and (right) predecessor Cruachan III - the last regimental mascot of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Flashback to 2014, when Pony Major Corp Mark Wilkinson , with (left) mascot LCpl Cruachan IV and (right) predecessor Cruachan III - the last regimental mascot of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

A solemn military-style commemoration event was staged earlier this week for a much loved Shetland pony.

Tough former members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - a regiment in which countless Bairns once served - were visibly moved at the unique tribute to their former four-legged comrade.

Cruachan III holds a special place in veterans’ hearts as the last regimental mascot of the Argylls, serving until army reorganisation created the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

The little pony continued as mascot for the new unit until retirement in 2012, and passed away in February.

In recent weeks the Argylls’ museum in Stirling Castle has been bombarded with anecdotes and pictures of Cruachan, and a Justgiving page has been set up for anyone who wants to make a donation to the museum in his memory.

A major fundraising campaign is underway in a bid to relaunch the museum as a premier league visitor attraction which will tell the full story of the Argylls - an elite Scots regiment whose history spans conflicts from Waterloo to Korea.

The tradition of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ pony mascot was begun in 1929, when a small Shetland pony named Tom Thumb was presented to the then Colonel-in-Chief, Princess Louise.

In order to counteract the pony’s tiny stature, it was decided the name would be changed to the more martial-sounding Cruachan - the ferocious war cry of Clan Campbell, which supplied much of the regiment’s manpower in its early days in the 18th century.

Museum organisers say the three mascots that followed have become well known for their cheeky antics (particularly around the Royals) and “their love of a good beer” - but Cruachan III was particularly special.

The museum’s Justgiving page is at https://www.justgiving.com/…/argyll-sutherlandhigh…/cruachan.