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The Piper In Peace And War
Part II - Liverpool Scottish


The Liverpool Scottish is probably the only unit in the British Regular or Territorial Army that owes its inception to a piper.

During the progress of the South African War, 1899-1902, the Scottish readers of the Liverpool newspapers were roused to action by a letter which had been written by Mr Forbes Milne, a Scots resident in the city, in which he urged the formation of a Volunteer battalion from the Scotsmen settled in Liverpool. As a result of that spirited appeal to his fellow-countrymen the young Scots quickly responded. A committee was then formed, and very soon the necessary authority of the War Office was given for raising a battalion of Liverpool Scottish. In January 1901 the battalion was an accomplished fact — an integral part of the Territorial, or rather, Volunteer Army, and with kilted uniform and pipe band complete.

Mr Forbes Milne, the promoter of the scheme, was a piper, and was appointed pipe-major of the battalion, but did not live long to enjoy the privilege, for he died that very year. He was succeeded by one who was much better known in the piping world, namely Pipe-Major John Mackay, composer of “The Badge of Scotland” and other compositions.

The Liverpool Scots have another proud distinction: they were one of the first, if not the very first, Territorial unit to enter the battle zone in November 1914. The eleven pipers who led them overseas had to put by their pipes and take up the duties of stretcher-bearers and first-aid men, though some elected to revert to the ranks. No matter to what duty they had gone, hardly a piper remained to the battalion a year later. The pipe-corporal had been killed in action in December 1914; two pipers were badly wounded and three others had been invalided out. Two had been promoted, viz. Pipe-Major Stoddart, who became R.Q.M.S., and Piper N. Hampson, who went to the South Lancashire Regiment as a 2nd lieutenant.

Thus many months passed without a note of pipe music on the march or in rest billets. Then, in 1916, appeared five pipers who were welcomed by the battalion. In 1917 there was embodied a 2nd Battn. Liverpool Scottish who joined the 1st Battalion. But the pipers, who were set to ration carrying, found some of their number selecting other jobs in preference. Pipers Johnston and Gilfillan, for example, became Lewis gunners; Piper Service went into the trenches; and Rae was kept busy as a despatch rider. Yet they one and all kept a look-out for any occasion which might justify the use of the pipes; they desired to play their companies into action, but to all their entreaties for this “privilege” the officers turned a deaf ear. None was more chagrined by these refusals than a gentleman from New York, Piper Worthington, who had to be content with more useful but less picturesque duties. One piper did manage to evade the edict against playing into action, by attaching him self to a raiding party which proceeded over “No Man’s Land” to the tune selected by that enterprising piper of the Liverpool Scottish.

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