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The Pipes of War
The Pipes in the War, 1914-1918 - Individual Achievements


Agus bha iad am measg uam fear treuna 'n an luchd-cuideachaidh 's a' chogadh."

To attempt to compile a complete record of the achievements of individual pipers or of the pipe bands of units is an impossible task; it would involve a review of the whole course of the war. A long time must elapse before the histories of battalions are completed, and even then we shall probably never know fully the extent to which their pipers have contributed to the attainment of success.

Throughout the war correspondence has been carried on with individuals who, in spite of their appalling environment, have found time to supply information. They at least have the satisfaction of knowing that to them is largely due the fact that brave acts have been saved from oblivion.

Such a review as follows is but a fragmentary one, based on information obtained from officers, N.C.O.'s and men of the battalions concerned— but almost never from individual pipers. Among these men there appears to have been a conspiracy of silence, and attempts to obtain fuller information as to the reason for the granting of awards or the names of pipers whose identity disappeared under the blue pencil of the Censor have proved in very many instances unavailing.

The omission from these pages of mention of achievements of pipers of many battalions must be regarded as indicating lack of space to record them, or of failure to obtain the desired information.

The original Expeditionary Force landed in France with seven Scottish battalions possessing pipe bands ; when the armistice was signed the number of such units exceeded a hundred. Although on mobilisation the number of ' full " pipers in a battalion is only six it must be remembered that there are always "acting pipers" serving in the companies who are available—until that source of supply is exhausted—to take the place of casualties; and it is safe to reckon that the 100 battalions have had more than 2500 pipers at various times.

The numbers that served in various units during the campaign varied enormously; in some, which freely utilised their pipers in the front line—in the ranks, as bearers, and as pipers in action—as many as seventy or eighty have been borne on the strength at different times; in others, which kept these men invariably behind the front line, the casualties were negligible and comparatively few were used up.
This difference in method of employment largely explains the variations in the casualty lists and honours of different units ; and, in some cases, it has been found impossible to obtain anything like complete information.
8543 Piper JAMES MAcKENzIE, 1st Scots Guards.
During the desperate fighting about Ypres in October, 1914, Piper Mackenzie greatly distinguished himself bringing up ammunition to the firing line. He was killed while doing so. Awarded a mention in despatches.

8543 Piper CHARLES SCOTT MACGUIRE, and Scots Guards.

On the 27th October, 1914, near Ypres, an advanced trench was blown to pieces by shell fire, most of its occupants being killed or wounded. Hearing calls for help, Piper Maguire went forward from the support trench to report. He crawled 15 yards on hands and knees to the wrecked trench and found .several men had been buried by the explosion. Although without any protection from enemy fire he dug out a man and found he was dead ; lie continued his task and got out another, placing him for safety under cover of the dead body. He then crawled hack to his trench. The N.C.O. in charge had been killed meantime, and no official report of his conduct was possible. Maguire himself was wounded shortly after, his back being broken he died of paralysis some seven months later.

11002 Piper J. McM1LLAN, 1st Royal Scots.

Was awarded the D.C.M. for conspicuous gallantry as a battalion scout.

10123 Corp). E. COLLINS,]
10754 Piper J. CLANCY, . ]1st Royal Scots.
10639 Piper, J. SMART,    ]
10032 Piper, P. MALLIN,   ]

During the operations on the Salonika front the battalion had to capture Karadzakot Zir. The men had to advance over open country to the attack. These pipers played over three successive charges to the enemy's position, and the commanding officer considered their gallantry on this occasion was to a large extent instrumental in bringing about the success of the attack. In spite of their exposed position they all got through without being touched.

11065 Piper H. M'Leod, 2nd Royal Scots.

Was repeatedly mentioned in despatches for gallantry in attending wounded under fire, and was recommended for the D.C.M.

1235 Piper W. SINCLAIR, 5th Royal Scots.

Shortly after the original landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula, a critical retirement took place. Piper Sinclair, on his own initiative, gathered together a handful of stragglers, and, taking up a favourable position, covered successfully the withdrawal If the battalion. He was killed,
Pipe Major JoHN BUCIIAN, 4th Royal Scots.
Just before the attack on Achi Baba 00 28th June, 1915, Pipe Major Buchan played along the line as the battalion went over ; he was killed.
7271 Pipe Major J. M'DOUGALL, 8th Royal Scots.
Was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal " for gallant conduct under very trying circumstances " as a stretcher bearer at Festubert in May, 1915.
Corpl. ALEXANDER Foasvru, 9th Royal Scots.
At Arras in April, 5917, this man, who was a highly skilled bomber, volunteered to bomb the Germans out of a position in which they were covered by machine guns. He crawled up and succeeded in his object, but was killed. He was given the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

53283 Pipe Major A. COLGAN, 12th Royal Scots.

In the Loos attack the pipe major played the battalion over the top and was wounded. Subsequently, in the great German offensive in 1918, when pipers had to serve in the ranks, he got the Military Medal "for good leadership and courage."

