History of the Hash Kilt
Who Started Wearing Kilts?
The founder of the hash, Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert or “G” as he is known in circle was a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. His fellow founding members were also part of this same Battalion stationed at the Selangor Club in Selayang Quarry, Selangor. Kilts had been a long time tradition in their unit and remained part of their uniform. They often wore them while off duty and while they were out on their hound and hare runs.
Here are some members of the 2nd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in their kilts.
Sadly “G” was killed at the start of WWII. A few months after the war ended, some of the original members of the Hash House Harriers gathered back in Kuala Lumpur. Cecil Lee memorialized his friend “G” with the following;
“So perished a gallant, kindly, happy soul whose memory the years do not efface. He would be pleased, and I think amused, to know how the HHH have persisted and spread.” -Cecil Lee-
In a 1958 interview Cecil described his old friend as, “a man of great wit and charm.. he was a splendid fellow and would be happ to know the Harriers are still going strong, and ar as merry and bright as ever. or more so. Gispert was not an athlete,and stress was laid as much on the subsequent refreshment as on the pure and austere running.”
The second kennel formed in 1947 when Gus Mackie was transferred to Italy. He brought the same running and drinking tradition with him however wearing kilts no longer was a part of the hash. It wasn’t until 1962 when the third kennel formed and hashing slowly began to spread. By 1973, thirty-five kennels had formed mostly on military bases. As soldiers were transferred they brought the tradition with them to their new location but wearing kilts appeared to be a long lost tradition no longer practiced by the members.
Then Came the Sarong
Soon the British soldiers began mingling with military of allied nations and these foreign soldiers quickly adopted the running and drinking style of their United Kingdom brothers. Some of this co-mingling happened in tropical and exotic Asian locations where the soldiers took wearing sarongs while off duty. Sarongs became common place in circles across the Pacific.
Soon the British soldiers began mingling with military of allied nations and these foreign soldiers quickly adopted the running and drinking style of their United Kingdom brothers. This adoption included wearing these strange kilts even though the wearing of such a garment was against regulations. Officers and unlisted fraternizing was also against regulations, thus the nicknames.
Once the hashing tradition left the British military bases, it grew at an even faster pace and eventually found its way into the civilian world. Today there are over 2,000 kennels worldwide. Even though they have their variations of how they run trails and conduct circles, drinking beer and wearing kilts have remained a constant.
How Was Our Hash Tartan Created?
The original 2nd Battalion tartan was based on a variation the Black Watch.
Black Watch tartan registered in 1788 under the Military category. It was based on the Sutherland tartan and appointed for the Highlands Companies. For the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the red stripe was changed to yellow.
The Hash House Harriers Hunting tartan is based on the same colors as the 2nd Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In 2008, it was officially registered with The Scottish Register of Tartans by the Society of Kilted Hashers. The reasons for the design and colors are listed as:
“The design alludes to the regimental tartan of the Argyll & Suthgerland Highlanders in which the founder of the Hashers – A.S. Gilbert – had served. The colours represent various aspects of the running club – green for the foliage its members run through, blue for the water crossings, brown for the mud, red for the blood occasionally shed running through such terrain, white for the marking of the trails and gold for the beer with they refresh themselves when the trail is completed.”
The Society of Kilted Hashers also registered a Hash House Harriers Trail tartan which is a reversal of the original colors.
So wear that kilt with pride. There’s a long history that goes with it.