This week’s postcard is another of those delightful ‘oilette’ postcards that were so popular during the first two decades of the twentieth century. This example depicts the pipers of the Highland Light Infantry:They are wearing the full home service dress worn before the outbreak of World War One with scarlet tunics, kilts and glengarries:Behind the pipers can be seen the drum section and the rest of the regiment marching along:Pipers were not only used for parades, they also had an important role raising morale on the battlefield and offering aid to their wounded comrades. One piper from the highland light infantry, Kenneth McLeman was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli for tending to the wounded under fire after his pipes were shattered by enemy fire. Another piper, Daniel Laidlaw, from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers won the VC at Loos in 1915. He describes his own actions as follows:
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.
His citation adds more information to Piper Laidlaw’s modest account:
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.