Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Piper In Peace And War
Part II - Lovat Scouts


The kilted pipers of the Lovat Scouts, in hunting Fraser tartan of their chief and colonel, Lord Lovat, are a feature of every peace time parade of the regiment. In time of war they are not so easily discerned for they have donned the khaki breeches and equipment of the troopers and are in the ranks with pipes strapped to their kits; for the Scouts rightly deem pipe-playing in action or in scouting quite out of place.

Raised in 1900 by the Lord Lovat for service in the South African War the Scouts, under their founder and colonel, Lord Lovat, D.S.O., an ex-officer of the Life Guards, made a great name alike as fighters, cragsmen, and keen-eyed scouts, qualities which they owed in large measure to the presence in the ranks of many deer-stalkers, shepherds, and gamekeepers of the Highlands. They were particularly commended for their successes at Diamond Hill and Naaupoort Nek, which they helped to win.

Like the Scottish Horse, with which regiment they have much in common, the Scouts were after the war placed on the army establishment as a regiment of Yeomanry — a tribute to their excellent work in the South African campaign.

The outbreak of the Great War found the Lovat Scouts mobilised, their well-filled ranks quickly swelled to overflow, fresh recruits and past members arriving in such large numbers as to necessitate the formation of additional regiments. The 1st and 2nd Regiments were despatched to the Dardanelles, the 2/1st kept as “feeder” or reserve and the 2/2nd sent to Lowestoft, where, instead of the threatened German invasion, that English east coast town had to endure several severe bombardments. That 2/2nd Regiment of Lovat Scouts was a very much different body of men from those in the other units for they were neither so exclusively Scottish nor had they a pipe band. It was therefore with much delight that the Scots in the regiment welcomed the arrival one day of a piper of note who had come to fill the post of pipe-major — unaware that there was no pipe-band. The pipemajor searched for his pipers and, failing to find them, inquired of the adjutant, who had to make the sad admission that there was no piper in the regiment but the new pipe-major. A pipemajor and no band! The thought was unendurable to Pipe-Major Donald A. Campbell, who shook the dust of the piperless Scouts from his thick brogues and departed, and with him vanished the last hope of the Scots in the 2/2nd Lovat Scouts for the old pipe melodies of Scotland.

The members of the 1st and 2nd Regiments were more fortunate, for in all intervals of rest during the fighting in the East the combatant pipers were accustomed to untie their pipes and entertain their comrades behind the lines in billets and in dug-outs. How much these concerts were appreciated may be imagined. Sometimes a pipe enthusiast belonging to a neighbouring unit, hearing a pibroch or a march floating out towards his camp, would wend his way to the source to ascertain who was the “good piper,” and then learn that it was Pipe-Major Donald Macmillan of the 1st Regiment or Pipe-Major John Campbell of the 2nd. The crowded audiences of the dug-out concerts were always mindful of the lonely Scout at the Observation Post, and him they would invite by telephone to listen; and the O.P. man, with his ear to the ’phone, would then dream he was back to the hills and glens of his native land, in the strains of the piper’s music.

Thus the Lovat Scouts progressed through the fighting of Gallipoli, Egypt, and Macedonia, where, in September 1916, they were converted into the 10th Battn. Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, retaining the title through their next field of fighting, namely France and Flanders.

They are once more the Lovat Scouts, and, along with the Scottish Horse, have the signal honour of being placed as the only two regiments of Scouts in the British army; and the pipers, under Pipe-Major William Ross, late of the Scots Guards, do duty as pipers in tartan kilt and belted plaid.

Go to previous chapter | Return to Book Index Page | Go to next chapter


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus