PIPERS OF THE LIVERPOOL
(10th BATTALION THE KINGS LIVERPOOL REGIMENT)
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
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.