Military Pipers and Their Bagpipes
During the year we will be posting pictures and information about miltary pipers, their pipes and history. Keep checking back for the latest articles.
Below - Pipes belonging to James C. Richardson V.C. . His pipes were re-patriated to Canada in the 1990s by then P/M Roger Maguire of the Canadian Scottish Regimental Pipes & Drums. They now reside in the rotunda of the BC Provinvcial Legistature Building in Victoria , BC.
The picture below shows both James Richardson V.C (middle) and Angus Morrison (far right) as well as other unknown(to us) piper and drummers.
The pipes above on the right belonged to Piper Angus Morrison of the Seaforth Highlanders. Archivist James Calhoun of the Seaforth Highlanders Museum has just recently uncovered some new information about Angus -
What I've discovered thus far is that much of the published information on Morrison is incorrect. I do not have all of my information on my home computer, but in brief:
1). There was an article about James Richardson & Angus Morrison in the Vancouver Sun in 2014 that made reference to the later being Metis. This is incorrect. The Angus Morrison (29468) who was killed at Festubert with the 16th Battalion was, in the words of his relative "100% Hebridean Scots."
2). The same article makes reference to Morrison being born in Stornoway; a quick look at his record indicates he was born in South Uist, Scotland.
3). The same article claims there were three "Angus Morrisons" from the Seaforths killed at Festubert. This is not correct. There was a David Angus Morrison (29116) serving with the 16th who also died in May of 1915, but I can find no record of his having been a Seaforth. A quick perusal of his service record at Library and Archives Canada suggests he was from Nova Scotia.
4). The books Pioneer Pipers of British Columbia and Pioneer Pipe Bands of British Columbia make reference to Angus Morrison having been a member of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, who was then sent to become part of 16th Battalion. In the Seaforth archives I have a ledger that lists men by both attestation date and another by regimental number. The Angus Morrison we're concerned with was a Seaforth from August 1914 for about a week before being sent to the 16th Battalion. I have also contacted the Cameron's museum, and they have no records of him ever having been a Cameron.
5). I sent an e-mail to Ian Williams, the fellow that is making the piper documentaries, who claims to have a copy The Pipes of War with a 16th Battalion officer's marginalia refuting the claim that Morrison was playing the pipes as men advanced when he was killed. I have asked for a scan of the page, etc, for my records, but thus far, he has not got back to me.
6). The provenance of the pipes we have in our collection relies solely on a note that reads: "Set of Bag Pipes carried by Piper Angus Morrison, 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) when he was killed at the Battle of Festubert 21 May 1915. The Bag Pipes were picked up by Pipe Major McLeod, who send them home to Piper James Ross 72nd Regiment Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. Restored March 1986." I was looking for documentation on the restoration process in our archive the other day, and was unable to find it. If I do find it, I will pass it along. (We have recently moved back in the Seaforth armoury on Burrard St after a four-year seismic renovation, and the museum is very much in the unpacking and organizing stage, and will be for some time.
7). The earliest reference I've been able to find of Morrison playing the pipes when he was killed is in the book The Piper in War and Peace. Thus far, I've not found any documentation to support this claim, but I have my suspicions: namely that account may have been included in a letter to his next-of-kin. NOK letters, particularly early in the war, often offered idealized portraits of how and under what circumstances a soldier was killed. All other evidence suggests the 16th Pipers did not play during at the attack at Festubert, so I'd be extremely suspicious of this account.
8). The Canadian Scottish archive is now held in the rare books room at the University of Victoria. I have not yet had time to head to the island and trawl through their letters collection, but I suspect the definite answer to whether or not Morrison was playing the pipes when he was killed will be found there.