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Victoria Cross recipient's WW1 bagpipes from the battlefield

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 09 Nov 2006 22:47    Onderwerp: Victoria Cross recipient's WW1 bagpipes from the battlefield Reageer met quote


Victoria Cross recipient's WW1 bagpipes find home at B.C. legislature

Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, November 09, 2006





VICTORIA (CP) - A set of bagpipes trampled beneath the mud of a First World War battlefield returned home to Canada on Wednesday, telling a story of how their mournful defiant voice spurred soldiers to a historic Canadian victory.

The battlefield bagpipes played with youthful bravado by Canadian soldier James Richardson arrived at the B.C. legislature Wednesday, fittingly escorted by a regiment of marching pipers.

The pipes are now on permanent display.

Richardson, from Chilliwack, B.C., died on the Somme battlefield in France in 1916, but his bravery earned him the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry medal, and a place in Canadian history.

He is the only Canadian piper ever awarded the VC.

"War is a place where men and women come face to face with history," said B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell during a moving ceremony on the legislature steps.

"The most unexpected of heroes can be born," he said. "It was there, amidst the wire and the mire of war that James Richardson and courage become one in the same."

Richardson's unprotected battlefield piping spurred his pinned-down Canadian brothers at Regina Trench to tear their way through a barbed wire enclosure and mount a momentous victory, Campbell said.

Richardson, who was 19 years old, piped for about 10 minutes before putting down his pipes to help carry wounded soldiers back to the trenches.

He died that same day when he was shot trying to retrieve his bagpipes from the bloody battlefield, Campbell said.

"The conditions were those of indescribable terror," his commanding officer wrote.

"The lad's whole soul was bound up in the glory of piping, and he was only taken into action after imploring the colonel with tears in his eyes."

"Altogether a most wonderful example of high-souled courage and enthusiasm," the officer wrote.

Richardson was serving with the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) Canadian Expeditionary Force when he performed his heroism. The battalion comprised regiments from Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton.

The 16th Battalion suffered 5,000 casualties, but earned 21 battle honours, 422 service honours and four Victoria Crosses, the most among Canadian Forces.

The Somme battle claimed 8,000 Canadian dead and 24,000 wounded. More than 60,000 Canadians died - 173,000 wounded - in the First World War.

Vancouver resident Douglas Lunn said he recalled his father - a company sergeant major in the 16th battalion - describing the exploits of a piper he called Jimmy Richardson.

"He marched on top of the parapet in full view of the enemy," Lunn said from Vancouver in an interview in 2001 when he was 83 years old.

"He went back for his pipes and they never saw him again. My father used to tell me that."

Lunn said his father, Bernard Charles Lunn, was wounded the day Richardson died. Lunn said it may have been Richardson who carried his father to safety before he went looking for his bagpipes.


Richardson's bagpipes had been on display at a small private school in Crieff, Scotland, for more than 70 years, but their origin wasn't questioned until Scottish bagpiping enthusiast Tomas Christie determined the bagpipes at his daughter's school did not belong to an English or Scottish soldier.

The distinct red, green and double white striped Lennox tartan weave on the bag cover of the bagpipes identified them as belonging to the pipe band of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Christie started a lengthy communication with the battalion's modern-day regiment, which exists today in Victoria as the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's).

Efforts by the Victoria regiment, the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Club, the community of Chilliwack - which already has a statue of Richardson outside its courthouse - and the B.C. government brought the pipes home.

Brig.-Gen. Michael Heppell, honourary colonel of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, said bringing the pipes back to Canada is a moment of great pride for his regiment and a significant piece of Canadian war history.

David Richardson, who attended the ceremony with other family members, said the family deeply appreciates the efforts made to bring the pipes home.

"This is an emotional time for our family," he said.

He described Richardson as "a brave young soldier, a Canadian from Chilliwack, barely out of his teens, unaware of how he'll write his name in the history of our province and the country."

Richardson read portions of a letter Richardson wrote home to his mother on Dec. 27, 1915. The letter was written by candelight in a barn somewhere in Belgium.

"My dear mother," the letter starts, quickly mentioning, "I have seen no sign of the chocolates of which you spoke."

Rather than mentioning the horrors of the battlefield, Richardson describes a Christmas party in that same barn that includes him getting everybody dancing with a few choice reels.

He hinted at looking forward to a homecoming.

"I'm fighting for my country and I want one of my own country girls when the time comes. I want a girl just like the one who married dear old dad."
© The Canadian Press 2006
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Yvonne
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Jan 2010 13:11    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Zie ook:
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=14382
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Jan 2010 19:30    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

En al verder zoekend:

http://www.thepipesofwar.com/movies/pipesofwar/UnparalleledValour/Default.aspx
Daar zal ik wel even een apart topic over openen.
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