The Army and the Ministry of Defence were yesterday accused of planning to cut the last of the "golden threads" which link Scotland's five surviving Scottish infantry units to almost 400 years of military history.

Veterans have told The Herald that the colonels of the new Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS) intend eventually to wipe the slate clean of hard-won battle honours by foisting common colours on individual battalions.

If they succeed, the new regimental colours will carry only a handful of the hundreds of honours won by the Royal Scots, King's Own Scottish Borderers, Black Watch, Royal Highland Fusiliers, the Argylls and the Highlanders on battlefields across the globe.

The Royal Scots and the KOSB were forced into a shotgun amalgamation last year under the controversial reform of the infantry which spawned the RRS and reduced Scotland's former regiments into numbered battalions under a large parent unit.

Despite political and military promises that the "golden thread" of more than three centuries would be maintained for each battalion, formal proposals seen by The Herald now show that officers are working towards a fresh start by gradually cutting the tribal ties to everything on which the regimental system is based.

An MoD spokeswoman admitted yesterday that new colours displaying fewer battle honours and using as many honours as possible common to more than one of the five battalions was a topic under discussion, but insisted that it was "early days" and that no decisions had yet been taken.

She added that the RRS intended to have "dialogue on a range of options" with the affected units before new colours were ordered.

But official papers seen by The Herald state that the Council of Colonels, the committee of officers and former officers who represent each battalion's interests, will have the final say on what appears on the new flags. The papers also acknowledge that any solution "will require careful negotiation" and that the ultimate aim of the changes is to "foster the sense of unity of purpose and comradeship" of the new regiment.

Campaigners who opposed the formation of a super-regiment have already criticised the loss of individual headgear, regalia and badges which marked one unit from another. All soldiers in the RRS now wear the same uniform and tartan.

Brigadier Allan Alstead, a former commander of 51st Highland Brigade, said yesterday he was "appalled" by the moves to further erode the links with the past which were the essential element which defined the ethos and character of each unit. "However it is dressed up, this is the first step in a crass move to consign everything which makes Scottish units unique and gives their soldiers a sense of tradition to emulate to the dustbin of history," he said.

Jeff Duncan, spokesman for Restore Our Scottish Regiments, added: "Battle honours embroidered on the regimental colours are there to remind soldiers of what their predecessors have achieved and the standards they should be prepared to match.

"The alternative is an amorphous, US-style corps of infantry with no history or tradition worth noting and no sense of belonging to a military family with a continuity of tradition centuries long."

British infantry regiments carry two flags on ceremonial occasions. One is the Queen's Colour, emblazoned with the crown and battle honours from the two world wars.

The second is the regimental colour, which typically carries the names of 30 or 40 earlier battles in which the unit has distinguished itself.