Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"They Were Brave Men, These Pipers"

Bagpipes often seem to inspire the reaction, "That stirs my blood!" Their role as an instrument of war continued well into the 21st century; the piper in The Longest Day wasn't fiction.
The pipers of World War I are deservedly legendary. It is hard to imagine just what it would be like to go over the top, up out of the trenches and into enemy fire with your hands full of nothing more than a chanter, but the stories say they did it time and time again. These days, and perhaps more particularly, this side of the Pond, they are remembered mostly in titles of a few tunes whose jauntiness is rather disarming, given the circumstances under which they must have been composed or popularized, "The Battle of the Somme" being a notable example.
Two of WWI's pipers are introduced by name in this article by Brett Tidswell (there are three pipers in the article, but the first is G.F. Findlater, of an earlier campaign in India). More on James Richardson, and a picture of the Chilliwack monument in his honor can be found here.

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