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Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Pipers of the Trenches

As we know Scottish-born Anzac Piper Archibald Monk piped the Australian nurses of the 3rd Australian General Hospital into the hospital site at West Mudros on Lemnos on 8th August 1915.
Some 2,500 pipers served in the First World War - in British and other Empire regiments. 600 were wounded and over 500 killed.
Pipers served with the British regiments at Gallipoli, 25 of these were killed.
One of those who served at Gallipoli alongside the Anzacs was Piper Kenneth McLeman from Avoch, Ross-shire, who served in the Highland Light Infantry and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery at Gallipoli. He tended the wounded after his pipes were shattered by shrapnel.
For four hundred years or more, Highland regiments advanced and attacked to the sound of the bagpipes. In the Great War, pipers climbed out of the trenches, unarmed, to face machine guns and shells. The descendants of those men return to the battlefields to discover individual stories of unparalleled bravery.
Read the article "The Tunes of Glory - Heroism of Scots Pipers reprised" from The Scotsman newspaper by clicking here.
Piper Laidlaw VC
One of those pipers was Piper Daniel Laidlaw of the King's Own Scottish Borderers Regiment.
He took part in the bloody Battle of Loos in September 1915, along with over 30,000 other Scottish soldiers in various regiments. Critically, gas that had been fired to aid the Allied advance had blown back over the attacking Allied troops. It was at this moment that Piper Laidlaw mounted the trench parapet to raise the spirits of his comrades with his pipes.
The following story about Piper Laidlaw and is winning of the Victoria Cross is from the website:
Born in 1875 in Little Swinton, Berwickshire, Daniel Laidlaw joined the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry on 11 April 1896 where he was immediately posted to India where he stayed for two years until June 1898. Whilst there he was employed on plague duty in Bombay from March to May 1898. After returning to Britain he was claimed out of the DLI by his eldest brother and served in the King's Own Scottish Borderers as a piper until April 1912, when he was placed on the reserve.
Upon the outbreak of war in Europe, Daniel Laidlaw re-enlisted in the KOSB on 1 September 1914 and went to France with the regiment the following June.

How Piper Laidlaw won the Victoria Cross at Loos, Illustrated London News, 4 Dec 1915
In his own words he describes his action that resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross:
"On Saturday morning we got orders to raid the German trenches. At 6.30 the bugles sounded the advance and I got over the parapet with Lieutenant Young. I at once got the pipes going and the laddies gave a cheer as they started off for the enemy's lines. As soon as they showed themselves over the trench top they began to fall fast, but they never wavered, but dashed straight on as I played the old air they all knew 'Blue Bonnets over the Border'.
I ran forward with them piping for all I knew, and just as we were getting near the German lines I was wounded by shrapnel in the left ankle and leg. I was too excited to feel the pain just then, but scrambled along as best I could. I changed my tune to 'The Standard on the Braes o'Mar', a grand tune for charging on.
I kept on piping and piping and hobbling after the laddies until I could go no farther, and then seeing that the boys had won the position I began to get back as best I could to our own trenches." 

The following is Piper Laidlaw's Victoria Cross citation from the London Gazette:
"For most conspicuous bravery prior to an assault on German trenches near Loos and Hill 70 on 25 September 1915. During the worst of the bombardment, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was badly shaken from the effects of gas, with absolute coolness and disregard of danger, mounted the parapet, marched up and down and played company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate and the company dashed out to the assault. Piper Laidlaw continued playing his pipes until he was wounded." London Gazette, 18 November 1915 , Loos, France, 25 September 1915, No. 15851 Piper Daniel Laidlaw, 7th Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers.

Piper Laidlaw's medals.
Daniel Laidlaw was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 3rd February 1916.Daniel was promoted sergeant-piper on 12 October 1917, and was eventually demobilised on 3 April 1919; total service 20 years, 6 months. He died peacefully in 1950, aged 74, in Shoresedean, near Norham, Northumberland, and was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Cuthbert's Churchyard. There is a memorial plaque within the church.
A ceremony took place at St. Cuthbert's Churchyard, Norham, Northumberland, on 2nd June 2002 to place a headstone over the grave of Piper Daniel Laidlaw VC - "The Piper of Loos". The project was organised by the King's Own Scottish Borderer's Museum in Berwick-on-Tweed and by members of the Laidlaw family. 
Private John Dunnion, KOSB and Private Frank Claven, HLI
In re-telling this story, I am mindful of my own grandfather, Private John Dunnion of Dennistoun, Glasgow, who served in the King's Own Scottish Borderers  in the First World War, alongside Piper Laidlaw. He joined up in August 1914, serving on the western front, later becoming a prisoner of war and thankfully (for me and my family especially) the war.
My other grandfather, Private Frank Leo Claven, also from Glasgow, served with the Highland Light Infantry in the First world War, the same regiment as Piper McLeman. I have not been able to find out yet whether or not he served at Gallipoli but he also survived the war and went on to serve in India during the inter-war period.
The Flowers of the Forest
The official music of Scottish regiments for the fallen is the Flowers of the Forest, originally written in honour of the Scots who died at the Battle of Flodden. To listen to the music, click here.

The Pipers of the Trenches
Watch a great new documentary from the BBC on the Pipers of the Trenches by clicking here. The descendants of those men return to the battlefields to discover individual stories of unparalleled bravery.
Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

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