Neil Clark: My grandfather, Robert Bishop, was a piper in the Allandale Pipe Band [above], based in the village of Allandale, near Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire. He’s the first piper shown in the video [below]. He was taught to play pipes by the second piper in the video, Robert Irvine. They are both shown in Allandale uniform, around 1938:
On the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, the band signed up en masse and joined the local Territorial Army detachment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The band became the Pipes and Drums of the 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and formed part of the new 51st Highland Division.
After training all over UK, they were taken to North Africa, where they took part in the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942. Pipe Major Maclachlan and others were killed in this battle. They then fought their way across North Africa, before taking part in the victory parade in Tunis in 1943.
Robert Irvine wrote the poem shown at some time shortly after the battle. I wrote the tune to go with it in 2019. The tune is basically meant to fit the words of the poem. The other tune, Children of Larbert, was written by Drum Major Robert Bruce.
The 7th Argylls continued to fight, in Sicily, then from D-Day to the end, where they again formed part of the Massed Pipes and Drums on the victory parade in Bremerhaven. My grandfather survived the war. Robert Irvine, his best friend, was killed near Caen, France, in July 1944, and is buried nearby.
Although the Allandale band disbanded in the early 50s, members helped to form what is now Denny and Dunipace Pipe Band.
Lorient Festival have announced they ‘are determined’ to go ahead with this year’s festival in Brittany. Now that’s more like it! The news came to me as I heard that South Uist had joined the ranks of the cancelled. Expect the other island games to follow.
Tom Johnstone, Scottish delegate, has given some details of Lorient: ‘The organisers are determined to go ahead with the Festival this year – especially as it’s the 50th Anniversary.
‘Some limitations will be in place with regard to numbers – only 5000 allowed in one venue, and also there may be additional social distancing requirements. I am told that the main piping events will go ahead and these include: the MacCrimmon Piping Contest, Piobaireachd Contest, Grand Nuit de Cornemeuse [Piping Concert], Bagpipe Master Class, Kitchen Piping Concert and the Pipe Band Contest.
‘Representing Scotland we have Ross Ainslie, Eddie Seaman, Ali Levack, Methil PB and Strathallan Schools PB. One main change to the Festival programme we have been notified about is that the Breton Bagad contest, which is held on the first Saturday of the Festival, will now be just a concert.
‘As the vaccination programme and spread of the virus are constantly changing the above will be reviewed in the coming months. Festival Dates are 6th – 15th August 2021.’
From a review of society writer ‘Chips’ Channon’s new edition, ‘Diaries 1918 – 1938: ‘In this new volume, there is plenty of fascinating stuff about those two odd-bods which was absent from the first edition.
‘I particularly liked the tale of Walter Moyne being ‘driven dotty’ by Edward holidaying on his yacht for three weeks in 1934: ‘The Prince sat up until 3am. He would then play the bagpipes on deck, with the result that not even the crew could get a wink of sleep — and he would sleep all morning.’
Scots singer-songwriter and piper Cameron Barnes has done his dad proud with a new recording, ‘From Now On’. All profits go to Methil & District Pipe Band, P/M Robert Barnes.
If you listen closely you can hear the practice chanters and pipes in the background. Get a preview here. The band mark their 25th Anniversary this year and, as you have read, are off to Lorient to celebrate.
Historian Keith Sanger on earlier correspondence on the connections between the harp and pipes: ‘I would suggest that you point Mr Tolosana in the direction of these two articles.
In ‘Mapping the Clarsach’ I demonstrate the lack of early evidence for the harp in the area which became the home ground of ‘highland piping’ and discuss why that should be. https://www.wirestrungharp.com/harps/harpers/mapping-clarsach/
Likewise in ‘The conundrum of the wire strung harp revival’ I tackle head on the problems caused by Collinson’s theories and the total lack of early harp music. Plus the lack of any real evidence for one of the ‘famous Irish Harpers’. https://www.wirestrungharp.com/revival/conundrum/