Pipe Major JOHN MOUAT, 13th Royal Scots.

During the final advance in 1918 the pipers were employed as bearers, and suffered heavy casualties. Pipe Major Mouat received a mention in despatches.

Pipe Major MURDOCH MACDONALD, 13th Royal Scots.

A heavy shell burst among a company and buried a number of men. Pipe Major Macdonald went out alone, tinder very heavy shell fire and brought in six wounded men unaided.

Pipe Major DAVID ANDERSON, 15th Royal Scots.

In the opening attack on the Somme front on 1st July, 1916 the battalion was played forward by the pipe major, to the old regimental tune "Dumbarton's drums." He was hit shortly after going over the top, but continued playing; he was again wounded after crossing the third line of trenches and fell to the ground. lie tried to go on playing while sitting on the ground, but his pipes were shattered by a shell bursting near him. He managed to get up and was at once attacked by a German, but succeeded in knocking him out with his fists, and then continued fighting with a rifle until overcome by his wounds.

Pipe Major Anderson was given the one Croix de Guerre allotted to his Division for the most conspicuous act of bravery. The pipes he was playing on this occasion were of historical interest as they had been taken to the Antarctic by a member of Scott's expedition, and had been played also in the Arctic expedition of 1907.

Another interesting feature of Anderson's achievement was that several Germans surendered to him as he played on the parapet of one of their trenches.

Pipe Major DAVID CAMPBELL, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Although he had been wounded in the arm on the previous day Pipe Major Campbell played his battalion to the attack on the German position at Hooge on June 16, 1915. He played on right up to the German wire entanglements when, throwing his pipes aside, he caught up the bayonet of a comrade who had just been shot by a German officer and at once attacked the latter. He captured the officer.

9884 Piper HIGGINSON, 1st K.O.S.B.

The initial engagement of the battalion was the lauding on Gallipoli. During the first few days the pipers were fighting in the ranks, and the gallant exploit of Piper Higginson is eloquent indication of the fact that they played the part of the fighting man right well. All the officers and N.C.O. 's of his Company having been killed or wounded during the heavy fighting of 26th April, 1915, Piper Higginson rallied the remainder, and organised and led a bayonet charge with such dash and bravery that the Turks were swept back from a line they had captured earlier in the day. Just as success was attained Piper Higginson was mortally wounded, and died some hours later. Had he survived he was to have been recommended for the D.C.M.

1315 Piper MAITLANG,1st K.O.S.B.
8248 Pipe Major W. MACKENZIE, 1st K.O.S.B.

uring most of their stay on the Gallipoli peninsula the pipers had to bring up ammunition, rations, stores, etc., a job which was at all times most trying and often extremely hazardous. For conspicuous bravery in charge of these carrying parties the Pipe Major and Piper Maitland were awarded the Military Medal.

556 Piper A. ERSKINE, 5th K.O.S.B.

Was mentioned in despatches for gallantry as a stretcher bearer in Gallipoli.

14851 Pipe Major ROBERT MACKENZIE, 6th K.O.S.B.

At the battle of Loos 25th September, 1915, when the battalion went forward to the attack in which it was decimated, the first over the top was the Pipe Major, who started playing at once. He was wounded and fell after a comparatively short distance, but managed to crawl back. His leg had to be amputated, and he died of shock shortly afterwards. Mackenzie was a man of nearly sixty years of age, and had forty- two years' Army service. He was awarded a mention in despatches. Before the action he had been detailed, on account of his age, to be postman, but insisted on going into action.

15851 Piper DANIEL LAIDLAW, V.C., 7th K.O.S.B.

Just before the attack on Hill 70 and Loos on 25th September, 1915, the battalion, which was under heavy shell fire, was exposed to a cloud of poison gas. Many of the men succumbed to this gas, and the remainder were shaken by what they were going through. The commanding officer, seeing Laidlaw standing waiting with his pipes for the order to advance, called to him, "Pipe them together, Laidlaw, for God's sake, pipe them together," and he immediately climbed out on to the parapet, and marched up and down, regardless of danger, playing "Blue Bonnets over the Border." The effect on the men was magical; at the same moment the order came to advance, and the officer shouted "Come on, the Borderers, who'll be the first to reach the German trenches?" The survivors of the company swarmed up and over to the assault following the piper. The men were falling all round him, but Laidlaw continued to advance until he got near the German line, when he was wounded and the officer, who was alongside of him, was killed. As he lay on the ground he tried to go on playing, and then managed to get up and hobble after the battalion.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous gallantry," and the French Croix de Guerre.

The sobriquet "Piper of Loos" was commonly applied to Piper Laidlaw; though, in fairness to two other men, it must be admitted that he only shared that distinction with them.

