I can report a positive conclusion to the P/M Michael Haggarty story. As was previously reported, it was believed that his service medals were buried with him when he died in June 1974. (He’s pictured wearing miniatures of them in above photograph.)
However it turns out that they were in the possession of one of the members of the now disbanded Cardiff RSL Pipe Band (Newcastle, NSW, Australia) and he had not told anyone he had them. It was a chance conversation re Mick several months ago that led to their discovery.
By Dennis Browning
They were collected by my good friend Graham Adams and were passed on to me and I had them professionally mounted.
Graham made a display case for them (picture attached) and I had an appropriate plaque made to be added to the display.
We both agreed that as Mick, to our knowledge, had no known relatives, The Highlanders Museum at Fort George back in Scotland should be approached to see if they would accept them as a donation for their collection.
I wrote to the curator, Laura MacCalman, who replied stating they would be delighted to accept them. The medals were duly despatched. I could not think of a better place for them than with the regiment and its memorabilia of comrades in arms.
The medals were duly despatched but lay in waiting at Sydney Airport for nearly four weeks due to the paucity of international flights but eventually I was notified that they had landed in England and were awaiting delivery to their final destination.
Subsequently I received an email from Ms MacCalman to say she had received Mick’s medals. Finally they had come home. It has been quite a journey of discovery and it is very satisfying to know there is a positive conclusion.
After the story appeared in Piping Press I found out that Mick did indeed have relatives who were alive. I heard from Mairi Hunter, a neice of Mick’s. She wrote: ‘My son came across your article regarding Mike Haggerty. I forwarded it to the family in Scotland.
‘By the way Mike is my uncle and I live in New Zealand. Over the years I have had different members of the family who were visiting Australia call me to ask if I knew where he was buried.
‘My grandparents were John Haggerty and Annie Johnson. Now I did not pay a lot attention to my different uncles’ jobs but I remember Mike was a Warrant Officer and a Pipe Major. I believe he was probably more likely to have been born in 19 something than 18?
‘I have happy memories of him staying with us when we were young. He made us pancakes and took us fishing.
‘Thank you so much for everything you did for him. I am so grateful. You and your friends have gone over and beyond to give him dignity after his passing.’
I think that says it all. Just one more thing. Mick composed a lovely air after his first visit to Maclean (the Scottish town in Australia). He was invited to judge at the Easter Gathering – still one of the best gatherings in Australia without a doubt. Maclean sits on the Clarence River hence the name of the tune.
- Mick Haggerty, was a native of South Uist and information from the 1901 Scotland Census indicates he was born in 1896, the sixth of eight children born to Michael and Margaret Haggerty. Mick’s name appears on two honour boards in the Pipers’ Hut, Cameron Barracks, Inverness, indicating he was Pipe Major of the Camerons 1935-1939. Read the original story on South Uist’s Forgotten Piper here.