Army Phototgraph Reveals Possible Picture of Lt.Col. David Murray on Parade in Japan

We are indebted to Canadian reader Mitch McDowell for the following article and photographs. These references to piping history are very popular with the Piping Press readership and are of interest to pipers both young and old, so a big thank you to Mr McDowell. If any other reader has similar article he/she would like to share please pass on.

Please find attached three photographs that I found in an old publication entitled ‘The Scottish Soldier’. The article was by Stephen Wood and published in 1987.  The first photo shows Pipe Major John MacLellan during his time with The Seaforth Highlanders at what I believe to be Fort George in 1946. 

The caption in ‘The Scottish Soldier’ reads, ‘Pipe Major John Maclellan [sic], Seaforth Highlanders, 1946
The second photo is of ‘big’ Donald MacLean with The King’s Guard Pipe Band at Balmoral Castle in 1947. 

The caption reads , ‘Pipe Major Donald Maclean [sic] and Drum Major James Watson, King’s Guard Pipe Band at Balmoral Castle, 1947’
The final photograph is intriguing and indeed I may be mistaken in my belief that the late Col. D.J.S. Murray is shown in it. However, if you look closely at the left centre of the photo you will see a young officer with glasses presenting a salute immediately in front of the main column of soldiers. Look at the escort with shouldered rifle on the left of the photograph; David Murray (I believe) is shown right next to the rifle. [This is our main picture up top. The ‘Scottish Soldier’ magazine caption reads ‘Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders march through Kure, Japan, when the flags of the Commonwealth nations were unfurled ceremoniously over Japanese soil for the first time’.]

Given what I know about the late Colonel Murray, the time, location and of course the regiment (his beloved Cameron Highlanders), all fit the context. Also, I remember seeing a photograph of David Murray taken in the Far East during war-time in an article that he contributed to The Piping Times some years ago.  To me, the officer in question in the attached photo bares a tremendously strong resemblance to the man in that article. 

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Regarding Pipe Major MacLean, a funny story. My late piping teacher, Jimmy Greig (Edinburgh Police, Clan MacFarlane St. Catharines, Ontario), served as a piper with the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch from 1945 to 1952. At one point, Jimmy was sent on a dancing course that was being conducted by Donald MacLean but I don’t remember the year or the location, either Germany or back in the UK. During a break at one of the teaching sessions MacLean left his pipes on a chesterfield and exited the room for a while. My teacher, rather tired from his exertions, flopped down on the opposite end of the couch. This caused the pipe chanter to bounce a wee bit which in turn (and almost unbelievably) dislodged its silver sole.

The sole gave a bounce or two when it hit the hardwood floor and proceeded to roll like a car tyre right across the dance floor, with my teacher in hot pursuit! Just as Jimmy grabbed it, Pipe Major MacLean happened to walk back into the room and Jimmy suddenly heard a very loud Hebridean voice exclaim, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?!!!’

Suffice to say, my teacher’s explanation didn’t carry much weight with the good Pipe Major, who promptly set about chewing Jimmy’s backside to a bloody rag. To top it off, he grabbed Jimmy’s under shirt, soaked with perspiration from dancing, and said ‘And I should also put you on charge, you wee b……… for being improperly dressed and filthy on parade!!!’ Things all turned out fine in the end; no defaulters (or glass house) for Jimmy, and he passed the course.  Mind you, I don’t know what kind of mark he got.

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3 thoughts on “Army Phototgraph Reveals Possible Picture of Lt.Col. David Murray on Parade in Japan

  1. Thank you for publishing the photographs and accompanying article. Thanks also for tidying up the profanity! I’m confident that both my late teacher and Pipe Major MacLean would appreciate your consideration! 😉

  2. I have looked very carefully at the photograph of the Cameron Highlanders in Japan and I agree that it looks remarkably like my father Lt Col. David Murray.

    1. Wonderful! I’m so very, very glad that you feel the same as myself, and I hope that this photo is as we both suspect: that of your late (and truly lamented) father, Co. D.J.S. Murray. I always so thoroughly enjoyed his letters, books, and insights on all things related to piping; most especially piping in the British army. Although never having met the man, I always had (and still have) the greatest respect for his broad knowledge of piping, and also his courage in challenging the status quo regarding piobaireachd and it’s often conflicting schools of teaching and performance. “George Moss was no crank…” is, for me, a particularly treasured quote of your dad’s.

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