Pipe Major DOUGLAS TAYLOR, 7th K.O.S.B.

During the attack on Loos when Piper Laidlaw got the V.C., the other pipers were chiefly employed in bringing in the casualties. There were large numbers of men lying about who had been gassed. Pipe Major Taylor, though himself wounded in the hand, continued bringing in these men for thirty-six hours, until he was himself shot down with a bullet in the heart. He recovered ultimately of the surgical miracles of the war.

Pipe Major W. ROBERTSON, 2nd Scottish Rifles.

Was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field.

Pipe Major NEIL MACLEOD, 8th Scottish Rifles.

Greatly distinguished himself in the Dardanelles fighting in attending on the wounded. He was killed in the attack on 12th July, 1915.

40631 Corpl. WHITELAW, 9th Scottish Rifles.
17806 Piper M GURE, 9th Scottish Rifles.

In a daylight raid at Arras in February, 1917, these two men played their companies over, standing on the parapet, and then followed them up to the German position. Pipe Major J. M'CoLL, 10th Scottish Rifles was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry during the Somme fighting.

14631 Piper ALEXANDER STEVENSON, 11th Scottish Rifles.

On 20th April, 1917, Piper Stevenson observed a comrade, who had been out on a night patrol, lying wounded in No Man's Land, and calling for help, lie at once went over the parapet in broad daylight and brought him in, although the Germans brought a machine gun to bear on him as soon as he exposed himself. While assisting the medical officer to dress the wounded man he was killed. his name was mentioned in despatches for gallantry. lie had previously done excellent work carrying messages in action.

Piper ANDREW WI5ISART 1st Black Watch.
9430 Piper W. STUART, 1st Black Watch.

After the failure of the first attack on Richebonrg, 9th May, 1915—the attacking battalions simply melting away under a sheet of lead—a second attack on the position was ordered for midday; the leading battalions on this occasion being the 1st Black Watch and 1st Casnerons. The men went over the top with a tremendous dash, and each company was led by its pipers. Two at least actually reached the German trenches and continued playiflg-9430 W. Stuart, and Andrew W'ishart of the Black Watch. They were under very heavy fire, and both got wounded. \Vishart fell into a shell hole and lay there for four days before he succeeded in crawling back to our trenches. \Vhen he fell there were loud shoots " The piper's down," and the men made frantic efforts to get into the enemy's trenches but the machine gun fire was- too heavy, and they had to withdraw. Piper Stuart was awarded the D.C.M.

Piper GEORGE GALLOWAY, 7th Black Watch.

On one occasion Piper Galloway rescued five men who had been buried by a shell explosion. Subsequently, when employed as a runner, he was called on to deliver an important message under very heavy fire. This he accomplished in almost impossible conditions, and was given the Military Medal.

L.Corpl. G. SWAN, 7th Black Watch.

Served in the ranks during the Somme fighting. He was killed in action, and was awarded the Military Medal.

1919 Piper ALEXANDER PRATT, 2nd Black Watch.

Pipers throughout the war have been employed in a great variety of ways besides piping. Piper Pratt was reported in Mesopotamian Force Despatches as "one of the bravest and most intelligent bomb sergeants in the regiment on three occasions he has proved his high capacity for leadership in the attack. He has been twice wounded. His power of training grenadiers and his influence over his men are quite exceptional." He was promoted in the field to Sergeant and awarded a D.C.M.

941 Piper PETER MACNEE, 2nd Black Watch.

Also distinguished himself greatly as a bomber. lie won the D.C.M. at Neuve Chapelle. In France he was twice wounded, but scent to Mesopotamia with the battalion. In the fighting at Sheikh Saad in January, 1916, he was mortally wounded.

1839 Piper ALEXANDER MACDONALD, 2nd Black Watch.
736 Piper DAVID SIMPSON, 2nd Black Watch.
365 Piper R. JOIIN5TONE, 2nd Black Watch.
699 Piper DAVID ARMIT, 2nd Black Watch.
187 Piper J. GALLOWAY, 2nd Black Watch.

In the attack- by the 2nd Black Watch at Mauquissart, 25th September, 1915, the pipers took a prominent part, playing their companies up to and through the German first and second lines. After three lines had been captured the order to attack the fourth was given. 736 Piper David Simpson at once dashed forward playing, followed by his company he was killed just as they reached the objective. His bravery earned him the title, for long after, of "The Piper of Loos." He was recommended for the Victoria Cross. Further on, 1839 Piper Alexander Macdonald alternately played from one trench to the next and assisted in bombing the enemy out of their dugouts. In the third trench he marched, playing "Macgregor's Gathering," down the trench at the head of the bombers, and then climbed on to the parapet and continued playing. lie was ultimately wounded and lost his leg. For his gallantry he was given the D.C.M., but did not long survive to enjoy the honour as he died soon after his discharge. At the same time 365 Piper R. Johnstone went on playing until he



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