In July 1928, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Louise, Colonel in Chief of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, visited the 1st Battalion at Shorncliffe. Before leaving, Her Royal Highness intimated that she wanted to make some presentation to the Battalion to mark her visit and asked what the Officers and Men would like.
It was suggested that if she presented them with a mascot, such as a Shetland pony, they would constantly be reminded of their Colonel-in-Chief. Princess Louise was delighted with the suggestion, and a few days after her return to London she wrote saying she had already seen the pony which she proposed to give to the Battalion. The Shetland was the smallest pony in Lady Hunloke’s herd and because of this he was known as “Tom Thumb”. In accepting the gift, it was suggested that the Battalion should give him a more imposing name. With her approval, they intended to name him Cruachan, a name which would continually remind the Officers and Men of the land of Argyll, and which was appropriately, the battle cry of the Clan Campbell, of which the Duke of Argyll was Chief.
Cruachan’s spirit was well known to the soldiers. He was able do a number of tricks on request, such as standing on an upturned bucket and rearing on his hind legs. However, his playfulness also extended to kicking out at unwary passers-by and escaping from his stable - occasionally, he could be seen careering around camp with a number of soldiers in pursuit.
Cruachan marched at the head of the Battalion until early in 1939 when the Battalion went on active service to Palestine. He died aged seventeen in 1942 at a farm in Oxfordshire, where he had been put out to grass.
Continued: Cruachan II, 1950 - 1985