Film producer Alexander Menu has writen to PP: ‘I am contacting you to proudly announce my team and I are working on a European short film about a young bagpiper during the First World War. This has been a passion project of mine for many years.
‘The short film, ‘Sound of the Somme’ is about the last day in the journal of 20-year-old bagpiper James C. Richardson, awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious bravery award, for his action during the Battle of the Somme in WWI.
‘I am not sure if you’re familiar with his story, but Piper Richardson was born and raised in Scotland and later moved to Chilliwack, BC in Canada where he joined the 16th Canadian Scottish battalion.
‘The script Thomas Besançon and myself wrote, has been recognised with the award for best screenplay at many prestigious international film festivals around the world, including the Academy Award qualifying film festival of Rhode Island.
‘We wanted to keep the screenplay as close to reality as possible and show how horrific the situation in the trenches was, how unstable the weather conditions were and how Jimmy and the sound of his beloved bagpipes inspired many soldiers into an attack that seemed to be doomed.
‘The reason why I am sending you this email is because I thought you might be interested in our project, but also because I wanted to share a picture of James C. Richardson with you in a way that has not been shown before.
‘As you can see, we managed to color Jimmy standing in a muddy field holding his pipes, as well as his uniform and Lennox tartan, the colours of the 16th Battalion.
‘Our plan is to go into production during the summer of 2019 and film the short in the famous Flanders Fields of Ypres in Belgium, a city that is known for its horrible battles and a place that I can proudly call my home town.
‘The story behind ‘Sound of the Somme’ is meant to touch, educate and inspire people and share the passion for the bagpipes, a beautiful instrument that always gets me emotional and gives me goosebumps.
‘If readers have any questions about our project or would like to get involved, please let me know and I would be happy to talk to you about Sound of the Somme.
‘Feel free to like our Facebook page to stay updated and share our project with family and friends who love the bagpipes as much as we do.’
- The picture up top shows PIper Richardson and the Canadian Scottish at Vimy Ridge. It is taken from ‘The Pipes of War’ by Sir Bruce Seton and P/M John Grant. The picture is from the painting by J Prinsep Beadle.
The Archives Canada Blog has this on James Richardson: Born in Bellshill, [Lanarkshire] Scotland, on November 25, 1895, Richardson immigrated to British Columbia where he served as a piper in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.
In September 1914, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and went overseas as part of a large Seaforth contingent of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish).
On October 8, 1916, Richardson’s company was held up by uncut barbed wire and intense fire as they attacked German positions at Regina Trench. Richardson’s commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Cyrus Peck, later wrote of Richardson’s extraordinary courage.
‘Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination….’
As the unit lay trapped in the shell holes of ‘no man’s land’, Richardson, a teenager who had played the company ‘over the top’, sought the commander’s permission to play his pipes again.
In full view of the Germans, he marched up and down the wire entanglements playing his pipes where his fellow soldiers lay.
His citation for the Victoria Cross states, ‘The effect was instantaneous. Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination that the obstacle was overcome and the position captured.’ (London Gazette, no. 30967, October 22, 1918).
Amazingly, Richardson survived the attack and was detailed to take a wounded comrade and several prisoners of war to the rear.
Realizing that he had left his bagpipes behind, he returned to recover them. Richardson was never again seen alive. Read the full story here.
- Short biography from IMDb the film industry website: Alexander Menu is a Belgian film and content producer based in Los Angeles who is working on international short and long form content focusing on telling true stories to bring back the past and to experience times we have never known. Currently packaging and financing the award-winning WWI short script Sound of the Somme he co-wrote. Previous projects include the short film The Things We Face (2017) that screened at the short film corner of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and the Indonesian feature documentary A Punk Daydream (2018), which world premiered at the the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival.