Military officials said that Scottish soldiers were having to share their ceremonial kilts because defense chiefs had not finalized a contract to buy enough kilts to go around. At last count, there were just 320 kilts for 5,000 soldiers.
—The New York Times, December 19, 2006
To: Office of the Quartermaster General
From: Sergeant Major, Scottish Regimental Stores
Re: Kilts, tartan, ceremonial
1. Due to Her Majesty’s Army Auxiliary Budget Item A-06-7895 being still in Committee, approximately 4,680 Scottish Regimental officers, NCOs and men have not been issued their regulation ceremonial kilts. Whereas,
2. Upcoming kilted Army operations are:
a) Haggis Festival opening, Edinburgh, March
b) Robbie Burns festivities, Dumferline, April
c) Anniversary of H.M. Queen Victoria’s 1895 Marmalade Judging Contest, Balmoral Castle, May.
Summary: The Army will begin said operations undermanned and/or underdressed.
Permanent solution: Immediate delivery of 4,680 regulation tartan-pattern Army kilts. Sergeant Major,
Scottish Regimental Stores, informed that this is not on (see above). Requested Action Programme follows.
Temporary solutions, unacceptable:
1. Confiscate all Scottish Regimental bagpipes, remove bags, hire ladies from sewing circles in villages nearest bases to transform them into kilts.
Obstacle: Likely mutiny by music-loving officers, NCOs and men.
2. Dispatch combined Army-Royal Marine Flying Shopper Squads to purchase required quantity of kilts from theatrical supply houses.
Obstacle: Would not know where said kilts have been.
3. Order 4,680 officers, NCOs and men to “make do” with jodhpurs, sarongs, pajama bottoms, etc. brought from home.
Obstacles: a) Would erode unit cohesiveness
b) Would invite ridicule in newspaper editorials.
4. No kilts.
Obstacles: a) Violation of Army Dress Code Regulations B-544 through C-711
b) Risk of chilblains, pleurisy, etc. among underdressed soldiers
c) Would explode ancient mystery of what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.
Temporary solutions, acceptable:
1. Dispatch Army-Royal Marine Flying Shopper Squads to finer department stores and dry-goods shops to purchase substitute BATH/BEACH TOWELS, tartan pattern, pinned at upper fold to resemble kilts.
Obstacles: a) Now off-season. BATH/BEACH TOWELS, tartan pattern, unavailable in quantity
b) Suitable pins not included in soldiers’ kits.
2. Dispatch Army-Royal Marine Flying Shopper Squads to purchase navy/midnight blue/black woolen MID-CALF SKIRTS from girls’ school uniform suppliers.
Obstacle: Available only as part of complete girls’ school uniform kit, including pinafore, lisle stockings, oxford shoes sizes 7-11, per individual order @ £165 x 4,680, exceeding Army budget.
3. Have officers, NCOs and men dye and weave own kilts, requisitioning WOOL from sheep pastured within 30-kilometer radius of affected Army barracks.
Obstacle: Sole instruction book, So You Want to Dye Tartans and Plaids (1968), out of print.
Recommendation: Your call. Sir.